Presser Bullets: Ryan Day, Kyle Whittingham Preview Rose Bowl Matchup in Final Meeting With the Media Before the Game

By Griffin Strom on December 31, 2021 at 12:02 pm

The final game of the Buckeyes' season is just a day away.

For the final time before the 108th Rose Bowl kicks off in Pasadena on Saturday, Ryan Day addressed members of the media on Friday in a joint press conference with Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham in Los Angeles.

Here's a bullet-point list of everything both coaches discussed at the event.

Ryan Day

  • In his opening statement, Day jokes that the Buckeyes brought the Ohio weather with them to California ahead of the Rose Bowl.
  • On the size of the roster, Day says it's a great opportunity for younger guys to step up for Ohio State due to absences to several key players. "We feel like we have plenty" of players available for the game.
  • Day says "we'll find out" if the team has a chip on its shoulder entering the Rose Bowl. Day says "it doesn't take an expert" to realize what the Buckeyes didn't do well against Michigan.
  • Day says he doesn't think Chris Olave would decide to play in the game at the last minute, but that "we'd certainly be excited if he did." Day says he doesn't expect that to happen, but "you never know."
  • On the absence of Sevyn Banks, Cody Simon, Antwuan Jackson and Marcus Williamson in practice, Day says there are a "few guys in there" that are game-time decisions.
  • In regards to Julian Fleming and the young Buckeye wideouts, Day says "what we see in practice isn't what everybody else sees."
  • Day says there are two years of guys who haven't had a typical bowl experience under their belt, and believes that is significant.
  • Day says Utah is similar to some of the teams Ohio State has seen in the Big Ten this season, and notes that Big Ten teams have done well in bowl games so far this year.
  • On Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Day says he can't try to "do too much" and should simply "play within himself and believe in the guys around him" despite the absences of Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson.
  • Day says he found it "very unique" that both he and Whittingham had Urban Meyer put the whistle on them after his final game at the Utah and Ohio State programs.
  • "The challenge has been set forth to win up front." Day says Ohio State still has plenty of guys in the interior even after the opt outs and absences.
  • On defensive coordinator Jim Knowles, Day says he had no input on Rose Bowl preparations, and that the Buckeyes will "start fresh" on Jan. 2. Day says he's still figuring what the mix of coaches will be on defense moving forward.
  • Day says winning the Rose Bowl is important to send the seniors out the right way, and also for young players gaining momentum heading into next season.
  • On the discrepancy in ticket sales, Day says "we have to prepare for everything, whether it's 50-50 or in our favor." Day says "we've prepared for all those scenarios."
  • On COVID-19, Day says there's been "a few isolated incidents," but that he's confident the Buckeyes will have a full roster available.
  • On C.J. Stroud, Day says there's been a "different look in his eye coming off the last game."
  • On Cade Stover switching positions, Day says the Buckeyes have been light at linebacker, and that "Cade's prepared to play in this game."

Kyle Whittingham

  • In his opening statement, Whittingham says "we've been working a long time to get here. ... this is what we've been shooting for a lot of years." Whittingham calls Ohio State "one of the best programs in the country year after year."
  • On what concerns him about Ohio State, Whittingham says "everything." Whittingham praised the Buckeye offense and called Ohio State's defense "solid."
  • Whittingham says most of his players understand the history and tradition of the Rose Bowl, and that "we've had conversation about what it means to be in this game."
  • On improving his roster year after year, Whittingham says "we finally made it" in 2021.
  • Whittingham says the switch at quarterback that saw Cam Rising take over early in the season was a turning point for the Utes.
  • "We pride ourselves on being a physical team." Whittingham says Utah matches up well at the line of scrimmage with just about any team it plays in either the Pac-12 or the Big Ten.
  • Whittingham says Urban Meyer getting the Utah job instead of him years ago was "the best thing that ever happened to me." Whittingham says he has "all the respect in the world" for Meyer, and that "it just seemed to snowball and kind of get away from him" in the NFL.
  • Whittingham says Devin Lloyd is a first-round pick, and maybe even a top-10 overall pick.
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