For full video of Arkansas State's postgame press conference, visit the website for ABC's North Arkansas affiliate: KAIT8.com
Butch Jones sat alone at the podium, flanked by empty microphones at both sides while reflecting on Arkansas State's performance in a 45-12 loss to Ohio State.
“First of all, I have a lot of respect for Ohio State and Coach Day. Ohio State is a very good and very talented football team," said Jones in his opening comments on the game.
"When you play a team like Ohio State, every mistake you make is magnified. So, you have to do a great job and not beat yourself. They have great football players, they have got really good schemes and they force you to execute.”
Jones was eager to praise the Buckeyes' overall football operation, but explained the importance of his team's competitive spirit to remain unwavering in the face of any challenge.
"You expect to win no matter who the opponent is, no matter where you play. That’s kind of a mindset that we’re building in our football program," remarked Jones in wake of his first defeat this season.
"But I am proud of the way our kids competed. And that’s what I wanted to see is what type of competitive grit they would have. I thought they showed some competitiveness.”
The Red Wolves entered this game as 44.5 point underdogs, but ultimately fell by a much shorter margin despite lofty blowout expectations. Even after a 58-3 win last week over a FCS opponent in Arkansas State's home opener, many familiar with the Red Wolves' lackluster defensive performance a season ago figured Ohio State's wealth of offensive talent would score at will.
The Buckeyes had their success, but still entered the locker room at halftime with only 24 points on the board. Part of the reason the Red Wolves hung tough in the first half was the consistency of their special teams unit. Jones made sure to pay compliments to both his punter and kicker, the latter of whom made all four of his field goal attempts as the only Arkansas State player to record any points on the afternoon.
"Kick location was going to be critical [for punter Ryan Hanson]," Jones declared. "Dominic Zvada, a true freshman coming in here, those weren't easy kicks."
Even so, Jones observed no shortage of massive scoring chances Ohio State created for itself that ultimately made the difference in the contest.
"We gave up way too many explosive plays on the perimeter of our defense. I believe there were four plays of 40 yards or more for touchdowns. You can’t do that. You have to make an offense drive the ball."
“They have great football players, they have got really good schemes and they force you to execute.”– BUTCH JONES, On The Pillars of Success for Ohio State's Football Program
Arkansas State's head coach was particularly critical of how the Red Wolves came out for the final 30 minutes of the game in expressing, "I didn’t like the way we started the second half. I thought we lacked some intensity. And when you look at it, we had two three-and-outs offensively to start the second half. On [Ohio State’s] first two possessions they went down and scored."
Jones also condemned his team's third down performance and results in other crucial situations while proclaiming, "I think it came down to critical downs. When you look at third down conversions, I believe we were five out of 20. You’re not going to win very many games if you don’t possess the football.
The former Tennessee Volunteers head coach continued, "we can be a really good football team if we don’t beat ourselves."
Jones further credited Ohio State for making his team play at a faster pace in the red zone than what they would have preferred, which led to issues executing in goal line situations. He also acknowledged the embarrassment of riches in the Buckeye receiving corps, and attempted to keep a benevolent outlook on how his team could improve from facing such a surplus of talent.
"You never waste a failure. You never waste an opportunity to learn," Jones affirmed in searching for positives. "I know they’re very prideful, and they’ll come to work, and they’ll be better for it."
One inter-team storyline of interest entering this game was the potential return of former Ohio State halfback Brian Snead to Columbus — now a second string running back for Arkansas State. Snead sustained a suspension prior to the third game of the 2018 season against TCU, and The Lantern later reported he had been named as a suspect in a rape investigation from earlier that September.
In wake of the university's internal investigation, Snead ultimately received a dismissal from the team and university for violating the student code of conduct, which included a "permanent separation" from the university.
When asked about Snead's absence, Jones revealed he did not know until the middle of this week that Brian Snead would be "unavailable" for the game on Ohio State's campus.
On a final note, Jones expressed additional praise to his Red Wolves for taking care of the football. The Buckeye defense has yet to secure its first turnover of the season, which Jones alluded to in saying, "when you’re at this level, the first thing you want to see is a clean game. The biggest thing is we didn’t turn the football over on offense. That’s against a really good defense. That’s something to build upon. So, there are a lot of positives."
"Disappointed, but I love this group. They want to win."