Northwestern Quotebook: Ryan Day’s “Glad This Game’s Over With,” Wind Made It “Impossible” To Throw The Ball And C.J. Stroud Doesn’t “Play This Game to Please Anybody”

By Griffin Strom on November 6, 2022 at 8:35 am
C.J. Stroud

Your eyes won’t soon forgive you for subjecting them to Saturday’s Ohio State-Northwestern matchup.

With sideways rain and 30-plus mile-an-hour wind hindering both offenses, only 28 points were scored in a game in which the over/under was set at 55.5. Ohio State had its lowest offensive output of the season (283 total yards) and was outgained for just the second time all year.

C.J. Stroud finished with a career-low 76 yards on just 10-for-26 passing, but it was clear that the elements had a lot to do with those numbers. After the game, Ryan Day described just how difficult it was to get the passing game going in the extreme weather.

“I've never been around conditions like this. I don't know what the numbers show, but there must have been 30-mile-an-hour winds. And if you ever tried playing golf in 30-mile-an-hour winds, it's hard to get off the tee, forget throw a football. We saw this coming, So we had a plan. You could see we were under center some and tried to handle it that way. I mean, there were times when I was concerned about the snap coming back in the shotgun; it was so windy. And obviously, there was rain there.

“So we tried throwing the ball. Very, very difficult to throw the ball, for sure, in this game, but almost impossible into the wind. And when you're playing against somebody that knows you're not throwing the ball, they put two extra guys now in the box. Usually, they put one guy down and the safety in the middle of the field. When they put two guys in and play zero, they say, 'What are you gonna do?'”

Day is always relieved to get a win, but given the unpredictability the weather created in Evanston and the potentially catastrophic upset loss that was on the table for Ohio State, Saturday’s victory only compounded that feeling.

“Even when we tried to get the ball on the perimeter with some of the movement passes, it still wasn't just crisp because that ball was darting in and out. So I can tell you this right now, I'm glad this game's over.”

While Stroud had his worst day as a passer, he found surprising success in the run game, where he finished with a career-high 79 yards on just six carries, including a 44-yard rush that set up the game-sealing score in the fourth quarter.

Stroud has often been criticized for not running the ball more often, but said after the game he found no extra satisfaction in showing off his wheels on Saturday.

“I don't really care. I'm willing to do anything to win, (whether) that's throwing the ball, running the ball. So I don't play this game to please anybody. Of course I want to be appreciative of Buckeye Nation, which I am, and the fans out there that support me. But at the end of the day, I'm here to win for my brothers in the locker room and my family back home. So in any way I can do that, then I'll do such.”

If anything, Stroud was frustrated that he couldn’t get the Buckeye pass attack into gear, even if the weather was the primary reason for the unit's struggles through the air. Still, Stroud said the group made a valiant effort.

“I'm playing instinct ball, so I try to do my best and it was really tough. I'm frustrated with the way that I was kind of throwing it, I was trying to rip it in as hard as I could. But at the end of the day man, I don't have any regrets. But I'm blessed to be able to play this sport, so I got to be able to take the good with the bad.”

While rushing yards didn’t come easy for the Buckeyes early on, Ohio State finished with its best performance on the ground since before the bye week. Miyan Williams ran for 111 yards and two touchdowns with TreVeyon Henderson sidelined with injury, and his 27-yard touchdown on the first drive of the third quarter gave the Buckeyes their first lead of the game.

Emeka Egbuka had the only other touchdown of the day for Ohio State, and that too came on the ground. The Buckeye wideout found the end zone on a second-quarter end-around to score the ball from 15 yards out and give Ohio State some much-needed momentum on offense.

When asked how different the game would’ve been if played in better weather, Egbuka said he wasn’t sure. However, he cited the productivity of the Buckeye pass attack under different conditions, and said re-establishing the run game was a silver lining after back-to-back lackluster efforts on the ground coming into this weekend.

“I can't really be able to say (how the game would’ve been different in better weather). I feel like we have a very dangerous passing attack. But you know, Miyan Williams is gonna get it done every time and our line was rocking off the ball today. So we're happy to see that. It adds a new facet to our game.”

Ohio State expected poor weather, but Egbuka said the Buckeyes still had to make some adjustments on the fly as they realized just how difficult passing the ball would be at Ryan Field.

“There was definitely changes that were made. But you know, that comes with any game on Saturday because your opponent throws stuff at you that you haven't worked the entire week. So just changing the things we need to be changing, just executing in ways that we needed to.”

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