The Peach Bowl festivities have officially started.
Ryan Day met with the media on Zoom after Ohio State's coaches and players arrived in Atlanta late on Sunday and settled into their hotel on Monday. The fourth-year head coach spoke of the opportunity in front of the Buckeyes, the significance of another trip to the CFP for the program and how his team will match up with Georgia on New Year's Eve.
Here is a rundown of everything Day said in the press conference:
- Day said Ohio State "had a really good practice (Monday)" and is "looking forward to a great week here (in Atlanta)." The Buckeyes arrived in Atlanta late on Christmas Day.
- "The whole month has been a really good month for us as a team. We've got a lot of really good work done." Day said Ohio State broke up bowl practices into fundamentals and Georgia planning. The fundamental work is over, and the Buckeyes have now fully moved on to prepping for the Bulldogs.
- "We'll see as we get toward Saturday, but I can say our guys have been working hard, our staff has been working hard... We're gonna prepare as hard as we can on and off the field this week." Day said Ohio State will continue working hard in the next few days leading up to New Year's Eve.
- Day said Ohio State has learned from its experiences in previous College Football Playoff trips to help them against Georgia. "We have some really good examples to draw on for what will transpire during this game... Every yard is a fight, every first down, every point."
- Day said Ohio State's experienced players will be relied on heavily to have success on Saturday. "Leadership is gonna have to play really well. ... Veterans are gonna have to play veteran." Day believes the Buckeyes have grown tremendously from Week 1 to now and the veteran leadership has played a significant role in that.
- "We certainly have a really talented opponent in Georgia... We know what we are up against." Day said the Bulldogs have talent everywhere, especially on the defensive side of the football, and he looks forward to the challenge they will bring Ohio State on Saturday.
- "You have to keep as many things routine as possible," Day said regarding travel to Atlanta and prepping for the Bulldogs in a place that isn't Columbus. "Our guys are gonna do a great job of focusing on what's important here, and that's playing in the game on Saturday."
- Day said Ohio State's playoff uniforms honor the traditions of former teams. "That's been something that we've done here in the past. Our guys like it. We've gotten good feedback on them, so we went with them again this year."
- Day said Georgia has done "a great job recruiting and has depth at so many positions." He added that Georgia has enough players at each position that it allows them to "roll" different players at several positions. "That lets us know we can't focus too much on guys" and Ohio State needs to be thorough with its scouting before the game to know what each player on the Bulldogs bring to the table.
- Day said Ohio State will gauge whether running an offense with tempo will work against Georgia and "will see how that fits" into the game plan. "I think if you have the ability to switch it up from play to play, possession to possession, that can become a weapon for us."
- Day says a "good portion" of the team didn't come on the team charter to Atlanta last night as players were coming from different parts of the country after their brief holiday break.
- Day said Georgia will look to "challenge you in a lot of different areas," especially with the run game. "At the end of the day, it's gonna come down to fundamentals" to beat the Bulldogs and will take a lot of focus from the players to make sure they put themselves in positions to be successful. "Having the extra weeks of preparation have helped the guys for sure."
- Day said Georgia's defensive line will look to cause disruption in Ohio State's backfield. "When you look at their defensive line, you see really good players with really good size... I think they do a really good job with their hands and eat up space... Certainly, we are gonna get challenged here on Saturday."
- Day said Ohio State ran a lot of "good on good" drills with Ohio State's starters on offense and defense facing each other to have the players "keep their edge," which Day believes will help the Buckeyes as they try to ready themselves for Georgia on Saturday.
Tommy Eichenberg and Cade Stover also met with the media on Monday, as did Georgia coach Kirby Smart, center Sedrick Van Pran and cornerback Kamari Lassiter, and we have some notes from what each of them had to say below.
- Eichenberg says he had "no familiarity" with the Georgia program before studying their tape over the last couple of weeks, beyond catching some of their games throughout the season.
- Eichenberg said Ohio State will be ready for anything Georgia throws at them. He expects the Bulldogs to be physical in all three phases of the games but believes the Ohio State defense will need to be most prepared for how UGA will attack the Buckeyes' defensive front with a powerful run game that deserves respect.
- Stover said the Michigan game stings, yes, but right now we're not worried about that" and said Ohio State's "focus is all on Georgia right now."
- Stover said Ohio State has plenty of very versatile players, leading to athletes like him, Steele Chambers, Xavier Johnson, etc. "sticking at different positions" that they were not recruited to play for the Buckeyes but ended up playing this season.
- "Anytime you have an opportunity to get back on the field earlier than expected is beneficial," Stover said regarding Ohio State's acceptance into the College Football Playoff and the Buckeyes' chance to play for a national championship.
- Stover said Ohio State isn't satisfied with any possession in which they don't score a touchdown. Still, he acknowledged the "other team practices too" and is prepared to stop the Buckeyes, so they understand they won't score on every possession, requiring them to be solid with in-game adjustments to be successful.
- Stover said the tight end "is a key piece to a good offense." He said the position has had a revival recently because of how important it is to have a player who can block and catch passes, which talented tight ends do at an extremely high rate.
- Stover said Ohio State's players are not focused on what is being said about them by the media and fans and are "just focused on winning this game."
- Cade Stover says he'll "never admit" how much injuries impacted his performance down the stretch of the regular season, as he believes football players "sign up" to play with bumps and bruises and thinks that it's part of the job description for a college football player.
- Asked about injured starting wide receiver Ladd McConkey and right tackle Warren McClendon, Smart said “We’re excited to get those guys hopefully back.”
- Asked if he expects Ohio State’s defensive scheme on Saturday to look like it did for most of the season or look like it did against Michigan, Smart said “We expect to see a little bit of all of it.” He thinks that will be determined in part by what offensive personnel Georgia uses.
- Asked about recruiting C.J. Stroud, Smart praised Stroud’s mother and said he has been impressed by Stroud’s maturity and even-keeled disposition. Smart said Georgia really liked his tools back then, but he’s “become a complete quarterback” at Ohio State.
- Smart said the Bulldogs use three running backs regularly because they feel that’s crucial to keep their backs healthy.
- Smart said it helps to have already played in Mercedes-Benz Stadium twice this year but he thinks Ohio State will be plenty familiar with the venue by Saturday after practicing there all week.
Sedrick Van Pran
- Van Pran said Ohio State moves around a lot up front on defense, so that’s something the Bulldogs have to be prepare for.
- He said he doesn’t view Georgia as having a big advantage because of its familiarity playing in Mercedes-Benz Stadium. “This is a playoff game. Ohio State’s going to give everything they have.”
- “Ohio State, they definitely have a lot of great receivers, great quarterback. We’ve got a lot of respect for them.”
- Lassiter said the Bulldogs “got back to the basics” after giving up 502 passing yards vs. LSU.
- Lassiter said Ohio State’s offense is “pretty unique with what they do and how well they do it.” He described C.J. Stroud as a “dynamic quarterback” and said he is impressed by the Buckeyes’ receivers on the outside.