Another week, another round of player interviews at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.
After Ohio State's midweek practice on Wednesday, six players met with the media to discuss the Buckeyes' win over Wisconsin and look ahead to the Buckeyes’ road matchup at Rutgers. Those players were quarterback Kyle McCord, wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr., defensive tackle Mike Hall Jr., cornerback Davison Igbinosun, linebacker Cody Simon and offensive lineman Donovan Jackson.
Among the topics discussed, McCord said Emeka Egbuka has "looked really good in practice" after a three-game absence, Harrison shared that he is "honored" to be in the Heisman Trophy conversation, Igbinosun explained his excitement to go head-to-head with his brother Desmond at Rutgers and Cody Simon called Jack Sawyer "relentless."
Videos from the six players’ media sessions and bullet-point recaps of what the players said can be found below.
QB Kyle McCord
- McCord said his ankle has been injured since the Notre Dame game and he “re-tweaked it” on his 3rd-and-3 scramble in the third quarter against Wisconsin, but it’s “feeling pretty good right now.’ He said he “thought it would hurt worse than it does now” coming out of the game.
- On Marvin Harrison Jr.: “I don’t think it really matters what the defense tries to do to him, what route we give him, he’s going to find a way to get open and make plays.” McCord said “there’s never a time where going to Marvin isn’t a great idea … I think at the same time, he knows, if they want to double him or give him extra attention, it’s going to open other people up.”
- On playing against Rutgers, where his father played quarterback: “Growing up, that was the team I grew up cheering for, going to their games. And so to kind of see it all come full circle … it’s going to be fun. A bunch of family and friends there.”
- On the expected return of Emeka Egbuka this week: “To get a guy like that back is huge. He’s looked really good in practice. I thought he was gonna be good enough to go last weekend, but I think they just played it safe. So you know, whenever that game comes, when he’s finally back out there, I’m excited for it.”
- McCord said his first interception against Wisconsin “was just a dumb play on my part, and I think I have to grow from that.” He continued: “Sometimes as bad as it is, I think the best way to not make a mistake twice is to do it in a moment like that.”
- On the second interception: “The cornerback, he made a good play; obviously, I have to see him and do a better job just being safe with the ball and checking it down.” He described it as “another learning moment.”
- McCord said he views Rutgers as an “underrated team,” noting “they’re 6-2. for a reason.” He views Greg Schiano as “one of the better coaches in college football.”
- On Ohio State being No. 1 in the College Football Playoff rankings: “At the end of the day, we know none of that matters if we don’t continue to win. And although it’s cool to be the No. 1 team in the nation, it’s November 1st. I think the biggest thing is keeping the main thing the main thing and that’s winning, that’s stacking these games and continuing to improve. And if we’re still the No. 1 team at the end of the year, then that’s the goal.”
WR Marvin Harrison Jr.
- On being a part of the Heisman Trophy conversation: "Playing receiver, you understand it's a long shot to win the Heisman. Obviously, it's been in the past. I'm honored to be in the conversation, but that's not something to focus on at the moment. We still have four games left in the regular season. All our goals are still in front of us." Harrison added, "My goals before the season were to beat 'The Team Up North' and win the Big Ten championship. Those are the two goals I am focused on now."
- Harrison said it "does suck" that Ohio State has dealt with various health issues over the past two seasons. Harrison referred to Jaxon Smith-Njigba, TreVeyon Henderson and others in 2022 and Emeka Egbuka and Henderson in 2022 as times when the Buckeyes' offense has had to perform without some of its best offensive players. "But it's next-man-up mentality. Carnell has stepped up and has played tremendous. Julian (Fleming), Xavier (Johnson) – speaking for receivers, obviously – it's a next-man-up mentality."
- On what can happen when Ohio State returns to full strength: "Our offense, when we have everybody fully healthy, it can be very dangerous."
- Harrison said he "feels pretty strong at the moment" after sustaining a sprained ankle in Ohio State's win over Notre Dame in Week 4.
- On Kyle McCord receiving criticism after his performance vs. Wisconsin: "I know the work he puts in. We all have confidence in him moving forward. Whatever the noise may be outside, we block all that out. It doesn't really mean nothing. One day, they will praise you; the next day, they will tear you down. He's done a great job of being level-headed and not worrying about anything being said outside this building."
- On Davison Igbinosun: "Davison has done a great job all year. He brought a special ability to that defense. ... He's one of the bigger corners we have. ... Practicing against him has been great. He's a dog. He loves to compete. He's super exciting to go against. He's a super competitor. (I'm always) excited for those matchups."
- Harrison on receiving extra attention from defenses in the first nine weeks of 2023: "I have the confidence in myself to make any play whether there are three guys on me (or one)."
- Harrison said Rutgers is better in the defensive backfield in 2023. "Definitely very talented, as you can see."
- Harrison on his younger brother, Jett Harrison, who has shined in youth football this fall: "He's great. He's more talented than I ever was at that age. He's starting early with the routes and everything from my dad. I am super excited to see how he comes along. It's gonna be very scary to see how he progresses."
- When asked if he has already recruited Jett to Ohio State, Harrison said, "Yeah, of course."
DT Mike Hall Jr.
- On how effective he, Tyleik Williams and Ty Hamilton have been on the inside: “We’ve definitely been caging the pocket very well and causing quarterbacks to feel uncomfortable in the pocket.”
- On the team’s performance at Wisconsin: “It was a great environment to play in, definitely a lot of energy going around. It was just a crazy game. But overall, I feel like we handled everything pretty good.”
- Hall said he feels he’d been in a bit of a “slump” for a few weeks before heading to Madison. “I feel like I had to come out and get my guys going, but also get myself going. Just starting to produce more, make stuff happen on the field.”
- Hall and defensive line coach Larry Johnson have been reviewing film to find little tweaks to his game. “Just finding the things to make me an even better player. Not anything I’m doing crazy wrong or anything like that, just finding ways to make my value go up.”
- On whether his preparation has adjusted to play one-techinque defensive tackle more often than he does three-technique: “No, not really. Regardless, you’ve got to be able to knock the offensive line back. Regardless, you’ve got to play the run always. You’ve just got to knock the ball back and get off the ball, really.”
- On Jack Sawyer: “Jack’s my dog. He’s been doing pretty good, using his toolbox and getting off the ball and sacking the quarterback. So I would say just keep it going and keep pressuring every week.”
CB Davison Igbinosun
- On going head-to-head this week with his older brother Desmond Igbinosun, a safety at Rutgers: “It’s a dream come true.” He said he thought growing up that they would be playing together on the same team.
- Igbinosun said his brother has “helped me the most of anybody” in becoming the football player he is today.
- Asked who wins the one-on-one matchups between him and his brother, Igbinosun smiled and said, “I do.”
- Igbinosun said he initially committed to Rutgers in high school because that was “all I knew.” He chose to go to Ole Miss because he wanted to play in the SEC, and he chose to go to Ohio State after the transfer portal because he wanted to compete for a national championship.
- Igbinosun said his mother is getting a split Ohio State/Rutgers jersey for Saturday’s game.
- Igbinosun described Rutgers quarterback Gavin Wimsatt as “a dynamic football player,” but he said Wimsatt’s ability to run won’t change how aggressively he plays.
LB Cody Simon
- On Steele Chambers and Tommy Eichenberg playing together: “They play so well and have a lot of chemistry together. From what (Jim Knowles and I) have talked about, it’s really just make the most of my opportunity when I get it. I’m not promised anything. When I’m lucky enough to get my snaps in I have to make the most of those and play as hard as I can.”
- On what makes him able to play either Mike or Will: "I think communication is a big part of any linebacker position. When you’re able to talk to everyone and you know where everyone is going to be, it helps you know where you’re going to be too. The Mike controls the defense, so having that knowledge and translating it into another spot, it just helps.”
- On Jack Sawyer: “He’s super physical and he’s relentless. I think you saw it last game when he was on the other side of the field on that goal line stop and came over and made the play. We’re so lucky to have him.”
- On Ohio State being named the No. 1 team in the CFP rankings: “I didn’t really watch it because I think it came on after practice. But it doesn’t really change anything about our goals. Our goals have been the same and it’s not the end of the season yet.”
- On why he’s stayed at Ohio State despite having a starting spot in 2021 then eventually losing it to Tommy Eichenberg and eventually fought his way back on the field: “I guess I go back to the reason I came here in the first place. I didn’t come here for a coach or for a specific thing. I love this whole place and there was no other option for me. I want to be here and contribute as much as possible. I love the culture here and I love everything about Ohio State. When adversity strikes and Tommy started playing, and he got those reps and I’m not getting them, my focus turns to working as hard as I can to contribute as well as I can.”
OL Donovan Jackson
- On whether the offensive line took a “step forward” against Wisconsin: “We felt like we executed a lot better. We knew that one of things that Wisconsin prides itself on is physical toughness on both sides of the ball, so we knew that it was going to be a battle. We got the shots we wanted, we got the looks we wanted. Coach Day was like, ‘Keep your pad level low and run off the ball,’ and I feel like we did that pretty well.”
- Getting TreVeyon Henderson back at running back “feels great,” Jackson said. “TreVeyon, he gets north and south very fast. So we know that if we give him an inch, he’s going to take a mile. So as an offensive line, it’s on us to be able to give him that opening to be able to hit the hole.”
- On what Emeka Ebguka’s return would bring back to the offense: “It brings everything back to the offense. Emeka is such a versatile player and a great guy to be around. Having him on the field, it does stuff to defenses. You have to pay attention to where he is, and doing that leaves other people open.”
- On Carson Hinzman: “He’s growing weekly. As a starting center at Ohio State, there’s a lot on your plate, especially with the mental side of everything, because wherever he points is where we go. Whether it be right or wrong. But he’s done a great job. He’s coming along really well in terms of his confidence, in terms of his play.”
- Jackson feels the offensive line has continued to “stack days” as the weeks have gone on. “Every day, Coach (Justin) Frye emphasizes, ‘If you made the same mistake yesterday, then it was a lost day you had.’ So having that mind set of, if it’s a Tuesday practice and I make mistake, I’m not going to make it Wednesday.”
- On whether perimeter runs with Xavier Johnson loosen up the box to run inside for Ohio State: “I feel with all runs, if you hat it up correctly, they can all be big runs. It’s the same thing with outside or inside. X gives us great looks when he runs the ball same as TreVeyon gives us great looks when he runs the ball. So as an O-line, not just as an O-line but as an offense in general, whether it be wideouts or even Kyle throwing his shoulder in there sometimes, making sure we block the right guys and make sure we get the hole available, because if we give them some space, we can go.”