Presser Bullets: Ryan Day and Xavier Johnson Discuss Importance of Beating Missouri, Charisma of Devin Brown at Cotton Bowl Arrival Press Conference

By Dan Hope on December 23, 2023 at 6:52 pm

Ohio State has arrived in Dallas.

Cotton Bowl week began Saturday as the Buckeyes arrived in the Lone Star State to begin their final week of preparation for their season finale against Missouri. Upon arrival at the team’s hotel, Ryan Day and Ohio State captain Xavier Johnson met with a small contingent of media members to preview the week ahead in the Buckeyes’ official arrival press conference.

While Day did not provide any updates on potential Cotton Bowl opt-outs, he and Johnson talked about why it’s crucial for the Buckeyes to win the game and praised Devin Brown’s charisma and skills, among several other topics of discussion.

Ryan Day

  • On the Cotton Bowl: “I know our guys are excited about it. Certainly have a great opponent in Missouri. Excited to have a great week of practice and get to work.”
  • Day said the entire team is “gonna be here.” He said he may have an update on opt-outs later on, “but right now, no updates on that.”
  • Day said Lathan Ransom will be out for the game due to the injury he suffered against Wisconsin, but there are no other players currently out with injuries aside from the players who had already been ruled out for the season.
  • On Missouri: “Their record speaks for itself in terms of losing two games. They’ve played well, complementary football.” Day says Missouri’s offense “puts you in a lot of stress” and its defense makes you work the ball down the field.
  • On Devin Brown: “I think the first thing you notice is his command of the huddle, his command of the offense. I think he’s done a nice job of that. He has a charisma about him that I think the guys appreciate. He’s got a chance to extend plays with his feet. He’s got a strong arm. He’s very intelligent. He has a lot of skills, a lot of traits that you look for in a quarterback. Now he’s just gotta go play the game.”
  • On Jaxon Smith-Njigba catching the game-winning touchdown on Monday Night Football: “Really happy for Jaxon. He’s been through a lot the last year-and-a-half. And he’s got a really bright future ahead of him in the NFL.”
  • On the importance of winning this game: “Winning the Cotton Bowl means a lot to the people of Ohio. It means a lot to Ohio State. It means a lot to our team to win this game and do it the right way. And so that’s what we’re gonna do this week.”
  • On the momentum Missouri carries into the game: “We know it’s going to be a challenge. We’d expect nothing less coming to the Cotton Bowl. 
  • Day wouldn’t comment specifically on players who could leave early for the NFL draft, saying he’ll allow them to make their own announcements, but “the guys that have to make that decision, they’re being really thorough, asking the right questions and doing it the right way.”

Xavier Johnson

  • On why it’s important for the Buckeyes to win the Cotton Bowl: “We put a lot of work into this season. People were sacrificing so much, sacrificing seeing certain people or whatever that may be. So it’s imperative that we come out of the season with something ... we’re coming down here to win a game, we’re coming down here to enjoy ourselves and kind of have a celebration of the 2023 Buckeyes.”
  • On Devin Brown: “I think he has a charisma, a confidence to him that he’s exuded.” He said Brown “was a pro the whole time” as he backed up Kyle McCord throughout the regular season. “He didn’t hang his head.”
  • On playing at AT&T Stadium: “I think just having an opportunity, like I said, to go out on a big stage, in an environment as incredible as the Cowboys’ stadium, I think our team is going to cherish that opportunity. And I think the way you cherish an opportunity like that is to go out there and give it your best.”
  • “You come to Ohio State because of the pressure. I think that if you’re running from the pressure, you’re scared of playing in big games or having your head on the line every Saturday, Ohio State’s not the place for you.” 

The Missouri Tigers also arrived in Dallas on Saturday and held their arrival press conference with head coach Eliah Drinkwitz and wide receiver Theo Wease Jr. earlier in the afternoon.

A quick recap of what they had to say:

Eliah Drinkwitz

  • On Ohio State: “They will be a tremendous challenge for us, and we look forward to preparing for that challenge throughout the week.”
  • On what the Cotton Bowl means for his team: “I think it’s a great opportunity for us. Our players earned this opportunity this year with the way they performed. And to have the national stage against a blueblood opponent is a great opportunity for our program to continue to build the brand that we want to be and the brand that we
    want to become.”
  • Drinkwitz said the possibility of Marvin Harrison Jr. or other Ohio State players opting out “hasn’t been any part of our conversation or concern. We are focused about our team and our opportunity here.”
  • Due to injuries, Missouri will be without three defenders who have started games this season: linebackers Ty’Ron Hopper and Chad Bailey and cornerback Ennis Rakestraw Jr.
  • No healthy Missouri players are opting out of the Cotton Bowl. “Our brotherhood is wanting to play this one final game, this one opportunity together, and we’re excited to do that.”
  • On what this season has been like for Missouri: “This has been an awesome season. ... Our coaching staff and players all working together, we’ve had a whole heck of a lot of fun. And we’re going to celebrate that this week, but we want to finish the right way with this bowl game.”
  • Drinkwitz said Missouri is trying not to get caught up in playing on a big stage. “For us, it’s all about being 1-0 this week.”
  • On Missouri wide receiver Mookie Cooper, who started his career at Ohio State: “Mookie has been a great teammate, a great player, a big-time contributor for us this year. Has made a lot of really important plays for us. He’s an unselfish player.”

Theo Wease Jr.

  • On the challenge of playing Ohio State: “We’ve got a great matchup. I think we’re going to be well-prepared for it.”
  • On Mookie Cooper: “His whole mindset is just how determined he is. He’s just being great and making everyone else around him better. It’s contagious. It feeds off on everybody.”
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