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OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY FOOTBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
November 23, 2019
Ohio State - 28, Penn State - 17
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. Ryan, you got a four-quarter test. How do you think Ohio State handled it?
COACH DAY: There was a point in the game there where we were taking shots. And brought the team together and offense and defense together. Typically you don't have an opportunity to do that in the game. It was a timeout on the field. I think it was to review the fumble, yeah. And I said, we talked about going into a big, heavyweight match and you're going to take shots. And one of the things about playing in a game like this is you have to be willing to take punches and you have to not flinch when it happens. And that was a great example.
That was the first time we really were taking shots there, 14 straight points, and I'm not proud of that because we literally gave it to them. We handed them the ball. And we're going to get that fixed.
But then to see the response of everybody involved, see the guys make some big plays, the big catch by Olave on offense. And to see the defense impose their will, it was unbelievable to see their response.
And that was the first time -- it was a little bit in the Wisconsin game -- but that we were really (indiscernible) right there, and we had to respond. And our backs were up against the wall, and we did.
So to win a game like that that was not clean shows the toughness that we have, because you walk out of that game thinking, oh, we probably could have won a lot bigger than that.
But Penn State's a great team. They did a really good job. But at the end of the day we've got to take care of the ball. And I said it to one of the coaches, maybe it's been a little too easy at times. This was hard today. We learned some lessons and hopefully we can go from there.
Q. How did you like your first playoff game?
COACH DAY: Well, it was about what I expected, which was, from the beginning to the end, it was you couldn't take a deep breath at all. Felt like you were holding your breath for 60 minutes of football.
But that's what you expect when you play a great team like Penn State. They came out and they battled really hard. They have really good players, really good scheme. But just to see the toughness of our guys, it was really great.
Q. Can you go through the decisions on long -- four fourth-downs, you went for it twice on fourth down on the second scoring drive. You punted it near the 50 on fourth-and-short, and the last one where it looked like Justin got nicked up.
COACH DAY: I guess we'll take them back, and help me through it because my brain is scattered a little bit. The last one, it was fourth and four, didn't want to kick a field goal at that time and have a low-trajectory field goal get blocked at that point. I didn't think it was smart. And it was fourth and four.
And at that point running the ball doesn't eat the clock out. We had been running the ball in the fourth quarter because I felt strong about the defense and I felt like they were playing well. And we need to eat the clock and kind of get out of the game was the way I felt on offense. So, I wasn't as aggressive.
But that fourth and four, it was a chance to shoot the ball in the end zone. They came on a blitz. They did a really good job with it. We didn't pick it up. I would have liked Justin to throw it away, not take the hit. He was trying to make the play. Those are things that happen; you make the decisions do and the best you can.
The next one was the one at midfield. Yeah, so I felt the defense was playing great. It was fourth and short. I felt if Drue could keep them inside the 10-yard line, our defense and our fans, who were unbelievable today -- I don't know how many false starts we got today with the noise, but that was great. We asked Buckeye Nation to be loud in this game and they were exactly that; they were a factor in this game.
I can't give them enough credit. I know how the team appreciates everybody coming out early and being loud. That means everything to us. So, thank you.
But I knew if we could pin them in, play the field-position game we'd be okay.
What was the other one?
Q. Going for it on the scoring drive -- (inaudible)?
COACH DAY: I just felt like we were rolling pretty good at that point. I felt we were moving the ball well. And I just felt there's times to be aggressive in the game and those are four-down territories and with our offense we should convert in those moments.
The one at the end of half, I just felt like we were in a great place, and then we got a penalty and took a sack. And I was, like, you know what? Let's just get out of this thing before it gets ugly. It's 14-0. We're kind of reeling a little bit. It's kind of a hectic first half.
We're moving the ball good, but we fumbled the ball there on the 1-yard line and there was a penalty. It was kind of like, let's just regroup at halftime.
Q. How is Justin Fields at this moment? He carried the ball more than ever today. We saw him get banged up at the end. Number two, what is it like to get your first goal, which is Big Ten East championship in your first year as a head coach and for this team?
COACH DAY: I'm not going to sit around and think about it too much because we've got so much football ahead of us. But it's a tribute to the seniors, and to see the seniors play the way they did today, and how much it meant to them to play their last game at OSU, and to send them out with this kind of win is huge. I think they all know how much football is ahead of us.
But it is a huge feat for this team to get a shot to go to Indy. And some of those guys played great today. How about Justin Hilliard, somebody who spent a lot of time in this program, put his heart and soul into it. And to have the play of the game with that interception, I couldn't be happier for him. We had a lot of guys who made a lot of great plays in this game, but he was one that really stuck out to me.
Q. And Justin Fields?
COACH DAY: He's good. He's good. He's a warrior. I'm telling you, he's tough. He ran the ball today. He extended plays on third down. Heart of a lion. I love that kid. He's tough.
Q. (Indiscernible) the middle of the week, is this an anything goes kind of day? Did you have any kind of conversation with him about that, that he might be leaned on?
COACH DAY: He knew. And he's up for the challenge. And again some quarterbacks they look at you sideways when you have that conversation. He doesn't; he looked back, whatever it takes Coach. You talk about a tough kid, he is tough.
Q. What's going through your mind when you have a 21-0 lead, things seem to be going okay? Then it's 21-17 and you're self-destructing. Do you think having this adversity will help you in the long run?
COACH DAY: Absolutely I think it will because we haven't really faced that before. And now it goes to show you if we take care of the ball and move the ball, who knows what the rest of the game would have looked like?
But we didn't. We literally handed them the ball in two straight drives and gave them points. And then we still win the game the way we did, which was unbelievable.
But, yeah, this is something that we have to learn from and that could have cost us the whole season. So the stakes are high in a game like this and so we have to learn from that.
Q. Your mindset during that span.
COACH DAY: Well, it was how do I get these guys together. And we have to draw a line in the sand and say, okay, enough's enough. We're taking shots here and we had that timeout where we were checking the fumble. I think the referee said, I think it's a fumble.
So, we rallied those guys together and just, listen, what kind of response are we going to have? It's the leaders and the other guys. And to their credit they responded in a big way.
Q. I don't want to suppose things, but you seemed really fired up after the game like this. Did you learn things about the team today that you didn't winning every game by at least 24 points?
COACH DAY: Yeah, for sure. I think when you win games like that -- you know your team, but you don't see them in that environment. You don't see them with everything on the line. You talk about everything on the line, everything is on the line at that moment and everything's real.
And the momentum's going their way. You can feel it. And at that point, how do you have the strength to then turn the tides and get the momentum back towards you? That's not easy to do.
And they did it. And, again, I just, I'm proud to be their coach. I'm proud to be part of this thing. It's a special group. And that's what happens when you play in a game like this. It's not pretty; it's not always going to be that way. But if you keep swinging that's life. And what a great lesson for our guys to learn.
Q. Your defense only gave up 60 yards, I want to say, in the first half, something along those lines, maybe a little bit more. But the turnovers kind of put them in a tough spot. At the end you get the negative plays, you get the sacks. And Chase Young in particular, three sacks today, coming back off of tough situation for him. Just thoughts about the defense and Chase Young?
COACH DAY: Oh my gosh, I just think Chase Young deserves to be in New York. How dominant of a player is Chase Young? And the impact he has on the game is just unbelievable.
And the defense in general, I thought Shaun Wade did a tremendous job on Hamler. He's a really good player. I thought Okudah and Arnette were excellent. Pete Werner had the matchup against Freiermuth all day. I thought he did a good job with those guys. We did a good job up front.
I thought Baron Browning flashed at times. Malik was fighting. They were all in there, really working hard and they won the line of scrimmage.
But like you said, it was gritty. When you look at the game at halftime, looking at the statistics, we were 250 total yards offense, I think like you said, maybe 60 yards total offense on the other side. They had four first downs and it's only 14-0. Like, my God.
You can get in those games and it can be so frustrating, but you just have to keep swinging and it's not going to be perfect and that's life. And it was just good to get an early win like that.
Q. What's your philosophy on Michigan? Are you just a pure week-to-week guy, or have you been talking about that team all season and preparing for them any way?
COACH DAY: We live it every day, the Team Up North is something that we talk about every single day. And the best way to respect a rivalry is to work it every day. And we do.
Once this game got over -- we're going to enjoy this one. This was a hard-fought win, a top 10 team, really well coached. But quickly we transition to that rivalry game, which means everything to us.
Q. Specifically again, the fourth-and-five early on, where you call the quarterback run for Justin, you definitely could have kicked the 43-yard field goal to go up two scores. Was there any hesitation in your mind?
COACH DAY: Yeah, there was. But I just I try not to second-guess in those moments. Trust your instinct and go. And you know what? If it doesn't work, you're going to get second-guessed.
But I thought the look was right. We got them in man-to-man coverage. Everything about it was right. If I didn't get the right look, I was probably going to bang a timeout and think about kicking a field goal, but it was good. The backer ran out of the box. They're up the field. We hit it, and it was a huge play of the game.
Q. That play call, was that something you guys felt like you knew you were going to be able to use (indiscernible)? Myers gets the block on the linebacker --
COACH DAY: It was a play that we had for second and long or third-down situations like that. And to see the execution level on that was pretty good. It was not always that easy on the draws, but we haven't really shown that all year. I thought it was a really good job executing.
Q. You're so aggressive, and you talked about sort of in the second half you weren't as aggressive. I don't know if that means you think maybe you were conservative a little bit, maybe just not throwing the ball as much. Is that just believing in the defense? Is that feeling like, man, this game is a little bit hectic? I'm not sure. What's the thought process?
COACH DAY: It's everything you said. It was a little hectic. We're kind of turning the ball over. Our defense was playing strong. I talked to the guys, listen, we're still going to try to be aggressive, but we need to get some first downs and eat up some clock here. And that's what we're doing.
We're typically, in a moment like that, if it was a back-and-forth game and we had a little bit more rhythm in the game, we'd be throwing the ball more down the field and being more aggressive.
But I just felt like defense was playing strong. Let's just kind of eat some clock up and try to shorten the game. And it's not easy to do for an offensive guy. And punting the ball, I thought, at one point was not easy either.
Q. Along those lines, looked like you were married to the run right from the get-go. I think 91 yards on that first series and then 20 carries, was it, for Justin? Is that something you thought you had to do coming into the game? Talk us through that, because it had a different vibe this offense.
COACH DAY: I thought that they had a very good run defense. And in order to get an extra number in there, you have to equate with the quarterback. And there was a good number of those that weren't designed for him. The draw certainly was and there was a couple others. But for the most part you're reading somebody. And their guy -- typically the read was to pull the ball and that doesn't necessarily always happen that way. But when you're playing against really good defenses, that's something you have to do. And I thought he made great decisions all day.
Q. To give future opponents a look, something to think about, does that factor into this at all?
COACH DAY: No, this is all about winning this game.
Q. What about Olave, with the catch in the end zone.
COACH DAY: Unbelievable. I thought he and K.J., those two big throws and catches were huge in this game. We're looking for explosives in that area. And a huge play. I thought that K.J. did a great job creating separation on that route; and then Chris just going up, and just the heart of somebody to go up and get a ball like that -- I thought Justin threw two really good balls there. But in big moments, those are clutch throws, the things you think about five years from now, you go back, those are the plays.
But to see Chris go up and get that ball and battle for that ball, what an unbelievable play.
Q. Five years ago on the same day Justin Hilliard and Jashon Cornell announced their commitments that was one of the most impactful recruiting days of the last decade dating back to the beginning of Urban Meyer's tenure here. To see both of them take the long way to production in their careers, some injuries, some moving positions and whatever, but both of them made a play that ended a drive when you guys needed a stop big time. You mentioned what Justin did. But can you reflect on what a fifth-year senior can mean in this program and somebody who has overcome what both of those guys have overcome to be put in these positions?
COACH DAY: I couldn't put them to words. There's so much that goes into what you just said and it was a great question because Justin Hilliard and Jashon Cornell are two guys in our program and to have maturity like guys like that, 22-year-old men in the same room with 18-year-old guys came out of high school, there's such a different maturity level. And to have guys like that that keep fighting and swinging their journey might be different.
Davon Hamilton is another guy, his journey was different. As you grow up, start to work through some adversity, you work through injuries and, like you said, different things and you get calloused and tougher and you learn about yourself and you get what you saw today, which was unbelievable plays by both of those guys. And that was a huge reason why we won today.
Q. When you have -- I think the school of thought sometimes is that if a player gets to his fifth year in your program something went wrong. This is your first game this year where you're sweating late in the third quarter. I'm wondering when you're in a game like this to have fifth-year seniors is that an important thing for you and how much of an impact for a guy in a program this long can make in these types of games?
COACH DAY: I don't think that's in fact the case when you have a fifth-year senior that something's going wrong. I love having those guys around. I love having fifth-year seniors around, guys who have been around and you don't have to worry about them with academics. You don't have to worry about them tonight enjoying the win. They're going to go home. They're going to be with their friends and family and people they love and they're going to be here Sunday morning being ready to go.
Branden Bowen is another guy; he has a child. He's a man. Those guys really help you especially this time of year just the maturity level and I love having those two guys around.
Q. In football, you see this generally sometimes where a second string quarterback has to come in mid game and he thrives some. What complications are going on there that maybe you saw today?
COACH DAY: I think that I don't know too much about the situation there with their quarterback Levis but I think he was a little bit stronger running. So they kind of leaned on some of those quarterback runs and they were kind of pounding it in there and got a little rhythm going but also I think they were feeding off the defense who bought those two couple of turnovers on us and it was kind of part of that momentum and then once we put our foot in the ground and stopped it we kind of got it under control.
And again I can't give enough credit to our defensive staff, Jeff Hafley and Craig Madison and Al Washington and Matt Barnes and obviously Larry Johnson. These guys have done an unbelievable job on defense. They have great relationships with the players, the scheme is off the charts. They put guys in a great situation. They make great adjustments and they motivate these guys at a high level. To see those guys play the way they did today, they get all the credit in the world.
Q. You talked a little bit about the benefit of being in this kind of game. What do you think it will mean next week to have been in a slugfest?
COACH DAY: I think you have their attention now. I know that sounds crazy, 11 weeks, 12 weeks into the season but I think you do. When you say things to somebody for months at a time and you beat teams by 30 and 40 points, they kind of look at you like, yeah, I gotcha Coach, we're good. You keep saying it and you keep saying it. And now we're into November, and I think now they can look at you say, okay, Coach, gotcha. And it's very unique that we be this far into the season before something like that would happen but it's true.
Q. Are you going to get in the car turn up the jam on the way home, like you said that's the most fun with the family?
COACH DAY: There's no question I'll be going as fast as I can up 315 with the music as loud as I can with the windows down and then I'm going to go sit on the couch with the family and enjoy a win.
Q. What is that jam?
COACH DAY: It's whatever my son and my two daughters want to be playing. I let them choose whatever it is. I don't even know what it is sometimes. I like a couple country songs.
The one we play in the locker room is Ballin'. I'm not sure who sings it. But that's our celebratory song in the car but also in the locker room with the team.
Q. You'll be grinning from ear to ear.
COACH DAY: Yes, I will.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports