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December 8, 2019

Ryan Day

Columbus, Ohio

Q. Last night you said that you thought should be No. 1. You still believe that, but what's your take on the decision, and is this a chip-on-your-shoulder moment?
RYAN DAY: I don't know. I mean, yeah, do I feel like we should have been the 1 seed, but LSU has had an unbelievable season. I think what Joe has done and what that team has done, they've done an unbelievable job. What Clemson has done, I could see that argument, as well. They're the defending national champs, and they haven't lost a game since and played great football.

At the end of the day, you've got to beat the best to go win the National Championship, and certainly Clemson is that. What matters at the end of the year is who's won, not right now.

So we've got a big challenge ahead of us as we start to prepare for Clemson.

Q. You think you deserved 1, though?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, I mean, I'm competitive, so sure.

Q. Did you think as you look back on it that things were kind of set up for it to end up like it did, though, with them playing the No. 4 team yesterday and you guys playing No. 8?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, I don't know. I mean, at this point I've kind of moved on. Now it's on to Clemson. I get it. It's not an easy decision. Nothing but respect for the committee. I know they have a hard decision to make. I thought we made our case, but it's time to move on.

Q. Three-week break before you play again -- not a break, you're going to be practicing, but is it a chance to exhale a little bit? What's your sense of accomplishment after these last three weeks especially?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, I told the team how proud I was of what they did at halftime because I don't know -- I know some people understand it, but I don't think everybody understands. At halftime, you get into those games, three emotional games in a row and then we've kind of got our backs up against the wall down two scores at halftime, and it took toughness and it took love in that locker room for us to come out the way we did in the third quarter. That was probably the coolest quarter of football I've ever been a part of, the combination of Buckeye Nation just taking over that stadium and then the way our offense and defense were in a frenzy.

There were players coming off the field with so much emotion that there was actually tears coming out of their eyes. It was one of the coolest experiences I've ever been a part of, and then to celebrate with that team after coming back like that, that was the best game we've had all year because of that, and we found out a lot about ourselves.

Q. The fake punt call yesterday, why was that the right call? What did you like about it?
RYAN DAY: Because it worked. If it didn't work, it wasn't a good call. I just felt like we needed a spark. Matt Barnes had come up to me earlier in the week and said, we might have something here, kind of showed why on film, and I thought it was well-thought-out, and at that point we needed a little something. Although it didn't turn into points, I thought it gave us a little jolt in that game, and also the feeling, hey, listen, I know we're on a big stage but we're going to be aggressive. You can't be afraid to be bold. I told the guys to be bold in that game, and that was an example of it.

Q. Did Chrisman drill that play at all during practice?
RYAN DAY: Not one inch, but he's good. We actually had him throw about a year ago in preseason when we weren't sure when we had Chugs coming in and we were short on numbers. He was taking snaps for us. He's played quarterback in his career, so we knew he could throw it. And plus, that stage isn't too big for Drue, so to make that throw, that wasn't an easy one, by the way. It wasn't wide open like we thought it would be, so it was well-executed.

Q. How much have you seen of Clemson this year, and what are your impressions of them if you have one?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, I mean, the impression is they're the defending champs and they have haven't lost since. They have a veteran quarterback now who has played a lot of football and is playing really good. Etienne is one of the best backs in the country. Tee Higgins and some of the wideouts they have are some of the best in the country, and what they do on defense and what Brent Venables has done year in and year out, they're the best defense in the country. If you look over the last five to ten years, you can make a case that they are the best. They change up looks. They're aggressive. He's aggressive, and they're very, very talented.

Q. Dabo has made a point all year of kind of playing the "we're overlooked" card. Does being No. 2 enable you to kind of play that card, too, or will you?
RYAN DAY: I mean, at this point I think it's kind of minuscule. We're all playing for the championship. There's four of us, and we've all got to play each other, so mix us up in a bag and let's go play.

Q. Whether it be in the off-season or spring or whatever, you're just trying to think about offense, do you ever just look around college football at defenses even if you're not going to be playing them, and if you do, does Clemson show up on that list when you look at them?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, I mean, we kind of -- I kind of look at offenses a little bit just to get different ideas of what people are doing. But yeah, I've watched Clemson this year and just watched what Coach Venables has done because he's pretty innovative. He changes up the different looks. He's aggressive; he comes at you. So yeah, definitely looked at him, and he does a great job, and those kids play hard for him. We've got to do a great job in preparation.

Q. Different topic: What was the status of Brendon White for the game yesterday?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, he wasn't available for personal reasons.

Q. When did you get those College Football Playoff shoes made?
RYAN DAY: Kevin Ries made those six weeks ago he told me, and he gave them to me today.

Q. Did you know six weeks ago that he had them?
RYAN DAY: No, I didn't. He just gave them to me today.

Q. What is your love of Air Maxes, and what's it like to be able to break those things out? Those probably would be, what, a thousand bucks on like a secondary website?
RYAN DAY: I don't know. I don't know. Yeah, I've always liked those original Air Maxes and then Kevin Ries started bringing out different pairs and the guys on the team really liked them. They kind of got fired up with the different colors. We wear them on game day, and yeah, I mean, I like the different styles and different colors. It's kind of a good look.

Q. When you put on -- it's not about the shoes, but when you get a gift like that, does it become real to you? Has it really sunk in yet that you've made it and what's really ahead?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, we're here now, like you said. We're in it right now. We're in the Final Four, and we said it was March Madness a few weeks ago. We're in March Madness; we won those three games to get to the Final Four and now we get to go play for the whole thing.

Q. Obviously it just preceded your time here, but the 2016 game against Clemson, I know you've talked before about making sure the players understand the history. Do you think that's something that you will use as a motivating factor for this team?
RYAN DAY: I think we'll use it as a reference point, but that's two very different teams. So yeah, I mean, I wasn't here, and a lot of guys weren't here. But we'll definitely use it as a reference point, but I don't think it's very relevant here.

Q. You said you've got to beat two teams no matter what. But when you as a coach and motivator see that number pop up and it's lower than where you were before, do you think I can use that? I just wonder how the brain works when that new information is processed.
RYAN DAY: Yes, again, trying not to get too far into that. I know we're just proud of what our guys have done. We've been done everything we can up to this point, and now it's time to go play Clemson. I think at this point you can't look back on those kind of things and we can go back and forth about it, and I know those guys had a hard decision to make. They made it, and we've got to move on.

We can't worry about that. Again, if we want to go win the whole thing, we have to be able to play everybody, so now we've got a chance to go play Clemson.

Q. Obviously probably most teams could use a break this time of year. The fact that you closed the season with three top-15 teams, how bad do you think your team needs some rest?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, I think it's really important. Physically actually we're okay, physically, to be honest. But I think emotionally and mentally we need a little break here. We need to get away. So we'll do a little lifting, a little running here, but what it takes to go win a game like that after the couple games we had leading up to it is just not easy to do. It was truly March Madness. It was like playoff football. So now they need some time away just to kind of catch their breath and get reenergized, but we've got to do a good job of getting our rest and getting healthy this week.

Q. I know obviously you're coming off the emotional high of Michigan and you haven't really probably dived into much film from last year, but Wisconsin's front was tough early. Is that just you guys coming off the high of Michigan or were they doing stuff schematically that was tough?
RYAN DAY: No, they're a good front, and they're one of the best rushing defenses in the country for a reason. Coach Leonard does a great job. They have a really good staff there. They have a good plan. One of the things that was tough for us is that we were not going to run that quarterback. We didn't talk about much of that going into the game, but we just weren't. With what we've done this year, that was fighting a little bit with one hand behind our back, but it is what it is, and we had to handle it, and I thought as the game went on and we started to wear them down a little bit, it became better and the guys played better.

But I think we had 230-something yards of offense in the first half. We just had some negative plays, the sacks, we fumbled in the red zone. So we just weren't very clean, but we were moving the ball just fine. We had a lot of offense, just could have been cleaner in some of the situations.

Q. Talk about the rest. It's only a 21-day window before you guys play again. Just logistically will this be that much different than a bye week in the middle of the season?
RYAN DAY: The only thing that's different is that we're going to let them go home for a couple days. So we'll have a game-week preparation, we'll let them go home for a few days and then we'll meet them at the bowl site, and then we'll redo that game week. So that will be the plan.

But this is very unique. Like you said, it's only three weeks, so we'll kind of treat the first one like a bye week, like you said. The second one will be a typical game week. We'll let them go home for a few days, and then we'll have the game week. That will be the plan. I think it's the best move, and I think we'll have them fresh and ready to roll.

Q. You were asked about the punt and the spark and that kind of thing. You've talked a lot late in the year, talent-equated games. This is going to be more equated than anything. Do you get more aggressive? Do you push it? Do you look for a spark or do you have to rein it in because maybe if you're playing a really, really great team, if you take a risk and it misses, maybe it really kills you. How does your thinking change at all against great teams?
RYAN DAY: Well, I think you've just got to do a good job schematically. If it makes sense and you think you can do something here and there, then you do it. But it has to be a calculated risk and it's all about the schematics at this point because, like you said, talent is equated. Both teams are going to play really, really hard. Who executes better, who's more prepared and who has the right game plan is going to win the game.

Q. You mentioned they're the defending national champions. Obviously a lot of those guys have been to the playoff, coaches, players. You guys don't have a ton of that. How do you kind of compensate for that lack of experience that they clearly have?
RYAN DAY: Well, I mean, I don't think -- the game hasn't changed. It's just being ready for that moment, and I thought we showed something in the second half that we could overcome a game and just impose our will on teams, and we have to carry that over into this game and show that we can do that and have enough confidence to do that against a team like Clemson.

But really, our guys see ourselves as being the best in the country. The moment won't be too big for our guys. It's just a matter of keeping our emotions in check and just doing a good job of staying focused.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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