May 29, 2024
Ohio State Buckeyes coach Ryan Day took some time to discuss his team’s Cotton Bowl Classic matchup against the Missouri Tigers during a teleconference. Here’s the transcript.

They’ve seen Arlington in bowl-game capacity. They’ve been 11-1 and near the top of the college football landscape. They’ve been in the Cotton Bowl.

The difference this time, however, is that the Buckeyes are facing an opponent they haven’t in 25 years: the Missouri Tigers. Being paired off with an SEC school for a New Year’s Six bowl game is Ohio State’s consolation for just missing the playoffs, while it serves as a reward for the 10-2 Tigers achieving their best record since 2014.

Either way, the matchup is set, and both schools are ready. As are the coaches.

Here’s what Ohio State coach Ryan Day had to say of facing the Tigers in Texas:

Opening statement … 

I wanted to let everybody know that we have a tremendous amount of respect for the Cotton Bowl. We were there in ’17. [It’s] kind of a gold standard on hospitality: the way that they set up the events during the week, the way our families were treated. The City of Dallas was great. And, certainly, the venue, AT&T Stadium, was tremendous. So we’re certainly looking forward to returning to the Cotton Bowl.

Great opponent in Missouri. Coach Drinkwitz does a great job. Always had a tremendous amount of respect for him. Looking forward to competing against them this week. And, yeah, our guys will be excited to finish the season off on the right note and have a great week down in [Arlington].

On facing the Tigers’ strong passing offense and getting younger guys playing time:

Any time you get to a point like this in the season you’re playing against an opponent that has the type of record and resume that Missouri has, you’re going to get challenged. Great opportunity for our defense to go against a very good opponent, like you said. There may be opportunities for guys to step in, not unique to the season. But, yeah, it will be a really good week — or a good month — of preparation and practice for some of our younger guys to get out there but also possibly get in the game.

We’ve seen that in the past. Certainly in the Rose Bowl where some of the younger guys were able to get into the game and that propelled them into the offseason and into the winter program.

On his offensive line’s season progress and needed improvements:

Well, I think coming out of the last game, I mean, there were some things that we thought we could have done better. There were some good things. There was a really good drive in there where I thought we ran the ball well, efficiently right down the field. But there were a couple breakdowns in protection in the last drive that cost us.

I think when you look at the progress from where it was early in the season to where it ended up, there was definitely progress made. But it wasn’t good enough for us to win the last game. So we need to identify what those things are and get them even better than they are. And so a great opportunity this month to do that.

On the nature of the College Football Playoff, the committee and its future:

The Cotton Bowl has been a big part of the bowl season and college football for a long time. And the tradition and the pageantry of the bowl goes back many years. So we have been able to experience that, at least I have in ’17. So it’s always an honor to be part of such a great bowl and some of the great players and coaches that have come before. So that’s always a part of this time of year.

Getting into next year, I think there’s a lot of time to process all that, what that’s going to be like. It is going to be a big change, a lot going on next year with conference realignment and now the expanded playoffs. Will be different. It will definitely be different than it was this year. So we’ll cross those bridges when we get there and figure out how those changes are. But it is certainly interesting to think about how this would be different if we were in the 12-team playoff now.

But that’s not the case, so we’ll deal with that when we get there next year.

On his first impressions of Missouri and the challenge that SEC teams present:

I haven’t dove into the film. Just getting the announcement here in the last couple hours. So we’ll do that soon. But I know Eli does a great job in all three phases. He’s always done a great job on offense. Defensive coordinator (Blake Baker) has done a great job as well and their scheme and what they’re doing. And then they play a tough schedule, like you said, in the SEC. They have got to bring it every week and have some really good wins this year, against Tennessee and Kentucky and South Carolina. So we know they’re a very good team.

Any time you’re playing that type of schedule and winning like they are, both offensively and defensively, statistically they are ranked very, very high. But that’s what you expect when you get into a bowl game like this. It will be a great challenge for us.

On preparing for the bowl game and finding Buckeyes faithful in Texas:

Ohio State travels very, very well. So I guess this will be the third time that I’ve been there. I know that national championship game was there. And so great area for Ohio State. So excited about that part of it. And, yeah, bowl practice is a great opportunity. It’s three phases for us. We have our fundamental phase. We have our game-plan phase. And then we actually have our practices down at the site.

So we’ll work on those three phases and look to develop our fundamentals with the young guys and really enhance and allow our older guys to make sure they stay sharp.

On the importance of finishing strong with a win over the Tigers:

Any time you’re on field, it matters how you play. And when it’s the last game of the year and it’s a bowl game, it matters even more. And we want to make sure that we’re finishing the season the right way, the way that we should. And again, a great opponent, a great venue. So we’re going to do work over the next month to make sure we’re prepared to play our best football this season.

On whether or not players will opt out, and how he plans to utilize team depth:

I expect everybody to play. We’ve had to play depth this year, and that’s a great opportunity for guys to step up. And that’s what this bowl practice is going to be about, is trying to get young guys a bunch of reps. And they got to utilize every rep that we possibly give them.

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