Ohio State University Football Media Conference
Saturday, October 5, 2019
Ohio State – 34, Michigan State – 10
COACH DAY: I want to thank everybody who came out tonight with the blackout. I thought the atmosphere was awesome and electric. Third down was really loud. And a couple of drives there in the third quarter. I thought the crowd really played into it. We get the missed field goal, couple three-and-outs.
And I thought was really important to play good in the third quarter. And the crowd was awesome all night. And really appreciate Buckeye Nation and their support.
Q. What would you say was the biggest change from the first quarter to the second quarter?
COACH DAY: Well, we got off schedule a little bit. We knew it was going to be hard to run against these guys. It always is. But on third down we didn’t do a great job for a couple different reasons.
And then we hit a third down in the second quarter, big third-down conversion, I think it was to K.J., and we got into a rhythm and we kind of go. And I think we wore them down maybe a little more in the second quarter.
I didn’t want to play too fast and keep our defense on the field at points during the game. But there were other times we picked up the pace and we ended up getting 74 plays. That’s a good day for us.
And I think when we can play with depth and we play 74 plays you can maybe wear some teams down. I think we did that at times, but they’re stout in there, and it’s hard to run. And so it was hard in there, but we knew it was going to happen.
But we did face adversity. It was not a good quarter of football on offense. And, again, when you’re playing against a team like Michigan State, things like that are going to happen. You have to respond and I thought we did.
Q. Are you glad that you really did have a legitimate test tonight, that you’re not going in the second half of the season without having been tested?
COACH DAY: I feel like we (indiscernible) a Top 25 team in a great atmosphere against a really well-coached team, a really good defense, a really good quarterback — to hold them to 285 and to have 529, that’s a good day.
I think the best part about that is we all kind of got off the field feeling like we can’t wait to get on the field to figure out where we can improve.
Q. J.K. Dobbins, 826 yards through the season right now. How impressive was the 67-yard touchdown from your vantage point, and have you seen a transformation in his speed from last to this?
COACH DAY: Yeah, I have. Yeah, I mean that was a home run hit right there that I think really changed the game. But up to that point we started to get it going a little bit but that kind of shifted and turned it into I think almost a 300-yard quarter. And anytime you can hit home runs like that in the run game, boy, it’s a huge one.
But it’s one thing to go a 20-yard gain, but to come off the back end, and that was 60-something yards, 67 yards, that’s a game-changer.
To your point, there were times in the past where maybe he would get a little tired when he’d get to that 40-yard range, but he came out the back end of that thing. And that was really good to see.
COACH DAY: For sure.
Q. You have a quarterback who just threw his first interception as a college football player. Is there much of a conversation when you comes over to the sideline?
COACH DAY: Yes, the conversation was I told him it was my fault. The look was not the one we wanted in that look. And then I told him, I’m not always going to be right; you gotta make me right. And when the look isn’t right, you gotta throw the ball in the stands and live to see another down.
That was my fault. It was not his fault. It was not to look we wanted on that play. And I’ll take the blame for that one.
Q. How much more do you learn about Justin in games where it’s not all perfect the way it may be was or seemed to be the first five weeks?
COACH DAY: That’s what I’ve been really looking forward to seeing, how he was going to respond, because early on there were some mistakes made. That was not a good quarter of football.
But that was good. It was hard. Kind of guys digging at each other, kind of grinding, yelling at each other, and so we’ve got to figure this thing out. And we did. And that was one of those boxes you check off.
Q. Before the season, you had kind of talked about the six-game chunk before the first bye, almost felt like maybe thought it would be a learning experience before you guys would sort of reach that. You’re 6-0 the way you’re playing. How is it going?
COACH DAY: I think the chemistry of the team is very good. I think the leadership is strong. I think that we’re playing tough. I think that we can learn a ton from this game, though.
And I think that this is a perfect opportunity to sit back and look at these six games, evaluate where we’ve gone, where we are and where we’re headed. But this was the perfect game to kind of do that.
Again, you’re going against a really good defense with really good players and a really good quarterback. They exposed some things that maybe we got away with in the last couple of games. The best thing now is to get on the film and work on it to get better.
Q. What is it that specifically they were getting done up front defensively that gave you all problems? How satisfying is it at this point to have almost an answer for anything a team brings at you from a big-play standpoint, if you follow my drift?
COACH DAY: They do a lot of things. When I say always — the majority of the time they have an extra guy in the box, whether you’re playing 11 personnel or 12 personnel they always have another guy in the box. That’s why they’ve been so good at run defense over the years; it’s very hard to run the ball against them.
And you’ve got to wear them down. You have to wear them down. And you’ve got to cover them up. The running backs have to turn four-yard runs into six. And then eventually over time, if you can start to run on them, you can maybe start to crack some.
And that’s kind of what happened. But the key to that is some of those play-action passes. Those kind of got us going a bit. The big one to Bin was huge, and I think that’s some of those ones that we hit on the outside; as we go with tempo it really helped us get into rhythm.
So, again, I thought we responded well, made some adjustments and went from there.
Q. Damon Arnette didn’t play in the second half. Do you have an update on what happened with him?
COACH DAY: No, the staff kind of got him out of there. So he’s going to be fine, but they’re going to evaluate him tonight.
Q. With the way that Justin came out, kind of seems like it was a little bit easy for him at times this year with his talent level. Coming out for the first two drives and maybe sensing that first bit of “oh no” of his young career, how did he handle that? Have you guys been preparing for that moment, and what was your thought process, the way that he handled that?
COACH DAY: Yeah, those drives weren’t good. We didn’t do a good job on third down. It wasn’t Justin. It was everybody up front. Some guys on the perimeter not doing a great job. And we were kind of just moping around a little bit. But as the leader of the offense you’re in charge and ultimately responsible for it, and we’ve got to get it right.
The same thing with me and the coaches, we have to take ownership of this too and figure the problems out. But that’s what playing against a team like Michigan State in a Big Ten Conference game like this is. It’s a hard. It’s a grind and it’s gritty. And it was great to see the guys respond especially in the second quarter.
Q. What went into the decision at right tackle tonight, and also what did you like about the way the offensive, how they played as the game went on?
COACH DAY: I want to see, when we get on film what it looked like. But to me looked like they were fighting in there. Those guys are good. Up front they’re as good as we’ll play. And it was a fight. It’s not going to be always clean, knock guys down 15 yards in the backfield and finish guys in defenses like this. I thought it was tough. I thought it was real hard. And I thought the other part is that was the first time we had to get the game in the second half. You could see guys working through that.
And I know both sides of the ball felt the fatigue. But I thought we fought through it and showed some toughness. And then the right tackle, we’re rolling those guys — I think they both deserve to play and they are.
Q. You said the defense would play good football. What have you liked best from these guys, six games into the season?
COACH DAY: There’s a lot that goes into it. I thought going into the game our tackling and running the ball and pursuit was really good.
I don’t know if that was the case tonight. I think there was some tackling issues at points, but we’ll watch the film and work through that. Again 65 plays, 285 yards, it’s a pretty good night. And proud of the way those guys played, proud of the emotion they played with I think we’re getting it for the quarterback.
We’re playing really good coverage, you can see guys especially on third down really rocking the coverages. So I think they’ve been playing tough and playing with emotion. I thought to get the stop and then the missed field goal to start off the third quarter was really important to dig in right there, especially after they got a couple first downs.
Q. You’ve seen in the past here and other places, too, these type of quarterbacks, that if the offense is slow going and things aren’t going great, if you start running the quarterback a little bit things might loosen up some. How much are you still having a conversation in your head about how much you want to expose Justin in designed quarterback runs?
COACH DAY: Every second of my night. That’s constant. And we called some when we needed them. When he needed to, he did a good job with his feet. He had 84 yards rushing. Those were big yards. The impact he can have is huge, as you can see. That kept us going when it was — it was tough sledding in there. He’s a competitive guy. He made a lot of plays.
And hats off to him and his toughness. He lowered his shoulder in there on the goal-line run. That was a hard run. There wasn’t much there and give him a lot of credit.
Q. Every game’s a chess match. Nebraska ran the wishbone. You get a wrinkle every time. Did Michigan State do anything different that you guys had to adjust to? Seems like every team does that.
COACH DAY: No, they ran the same defense they have. They were blitzing more than maybe they had coming into the game but it wasn’t anything we hadn’t seen before.
Q. Six games in, how are you adjusting? We talked about the players. How do you feel about the play calling how you’ve evolved here?
COACH DAY: Hard to say. It’s not just me. It’s the whole staff and the whole offense. I think we’re all in this journey together trying to figure this out.
And I think our in-game adjustments and communication has really been pretty solid this year. And Stud and Kevin talking about the run game. And then Mike and I and Hartline talking about the past game what we like in between series and they’re doing a great job because I’ll click over and get over to the defense a little bit to make sure I’m in tune with what’s going on there with special teams, and then I’ll click over and get some real good feedback on what they like coming in to the next series. That’s really important and it helps me as I’m going back and forth.
Q. You feel a lot more comfortable than you did game one?
COACH DAY: Yes.
Q. You’ve been preaching toughness since you took over. This was a tough game. I’m wondering your assessment of that area immediately after the game.
COACH DAY: I thought to beat a team like this you have to play tough. We talked about going into the game, and I thought we did. And to finish off these six games tough — we gave the game ball to Coach Mick because he’s the guy that this whole thing is built upon. He’s the backbone. And he’s the blood that runs through this whole program.
And to say we’re tough, it’s because of him and his strength staff and all the work that they put in with these guys and our coaching staff getting on the field and doing the same thing in the meeting room. It’s everybody involved. We’re all into this thing. And I think they’re taking a lot of pride in being tough.
Ohio State – 34, Michigan State – 10
Q. Justin, congratulations. What happened from the first to the second quarter? 16 yards in the first quarter, three points; 296 yards and 24 points in the second. And that kind of sealed the deal in a way.
JUSTIN FIELDS: Yeah, we just started out rough. The offense, we were kind of killing ourselves. We kind of got back together in the second quarter and did what we were supposed to do.
Q. This one looked like maybe the most physical challenge you’ve had yet. Seemed like a couple times you came out, looked like you were feeling it?
JUSTIN FIELDS: I am right now.
Q. Did you need something like this to get the juices flowing, a real test into the bye week?
JUSTIN FIELDS: Going into the week, we knew they were tough team. It wasn’t surprising out there, all the physicality going on. But we prepared for it and I think we played tough today. And I think that’s maybe why we got the W.
Q. What adjustments did you guys make in the second quarter?
JUSTIN FIELDS: We didn’t really make that many adjustments. We were just kind of ourselves. We didn’t make any adjustments we kind of did what we were supposed to do and just kind of execute.
Q. Along those lines, it was almost like you all hit a big play and then have to scuffle, and then hit another big play to get it kind of going. Did it feel like that on the field? It was sort of hit or miss.
JUSTIN FIELDS: Yeah, that’s just the game of football. Of course we like to keep those big plays going, but really all in all I’m just glad we got the win.
Q. You finally got picked off for the first time in your college career. Is that just part of it, or are you like kicking yourself about that one a little bit?
JUSTIN FIELDS: I have mixed emotions about it because, aww, it was my first pick but it was also like, it’s football. So it happens. I wasn’t really frustrated from it.
I think you all jinxed me about it talking about it so much last week, but it’s all good. Just got to move on to the next game.
Q. The touchdown pass to Victor, what happened on that? You look like you drifted right, and you draw the safety, came up kind of put him in the middle. (Indiscernible) you and Victor, what he does with the ball after that was pretty special as well.
JUSTIN FIELDS: That was a great play, great play by Coach, just the way we practiced it. Just going over it a lot of times in practice, I think that helped execute it in the game.
Q. The bye week comes up here next week and I’m wondering because of the physical nature of this game and you guys have bumps and bruises, it’s going to be real. Is it a perfectly timed bye week? Do you think this is a perfect position for it?
JUSTIN FIELDS: At least for me it is because this is definitely the most banged up I’ve been after a game, so I’m definitely glad we have a bye week next week. I think we’re all just get in the training room, just get our bodies back right, just get ready for the game.
Q. That first series that you came out, we haven’t seen many teams be able to get to you, rally you like that. What was going through your head after that first series?
JUSTIN FIELDS: Really nothing really. You just kind of have to forget about that first series, see what we did wrong, see what we can improve on, just go on to the next series.
You can’t really dwell on it for that long, just kind of see what we have to adjust and really just see what kind of adjustments we have to make going on to be successful.
Q. Along those same lines, did it cross your mind seeing that pressure that you were going to have to run a little more tonight (indiscernible)?
JUSTIN FIELDS: I mean, not really. I’ve got to kind of just play the game. When you’re out there, you’re not really thinking about running a lot, so I’m just doing what I have to do to help the team win. And I really don’t have much specific on that.
Q. What does it say about this offense that you could put so many yards on a defense that is respected nationally, that’s at the top, among the best?
JUSTIN FIELDS: I think of course Coach (indiscernible) offense, and we have a great O line, great running backs, great receivers. So I think once we put it all together, I think we showed flashes, but we really weren’t consistent the whole game on the offensive side of the game.
If we get better at that and be more consistent about that I think we’ll definitely be one of the best offenses in the country.
Q. Things this year have been pretty easy for you. I’m wondering when you have a first quarter or a few plays like that where you start the game off and you’re in a bad spot offensively, did you mentally prepare for being in a situation like this because you knew it was going to come? Or how do you emotionally handle it? You’re a sophomore six games into this thing.
JUSTIN FIELDS: When that stuff happens you have to just really forget about it. Coach says move on to the next play, settle down, settle down. He reminds me to keep settling down and play the game like it’s practice because when the game comes on you go back to your training. So I think that’s what we did a better job of in the second quarter.
Q. We talked about you throwing a pick off all week and you threw a pick today. What exactly did you see on that throw?
JUSTIN FIELDS: It was a roll-out play, and Garrett Wilson was playing X, he was supposed to clear the corner out They were in zone, and the corner fell off K.J. That’s what happened. I didn’t see the corner falling off, so it’s on me.
Q. Just follow up on the pass to Victor — to run the ball (indiscernible) —
JUSTIN FIELDS: Yeah, if nobody’s out there then I can run. But it’s mainly a pass play, but of course if it’s not open you throw the ball away or tuck and run.