Do you regret not going for it or—excuse me, let me rephrase this. Do you regret not punting on 4th and 4 in the fourth quarter instead of going for it and possibly pinning the Buckeyes deep in their own territory?
“We had a good play called. Wish we could have executed it better but wanted to be aggressive, wanted to attack there. Now, we don’t pick it up, easy to say wish we would have punted it, but… I felt good with the call. Felt good with the decision.”
John [was] real emotional just a minute ago talking about how much this game meant for the senior class and not being able to get it done. Can you assess his performance and the emotions that go into this game as well?
“Yeah, emotional game played by emotional guys. I have the same regret. Wish the seniors could have gone out with the win.”
You had it rolling at 14-0. What, in your mind, changed after that?
“Think both teams played well. They made plays, we made plays. They made—that was their part of the ballgame where they cracked a few runs and the quarterback got out and made a play. We had a few mistakes offensively, we had a few mistakes defensively and… think we had a few more than they did.”
[After THE JUMP: what happened on the interception; DPJ: do-stuff-right guy; how close Peters was to going]
Can you talk about Donovan’s punt return and the spark that that gave you?
“Yeah, it was a great effort by all on the punt return team and a heck of a play by Donovan. He’s been really, really good. Spectacular at times. As a true freshman, that speaks volumes about what kind of player he is to be able to go out there and make plays in his very first year. Just a consummate guy. Really glad he’s on our team. Just does everything right. He’s a do-stuff-right guy in all phases. One of our most favorite players.”
Can you say how close Brandon Peters was to playing? Did it go right down to the end of the week? O’Korn said he was told Monday he would be starting? Was there still a possibility?
“Um, there…no. The symptoms were there all week with Brandon, so there was no time that he got to practice, and he wasn’t cleared for the ballgame.”
For O’Korn, the ball was sailing, it seemed, or overthrown. Can you comment on how difficult it looked for him out there today?
“Um…no, I know we missed a few. But to comment on the degree of difficulty…yeah, there was some wind, but got to hit ‘em.”
What were the challenges of facing Dwayne Haskins and were they unique compared to JT Barrett?
“That’d probably be a better question for the guys that were out there. I mean, he got out on one play. There was some good play by us and some mistakes made and a couple times we did let the quarterback get out, whether it was JT or Haskins.”
A lot of talk about a lifetime contract coming. Could that be a distraction for you this week or your team?
“No. Fake news. [laughs] That was irrelevant.”
You were up 14-0 when Metellus dropped that interception and Barrett scored the next play. Just how crucial of a sequence do you think that was?
“Yeah, that would have been big. Yeah, you know, there were some mistakes made. That was one of ‘em. There was others. Missed an extra point. There were a few. Lot of good plays and then mistakes. I thought our guys played with great effort and we’ve got to get better, we’ve got to get stronger, we’ve got to improve. We’ll continue that on Monday.”
You mentioned you’ve got to improve as you head into bowl prep and you head into an offseason. What have you learned about your team? I know it’s right after the game but what did you learn about your team this week and what’d you learn about the team all season as it’s kind of gone through some ups and downs and in-betweens here?
“I mean, they’re fighters. They work, they don’t complain, they don’t whine, and I love coaching them. And that’s going to continue; we’re going to keep going on the same demanding, punishing path and keep improving. Keep getting stronger.”
Any time you lose to a rival I imagine it’s disappointing but especially so because it looked like you had a gameplan that worked; there were open plays [and] you did have the lead on them. Does that add to the disappointment when you might have had them for a while there?
“I don’t know about levels of disappointment but yeah, wish…wish we could have won. Wish we could have sent the seniors out with a victory. I know one thing they did: They gave it everything they had and played extremely, extremely hard. Great bunch of guys. Great bunch of guys to coach. Great character guys. Great football character, great character. Yeah, so it’s disappointing.”
On the last interception, what did you see on that play? John said he thought he had something there and overthrew it.
“Yeah…John misread the coverage and, uh, Kekoa was running the---he had a route. Run a deep, deep, deep curl versus single-high safety and post for low quarters or Cov2 and John didn’t see the safety rotate to the middle of the field. It was a misread coverage.”
I’ve heard you mention a couple times today ‘got to get stronger.’ Is that something you’ve noticed throughout the year? Is that just because they’re young or is that something you want to emphasize in the offseason, got to get stronger, bigger, whatever it might be?
“Yeah, we’ve been emphasizing it. Need to do that. Need improvement. Need to get stronger. Need to get better. That’s our mission.”