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OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY MEDIA CONFERENCE


October 13, 2014


Tom Herman


Q.¬† Tom, Evan Spencer kind of has been somebody that's gotten a few looks in the red zone, on the field all the time the last few years.¬† How have you seen him come along, targets been‑‑

COACH HERMAN:  Hasn't been a point of emphasis to get him a ton of targets.  He certainly deserves them.  He's probably our most complete receiver when it comes to understanding the offense, understanding all three positions at wide receiver, and the element that he brings in the run game in terms of his ability to block.  And I think that it's a good thing that he's getting those targets and touches in the red zone and he's by far our most trustworthy receiver.
So he deserves it.  We'll continue to keep trying to make that happen.  I can't guarantee it, because I don't get to call the defensive plays.  But we'll keep trying to give him some opportunities.

Q.  Basic like impulse of most receivers is they want the ball as much as possible.  And for somebody who has been on the field as much as he has, he's not really somebody that a lot of people talk about.  You have Dontres and Ezekiels and the list goes on.  How do you see him handling that portion.  I know that he wants come become a be a good blocker on the team all that but is that tough for him to be one of the guys that may get lost in the shuffle sometimes?
COACH HERMAN:  That would be a better question for him.  I'm not in his mind but I do know this.  He's a very selfless guy that never once complains openly, just goes out, does his job as good as anybody in the conference, I would argue as good as anybody in the country.
So I would assume, yeah, me being around wide receivers as much as I have they all want to catch 15 balls a game.  But I think that he's just happy getting Ws and he's a team guy and a selfless guy and he'll have, in my opinion, should have a pretty decent career at the next level just because he's so versatile and can do so many things.

Q.  Urban touched on this a little bit in training camp.  You lose two of your offensive captains.  You guys have hada lot of young players, a lot of inexperienced players.  Some cases both on offense step in.  Are you surprised at the production of this offense given the fact that there's so many new pieces?
COACH HERMAN:  I don't know that "surprise" is the right word.  I don't think anytime you do well offensively you say that the emotion is surprise.  I think you expect to do well offensively no matter what the circumstances are.
But I'm pleased with the progress we've made with a lot of the inexperienced guys we do have and happy with the trajectory that we're on.  I think the expectation is to always do well.

Q.  Again use the word "surprise," when you're calling the plays, given you have speed all over the place, does it surprise you that teams are still pressing you guys and daring you guys to take the shots down the field?
COACH HERMAN:¬† Yeah, that one does surprise me.¬† I will certainly use that word there.¬† I don't know what the reason‑‑ I don't know the thought process behind it.¬† I do know we're a lot better throwing the football now than we were in week one or week two and teams continue to do that.¬† I don't think there's any hesitation on our part to throw the football and hopefully make them pay for having that philosophy.

Q.¬† What do you think needs to improve on this offense?¬† Pointed out the red zone has been an issue.¬† How close is this to kind of reaching the max potential and the‑‑
COACH HERMAN:  I think our red zone, goal line or scoring touchdowns in the red zone is certainly not where we want it to be.  Now we've set the bar pretty high finishing first in the country, I think second in our first year, first last year in touchdown percentage in the red zone.
So the bar has been set around here very high.  And we expect to do that and we need to do a better job of that and most of it is stubbornness on my part.  And teams have lined up in fronts and coverages even down there that have dared us to throw the football and we're going to have to do a better job of that down there.
To answer the question other than that, what do I feel like needs improvement, I think the overall play‑by‑play technique of each guy not kind of‑‑ the consistency of great technique I think would probably be the biggest thing that I want to see improvement on, is not, hey, I played with great technique for three plays and then on the fourth play I didn't.
I think we're capable now and moving in the direction of, hey, you need to play with great technique for 80 plays in a row.  And I think that's a fair expectation given the point in the season that we're at.

Q.  With that in mind, is there a certain macho factor for a football team in the red zone that you want to establish here, understand what I mean, of shoving guys off the ball and how do you temper that I guess with making your mark but also scoring a touchdown or taking the easiest way.  Understand what I'm asking?
COACH HERMAN:  I do.  I don't think it's an ego thing or a macho thing or taking the soft way out.  I think as with anything in offensive football, the defense is going to present itself strengths and weaknesses each time you line up and snap the football.
And to say that we have taken advantage of those weaknesses down there and on the goal line, we haven't.  And we need to.  And we don't care what those weaknesses are.  We just need a better job of exploiting those weaknesses and not trying to beat our head against the wall into their strengths.

Q.  With that said, do you see an offensive line the last several games, you all have played against the greatest defenses in the country.  Have you seen an offensive line sort of get a grip to itself, what do you see from your offensive line at this point?
COACH HERMAN:  The thing I was happiest about I think I said it after the Cincinnati game, Taylor Decker probably played his nastiest game as a Buckeye.  I think the two, three inside guys have always had that nastiness to them.  And Darryl Baldwin continues to develop that as well.  So they're getting there.
I think they kind of see over the last couple of weeks, hey, we can be pretty good, and they've developed a little bit of confidence, I think, with some stat I saw.  I don't know.  I had a chance to watch football the other day where I think the second least amount of combined starts for any starting five offensive linemen in DivisionI football.
I think the fact they've had some success and can build some confidence then you start to open Pandora's box, so to speak, and they can now feed off of that confidence and play with a nastier edge.

Q.  How is your offense different now than if Braxton Miller were still at the helm?  Because it seems if quarterbacking were medicine, he would be the gifted specialist and J.T.'s the really gifted general practitioner.
COACH HERMAN:¬† I've never heard that analogy.¬† But that's a fair one.¬† I don't know that it's really that much different.¬† I get that question quite a bit.¬† You guys like to deal in what‑ifs and hypotheticals.¬† I like to deal in what is and reality.¬† So I don't think it would be much different.
Obviously the home run ability of him when he tucks the ball and runs with it, whether on a design run, scramble, read, whatever, is going to be there when Braxton's in and as opposed to when he's not.
But other than that, I don't think that the plays that are going to be called or the formations that we line up in or just the overall philosophy of the offense I don't think would change dramatically, but again that's hard for me to say because I'm just trying to beat Rutgers with what we've got right now.

Q.  Rutgers, 24 sacks this year.  What is it they are doing well to get pressure on the quarterback?
COACH HERMAN:  Front four are very active.  They don't blitz a ton on first and second down.  I think somewhere in the range of 15 and 20percent.  On third down they try to really create confusion and havoc and they've got a whole third down specialist type deal where they're going to run a bunch of different guys in on the field and line up in some crazy alignments and try to confuse you and pressure the quarterback on third down.
But on first and second down, they're getting their sacks because their front four is very active, very quick hands, quick feet and then on third down just a lot of confusion.

Q.  You recruited J.T., worked with him since January of 2013.  You probably expected he would play well.  But is he further along than you expected?
COACH HERMAN:  Again, I don't know that I ever put an expectation level and said on October13th I expect him to be at this level.  But where he's at is a good place with still a lot of room for improvement.  To say he's further along than he expected, I don't know that I ever expected anything.  But to say that he's in a place that I'm pleased with right now would be an accurate assessment, knowing that he still has things that he can continue to get better at.

Q.¬† Ask about Michael Thomas too.¬† He went from redshirting last year as a sophomore, pretty rare, now one of the standouts of the wide receiving corps.¬† How far has he come?¬† What's been the big difference‑‑
COACH HERMAN:¬† Trust.¬† I think it's well documented that Mike was‑‑ he wasn't he was going right when he was supposed to go left.¬† It wasn't just absolute ridiculous things, it was just this route is supposed to be up 14 yards and you're running at 11.¬† Or you're supposed to line up on the numbers, you line up four yards inside the numbers.
So the trust factor with him of being at the right place at the right time and doing the right thing in order to get there has increased exponentially and so he's been able to see the field quite a bit more and then in turn, when his number has been called, he's produced.

Q.  First bye week you had this year, didn't skip a beat going into the next game.  Is it difficult at all to maintain that tempo and timing when you're not playing a game?
COACH HERMAN:¬† It can if you let it be.¬† I think we need to do a good job of refocusing the team today and understanding that what lies ahead is as stiff a challenge that we'll face defensively.¬† Good thing is we've got good kids.¬† There's really no issues on the team.¬† And they watch film.¬† They see what we see on defense and kind of understand that we're going to have to bring our A game.¬† Still dealing with 18 to 22‑year‑olds and the psychology of motivating them in order to get that done still plays a little bit apart.
But these guys throughout the season kind of handle themselves as pros and I don't think that's going to be an issue, although we'll certainly address it with them and harp on the fact that we do need to then now refocus since we're in game week.

Q.  You guys obviously we know how well you ran the ball last year.  Very balanced this year.  Just what you're getting out of the run game.  Are you happy with what you're doing to run the ball to allow you to do everything you want to do as a whole offense to set up throwing or stay balanced?
COACH HERMAN:  I don't know that you're happy in this business but, yeah, I guess you could say I'm happy with where we're at.  But, again, understanding that there are still things that are yards that we've left out there, whether it be from the technique issues that I was talking about, my stubbornness to call a play into the front that might not be conducive to a specific play.
But I think we can get better but happy with where we are now understanding that the guys understand, me understanding and you understanding that the offense understands that it needs to improve as the season goes on.

Q.¬† And I know you're just getting ready for Rutgers and the next game, but for any assistant coach here, what are some of the things that you absorb from Urban Meyer just on how you run a program, how you run a team, how you‑‑ just what do you sort of pick up from him through a season?
COACH HERMAN:  I think probably the biggest thing is the alignment of the staff in terms of the messages that are being delivered to each and every position group.  I think the alignment of the players and their belief in our core values and belief in our culture, the belief in what we're selling to them each and every day on how to be successful.
And I think that's maybe a trait that might go unnoticed.  You talk about coaches that are great Xs and O guys or coaches that can give a great pregame speech and all that good stuff but really at the end of the day you've got to have your nine assistants and the entire team aligned as such with a common belief in the culture and the core values of your program.
And I think he does that better than anybody I've ever been around.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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