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November 10, 2014

Urban Meyer

COACH MEYER:¬† What we're using this week as far as getting our team ready to go.¬† Champions for Michigan State was defense‑‑ on defense, excuse me, Vonn Bell, graded champion, Michael Bennett.
And Player of the Game is Doran Grant.  Obviously not near enough for what we expect.  On offense, you had three receivers, Evan Spencer, who was playing like a most valuable player on our team right now in the things we ask him to do.
He's my MVP as far as just all around what we asked him to do.  Jalin Marshall graded at championship, playing at a very high level.  And Mike Thomas, his improvement from since he's been here, and it's all about the way he takes care of his business.  And he's grading out every week we do academic, attitude and effort grade.  And he used to screw around with a 6 or a 7, and was probably on his way out of here.
Now he's a 9 or 9.5.  And that's the correlation between a guy that's got everything in order and playing well as I think everybody knows that, that's why Mike Thomas is playing well, he's taking care of his business.
That's a credit‑‑ I told his dad when I saw him at Maryland, it's because nowadays you get these third uncles, all they want to do is complain. ¬†And Michael Thomas's family did not.¬† They said what do we need to do to get better?¬† How do we support the coaching staff?¬† Guess what happened?¬† Mike Thomas is playing at a very high level.
Jeff Heuerman graded at champion.  Offensive line had a couple bad situations early in that game.  But, boy, did they play well after they got going.
Pat Elflein graded champion and Billy Price graded at champion, a freshman, in that environment against that defensive line.
Players of the game went to four guys.  I made them come up with names.  Because they wanted to do the O offense.  But my recommendation as well.  Jacoby Boren, I think back to back, once again just a tribute to Jacoby and the Boren family.  Played at champion.  His most physical game he's played.
J.T. Barrett is our quarterback, in case you didn't know that, graded at champion as well.  Ezekiel Elliott once again plays as hard as any back I've ever witnessed without the ball.  And played great.  And a really physical game.
And Devin Smith played his best game, played with his most emotion and also did great on kicking game for us.
So that's the offensive and defensive champions.¬† A couple of mentions for special teams.¬† Special teams player of the week was Evan Spencer.¬† And also I want to‑‑ Corey Smith came out and made two tackles on kickoff cover.¬† So look for Corey Smith if he continues to get things in order to be in the rotation with the receivers.
With that said, tough‑‑ I don't want to say I didn't expect it, because I did.¬† I've known Jerry Kill a long time.¬† And I've always thought he was one of the best football coaches and his coaching staff has been together, I think his defensive corps has been together forever.¬† And his offensive corps for like 15 years.
He's won at every level.  And I admire those guys that do that.  I have a lot of admiration for him as a coach.  And he knows that.  He's a friend.
This is the first time I've ever coached against one of his teams.  And it's everything you'd think of a Jerry Kill coached team.
Relentless effort.  Very well coached.  I haven't studied their offense yet.  But special teams and defense are very good.  Statistically, they're very good.  And to do that to Iowa, who I think Iowa is a heck of a team, they've got some momentum right now.
So we have to‑‑ we're done with the celebration part.¬† Now we're learning from it.¬† And the players will receive their directive tomorrow and we're moving forward.

Q.  There's a report out there that Dontre Wilson is injured.  Can you address that?
COACH MEYER:¬† Dontre broke his foot.¬† He actually caught a touchdown pass with a broken foot.¬† Tells you what a tough guy‑‑ didn't have a good game, couple balls on the ground.¬† He's out for a few weeks.¬† I don't know the extent, get you that probably by Wednesday.¬† Might have to put a pin in it.

Q.  Obviously Jalin has played well there.  But looking at the backups?
COACH MEYER:¬† Noah Brown gets in the mix and Corey Smith gets in the mix.¬† Evan Spencer is a multiple guy that can do a lot of things.¬† Nick Vannett is a guy.¬† So the good thing there's some personnel.¬† It's not exactly like Dontre, but on 240‑pound H‑back Noah Brown brings a little something to the table, too.¬† He's earned some right to play.

Q.  Curtis Samuel is just going to be a tailback, will he get some snaps in there maybe?
COACH MEYER:  Probably not right now.  Depends on how recruiting goes.  Because he can do a lot of things right now.  We're beat up at tailback, too.  You can't move a guy out of there yet.

Q.¬† You touched on this a little bit in your opening statement.¬† How difficult is it‑‑ you had the loss to Virginia Tech.¬† To win this week kind of gets you kind of back into that mix.¬† How difficult is it, though, to maintain this and keep pushing on that upward trek?
COACH MEYER:  That's the thing that Lou Holtz would always say.  And this is where I think coaches make a lot of mistakes.  You don't just go blow the whole thing up when you lose a game.  That's fragile.  You coach them really hard when you win.  So you say how difficult, it's not difficult at all.
You lose that game Saturday, it's really difficult.  Now you've got problems.  Now you've got motivation problems.  So it's all the way we handle it and the good thing is I've got 9 good coaches and more importantly I have players that understand we didn't play as well as we could on defense and we expect to play much better.  Two weeks ago we didn't play as well on offense.  There's plenty to work on.

Q.  J.T.'s progress, one, have you coached a kid or a quarterback who has made as much progress in three weeks or three months as he has, and would you consider him a guy to throw out in the Heisman mix right now?
COACH MEYER:¬† Great question.¬† I think Alex Smith was a guy that‑‑ obviously that's a big name.¬† So to start throwing Alex Smith's name.¬† But you asked me a question, Alex couldn't call a play his first snap against Utah State and went on to be what he was.¬† And really by the end of his first year playing for us he was a sophomore.¬† He made every week incremental jumps as far as how he handled business.
J.T.'s like that.  J.T.'s made incredible jumps as far as how he handles his business and accuracy of passing last week was fantastic.
To answer your question, I'm not‑‑ I've seen one Alex make that kind of improvement.¬† And as far as the Heisman, when I get national questions, it's so hard because I have not seen anybody play.¬† I've seen the teams we play and I'll flip it on for Thursday nights I'll watch some football and that's about it.
So I haven't seen‑‑ I think statistically he's got to be in the mix somewhere, I think.¬† But I haven't even asked Jerry for that information yet.

Q.¬† Was Saturday's offensive performance what you wanted to see when you‑‑
COACH MEYER:  It's our best performance that we've had since we've been here.  It's very balanced.  And I think you have to, what I always like to do is obviously statistically I think we probably had more yards against other teams.  But that was against a legitimate top 5 defense in America and a bunch of NFL players on that defense.  And it was very well executed.

Q.¬† As far as the defense goes, obviously you gave up 37 points.¬† But as far as the pass defense with Chris Ash being hired, was that‑‑ the triggering and aggressiveness, was that closer to what you had in mind?
COACH MEYER:¬† Yes, you take away‑‑ I think when you get ahead by a couple of scores, what happens you start playing that bend but don't break which I can't stand it.¬† I'm not sure many people can't stand.¬† But it's also probably the smart thing to do, keep the ball in front of you, close the middle of the field, which we did and gave up some yards.¬† I'm not in a panic.¬† I think our defensive coaches are a little upset with the way things transpired that we've got to get fixed.
We're still looking for that rotation at defensive line, that's how‑‑ I'm upset about that, that we can't get that done.¬† And so there's going to be a lot of pressure on guys this week to get that done.

Q.  When you recruit somebody like Jalin Marshall, even in high school, do you start envisioning all the various ways you can use him or do you have to wait until they get on campus before you can start tinkering?
COACH MEYER:¬† We put the APB out every year for the multi‑dimensional athlete on offense.¬† And that's the tight end H and it's the tailback H.¬† And just over the years that position has evolved.
You like moving those checkers around when you can have guys that can take direct snaps.¬† And a quarterback, the thing I always look at is‑‑ Joe Haden was a quarterback in high school.¬† You're not just going to put your best player out there for 30 plays a game at corner.¬† If he's a great player, he's going to touch the football.
So Jalin Marshall played quarterback in high school.¬† That's right where he should have played.¬† Probably the best‑‑ I do know because I watched him, he was the best player on that team.¬† So the APB's always been out for those kind of athletes that can do multiple things.

Q.  Do you feel this year you're more comfortable taking a quarterback out and putting in Dontre Wilson or Jalin in that wildcat than you were the past couple of years?
COACH MEYER:¬† Oh, yeah.¬† More with Jalin because he's a quarterback.¬† Dontre we didn't do a lot‑‑ Jalin was cramped when we did the little trick play with Dontre in there, but more comfortable with‑‑ we're slowly teaching Curtis.¬† I think the wildcat's legitimate‑‑ especially at tempo.¬† But Jalin gives you‑‑ and he can throw.¬† We have a couple of passes ready for him, too.

Q.  When you look at J.T. Barrett, you were asked a while ago about the Heisman kind of thing and stuff, but where has he made the biggest jump from the standpoint of just poise or what you want out of him, what can you definitely point to he's so much better than he was against Virginia Tech?
COACH MEYER:  Just the understanding of the game, I think Tom's done a very good job with him.  I think the personnel around him has really improved.  He was prepared for this game.  So were the wideouts.  Our two coaches on that side of the ball.  Offensive staff did a heck of a job getting the group ready.  I felt it during the week, too.
But his biggest jump is just being the manager.¬† He does a good job getting us in the right play.¬† He understands defenses really well now.¬† And his accuracy, when he's accurate, that's a tough one to stop.¬† Because he gets us into the right‑‑ the ones he missed I think the week before, he went to the right place with the ball.¬† He just misfired.¬† You don't see him very often go to the wrong place with the ball.
He's a very intellectual quarterback.  Very smart quarterback.

Q.  Joey Bosa had 6.5 sacks previous three games, some stat like that.  Saturday night he was shut out from a sack standpoint.  But did you see them very much ganging up on him as you studied things?  Did you see frustration on his part?  What did you see from him?
COACH MEYER:  I saw good players get frustrated at times when they don't live up to the statistics or whatever.  And I did, I just finished watching the defensive side of the ball today.
They did, they slid the formation to them.¬† They had two guys usually assigned to him.¬† A lot of pressure on the other guys to hold up their end of the bargain.¬† Joey didn't play‑‑ he graded at champion.¬† Has things to work on, too.¬† That's legitimate, when you hear they're putting a tailback to him or sliding to him, that leaves a guard and tackle to slide to him.¬† That's real, which is smart.¬† That's not going to go away.

Q.  I know you talked about this earlier this year, but just as J.T. continues to progress on pace to set a bunch of school records, do you have the sense that you have a pretty tough decision coming up next year, is that something you've given thought to, it's obviously become a big debate out there?
COACH MEYER:  Out where?

Q.  Just outside.
COACH MEYER:  Not here.  Competition brings out the best.  And I'm really excited to have two really good quarterbacks next year, if that's the plan.

Q.  On an unrelated note, kind of an interesting stat there's teams the week after played you this year, 1 and 7.  You mentioned the Virginia Tech game?
COACH MEYER:  1 and 7.

Q.¬† 1 and 7 the week after.¬† And I think Notre Dame is 2 and 7 in the last nine years.¬† How do you think the committee should view that loss now that you guys are‑‑
COACH MEYER:  Playing Minnesota.

Q.¬† You were scrambling‑‑ young.
COACH MEYER:¬† I'll say this because I knew‑‑ I don't want to act like it's rehearsed, it's rehearsed because I tend to say stupid things sometimes.¬† That early in the season we were not a great team.
We had a quarterback that was a quarterback for about two weeks and did not play very well.  We had an offensive line that played horrible that game and a group of receivers that were not ready to play.  The young guys were not.
This is the most improved team that I've been a part of.  This is a team that I've been fortunate to be around some championship level teams.
They have a common characteristic and they're grinders.  And they get better each week.  Those are championship level teams.  Once again, this could all be gone if we don't go out and continue to do what we do that's grind on a Tuesday, Wednesday and a Thursday.
So that's really the only thing‑‑ because I don't really study other‑‑ I keep getting all those questions that I don't know.¬† But I do know a championship level team.¬† A team continues to grow like they are, like this, there's no question this is one of them.

Q.  I am sure that the guys need to recover physically this week from that game.  They also spent a lot of emotional energy, mental energy, adrenalin on that game.  How do they recover from that standpoint this week?
COACH MEYER:¬† We spend‑‑ I would say paranoid is probably an appropriate word on that.¬† My strength coach, Coach Mick, they have eight hours on us.¬† We have to get those eight hours back.
We cut practice way down yesterday.¬† We gave them a 10:00 curfew.¬† We have no school on Tuesday.¬† There will be another curfew tonight.¬† That's how we catch up.¬† It's very important what you said:¬† You're dealing with 18‑, 19‑, 20‑year‑olds and they need a lot of times direction.¬† Not a lot‑‑ they need direction.¬† This is a noon kickoff and we got in at 3:30.
So that's a very serious‑‑ you tend to lose hydration, body weight and certainly rest and the great thing I didn't know we had Tuesday off, but our kids don't have class on Tuesday.¬† That's a big makeup day for everything you just said.¬† And that is real.

Q.  I'm sure that that game also taught you a lot about the leadership of your club.  Who are the guys that you're trusting to refocus the players?  Who is it that stood out?
COACH MEYER:  That's another great question.  Doran Grant and Curtis Grant, phenomenal, and Jeff Heuerman and Jacoby Boren in his own way is becoming a leader.  And Taylor Decker.  I'm starting to see some things surface that was very much needed.  And there's still some areas that we need more.
The defensive backend right now, we need more in leadership back there.  Defensive line, Mike is trying, but you need more than just him.  Need some rotation going.  There's some weaknesses.
And I saw it in the locker room before the game.  I'll sit there, watch videotape, and when the play goes out of play, I watch that play 15 to 30 times.  I'm not watching the play anymore.  I'm watching the sideline, watching to see the invested player, who is into the game as it's going on.
When J.T. got knocked out of bounds, wiped out our strength coach, I ran that son of a gun back at least 30 times, trying to watch each person, seeing who is invested.  You can sit and babble all you want in my office.  But when it shows up in a game like that, the good thing is we have a lot of invested players right now.

Q.  Can the weather work against you this weekend, the northern stadium looks open.
COACH MEYER:¬† The weather?¬† It's going to be cold, I imagine, Minnesota in November.¬† And I don't know.¬† I don't know the‑‑ I heard there's no snow or rain right now.¬† I don't know.¬† I think they're a very good running team.¬† Might limit some of the throw game stuff and their defense is kind of built to stop the runs.¬† Those are‑‑ I don't know enough about them.¬† It's just Monday.

Q.  You touched on this also, but a lot of times coaches have to give players attention the week after a big game.  Is that something that you feel like you have to do?
COACH MEYER:¬† Sure.¬† Once again, we enjoy the win, learn from the win, and they'll get the mission tomorrow.¬† And it will be a big‑‑ I'll know after how they practice.¬† But we have to make sure that they're ready for practice on Tuesday.

Q.  You guys have talked a lot in the offseason about what you thought this offense could progress to this year.  And it seems like what is happening is what you guys talked about months ago.  How much of it is progress of the offense or how much is sort of the way J.T. plays quarterback influencing how everything's working right now?
COACH MEYER:¬† I think it's more people the around him.¬† I think if you look back at our history since we've been here, we were borderline pathetic at passing the ball our first year, 2012.¬† Last year we were just above‑‑ not very good.¬† And now we're pushing to have‑‑ throwing 300 yards against Michigan State.
And I don't blame fans.  I'd be the same, throw the ball, throw it downfield, I'm thinking who are we going to throw it to.
Now when I say who are you going to throw it to, three or four names pop in my mind, which is a good sign.  I believe J.T. has a big part of it.
But I think more importantly those around him are playing much better.  We have five guys I have no problem throwing the ball to.  Remember 2012, name who we could throw the ball to.
As a matter of fact, Evan Spencer deserves more than he's getting.  He really does.  The good thing is he understands the big picture.

Q.¬† I know you just answered this question.¬† But your quarterback was the two‑time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year.¬† He got hurt for the year.¬† Bring in the next quarterback and he's doing this.¬† Is it a little crazy to you that your quarterback play is at this level and that you're going to have two guys on that roster and that this is‑‑
COACH MEYER:  Your term is "crazy." I don't know that I've ever said that's crazy.

Q.  You have two quarterbacks sitting in this building.  You lost a guy who won every award, was going to break every record and here you are.
COACH MEYER:  I don't use the term "crazy," I think "fortunate" and "blessed," either one of them, because I think they're both excellent quarterbacks.  Excellent quarterbacks.  And we'll worry about that day when it comes.
But we're very fortunate to have those guys.  But once again, when you start saying that, J.T. Barrett is a product of those around him.  I also say that when things aren't going as well.
The quarterback, I've said that since Alex Smith and Tebow to their products, you put good guys around a good quarterback, teach them well, good chance good things are going to happen.
Right now the guys around them‑‑ I'm high on the receivers right now, as you can tell.¬† And that's probably a first since we've been here.¬† Their coach did an excellent job preparing them.¬† They were loaded up, ready to go in that locker room before the game and went out and performed.
And J.T. Barrett threw the ball, did it with very good accuracy, especially that third down and 23.  That was a ridiculous shot.  But the kid catching the ball, probably of all the guys I've ever coached, I don't know how many that could make that catch.
That was dropped right over the outside shoulder.  A lot of good things going on.  But throw it all away if we don't take care of business Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday in practice.

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