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OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY MEDIA CONFERENCE
November 17, 2014
URBAN MEYER:Â Both played very well.Â I think Nick Vannett has earned some more playing time, so we're going to try to get him more involved.Â He's practicing very well.Â Offensive line was Darrell Baldwin, quarterback J.T., graded out a champion, and running back Ezekiel Elliott did, and player of the game was Evan Spencer on offense.Â Just does a lot of things for us.Â On defense, players champions were Josh Perry, Mike Bennett, Eli Apple, and he's playing his best football since he's been here, and Doran Grant is very consistent, a guy that I'm going to nominate for All‑Big Ten.Â He's playing very well for us.Â Players of the game, we had two of them, co‑players of the game Vonn Bell and Joey Bosa, and special teams player of the week was Jeff Heuerman, who recovered an onside kick and kind of saved our bacon on one of the punts that they gave us an unusual look.
Big game.Â Great to come back home, two road games against top‑25 opponents, two teams that we have a lot of respect for that we played, and it was every bit what we thought it would be.Â There's a good chance we'll get Bri'onte Dunn back, so we're getting a little bit healthy.
Dontre, obviously we missed him last week.Â Jalyn had a tough game, but we haven't lost confidence in Jalyn.Â We don't do that here.Â If you don't play hard, that's a whole different animal, but you play hard and make mistakes, we've just got to fix it, and he's going to work on a lot of things this week to get himself better.
I'll answer your questions for you.
Q.Â We've asked you I think a couple weeks now about J.T. and whether or not you think he's a Heisman candidate, but when you look at what he's done and look at his numbers, at what point do you sort of endorse him‑‑
URBAN MEYER:Â I did.Â I did.Â I don't know if my endorsement matters, but I do statistically‑‑ been fortunate to coach some guys that have been in New York, and he's a Heisman candidate.
Q.Â The other question I wanted to ask you was at this point in the season, you guys are a win away from clinching a spot back in Indianapolis.Â Are you having as much fun now as you did when you were younger coaching?
URBAN MEYER:Â I'm having a lot of fun coaching this team because yesterday was a perfect example, they went out and they worked their tails off.Â J.T. is a Heisman candidate that knows that he could have played much better Saturday, and that's the best thing about coaching these guys right now.Â I hope it doesn't change.Â That's something we're watching very closely with guys that are starting to get some notoriety.Â You know, Zeke has a chance to get 1,000 yards, and the minute he becomes something other than Zeke Elliott, that's a problem, and same with J.T., same with Joey Bosa.Â Some of these players, Mike Thomas.Â Mike Thomas didn't play particularly well.Â I watched him very closely yesterday and it was nothing other than go out and I didn't play very well.Â I've got to play better.Â And that's what every coach wants to be around.
This team is like, I've just got to make sure they don't change.
Q.Â Those were tough conditions, obviously, Saturday.Â I know you said something about you'd like to see other teams come in and do that.Â First question is when you were at Florida, how tough would it have been to go to a place like that?Â Would it have been extra tough because of what you were used to?
URBAN MEYER:Â I think any time if you ask a team from Ohio or a northern team to go down to a southern school in the summer, I mean, it's ridiculous.Â We did that when I was there.Â I remember Wyoming coming down there and some teams, and there was a 100‑degree differential between‑‑ I remember doing that stat when Wyoming played their last game, it was 100 degrees different than when they played their first game the next year, and that can only happen a few places, Wyoming and Florida.
Yeah, it would be ridiculous to try to get a group of players from‑‑ no different than a group of players from up here to go down and play in 110‑degree heat index.Â It's not impossible, but it's difficult.
Q.Â The second part of that is when the playoff goes to eight teams, probably, not if, would you be in favor of home sites?Â The first‑round home sites coming up‑‑
URBAN MEYER:Â We play Indiana, man.Â I'm not sure how that works.
Q.Â I know that there were points last year where you were saying you wish Braxton wasn't running as much because you didn't want to expose him to that much risk.Â Are you pleased from that standpoint with J.T. Barrett?
URBAN MEYER:Â Yeah, a lot of his are scrambles.Â The one that he came out the other end, the 90‑yard run was a called run or whatever it was, the 80‑some‑yard run was a called run.Â It's just such a good thing to have as kind of your crutch.Â We've got to get off that a little bit.Â But a lot of J.T.'s yards are he's‑‑ he's a very good scrambler.Â The thing that J.T. does so well, and that's why we stay on course a lot of time, is if it's not there, he puts his foot in the ground and gets six yards and that puts us in 2nd and 4 instead of hanging around‑‑ that's a great quality of his right now and we don't want that to change.
I don't mind that because he's pretty good at getting down, but we've got to limit the quarterback run calls, but we have.Â We're not nearly like we were a few years ago.
Q.Â Speaking of good runners, Kevin Coleman, what is it that makes him successful?
URBAN MEYER:Â I have not studied him.Â I see his statistics; they're ridiculous.Â I met with our defensive staff again this morning, last night and this morning, and they think he's an outstanding, great back.Â Not real big but fast, extremely fast.Â I have not studied him.Â That's usually Wednesday I do that, but I know our guys are‑‑ that's the threat, number one threat on their team.
Q.Â Tackling was a big issue for your defense last year.Â It seems much better this year.
URBAN MEYER:Â Much better.
Q.Â I know there was still one where they were trying to pull the ball out and Cobb went in for a touchdown, but overall can you just talk about the tackling?
URBAN MEYER:Â Yeah, we're not a big strip.Â You won't see that.Â I'd better not see that.Â If you're wrapped up you can go in there and get the ball, but that was really bad two years ago.Â Coach Fickell and Coach Ash are the primary guys that teach that long with Coach Coombs obviously.Â But we work‑‑ I can't imagine there's a team that works harder on tackling than we do.Â We work that every week, and that's non‑negotiable.
Q.Â Backup D‑tackles, you talk about them a lot.Â Is there one guy‑‑
URBAN MEYER:Â Schutt is close.Â He had a good week of practice.Â I like Tom Schutt, disappointed in him.Â I thought when we recruited him, he'd be a guy that would roll in there, and we're meeting every week now.Â He's asking what he can do better, and he had his best week of practice, so he's a good guy that comes from good people and we want to get him on the field, but he's got to play better.Â That's an area that's not where we need to be right now.
Q.Â As a coach when you leave a game like Saturday, Dontre two weeks ago, Jalyn Saturday, do you leave more worried about the ball security or pleased and encouraged by when he holds on to the ball?
URBAN MEYER:Â No, very concerned about‑‑ we've fumbled it more this year than we have, and we've had a little conference about that, our offense coaches, myself and our players yesterday, and I think we got lazy a little bit in practice, and that's my fault; I've got to hold these guys accountable.Â So no, very disappointed when that ball is on the ground.Â You don't‑‑ you're not going to win a close game by doing that.
Q.Â You prefaced these last couple weeks, this philosophy that guys can't be afraid to make mistakes.Â Did you think the last two years, last year at any point that you had a team that was afraid to make a mistake?
URBAN MEYER:Â I don't think so.Â I just don't want to‑‑ I'll hear people say, if he fumbles, he won't play again for another six games.Â If I see a fundamental flaw in how he's holding the ball, then he won't play for six games, but fumble, like if a guy jumps offsides, that's part of ‑‑ I want a real aggressive team that's not worried about making mistakes, and I think we have that.
But they're also‑‑ it's a fundamental.Â When you start seeing‑‑ I'm seeing our receivers not very tight with the ball right now, and J.T. Barrett and Ezekiel Elliott are very tight.Â You watch them all the time there, we call it chin‑chin‑chin, they're real tight with it.Â It's a fundamental issue right now, not an effort issue.
Q.Â Following up on that, though, other than the drops, have you been pleased with what Jalyn has brought to the table‑‑
URBAN MEYER:Â Yes.
Q.Â From the standpoint he's always cutting up field locking for that play?
URBAN MEYER:Â Yeah, he's real aggressive on punt returns.Â That's something that I'm getting ready to make a change at punt returner, and then Zach Smith and I had a long conversation, we went and watched every one of his punt returns.Â He's very aggressive to the ball.Â They don't drop very often on him.Â He'll go get it, and we don't want to lose that.Â So we've just got to make sure we're taking care of business, getting the reps.
Q.Â You mentioned Eli Apple a little while ago.Â Can you talk about his rise just in the last four or five games?Â Obviously he gave you a spark when he came off the bench at Michigan State four or five games ago.
URBAN MEYER:Â Wasn't full speed, either.Â Yeah, Eli apple is a guy that I'd like to think is a product of the way we do our business.Â In the weight room, in the classroom, he's kind of a‑‑ how can I say that?Â He was not what we wanted when we signed him.Â He was lazy in the classroom, lazy about his business, got a great family, they really supported us in our disciplining of him, and he's doing great in school and great on the field.Â And I grabbed him yesterday and I said, this is what we recruited.Â He's playing pretty well.
Q.Â I'm just wondering, do you think, I know you're talking about Indiana, but do you think the committee is going to take into consideration y'all were playing in constant snow on Saturday, 16 degrees, mistakes happen?Â Do you have faith in the committee to look at everything, I guess, and they judge teams nationally?
URBAN MEYER:Â I think I see some coaches on there that probably have been in Minnesota and played, I guess.Â For the person that has no clue, I have no faith in them.Â For people that understand ball and all that, yeah.Â Once again, I don't really know who's on it.Â I'm sure they were well picked.
Q.Â A little bit along those lines, you guys are kind of on two tracks here.Â You obviously have to win.Â That's all you can control.Â But there is this playoff, you're trying to get into the playoff.Â At 31‑24 win over Indiana probably won't help you.Â How do you kind of balance the idea that you have to obviously take care of business, but there is this perception game?
URBAN MEYER:Â That's not even going to be addressed.Â We wake up every November or we wake up every day to compete for championships in November.Â It's at the doorstep now.Â They've done a good job getting us there.Â If you'd have told us after week two that this would all start to materialize, I think we just keep doing what we're doing, and that's get better, get better each week.Â We are lights‑out a much better football team than we were at the beginning of the season, and that's a credit to the players and the assistant coaches for getting them there.
But those kind of conversations I think take place in here.Â They certainly don't take place within locker rooms, not that I'm aware of.
Q.Â Would you be willing to say that you're one of the four best teams in the country?
URBAN MEYER:Â Not right now, no.Â No, I don't, because I don't want to make ignorant comments.Â I just don't know.Â I'd make the comment that we're one win away from representing the East in the Big Ten Championship game, because I do know that.
Q.Â With Zach Smith and that receiver group this year, what have you seen just in terms of they have that zone six thing they've made for themselves.Â In terms of what Zach has done with that attitude in that room or the togetherness in that room.Â We know that room has been an issue at times in your time here.Â What have you seen?Â Obviously they're playing better.Â Is there something about the way they're approaching things?
URBAN MEYER:Â I wish you would have asked me last week.Â I would have been more positive.
Q.Â I know.
URBAN MEYER:Â They didn't play very well this week, so that zone six stuff or whatever, I'm going to blow it up.Â I told Zach, I told him he coached his best game against Michigan State, high energy, very good blocking downfield, making plays downfield, just‑‑ and then this past week we didn't play very good.Â The dog ate my homework excuse about the weather and all that, that's the way it is.Â He has done‑‑ this has been a good year for Coach Smith and the receivers, much different approach to the game than when we first got here, so he's done a good job.
Q.Â I know you have‑‑ you're worried about your thing with your team with Indiana, but Florida is making a coaching change.Â For anybody who goes in there next from what you know, having gone in there when Florida was down, what do you need to do‑‑
URBAN MEYER:Â I'm just worried about Indiana.Â Nice try, though.
Q.Â When you talked about goals and motivation, whether last January or at any time up until now for this 2014 season, returning to Indianapolis for the Big Ten title game, how big was that?
URBAN MEYER:Â That was everything.Â That was everything we did was to get another shot at the Big Ten Championship.Â Everything, and that's at the doorstep.Â I imagine that's why they were pretty juiced up yesterday for practice.
Q.Â Indiana is rushing for like 265 yards a game or something like that.Â Could you address what your run defense must do against a team‑‑
URBAN MEYER:Â You know, we played much better than I anticipated watching the film.Â We had some missed tackles, safety position missed a few tackles, bad ones, and we have to work on that.Â But I thought our defensive front‑‑ I didn't get the feel during the game our defense‑‑ Mike Bennett played one of his best games as a Buckeye, Joey Bosa was ridiculous, Steve Miller was going hard, and Adolphus didn't do bad.Â We just got to make sure we're gap sound, be very smart, and we're facing one of the best rush teams certainly in the Big Ten, and we're just‑‑ I think we're comfortable with the style of defense we're planning to go play Indiana and stop that run‑‑ limit that run offense.
Q.Â Dovetailing off of that, you're playing Kevin Coleman who had a 300‑yard rushing game last week, played Jeremy Langford a couple weeks ago, this Cobb kid, Melvin Gordon is going crazy.Â People talk about this league.Â Have you run into this many backs it seems like‑‑
URBAN MEYER:Â No, I haven't, and then you see that they're doing it against some of the top rush defenses in the country.Â That's one thing I noticed about it; I was just looking at our conference, rush defenses, and who we've faced the last few weeks, they're very good against the rush.Â I think the last two were top 10.
Q.Â Minnesota was 21, Penn State was 5, Michigan State was 5.
URBAN MEYER:Â So just very good run defenses, and then you throw these big‑time backs in there, so there's some NFL players in this league carrying the ball.
Q.Â Nationally a lot of times‑‑
URBAN MEYER:Â And I think Zeke, I've got to throw my guy in there now.Â For whatever reason, he's not having the same touches, but I like our back.
Q.Â Nationally a lot of times people have talked about the Big Ten and this and that, but heading into last week, the committee had five in the top 25, you got out of Minnesota with a win.Â You're in the middle of this.Â Are you seeing any downs in the Big Ten as you're going through this?
URBAN MEYER:Â I think the upper half is‑‑ I think the one thing that ‑‑ I've got to be smart how I say this.Â I think the Big Ten Conference, it's no secret, the difference between that and the other top conferences is not one through five.Â I think it's the whole thing, and I see teams getting better, to answer your question.Â Northwestern goes in there and beats Notre Dame, and Northwestern to me is‑‑ last year I remember they were 15th in the country or 16th in the country, so the consistency of teams in our conference, I think, is the only thing lacking at times.Â But that's without studying it, but the top five teams in our conference, they can play anywhere.
Q.Â You're playing a team like Missouri, I know they've had injuries to the quarterbacks, but‑‑
URBAN MEYER:Â Yeah, they beat Missouri at Missouri, and I think Missouri is first in the East, in the SEC.
Q.Â What have you seen out of Curtis Samuel?Â I know he was really involved at one point.Â He seemed to run pretty well when he was returning kickoffs.Â What do you see from him?
URBAN MEYER:Â We've got to get him in the game.Â Zeke has got the hot hand right now and playing really, really well.Â He's playing high, high level football for us, and we've had some really tough games.Â You want your best guy with the ball in his hand right now.Â So that's the only thing.Â He's not done anything wrong.Â He had a little injury two, three weeks, but he's full speed now and did a nice job.Â The kickoff return before the half got us ‑‑ I was ready to just kneel on the ball and get out of there because of the conditions of the field and everything, and we knocked it out past the 40‑yard line, went down and kick a field goal because of that kick return.Â He's doing great, we've just got to get him more involved.
Q.Â You addressed a week or two ago, but every place I go people are asking me about J.T. and Braxton, how that's going to work next year.Â You said it would be great to have two fine quarterbacks here if that's the plan.Â Can you clarify, is there another plan in place, or is it just going to‑‑
URBAN MEYER:Â The plan in place is to try to clinch the Big Ten Championship, representative of the Eastern Division.Â That's our plan.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports