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November 24, 2014

Urban Meyer

COACH MEYER:  A couple of quick comments about last week's win.  Very pleased.  Obviously we are representing the Big Ten in the championship game.  A great tribute to our players to do that.  But that's all put aside for the rivalry week and have a lot of work to do.
So last week's champions on offense were Taylor Decker is playing at a very high level.  Pat Elflein and the offensive line and those two.  Wide receiver, three of them.  Evan, Devin Smith and Corey Smith.
Corey Smith also started on four special teams.  First time in his career.  Player of the Game was Ezekiel Elliott and obviously Jalin Marshall had a heck of a day.
Those were players of the game.  On defense, champions were Vonn Bell, Joshua Perry and Joey Bosa and Adolphus Washington and Raekwon McMillan.
And Michael Bennett's last two weeks, and he's been outstanding.  So he was the Defensive Player of the Game, Mike Bennett.
Special Teams Player of the Week was Jalin Marshall.  19 production points, changed the game with that punt return.
So we put that one to bed rather quickly, as we do this rivalry game, and that was all the focus and attention went to that to this game.  Obviously.

Q.  Urban, you've kind of got steeped in this rivalry.  You knew about it obviously going out to Ohio, but when you were here in '86 to '87, Earl and big point staff, what did you learn during that period that really impressed you on the fact of how much different this rivalry game is, or a rivalry game is from everything else on the schedule?
COACH MEYER:  Well, I hear people say that it's just another game.  And I hear rivalry games.  We don't take that approach at all.  And I learned that here at Ohio State.  And I took that really with me on our journey.
And that was Bowling Green against Toledo, that was‑‑ I think it's great for‑‑ you know, when you ask a player to come play for your school or even a coach, I have Chris Ash and I have Larry Johnson.  This is not another game.
You go back and go have a little chat with Earl Bruce for six or seven minutes and this game's going to come up.  That's the way it is here and that's the way it should be.
We just make a huge deal out of rivalry games.  I want the players to take ownership in the program, part ownership in the game.  This is not another game.  This is the game.
So it is different around here.  I want to have some fun with it.  But I also want the players to, when you say have fun, I'm not sure how to have fun.  It's how to have fun is sing the fight song in the locker room after a win against your rival.  That's how you have fun.  Everything leads up to that fun.
I know I'm kind of going on and on, but it's a huge deal here.  And it's something that was‑‑ it's always been a huge deal.  As long as I can remember, this game is the game.  And the comment might be a little bit embellished about you can lose them all, just win this one.  I'm not sure I buy that one.  But this is‑‑ and our players know it.
And the other thing we do, we like to educate our players on the rivalry and the gold pants.  So every day we have, as in the past, we'll have a nugget about the rivalry and just educate our players.
Obviously in the preseason camp we always do something about this game.  And I'll pick a couple days throughout the year in February and March and April where it will be this day and throughout the whole‑‑ and the good thing is there's some great documentaries out there about the HBO special and our video guy is outstanding, Dave always puts together some great stuff about the rivalry.

Q.  One more thing, Michigan has had years that they would have hoped, questions circulating up there, what do you anticipate you'll get‑‑
COACH MEYER:  Their best game.  There are great players there.

Q.  When the situation is where there's a coach in the hot seat, do you anticipate that the players play differently?  Do they approach it in any different way, to play for the guy who‑‑
COACH MEYER:  No, I guess I haven't thought about it.  I coached for a man who lost his job on a Monday, not that that has anything to do with this.  But we're anticipating‑‑ I met with the defensive staff this morning and we'll get the best, their personnel will play their very best against us and that happened, that was‑‑ as obvious as you can be last year.

Q.  Urban, I know you understand this rivalry.  How much in your other coaching stops, especially maybe Utah or Florida did you take this rivalry with you there in terms‑‑ because we know you're so successful in rivalry games.  But I heard Dan Mulligan the other talking about this game, call it the team up north.  Have you sprinkled the Ohio State/Michigan rivalry around?
COACH MEYER:  I learned it here.  You go to Bowling Green, we certainly didn't invent that rivalry.  That's always been a nasty‑‑ the team's are only 20 miles apart, Bowling Green and Toledo.  And we go to Utah and once again we didn't invent the rivalry.  We maybe put a lot of emphasis on it, called them the team down south and had some success out there with it.
Then we go to Florida.  Interesting at Florida you have three of them, you have Tennessee early in the year.  You have Georgia and you have the team out west.
And some people say we're going to have fun‑‑ I told you there's no fun in a rivalry unless you're singing the fight song after the game.  That's the fun that you have in it.  So to answer your question, I think that is kind of neat.  Dan and I talk about that.  I think that's great.

Q.  Through your time here, there's been a lot of talk with the leadership and that kind of thing.  Now that you're here with this senior class, what have you thought how this senior group especially the captains and leaders on this team have filled their roles through your time here and especially‑‑
COACH MEYER:  Great question.  Blown away with our first year.  I didn't see that coming.  Maybe the best group of leaders I've ever been around, the 2012 team.
When everything was ripped away from them, they still did what they did.  That's why there's stuff around this facility still about honoring those players.  And when they come back here they're treated like royalty, like they should.  Because they did.  They made a decision.  They didn't have to do that.
Those last years, I think it was pretty good when Christian Bryant went down, that was a sucker punch that we needed him in certain areas on our defense and we didn't have him anymore.  That's how valuable a player he was.
This year is still to be determined.  Right now I would grade Mike Bennett, he's okay and for some reason the last month he's been outstanding.  Jeff Heuerman is good.
But this book's not written yet.  So I'm pleased with it.  But these next couple are going to‑‑ that's going to be their legacy, our legacy I should say.

Q.  Coaches want their teams to start peaking this time of year, start playing their best football.  You guys probably did that in East Lansing and Minnesota and I don't know if you would say you did that last week.  How do you recapture that plan on the uptick that you guyshad?
COACH MEYER:  I agree with that.  I think there's multitude of reasons, but I agree 100percent.  If J.T. hits a couple of those passes we don't‑‑ could have, would have, should have.
There's some excellent performances in that game.  Still had 530, 40 yards offense, and you missed a bunch of receivers, wide open.  Had three turnovers that put us in a bad deal and two run fit miss issues on defense.  But the facts are facts.
It is very important to be hitting your stride.  I would say the only thing I'd say is I wouldn't say we're not hitting our stride.  There's some things to clean up.  But if you evaluate our team compared to week one it's still the most improved team.  They're playing at a high level.  Just gotta take care of the ball.

Q.  The evolution of your H‑back position, I think we saw some wildcat‑‑ I don't think we saw that last week.  You guys pulling that back or is that something that‑‑
COACH MEYER:  Just getting wear and tear on Jalin right now.  It's easier when you know our feeling about receivers on a play, 30, 40 plays a game not 60.  And he's also a special teams guy.  I'm just being very cautious of that.
Evan Spencer will have to help us at H.  The J.C. Corey Smith has helped us as well.  And notice we're a little bit more 12 than we've been.  That's one back, two tight ends, with Nick Vannett.
He's playing really well.  So he's a guy that we keep trying to force ourselves to get him in the game.  So the H‑back has evolved the way we want it.  It's just now you wish you had the other guy still.

Q.  I can't say I know your musical tastes that well but LL Cool J is‑‑ This is War‑‑ It's Time for War.
COACH MEYER:  I just know the song's name.  He's really good at it.  It's a good song.

Q.  Could you give background on how that came to be played?
COACH MEYER:  I have no idea.  I think our video guy put it in a video.

Q.  It's not your thing?
COACH MEYER:  I don't think it was.  I don't know.  It's not on my iPod or iPad or something.

Q.  How different is everything this week?
COACH MEYER:  I hear the players' comments and I think it is a lot different.  If it's not then we're not doing a good job.  Coach Mick does a great job.  Dave.  I have a bunch of people in this facility that it is different.  There will be things every day added to the facility to make‑‑ you walk in the weight room it's completely different, everything.
It's always been that way.  I remember that 1986, my first year here, driving in to work and sheets hanging outside the dorm.  Muck Fishigan‑‑ should I say that right?  Muck Fishigan.  I thought that was really neat.  Then they flipped the M and the F on Friday.  Didn't stay up very long.  But it did.  I saw it.

Q.  Obviously Michigan has struggled this year.  Does it matter at all that they are having their issues?
COACH MEYER:  No, because you watch videotape and talent's‑‑ they're going to give us everything they got and what they've got is a lot.  So no.  These players, motivation won't be an issue.  Expectation of facing a very talented team or facing a top 10 defense in the country and for the two days now we've been pounding, watching it, they're really good.  So there's no issue.  Very athletic and talented on special teams too.

Q.  Last year wasn't the first time there were punches thrown in this game.  That probably won't be the last?
COACH MEYER:  I had a talk with our team about that.  And absolutely no case for that.  Intensity, absolutely certain mentality we need to take to this field but that's not acceptable.

Q.  The fact that you have an additional game and they have nothing to lose, is that something that you could factor in?  You have to be careful with what you do, because your season doesn't end on Saturday?
COACH MEYER:  That's a good question.  And I probably will discuss that.  That didn't come up.  Just that I'll be‑‑ that's not the way we play the game and I think a lot of lessons were learned.  We went without one of our key linemen in the championship game the following week and we played a game without two or three good players.  So that's not‑‑ that was a very strong conversation yesterday in the team meeting.

Q.  Jalin Marshall emerges at the hybrid back.  Did that offense at times Saturday sort of look like what you had envisioned with a hybrid back in it?  Understand what I'm saying?
COACH MEYER:  This whole year has.  Maybe it's starting‑‑ we didn't have that luxury the first two years.  Philly Brown was close.  But I just got done watching the game last year against them, and he was active in the run game, Philly.  But not like these guys are.  These guys are built like the way we want them.  So to answer your question, yes.

Q.  Like was just asked, how tough a predicament is it to be playing a game for a championship next week but you've got this one, this is the rivalry that‑‑ you understand what I mean, what kind of pickle does it put you all in?
COACH MEYER:  It's real.  When I was at Florida we had to deal with that FSU game.  That's real.  But it's also embrace it, take advantage of it, love every moment but there's only way to enjoy every moment and that's to sing the fight song in the locker room after the game.  It's real, what you just said.  But there's no conversation about let's hold this back‑‑ let's go win this game.

Q.  If I were to ask you what were your childhood memories of this game, and as you went through high school did you think you were going to get a look from this place?
COACH MEYER:  Of course I did.  My mom told me I was a great player.  (Laughter).  Things didn't work out.  Kept waiting for that letter; it never happened.

Q.  Nobody ever called you?
COACH MEYER:  No.  But that's another story.  I do remember one time when I was real young I couldn't understand it but my mother grabbed me, said we have to go run an errand or something.  Looked like she was out of her mind.
We went to some outdoor area.  It was an outdoor like mall.  They were playing the game over the loud speakers.  And I just‑‑ I'll never forget that as long as I live.  Listening to the game it was Pete Johnson and Archie Griffen and the boys.
Obviously I remember every game.  I remember even‑‑ I told someone the story Mike Trgovac is a great friend of mine and we were both coaching at Colorado State together and we went and played Hawaii.  We both got up at 5:00a.m. to watch ‑‑ we always had a little wager on it on obviously who is a great player on the team up north.  I was pulling for the Buckeyes.

Q.  You've got a song playing 24/7.  You're doing other little motivational things.  Is there a balance?  Is there any concern of overdoing it, a tipping point on getting the guys too hyped up or too pumped up?  Have you learned through the years?
COACH MEYER:  I don't think that hypes them up.  I think it's a remembrance of what we're doing to have a good practice.  We're trying to compartmentalize.  We're not trying to go play the game tomorrow.  We're trying to have a good Tuesday practice, good Monday.  It's their off day, but they come in get treatments, take care of themselves, constant reminders what the game is.
I think the older players know and appreciate it.  I think the younger players are getting a dose of it now.  It's a different week.  That's all it is.  We're not trying to get them motivated to play the game on Tuesday.
And we'll talk to them about it.  I don't want to devalue your question, but we'll have conversations, let's take care of the moment and the moment is somehow win it Tuesday and then get to Wednesday.

Q.  You followed this from afar, the rivalry, how tough is the'90s for when they were struggling?
COACH MEYER:  It's not‑‑ as a fan and as someone who is following the Buckeyes, you would just pull for them because I knew they had great players.  That was two good teams going at it all the time, though.

Q.  Can I ask you a question about the middle linebacker.  You don't see a lot of teams rotate at middle linebacker.  You obviously feel that's the best approach for you guys.  Why is that approach good for you guys?
COACH MEYER:  Two good players, one great leader that's really improved his play, Curtis Grant, and another guy that's obviously he played like‑‑ you're right, I think it was 34 and 30, the amount of plays that each one of them played.  And I don't micromanage those positions.  I do push when I think guys should play.
And obviously Raekwon is getting better and better.

Q.  Have you ever done that before rotated it at the Mike linebacker spot?
COACH MEYER:  Mike linebacker, I'm not sure.  That's a good question.  I don't think so.  Not the Mike.

Q.  Is everybody healthy?
COACH MEYER:  Everybody is healthy, yeah, everybody's healthy.

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