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December 1, 2014

Urban Meyer

COACH MEYER:¬† Thanks for coming.¬† Couple comments.¬† I want to thank our students and fans.¬† And we finished‑‑ I'm not sure when the last time we've done this, maybe it's recently. ¬†I'm not aware.¬† That's something Jerry would know‑‑ but we finished the year No. 1 at student attendance.¬† When people say it's declining, not at Ohio State.¬† We're very grateful to our students, and it's a student‑run program.¬† So we do a lot of things in the off‑season to make sure we never not appreciate that.
I noticed this 13 years ago or whatever when I first had the opportunity to be a coach, you're always talking about boosters and maybe corporate sponsorship and all that and the people you forget are the students, so we don't do that here.  With Gene Smith and our administration, and players and coaches, we try to do as much as we can.
Every year we do a multitude of things with our student body.  One is the practice, one is community service, and we always do the Quick Cals, and that is the for the student body.  So the minute you want to quit being appreciative of the students, you lose them, and we don't want to lose them, so we're very grateful to them.
Second is the fans.¬† We led the country in total attendance, over 106,000 people in that wonderful stadium and very appreciative of that.¬† Because, once again, I hear about people losing fans, and we don't do that here.¬† We try to do the best we can to show appreciation for them.¬† Also a group of seniors.¬† We have a saying around here respect is not given, it's earned.¬† And these seniors that we say goodbye to, even though they still have more games, came in as freshmen and lost seven games as freshmen.¬† Had a losing record, excuse me‑‑ yeah, 6 and 7, right?¬† 6 and 7 losing record, had a bowl game taken away from them when they had really nothing to do with anything.¬† They come back and here's what they've earned:¬† Three division championships, won 35 of the last 38 games they've played.¬† 24 straight wins, longest in Ohio State history.¬† Three straight years without losing a conference game, first time ever in the Big Ten, and the second winningest group of players in college football right now in the last three years.
So the challenge I have for them and the challenge around here is now go finish the job.  One thing you'll notice I did not mention in there was a championship, and that is an opportunity to get it done this week.
So it's championship week here at Ohio State.  Also about J.T., talked to him last night, he should be over here some point today.  Had surgery, it went well.  He had a similar injury to Evan Spencer that he had in the bowl game last year, and obviously, Evan has recovered without any issues whatsoever, so they're anticipating the same with J.T.
We love J.T.  I personally have an incredible amount of respect for him as our entire team and Buckeye Nation does because of who he is.  The more you'll get to know him the next several years, he's just a wonderful young man who is an incredible leader, works extremely hard at his trait.  He's a Heisman candidate too, and he should be invited to New York.  If he's not, then there is something wrong.
He has Heisman statistics.  I did a little research on that.  Got asked that question several weeks ago, and I didn't know.  But he's got very excellent statistics, and he's a leader of one of the top 5 teams in America, so I hope that that young man is invited to New York, and he should be.
We're facing an excellent team.¬† Gary Andersen is a dear friend of mine.¬† Great football coach.¬† We worked together at Utah, and what he's done, they lost their front seven on defense.¬† I just had a meeting, went through it with our staff, and to come back and lead the country‑‑ I think they're leading the country.¬† They're top 10 in pass defense, and rush defense.¬† Very, very good players but extremely well coached.¬† And obviously we understand there is another Heisman guy going to be on the field, Gordon, who Gary tells me the best thing about him is he's a wonderful young man too, so that's good for college football.
We're honored to represent the east in Indianapolis, and do the best we can to bring Ohio State another championship.  So I'll answer any questions for you.

Q.  What has the last 24 hours been like?  I'm sure there's not a chapter or coaching manual to turn to to deal with what you've had to deal with in the last 24 or 48 hours.  How do you cope with it, manage it, go through it?
COACH MEYER:  It's been a tough week.  We were talking about it last night.  We were told last week that Noah Spence, which I don't agree with by the way, because of performance enhancing drugs, he had his career taken away.  It wasn't performance enhancing drugs, so that's another story in its own.  But that was disappointing of a 3.0 student that made a mistake that a lot of young people make, social issue.
I credit Ohio State for really dealing with and doing the best we can.  The good thing is it's extremely positive what's going on in his life right now, and that is a credit to our administration, and not turning our back on a person.  So really disappointed in that last week.
Then a young man goes missing, and then we lose J.T. Barrett, and the tragic news last night.¬† So I told our players, you add in the fact you lost your Heisman preseason candidate the beginning of the season, you had our captain not really‑‑ we didn't have our offensive captains play the first four or five games of the year.¬† I said you shouldn't be in this situation.¬† So you have to really reflect upon how that happened.¬† There is not good fortune, the ball didn't bounce your way.¬† We don't believe in that.¬† We believe in an extremely close team, an extremely close team that leans on each other in tough times, and someone usually steps up and makes a tremendous play or says something, or Mike Bennett has really grown up as a leader.
So that team, every red flag is up, every excuse is out there to not play well, to not win a game, to lose a game.  You have some really good built in excuses.  To overcome the incredible tragedy that happened last night, this is a real challenge.  We're going to watch it very closely.  I can tell you this:  Extremely close team that does a lot of things together and cares about each other.

Q.  Does it work to your advantage when it almost seems to be a tipping point of adversity where you sort of bond together?
COACH MEYER:  Well, I hate when you use the term advantage, that's pretty hard core.  I don't know that.  This is life lessons.  This is so much deeper than lining up on a football field.  But to answer your question, adversity at times, if it's real.  If it's a real close group, it sometimes brings them closer together.

Q.  Yeah.  I guess there are two ways to look at this.  You waited all year to get back to this point, the point of unfinished business from last year.  Now you have all this stuff, real stuff that you're dealing with.  Is there a sense that, okay, all of this is against us, and let's go show the world?  Nobody believed us?
COACH MEYER:  Well, we were off today.  Right at the end of practice we had a long chat with our players about what happened.  I'll know more tomorrow.  I'll know more tomorrow.  A lot of the good things is I see a bunch of guys popping around here.  That is the other sign of a good team.  When I first got here, Coach Drayton told me one thing you're not going to like is off campus, you're not going to see the players around very much.  I don't like that at all.
I love‑‑ I don't like to have a meeting room.¬† I like to go talk to the guys and go in the weight room.¬† So we created an atmosphere around here where the locker room, obviously the food, that's a good way to get them over here.¬† And really when we brought the training‑‑ there wasn't the training table over here, we didn't have a locker room like it is now.¬† We didn't have a lounge area where the guys bring their food in, they have iPads, so it's a much different atmosphere.¬† They're always over here.
The reason I'm probably in a good mood right now is I've seen 40 players come popping through.  Coach, how's it going.  You put your arm around them and talk about stuff, and that's what makes coaches' days when you're sitting in there and the offensive line comes walking through and those guys, that's what gets families through tough situations.

Q.  I know at Florida you dealt with player deaths and it's not an experience you want to have, but it is something that you've experienced.  How do you as a coach help that process?
COACH MEYER:  Great question.  First time it happened was a long time ago.  I called Cris Carter and he dealt with it when he was a player at the Minnesota Vikings.  I want to thank Cris as well.  I asked him to come back and be part of it, and boy was he part of it.  He was at dinner with us Friday night.  I made our players aware.  That's giving back to your school and your program.  I know he had some issues when he was here, but my gosh, he's all in.  He supports our players and our coaching staff and Ohio State.  But he dealt with it.
You know, I reached out to some people back then, and it's difficult.  There is no, like you said, you can look at a coaching manual and I'm not sure you'll find anything.  But the tighter the group, the better opportunity.  You'll never get over it.  It's an opportunity to, I'm not sure if learn is the appropriate word either, but just continue to grow and stay on your journey.

Q.¬† You said last week even though your mom said you were good, you couldn't be a part of Ohio State or Michigan.¬† You were a walk‑on at Cincinnati.¬† What's it like being a walk‑on there and what's it like being a walk‑on now?
COACH MEYER:¬† It was much different.¬† Now the NCAA one of the great things they did is everyone eats.¬† One of the hardest things when I was a coach, we have in the team meeting room and right here are a couple scholarship guys and that guy's a walk‑on and he's playing a lot more than you but he can't eat after practice.¬† I mean, every dollar counts with these young guys.¬† I have two guys Joe Burger and Craig Fada, they're as important as any scholarship player on this team.¬† Leadership, toughness, and they contribute on special teams.
I was sitting with them one day, and Joe told me it saves him $3,000 a semester now because we're allowed to feed them, so it's much different.¬† The approach I've always taken is ever since I've always been‑‑ if I'm going to ‑‑ if it's between a walk‑on or scholarship guy, I'm taking care of the walk‑on player, as far as playing time, as far as opportunity on special teams because I believe those guys deserve that shot.

Q.  Is it a hard life for them because you get guys that are here because they love football and they have their schooling paid for, but you have other guys here that love football but they're not.
COACH MEYER:¬† Well, it challenges you.¬† I mean, I think my experience is the opposite.¬† Those kids love every second of it or they wouldn't do it.¬† To say every scholarship, there are some scholarship guys in this program that don't like it at all.¬† They're doing it because they get their school paid for.¬† You try to not have too many of those or you could lose a bunch of games.¬† But the walk‑on guy, if they don't like it, they're not playing.¬† Chris Rock does not have to do this.¬† Chris Rock does this because he loves his team, he loves Ohio State.¬† To see him go through senior tackle with his mom and his dad, that's why we do what we do.

Q.  Did you get any sense (Indiscernible)?
COACH MEYER:  He loved it.  I had dinner with him a couple times.  It just was such a short period to spend with him.

Q.  In the spread, do you have any sort of a number you'd like to see your quarterback limited to in rushes or is that determined by what the defense does?
COACH MEYER:  Determined by how the game is going.  One thing, obviously, the spread, that conversation comes up every year.  That's something that we'd like to limit J.T. and Braxton and I'm trying to think from Alex Smith to Cris Lee to Tebow, each guy carried it a different amount of times.
A lot of times like the scramble for the touchdown, I think that's what makes the great quarterback.¬† Those are the Steve Youngs of the world, and that keeps drives alive.¬† And the scramble changes the game of football if you have a guy that can move back there.¬† The direct runs, we limit those.¬† Those aren't called very often.¬† And there are three ways quarterbacks run the ball, and not just in pro‑style offenses.¬† That's almost all scramble, sometimes they'll run a Q draw.¬† So you have scramble, direct run, which is a Q draw, Q power or Q zone, which we've done before, and then the other one is a read component where a defensive player gives you a read to pull the ball and run with it.
So to answer your question, there is in our own mind, but a lot of time during the course of the game, that changes because the defense can play it however they want to play it.  Does that make sense?

Q.  You're not an underdog very often.  Is there any psychological edge there?  I remember you talked about it in the '06 National Championship.  You kind of used that for your players to psych them up for the game?
COACH MEYER:  We're underdogs for this game?

Q.  Yes, yeah, 4 points?
COACH MEYER:  I didn't know that.

Q.  Will you play that up with your guys?  Is there any psychological edge?
COACH MEYER:  We'll see.  We didn't really discuss this one yesterday.  It's just, I guess some things going with them on Sunday, but we'll see.  We'll see what we have to do.  I think our players once they get to today, that is their big day of loading their iPads with videotape because we haven't watched them much.  We haven't played them since last year.  So that was really the first time for the last ten hours yesterday and today, it is the first time I've been watching them.

Q.¬† Stephen Collier really quick.¬† I know you said you were going to have a discussion with the staff last night.¬† If something happens with Cardale or something happens with Jalin would you burn the red‑shirt with Stephen?
COACH MEYER:  It hasn't been determined yet.  Jalin is in that mix as well, Jalin Marshall.

Q.¬† You were asked in the game about the difference between reps for starter back.¬† There were some games where Jalin got five reps and Cardale got three.¬† That doesn't seem like a big gap, but what is the difference when you try to manage the starter, back‑up in practice?
COACH MEYER:¬† That's scout work, and then at the end of practice is the most important work and that is ones‑twos, twos‑ones we call it.¬† So the one offense will go like the pros practice, because they don't have scout squads.¬† So you take the second team defense and they'll card up what the opponent is going to play.¬† The starting quarterback gets all of those.¬† Then the two quarterback will go run the offense of the next one.¬† So during practice they get probably like you said 5‑3, 5‑4.¬† Probably 5‑3 reps, but those are scout team reps.¬† The big ones are at the end of practice, and those are usually 15, 16 reps all firs‑team quarterbacks, and that's where it changes drastically at the end of practice.

Q.  Is there still value for Cardale having a lot of those mixed team reps this spring?
COACH MEYER:  Sure, a lot of value.  Cardale, it's going to be his first start.  Obviously a really good environment against a very tough defense.  But it's not like he's not taking snaps with the one offense or understands the concepts.  So he has a very good understanding.

Q.  One of the things in J.T.'s development this year that you brought up besides what we see on the field has been his preparation and leadership is that an intangible?  How big of a deal is that, forgetting the athletic ability, and where is Cardale on that scale, I guess?
COACH MEYER:  Well, we're going to find out.  Obviously not as detailed, but he's pretty good though.  Probably a good question for Tom or Coach Herman.  I mean, it will be, and it started last night.  We expect our quarterbacks to prepare a certain way.
Now what he does on his own as for J.T., it was very unique and the ultimate grinder as far as the preparation.  You hear stories throughout college football history and pro football history about the guys that are gym rats, and that's what J.T. was.  Is Cardale that type?  I'll let you know.  It would be a great bonus for all of us, but he'll certainly put in a lot of time getting ready to go.

Q.  Does he have those leadership qualities or can you not tell?
COACH MEYER:¬† He hasn't been in that situation yet.¬† He did in the spring.¬† He did a good job.¬† Remember he was our back‑up.¬† He ran with the ones in the spring.

Q.  (No microphone) about the text message that was supposedly sent to his mom or reportedly sent to his mom before he disappeared and stuff about dealing with concussions, et cetera.  Are you confident?  How comfortable are you in the way he was dealt with here from that standpoint?
COACH MEYER:  I was told not to address anything.  I can say this, this is the best group of medical people I've ever been around, the way they handle their business and the attention to detail.

Q.¬† Cardale, do you limit runs now that you're sitting here with him and a red‑shirt guy as the back‑up quarterback?¬† How do you approach that?
COACH MEYER:  Good question.  We've had a mini conversation about that already.  That will be continued throughout the week.  We have to win this game.  We're not saving him for next week or the week after.  We're not saving anything.

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