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August 31, 2015

Ed Warinner

Columbus, Ohio

COACH WARINNER: How are we doing today, guys.

Q. I know in 99 percent of the cases the quarterback's skill set will determine what the offense will do, but because you have two great options at QB, could the reverse be a little bit true this year with your team, What the skill players do well may determine what quarterback fits best?
COACH WARINNER: I don't think necessarily we're looking at it that way, based on how the skill players are performing, more just the level of the execution of the quarterback, the moving the team, the leadership, the ability to command the offense. So that entire picture you need at quarterback to do, who's doing better at it? Both are really good at it. Both have been good at it in games, and that competition is still going on.

Q. Can you give an idea just how much you guys studied last year's Virginia Tech game in the off-season?
COACH WARINNER: Quite a bit. Quite a bit. We took a close look at what we did. We took a close look at what they did and evaluated and learned and have tried to be prepared for what they might do because they may not do the same thing.

Q. How painful was that to relive that?
COACH WARINNER: It's painful. At the end of the day, though, it helped us, in some ways, evaluate our offensive philosophy, our offensive game planning, preparation, practice habits, and it allowed us to grow quickly and understand that we weren't maybe as good as we thought we were or weren't where we needed to be. So we expedited and changed kind of our teaching and how we prepared, and it helped us grow in the long run.

Q. Ed, could you give us an update sort of on the pecking order, et cetera, at that wide receiver spot now with Noah Brown, he's gone for the year and stuff. Who are you guys -- who's in the running? Who are you looking at? Who has kind of caught your eye in the last couple of days?
COACH WARINNER: Former Big Ten Player of the Year is doing well out there. We like him.

Q. Is he playing out wide? He's hybrid back, right?
COACH WARINNER: He's all over the place. He's just an athlete out there. No, Braxton has looked good and is growing into that position and had a great attitude about learning it.

Michael Thomas is a go-to guy, a guy we like a lot who's had a productive career here so far and expecting big things from him. Curtis Samuel out there.

You've got, for this game, a variety of other guys we can look to, and then we have our big tight end, Nick Vannett.

Q. Specifically, a wide receiver like Johnnie Dixon and some of those guys.
COACH WARINNER: There's a whole group of those guys with Johnnie Dixon, Parris Campbell, Terry McLaurin that are all going to have roles early on in the season and roles in this game. We're trying to work through that.

We have a little mock game tonight, mock scrimmage, that we'll do just to kind of evaluate and continue that process. All those guys have been getting reps out there at practice.

Q. We haven't talked to you since Noah got hurt, but just how stunning was that for you personally and stuff? I mean, he had been having, I guess, a really good camp and stuff.
COACH WARINNER: For our team, it was tough because everybody watched his growth over the last year, very talented individual. Somebody that was going to weigh heavily into what we were going to do this year.

Personally, it hurt because I recruited him. I kind of knew his family and been to his home, been to his school many times. Very close to his high school coach. So when a guy that you bring here and you have to tell his mom that he went down, that's hard. But they're great people, great family, and we'll look forward to having Noah back with us when he heals up. That will be next year, obviously.

Q. When you're putting together a game plan and you look on the other side and see Virginia Tech has an All-American corner, a guy that's going to be probably a first round pick, how does that change things at all in how you approach the Tech defense when there's a lockdown corner on the other side?
COACH WARINNER: They have a very good defense in general, and he's one of their high level players. They have many good players, high level players. I think you just always look for matchups. You look for how do you match up in all areas -- at wide receiver. How do you match-up up front? And find your match-ups and try to evaluate what you can do in those match-up situations.

But, yeah, we just have to be smart and prudent about what we do. Again, look at how much do we want to attack him? How much do we not want to attack him? And how do we want to progress with our players?

And you can't always control. They get to decide where they put him. We can't know for sure where he's going to be, who he's going to cover in each formation, where he's going to be. Some of that has to be as the game progresses.

Q. In a situation where they decide to have him follow Mike Thomas around the field, are you confident in the other guys who haven't played much that they'll be able to --
COACH WARINNER: We're very confident in our team and very confident in the other players, and we're confident in Mike Thomas. Mike Thomas will be pretty highly -- last I checked, he's a pretty good player too. So he'll go out there and battle. We aren't worried about Mike Thomas and him playing a great game and being productive although we know the quality of player that, if that's the guy that covers him, we know how good he is too. That's one of those big time matchups.

Q. Ed, can you just put into words your offensive line, where it is right now compared to where it was last year going into the Virginia Tech game as we evaluate this matchup again.
COACH WARINNER: About 12 months more experienced, 12 months more of being together. Obviously, they're a mature group, very close group, a very veteran, weathered group that's gone through a season like we had last year -- finishing strong, playing well at the end of the year.

We have two guys who were voted captain in that group. So they're kind of the leaders, I would say, in how we do business and our mentality. But we're way further ahead because at this point now we're trying to make each one of them better in little details. Last year we were teaching them how to play, how to practice, how to get lined up, executing assignments. We're in more detail now of how to take it to the next level. They're great kids. It's great to have it.

That's one thing I don't worry about is if Taylor Decker is going to show up or not. I don't have to worry if Jacoby Boren and Pat Elflein are going to be there for us. They'll be there.

Q. In this quarterback situation, we asked Urban a lot of questions about this, if the quarterbacks have similar skill sets, what would be the benefit of having both of them play? How would that help the team?
COACH WARINNER: Not sure the question really. I don't have a great answer.

Q. Sometimes maybe this guy does one thing well. Urban brings up what happened at Florida with Leak and Tebow. This guy does something else. But Urban has emphasized they're very similar. So I'm curious, if the decision is made to play both, what would be the benefit of that?
COACH WARINNER: I would say the number one benefit is they're both great people that work extremely hard and have led this team to big wins and played very hard for us. The benefit would be that they both -- what they've given to this team is they get some reward because the reward for our guys is they work 12 months a year to go play 12 games, hopefully a 13th, if you have a good season.

So the benefit is that, like having two really good wide receivers instead of one, having two really good quarterbacks, it's kind of unusual because there's only one on the field at a time, but I would say the benefit is just having two high level players on the field at the same time and rewarding them for what they've given to this team and program and their work ethic and their entire body of work, I guess.

Q. Two questions. The first one, back on the quarterbacks, you had one guy that was All-Big Ten, and one guy that led you to the National Championship, and they were playing at a very high level as the season ended. This last game with Michigan, he was playing at a high level. Are these guys ahead of that spot, or are they back up to that level to start the new season? How would you kind of equate? Are you happy with the level that they're playing at right now?
COACH WARINNER: Yeah, we're very happy with them. I think that's a tough question because I don't think that you can start out a season being where you were when you played game 15 or game 14. There's something to be said about playing in games and playing at the speed of those games and not playing against your own team every day.

So to say that our team or any team starts out Game 1 where they ended up at the end of the season, it's hard to say, or any player. But at this point in time, yeah, I think they're both performing very well. That's why it's so close, and that's why we'll continue to evaluate that. Yeah, we're pretty happy with both and where they're at.

Q. The other thing is Taylor Decker talked about how everybody came down on the offensive line for the way that that game unfolded last year, but you made the point, it was 11 guys, the entire offensive unit that was breaking down that created those issues in the Virginia Tech game. As you went back and looked at it, was that how you viewed it as well? It wasn't just the five on the offensive line unit, it was on they were stressing you in every position across that line, and that's what led to what happened.
COACH WARINNER: Yeah, our entire team and coaching staff didn't perform very well. "Team" meaning offensive team. I'm not speaking about special teams or defense. Our entire offensive unit did not perform well. We left plays on the field at every position. There were things the offensive line obviously needed to do better. There were things at quarterback that we could have executed better. There were things at wide receiver we could have done better.

So we didn't execute at a high level there, and that's on us as coaches to get our players ready to do that, and we did not get that done, and the players were not able to execute at a high enough level. So across the board, there's a lot of blame.

A lot of times, though, different things happen, and you don't want to publicly point out individuals. So you just collectively kind of go with -- you know, a lot of that is statistical. So you say tackles for -- lowest rushing total in so many years. So it's got to be the O-line's fault. Most sacks, it's got to be the O-line's fault. Not every sack or every negative yardage play is the O-line's fault, but that's inherently what happens when you guys write about that, or for those who don't really understand what's going on.

It's hard to block eight guys with six people. So there are usually going to be two people that are free. So sometimes it's we didn't get them ready and we didn't have good schemes for them as coaches or our answers weren't executed well.

Q. Along those same lines, Coach, Bud Foster, came out last week and said they're planning on playing you guys the same way they did last year, man press corners. I'm curious to get your response to that.
COACH WARINNER: Well, they did a great job last year. So I would anticipate that they would be very similar. We try not to read too much about what the other team does. We worry about ourselves and getting our team ready and getting our players ready.

I wasn't aware of too many of his comments or any of that. If you got something good you think you're doing well, you're going to continue to do it, the same as we are. And what you don't like about what you did, you'll probably correct them and fix them. So our plan will be the same as theirs. What we like, we'll keep doing. What we don't like, we'll get better at or change it.

That's the beauty of these first games is no one knows for sure what we're going to do, and we don't know for sure what they're going to do, but it will be exciting to find out.

Q. Do you think that's somewhat gamesmanship on his part? They're obviously going to have some new wrinkles and things like that. Do you think that's a little bit of gamesmanship on his part?
COACH WARINNER: Absolutely. I think there's gamesmanship all together. Like I said, we're focused more on ourselves and focused more on what we need to do and how we need to prepare and get our team ready. I think that their philosophy of what they want to do will play out as the game starts, and we'll have to figure that out quickly.

Q. Coach, you said the quarterbacks are close. In your mind, is one trending higher than the other?
COACH WARINNER: No, not right now. They both trend really high to me.

Q. Will you at some point pound the table for one of the others? I'm sure Urban will ask you who do we go with?
COACH WARINNER: Well, Coach is prepared to make that decision. Obviously, the position I'm in, I'll have a part of that say, and he'll ask me my opinion. The good news is I've been here going on four years with Coach Meyer, and if we've had a hundred discussions that have been about opinions, we're very closely aligned in our philosophical approach. We're not opposites. We're very similar, which is scary, and in that, you know, when he thinks something, I'm usually thinking the same thing, and that's why I think it's worked well.

So I doubt that I'll have a strong opposition to whichever way we go, but we're professionals. We do everything the right way, and we'll have discussion about why is it that this is the guy we need to go with and what does he bring to the table a little bit more that's going to help this team win more games.

I would anticipate that decision coming here towards the end of the week. Yeah, obviously, I'll be involved in that, but Coach will get the final say there.

Q. But will you say the final answer will be a better or best guy as opposed to a good or bad guy?
COACH WARINNER: We're not deciding between average and good. We're deciding between good and good. We're pretty good at both spots. So we're trying to decide because, obviously, they've executed in games, big games, at a high level. So that's the thing that makes it tough and makes it the most intriguing story going.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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