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September 9, 2015

Urban Meyer

Columbus, Ohio

URBAN MEYER: Thanks for coming. I just love great college environments, and I thought Blacksburg and Virginia Tech was one of the best I've been around. Their defensive line had a reputation of being one of the best in the country this year, and in our opinion, more importantly our players' opinions and our line coach and obviously mine, I think they were, and it took us a while to get things organized there.

They changed up I also think -- their defensive coaching staff has a great reputation two years in a row, and it's well deserved.

They fit their personnel. Not that this is about them, but I just think it's -- and I told our coaches that when you hear that you have a system and you have to go recruit players that fit the system, in my opinion that's not a good football coach. You fit your system around what you have, and they've got real twitched up, not real big but they're real fast, and if you really watch that film closely, like real fast, and they did exactly what I would expect our defensive staff to do with that kind of personnel, real fast, real physical guys.

You know, a dropped pass here, turnovers, and offensively a little disappointed with execution. However, at the end of the day, we played the last -- if you count the last three games, the last four games, we've faced four defenses probably in the top 10 in the country and still scored a lot of points. Just have to clean things up.

On defense I thought our guys played well. They hit us on two throwbacks, which were two well-executed plays, and we put -- the fumbled punt right before half really hurt us a little bit.

But the positives, when you have to regroup and come out after halftime and with losing a lead and then the crowd the way they were at that point in time, I think in the long run it's going to be good for our team to watch them fight through that.

Champions on offense were our captain Taylor Decker. Champions, meaning they graded champion effort in the game they played, and Taylor Decker and Chase Farris making his first start graded a champion, and everybody was very excited for him when I announced that to our team. Our guys like him. He's really invested for this for a long time, and he's earned that.

Zeke Elliott graded a champion, 94 yards after contact. Curtis Samuel making his first start -- I don't know if he started. He didn't start, but he graded a champion at wide receiver. And then player of the game was Braxton Miller. Interesting thing about our offense is that a guy like Braxton touched the ball four different ways. He direct snapped, played quarterback, got handed to him as a running back, got pitched to him as a jet sweep guy, and then got thrown to him as a wide receiver. And that's our job as coaches is if you get a freak athlete or a guy that's excellent in space, get it there. You can't just do that at wide receiver because what if the defense takes away that wide receiver.

So that's something that we've been doing for years, and it's great to be able to do that with a guy like Braxton.

On defense, you've got Tyquan Lewis graded a champion, first start, champion; Adolphos Washington, Raekwon McMillan, first start champion, and Gareon Conley, first start champion, those are three of the four champions or first-time starters. And Tyvis Powell was defensive player of the game, played very well, and he's also a captain.

On kicking, champions were Dante Booker, Curtis Samuel, Gareon Conley, those are three tackles inside the 20 on kickoff, very good coverage, and Josh Perry recovered the onside kick.

The Special Forces Player of the Game was Parris Campbell, obviously a redshirt guy that didn't play last year, was all over the field. He had a tackle inside the 20-yard line on kickoff, and he's the one that hit the punt returner for a no gain on punt.

With that, I'll answer any questions for you.

Q. There was so much focus and attention on this opener. Now you come back for a week, big favorite, and these players have been told on the outside that they're not going to face another challenge for the next five, ten weeks. How do you guard against that?
URBAN MEYER: You just guard against everything, man. This is nuts. I guess you have guards to guard the guards, right, or guard the players? But that's our -- we go nine strong, and I hold every coach accountable, and you watch for indicators of how they're slipping. I said that this summer. One is academics, another is work ethic on the practice field or weight room, and any social issues that you're dealing with. Those are three indicators that we watch very closely.

If I see it -- the good thing is if you slip up, there's some pretty good players here. That means the next guy is pretty good, too. So that is something we have to watch, but --

Q. Is your quarterback situation a work in progress?

Q. Is Cardale the starter and J.T. is the backup now?
URBAN MEYER: No, you know, I don't know. I've got to watch --

Q. You said after the game, I don't know who's starting the next game.
URBAN MEYER: Yeah, it's delicate, man. I don't know. I do know. Head coach saying I don't know, boy, that probably sounds bad. All I know is J.T. had one rush for 40 yards and one pass for a touchdown, and was engaged, was leading the team, knew he wasn't going to take the first snap and talked to the team before they went out. There might be packages that I'm going to put in. We talked about that today with the quarterbacks, with maybe J.T. So I don't know.

They both have to be on call and ready to go. I've never been in a situation like that that they're both pulling for each other. It's the damndest thing I've ever seen. It's really cool to see that.

Q. Does it seem strange at all to you that what Cardale has accomplished in four games that he's not actually started for Ohio State in Ohio Stadium? Does that seem odd to you?
URBAN MEYER: I didn't realize that until you just said that. That's real odd. I guess I don't know if you want me to comment. That is odd. Is that a question or a statement?

Q. It's both.

Q. You referenced some of those packages. Do you feel like for the most part what you did with the quarterbacks on Monday is what you are going to continue to use?
URBAN MEYER: I don't know. A lot of it depends on -- the good thing is we expect some expectations in the classroom now, and you screw around man, be careful. So I don't want to jump too far ahead. Let's go beat Hawai'i. Whoever we think and I think can drive us down to score a touchdown against -- I knew it was going to be -- the defense we saw was going to be a zero and a big dude is going to have to stand in there, and it worked. A couple times he had to go over the top of people and make a play, and then there's other times where J.T. has got incredible skill, too.

Just we're trying to win a game. Just trying to score and win a game.

Q. When did you let the quarterbacks know, Coach, who the starter was going to be?
URBAN MEYER: Jerry was telling me that Cardale said I've got to speak clearer, I guess, when I said, "You're in." Probably two or three days before we knew Cardale was going to take the first snap.

Q. In this day and age are you pleasantly surprised that did not leak out?
URBAN MEYER: Yeah, about the tightness of the group, and maybe Cardale didn't hear me from what I said. I didn't even talk to Cardale about it.

So yeah, I like that because there was a time when I first got here, when someone sneezed in here, it went out, and I made it clear that that's -- if there's anything going out, and I've told you guys, if your sources are in here, you've got a guy fired, and if your sources are a player, the kid is never going to play, so I'd be careful who your sources are. Yeah, I think that stays within the team.

Q. What is the biggest challenge with literally -- is this your one full practice day?
URBAN MEYER: It's awful. I didn't realize -- when Gene and I talked about this last year, I just didn't even think about it. Today is a Wednesday, and we were in just Buckeye gear, but we're going to go Thursday, and tomorrow is 3rd downs. It's Wednesday night. So yeah, it's real difficult right now. Guys are still sore, banged up. That was a tough game. Physical game, too. Sometimes you play east-west games. This wasn't that. This was a downhill, sledgehammer game, and our guys are beat up, so we've got to be real smart here how we go about our business.

Q. On some radio shows I've portrayed it as the cavalry kind of coming over the hill, though; you've got Joey Bosa coming back, three guys coming back. Does that kind of add to like people being on their toes or having some fresh bodies available, et cetera, plus the way you played so many people the other night and stuff? What do you feel about the freshness of your team going into this kind of thing?
URBAN MEYER: I feel great. I feel the fact that on defensive end we have some depth now, Jalyn Holmes and Sam Hubbard were honorable mention. I don't know if I mentioned that. They were honorable mention on the defensive line for the way they played, so Sam Hubbard and Jalyn Holmes were honorable mention champions, so that's pretty good for first-time -- I think they're both redshirt freshmen. Now you're getting some depth, and they also played a lot of guys on the inside. So yeah, and then offensive skill, you've got some bodies now, some fast bodies.

Q. Were y'all working at least a little bit on Hawai'i in any kind of sense at all?

Q. Literally it was introduced today?
URBAN MEYER: No, we couldn't. I thought about that; it's a little like when we played Alabama last year and said let's go worry about Oregon because we play them if we win, but no, because we treated that one as there's no tomorrow. A Super Bowl type atmosphere we wanted all focus, all hands on deck for Virginia Tech, and I'm glad we did.

Q. Dovetailing off of Tim, for the coaching staff, what has this week been like? You got back Tuesday morning in terms of --
URBAN MEYER: 4:30 in the morning, and then we came in, we let them get a couple hours' sleep, and we came back in and the GAs had it all done. So that's what happens; you have interns and GAs and you slap it up on the board and so we come in and at least get a visual of what's going on and then start watching film. We had some decisions to make; do we jump right into Hawai'i or do we fix, because there was a lot of errors we had against Virginia Tech, so the coaches made a cut-up of Virginia Tech because you only had -- also had the four-hour window. We appealed to the NCAA to let us meet with them yesterday and all that, and they said no, so those are all things probably before you schedule a Monday night game we should ask those questions because we're way behind.

Q. What is your first take on Hawai'i and what you're going to see?
URBAN MEYER: Oh, it's just stuff. It's one of those defenses that's completely different than what we faced. It's a 3-4 defense and it's called smoke blitzes. Indiana did it last year and it really hurt us. Some other teams have hurt us badly with that. Navy, it's a Navy-type defense, and it's just unique that -- it's something you need reps at, and we haven't had any.

Q. I wanted to ask you about the position battle that everyone in the country is talking about, your kickers. Where does it stand with Willoughby and Nuernberger? We saw Jack out there for that game but he missed a field goal.
URBAN MEYER: So it's open to the kicker, whoever kicks best tomorrow. Tomorrow is field goal day. Whoever kicks best will be the kicker. And they know that, and a lot of pressure on them, and Jack actually hit it pretty good, and he just missed it. Sean will have a chance to win it back.

Disappointed right now in our kicking obviously. That carries on from last year. We were not a very good field goal team, and we have to get better.

Q. And in the punt return game with Jalyn and Dontre back, where does that stand now?
URBAN MEYER: Yeah, also Braxton. I'd like to get him -- he's real close. I just didn't think it would be fair to put him in that environment back there, and Zeke is our best catcher and he dropped one. Jalyn and Dontre and Marshon Lattimore is really good, too. Jalyn and Dontre, so I don't know who the starter is yet.

Q. That's still up in the air?
URBAN MEYER: Yeah, right now it would be Jalyn or Braxton would start the game back there.

Q. You have Jalyn down at wide receiver and not H-back or is he --
URBAN MEYER: He knows them all. He's a real smart player and he needs to be an adaptable guy.

Q. How much taller is your stack of DVDs than usual this week in that their offensive coordinator last season was somewhere else; their defensive coordinator last season was somewhere else; their special teams coordinator last season was somewhere else; their quarterback last full season was at a different school?
URBAN MEYER: Yeah, I can't speak too much for our defense. That would be a good question for Luke or Chris because I'm so involved with the offense right now. And we did, we watched I think it's SMU because that's where their D-coordinator came, but it was a very similar defense that they ran previous that he came there. I think we've got to handle what they're going to do, it's just we've got to be able to block it.

Here's the issue, is that we only get so many. That was not a very long practice, 17, 18 periods, because I can't -- you go any longer, you're wearing them out after just playing two days ago. So how do we get those reps? That's going to be tough this week.

Q. When all four guys are on track to return from suspension this week?
URBAN MEYER: Yes. Yeah, all four are ready to go.

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