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September 28, 2015

Urban Meyer

Columbus, Ohio

An interview with:


COACH MEYER: Thanks for coming. Couple comments about Western Michigan. Champion efforts, a much better performance on offense. Still we had about five, I want to say, at least six underthrown deep balls, which is very uncharacteristic of our quarterbacks, and that's something that we're going to work extremely hard on.

The good thing is that we stretched the field. I mean, we were behind -- every one of those times we were behind them were underthrown.

But the offensive line played much better. Perimeter blocking was much better. Wide receivers who graded a champion were Michael Thomas and Corey Smith. Corey Smith played really hard on special teams as well. Running backs, consistently, Zeke is as good as there is, also had a hit city as far as a great effort blocking down field. But he graded out at 90% playing at a very high level.

Offensive line we had three champions -- Jacoby Boren, Billy Price, and Taylor Decker. And a first-time champion is Marcus Baugh. He's starting to get more playing time.

Co-players of the game were Curtis Samuel, who was dynamic, and Pat Elflein who played one of his better games was player of the game.

On defense not as many champions, high expectations in that regard. We were a little bit disappointed in overall performance. They hit some very well thrown balls on us. We just have to play a little better. Champions were Joey Bosa, player of the game was Adolphus Washington. And we had two honorable mention guys, Josh Perry and Gareon. But obviously need to have more champion efforts on defense.

Big Ten season start this is week. On the road, Indiana, renewed focus, as the ultimate goal is to compete for a championship in November, and that comes to fruition this week. So I'll answer any questions for you.

Q. Three years ago you went to Indiana your first season, gave up 49 points on defense. How different is this defense from that year, and how much do you remember from that game?
COACH MEYER: Oh, that was one of the few times I've ever seen a defense quit playing hard, and that was a problem. That was a program changer. Mistakes are one thing, but when I saw what I saw at that, that was not a good moment.

I remember it very well. I think we were up by three or four scores and they just came back, recovered an onside kick. So that was a game changer as far as how we approach. If you don't play hard, you're not going to play.

Q. You have 2016 a recruiting class that's almost full, and 2017 halfway full at this point. I was wondering, how does your game day throughout the season change if you have far less visitors than usual? Like if you have a game and you don't have a ton of visitors at?
COACH MEYER: Saturday's tough. Sunday's the hard day. Saturday -- because we don't change much. We maybe after the game we go hook up with them afterwards, but a lot of times the last people they want to see is us, they want to go out with the players and just be around the team. But Sundays, if we have three or four, it's terrible. You're meeting with the guys all day long instead of working on your next opponent, so that's something we've always addressed. I want to say we had one or two this year. I would imagine Penn State and Michigan State you would see some big crowds coming for that one.

Q. You don't have as many coming through for as many games as you usually do. Is it easier for you guys? Are there benefits on the field for your team? Do you like get up for games more when there are big-time guys on the sideline usually?
COACH MEYER: I have no idea. We're just trying to get a first down and make sure we execute our punt and kickoff and all of that. I'm not trying to be smug, but until you said it, I haven't really thought about it. We're used to having a couple of guys, and in the big games you usually get a handful of guys and you have to deal with it and do the best you can.

But Saturday's not the day that's the problem. Saturday you go about your business. They might have dinner at the hotel and that's it. Sunday's the day that transition is completely different when you have four or five -- especially if you have four or five. And I've had five, even seven guys visit and your whole day is shot. You know, it just bleeds into Monday then Tuesday. So you get behind a little bit.

But that's part of the business. Especially if you want to showcase your stadium. We try to do that especially from out-of-towners.

Q. Cardale looked locked in on a lot of the intermediate routes, and he's really throwing some darts out there. He underthrew a lot of deep balls. As you've broken down the film and conversed with him, what are you telling him? Are you telling him to cut it loose?
COACH MEYER: Fundamentally he wasn't sound. The way he transferred back to front, dragging his back leg, and that's Tim Beck, and they'll work at it. And then J.T. underthrew one too. J.T., if you remember early last year, struggled with that, and then he started throwing beautiful deep balls.

So that's just something you've got to work on. But you can see certainly in that arm strength, it's just the fundamental flaw of not being able to weight transfer and driving the ball. Because he threw -- he had one of his better days throwing. The underneath, the two-minute drill, some of those were just rocket shots he was throwing and very aggressive, and fundamentally right on it, some deep balls.

It was alarming. I want to say at least six. I should have that number for you. But at least six balls. That was a 518-yard day. Those are those days that if you hit those, that's a big day.

Q. Beck having more responsibilities up in the press box, are you comfortable with that and how do you think that went?
COACH MEYER: Went much better. I think Tim's just transitioning. And I knew it would happen. But Ed, I thought, did a really good job. The thing to always keep in mind, when I had Dan Mullen, Dan Mullen always had Steve Addazio. When I had Tom Herman, Tom Herman always had Ed Warinner, and now Ed's got to have Tim, and Tim's doing a fine job. Just any time there is fluidity on your staff, you need more consistency.

Q. At this point in the season, how much are you trying to react to what the defenses give you as opposed to imposing your own will? And is that something that's constant from season to season, or does it change with your personnel?
COACH MEYER: Very good question. Early in the season you're always -- and in bowl games you're always a little bit on your heels to start the game to see what's new. This time of year you start to transition because you can't really change your defense. Sometimes if there's a bye week, you have to be on guard.

Western played pretty much what we thought they would play, a little more zone coverage. They were an 80% man team, and they were about 10% man against us. So as far as the front and everything, there wasn't much of a transition. We made a decision last week. We went with a lot of tempo, a lot of speed to try to get clean defenses, and it worked pretty good.

Q. Indiana, I think, is still using their 3-4 defense.
COACH MEYER: Their first game they did, and the last three games they were all 4-3. So first game they had some difficulties in their first game, but they've gone all to 4-3 defense the last three games.

Q. Do you feel like you have that solved though whatever the issue was?
COACH MEYER: Never have it solved. Never. When a coach says -- there is John Cooper in the back. Is that right, John? When a coach says he has it solved, that's a problem because that's a joke. No, we do not have it solved.

Q. Michael Thomas has shown a pretty remarkable ability to get his feet down inbounds and some difficult throws. I don't know if it would be too difficult to rank him, but where does that ability stack up with some of the other guys you've had?
COACH MEYER: Our receiver coach would probably take credit for that. But he's outstanding. He does a good job. He does it in practice. He has a very good awareness of where the field is, where he's at. He's playing at a very high level.

Q. You were a receivers coach, maybe you don't want to take credit for it, but are there drills that you can do or is that something that has to come by naturally?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, there are drills, but we move around the field quite often. We spend a lot of time in the red zone. So he knows that position on the field very well. If you notice, he's usually our boundary receiver, so he's very accustomed to that position. But a lot of it is on him because I have other guys that just happen to be out of bounds a lot. He's very aware with where the end line is.

Q. Want to ask you about Zeke. He's had three hurdles over guys in two weeks. How do you react when you see him do that? Do you ever worry, God, you're going to hurt yourself?
COACH MEYER: One would have been a legit SportsCenter play if we would have finished the block by the wideout. That was out. I mean, that was a great, great job by Zeke. Zeke is playing. Disappointed we don't have enough hits for him yet because he's playing at a very high level. He's tough. He's playing hard without the ball.

The expectation, I guess, after last year, why aren't they using Zeke, I get that question every once in a while, what's wrong with Zeke, and I think, what's wrong with Zeke? Zeke's playing fantastic. But a lot of his big hits last year were the perimeter blocking. It was a little bit better. This week was one of our better ones. Still not to the degree it was last year.

Q. End of half sequence with the round off at the end, was there anything from a coaching standpoint, did you talk to Cardale about that?
COACH MEYER: Oh, yeah.

Q. He had to get rid of the ball, but what did you see?
COACH MEYER: In those situations, and we actually covered in meeting time yesterday, we had two plays and we were being a little aggressive at the end there to take one more shot. If it's not there, throw it away immediately. And he hung on it too long. It wasn't there. Throw it away. It was a correct call. He was in the pocket.

So that's a situation, I'm glad it came up. It's something we've covered before on the practice field, and to answer your question, we were going to take a shot. I think there was eight seconds left, take the shot. If it's not there, burn it, kick the field goal and get out of there.

Other than that part of the drive, I thought he did very well. The receivers, protection, quarterback, it was right down the field.

Q. Joel Hale I think ran on the field with a rose in his hand last Michigan game, and a lot of people thought that was his last game, but he decided to come back. What about him stands out as far as you're concerned? You seem to have liked him his whole career here?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, he's one of my favorite players. He's a guy that loves Ohio State. He's one of the toughest guys on the team. He's a guy that's an inspiration, pushes guys, grinds guys. In the off-season, he's one of Coach Mick's favorite guys. I believe he should coach some day. He knows how I feel about that. He certainly has a position here if he wants it, that's how strong everyone feels about him here.

Q. Previous game, I'm trying to remember, two or three passes made (audio interruption)?
COACH MEYER: ...should have been a 350-yard day.

Q. That's what I was going to say, you talked all week about being more aggressive. Did you see that?
COACH MEYER: Oh, yeah, absolutely.

Q. What does that mean to you? Does it mean throwing more? Or what does it mean?
COACH MEYER: It means to challenge on the offensive skill to go do their jobs, and they played pretty well. It wasn't perfect, and when you have that many underthrown passes, that's, I guess, if you had to pick your evils, if you are not executing down-the-field throws because your guys can't get open, that's a major problem. That's a recruiting error, an effort error, something, and that wasn't the problem. Underthrown balls are just a matter -- especially if you can do it, it's just a matter of execution.

Q. Urban, when you have a team that's playing so well, and I guess we're talking offensively at the end of last year, I know every year's a new season, but how much do you sort of expect there to be some carryover when you do have a lot of guys back? Or do you just really think each year is completely new? Or when you have veterans, do you think, oh, yeah, we've kind of got this, we can just keep rolling?
COACH MEYER: I would expect a little bit better. But our first game was pretty good. Pretty high-end execution. We had two -- I think two games that we didn't perform very well offensively, and that happens.

If there is a critique on our offense over the last 13, 14 years, whatever it's been, it's the early-in-the-season funk that you're in sometimes, and a lot of it is because of the maybe new defenses. Or you take a couple key players out of that lineup for us. Jeff Heuerman was a real guy. You take Darryl Baldwin out of the lineup, and there are a little bit of growing pains.

So I would have expected us to play a little better. But I hope no one here felt a sense of panic. It's normal growing pains for early in 2015.

Q. You talked about, you just mentioned Dan Mullen and Tom, and the offensive coordinators you've had in your career. I don't know if you can maybe explain a little more. As an offensive coach, how important still is that offensive coordinator in what you're doing, and maybe if you can compare it to the defensive side of the ball?
COACH MEYER: I think it's important to understand when we say offensive coordinator here, it's coordinating an offense that's in. Does that make sense? Where if you hire someone and say, okay, you're bringing your system, let's take two years. The system's here, and the system's not going anywhere. So we hire people to coach our system, it's not a dictatorship where this is the way we're doing it. No, this is the way we've done it, and this is the way we're going to make it better.

So it's a very unique situation here. We don't hire coordinators to come in and say, hey, let's enhance it and make it better. That's where I think Tom was so valuable. Tom added a lot of elements. Ed Warinner has been phenomenal enhancing as a line coach co-coordinator, and Tim Beck is slowly bringing his added to make it better.

So it's much different here. When you hear that coaches make transitional coordinator changes a lot of times and you see a mess. When you see three offensive coordinators that come in and bring their own systems and they say that darn quarterback is playing bad. The quarterback's playing bad? You have three different systems in three years. The good thing about J.T. and Cardale, it's not changing.

Q. Just a follow-up, is that ever hard in hiring guys?

Q. Are there some guys who would want to come in, like when you were hiring Tim Beck, are there some guys that would have taken that job and said no --
COACH MEYER: I think people know. I think when I really thought about it back in -- whenever I was hired here, 2012, about bringing in -- I mean, some guys were calling me, and very good coaches. But I thought that's not who we're going to be. Here's what we're going to do. And that's when I put the laser lights on Tom because I thought he'd be the perfect guy.

Q. This is related a little bit to Doug's first question. The motto inside there is the grind. A lot of people, and for you and coaches, it's always a grind, so maybe you're not the best person to answer this, but does it feel like more of a grind this year than maybe you thought it might?
COACH MEYER: Oh, I imagine you're leading to the fact that there are expectations that are so high. I think that's natural, yeah. I could tell you no, but I think so. I think first you're winning pretty soundly, playing pretty good. And the expectation level -- you say, well, back when you played Alabama, back when you played -- I know. But this is a different team, different time.

That's where I'm really trying not to let that happen, and that's -- a lot of it is on me. I can't let it become that. I can tell you victory meals are great. Our kids, when someone said we've had -- I can't remember how many out of how many victory meals, and they're still very good. We still want to continue having them.

So I'm not going to let that, and that's my job. I'm watching it very closely.

Q. A question about Raekwon. He had 16 tackles. After the game he said I missed four. Where is he in his development right now?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, we -- interior, our defense, we were exposed a little bit. So that's something that's going to be a lot of our emphasis right now. We had man coverage a couple. That quarterback threw some great balls, great balls. Back shoulder throws and then that deep ball to the two really good receivers.

Michigan State, I guess, talked to our coaches and the Western Michigan group, that kid's going to be playing -- the tall -- 84, I think his number was, he's a very good player. And the other guy is a very good player. They made some good throws and caught some good balls on us. That wasn't as alarming as the fact that you saw that running back separate our defense a couple times.

Q. (Off microphone)?
COACH MEYER: Oh, very happy. Yeah. And I think it's more the defensive interior players along with the linebackers. We just have to get a little bit better.

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