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October 5, 2015

Urban Meyer

Columbus, Ohio

COACH MEYER: Champions for the Indiana game: On offense, four receivers played really well. They were challenged about their perimeter blocking and it was the best we've had this year.

And that helped on some of Zeek's runs. So Michael Thomas, Braxton Miller, Corey Smith, who we lost for the rest of the season. He had a similar injury to Noah Brown. And one of my favorite players, a guy that's been through a lot in his life, certainly a lot here, but my heart bleeds for that guy and so do the rest of our team, a kid that really spills it -- was on all special teams for us, played really, really hard. From what I understand there's a chance we can get one more year back. We're going to see what happens. So that's Corey Smith.

Dontre Wilson was back full speed and played one of his best games. Performance-wise he didn't touch the ball as much, but his effort and blocking and it was exceptional.

Offensive line you had two players, Billy Price and Pat Elflein, graded champion. And player of the game was Ezekiel Elliott and played outstanding for us.

Obviously the yards, I say it each week, from pass protection to downfield blocking, exceptional.

Indiana, defense, you had Joey Bosa, Tommy Schutt, Vonn Bell, Gareon Conley, Josh Perry, Raekwon McMillan, who we had to take out of the game for a little bit. He had a migraine but he's fine today. Yesterday he was fine.

Darron Lee. And then players of the game, co--players of the game Tyquan Lewis had 11 tackles and Adolphus Washington had 12 tackles. By the way, Raekwon McMillan had 16.

Special teams, a pretty dominant effort. Kickoff team was outstanding. Punt team, I think kickoff and punt, we lead the Big Ten. Missed a field goal, a 40-plus-yarder. But punt return, I think three times we gave the ball to the offense on the plus-side of the 50.

And the guys that played well there are, let's see here, Erick Smith played well. Vonn Bell played well, Jalin Marshall. We gave a Thursday race award to Erick Smith just for his effort. And then the black shirt, who is the player of the game on special teams, was Joe Burger, obviously stopped a fake punt for us and a very important guy on punt block and KOR.

So a big win. 5 and 0, the best thing about 5 and 0 is to go 6 and 0, a chance to keep getting better. Two areas of strength in the past are not strengths right now. We're hitting that really, really hard, and that's turnovers and that's red zone production.

So those are two areas we're going to beat it. And like I say it's been beat before and try to get better because that's costing us a lot of -- you know, you're getting 500-plus-yard days and that's not transitioning to what should happen in a game like that.

Defense, you know, they eliminated their tailback, eliminated their quarterback and then that athletic guy got in there and hurt us a little bit. Obviously a big hit was a missed tackle and missed leverage.

But overall, attitudes are good. Guys are running around yesterday, a chance to get better. And I think college football teaches us all each week is you better show up and you'd better play each week or you're in a dogfight. Everybody has scholarship players and they have good players.

We certainly respect that around here and we're going to keep getting better.

Q. As you analyze the film, how did Cardale grade out?
COACH MEYER: Obviously not at champion, when you turn the ball over it's hard to grade at champion. He had his best week at practice. He had a decent day.

He threw almost 70 percent completion rate. We misfired on three in a row which is awful. And it's not just him, it's just the timing of the wideouts and the quarterbacks, and I've addressed that.

But if you hit three of those pass you're over 70 percent completion rate and obviously the one pick was inexcusable. And he's getting better. He had one of his better days.

Q. Is there issues on third down as well? Seems like this year two of 14 this past game what are you seeing on third down, what's the biggest problem on third down?
COACH MEYER: Timing and execution of the quarterback/wideouts. It hasn't been our strength. Last year one of the top teams in the country with it.

Q. This summer I heard you speaking at a coaching clinic you told the coaches that were there that in the recruiting game you always take the most talented player available and you never sacrifice talent for scheme, because it's easier, scheme around a player with talent. When did you land on that philosophy? How did you learn that and why do you do it that way?
COACH MEYER: Because I think scheme's overrated. I think competitive spirit, human spirit and obviously ability overrule all that. And I think it's comical when I hear, say, it doesn't fit our system.

Well, change your system. I give credit to our offensive staff. We got here and there was no H-backs. We had a big tailback and a couple of tight ends and a fullback and you went 12 and 0. And we didn't complain about it and didn't say we don't have this and don't have this.

So you adapt your schemes, and I think that's, in my opinion, the good coordinators and those type of guys do a very good job with that. And you'll find out what you got and do it. And don't -- well, he doesn't fit, doesn't fit. Make him fit.

We'll always take the better player and find a way to make him fit. We did it for years. We never had a tight end. For some reason, I was going back thinking why in the hell we did that? But, Bowling Green, we didn't really have a tight end -- Utah. And so we started playing with tight ends. We got good ones. That's why.

Q. The recruiting philosophy, is it easier, harder, different at a place like Ohio State than it might be for another coach in another conference or program that might not be recruiting at the level you guys are?
COACH MEYER: I think it's actually, at a place like Bowling Green or Utah, you take your best available athlete you get your hands on and mull it around what you can do with it. So I think it's the opposite. I think you have to take -- I remember the days of BG and at Utah, that kid could run, that kid could play. We'll take him and find out what he can do after that, or find out how you can build around him. Like a real little guy that's as fast as you know what and build around him.

Q. When you watched the tape, do you see a team that is really, really close to being great?
COACH MEYER: I did this time. Good question. I think I was disappointed in -- the secret -- not the secret -- the foundation of our offense, control the line of scrimmage. Did we do that? Yes. Perimeter blocking, yes, our guys did an excellent job and hit the downfield play-action pass. Okay.

We had a couple of downfield shots. We hit Michael Thomas and Jalin Marshall off the top of my head. But the foundation is also turnovers and stupid penalties.

We score and we chop a guy. Just there's some back-break -- and same on defense. We had six penalties, I think, on defense. So it's very close. I don't like to use the term great because I don't know, it's all relative to -- usually I don't say great because what's that mean?

Improvement and very efficient when you have the penalties and turnovers, that does -- that's stops efficiency. So I think we're on the border of being very good.

Q. And you mentioned the red zone. You're six of 16 scoring touchdowns. What's the problem?
COACH MEYER: Variety. I just gave you a couple of them. Turnovers and penalties. Ezekiel Elliott goes into the end zone, we get a call-back, and I think we missed a field goal on that one. It's not just one problem, it's a variety of problems.

Q. Rightly or wrongly every team is going to be judged by last year's team, the way they were galvanized. Does that take a whole season to build at that point? This team are they there? Do they have that potential of chemistry of singleness of purpose?
COACH MEYER: Really good question. I don't know yet. I love these guys. I mean, as far as the indicators that there is an issue, that was one of the hardest we played in the last two years this past week.

And I didn't say we played perfect. I didn't say we played efficiently or actually smart, when you have stupid penalties and you're in a minus-3 in the turnover ratio.

But those things are fixable. When you start getting effort and attitude and the things you just mentioned, that's where red flags start showing up and I don't feel that at all. And I've watched for that like a hawk because I've seen that infiltrate a team before.

And we see it across the country all the time. And we've seen it happen here. In 2000 -- whatever it was, what was it, 13 -- 2013, it was not a great team. Bunch of very good players and won a bunch of games but was not a great team.

This one has the characteristics of having a great team. Last year's obviously was a great team. 2012, great team. I didn't say exceptional skill everywhere, but great team.

Q. What changed with the running game in the second half? Because you were kind of stagnant and Zeek obviously breaks the big one, but was there a scheme change?
COACH MEYER: A little bit. We went to gap scheme, a little bit more downhill. I think everyone he hit, the big three he hit were all gap schemes where he came down there. There was some movement. Anytime you get movement, you try to wash them down, and our offensive line did a good job, and obviously Zeek is so talented, he came out the other end a couple of them, and once he does, I don't know if anybody could catch that guy.

Q. One of the things you did well especially last year was get off quick start -- 14, 21-0. What are you seeing that's stopping that? You've had a couple of good first drives this year?
COACH MEYER: Nothing like we expect or what we shoot for. I think very similar to Bill's question, what's the problem in the red zone, what's the problem in that? The first call, I'll take that. We lose 15 yards on the first darn call of the game. That's my fault. I just wanted to give Braxton a touch, get him to the field, and they blitz the corner.

So same issues. I think the term is efficiency. If it was effort, which I thought at times in the first couple of games, just our perimeter blocking wasn't there.

And I didn't feel that at all. It's just efficiency. And making things happen and someone creating a big play. So those are all things that you're mentioning are things that are being emphasized. I think we're second in rushing, second in scoring offense right now. And we still don't feel like we're doing our jobs. And that's pretty good expectations.

Q. I'm trying to figure out what happened with Curtis Samuel on Saturday.
COACH MEYER: He didn't practice this week. He had back spasms. But he feels better now. He didn't practice all week. He played a little bit but that was it.

Q. When you look at Vonn Bell right now, is he playing on -- what level is he playing on? Do you understand what I'm saying? He seems to be playing extremely well.
COACH MEYER: I've been fortunate to have some great safeties, and he's one of the top three or four I've been around. He's an excellent tackler -- he did lose leverage on the one play that went out. But he's playing very well. That quarterback for theirs, I was so involved with the other side I looked and saw him out there playing and he threw that ball right on the dime right at the end of the game, and Vonn Bell knocked it out right on the dime.

So Vonn's playing, to answer your question, playing at a very, very high level.

Q. Can an offense -- you've spoken many times about how big plays are part and parcel to what you all want to do and stuff. Can you live on big plays? Just what's your thought now as you look at the first --
COACH MEYER: I think everybody's looking for exceptional. We were very fortunate the last couple of years to break multitudes of school records. If you evaluate how that happened, it all starts with what I talked about, the offensive line controlling the line of scrimmage, and perimeter blocking around here the last couple of years has been outstanding -- from Carlos Hyde to Ezekiel Elliott to Braxton Miller. And those are all the result of -- you know, if you are going to make one miss, you can't make three or four miss. Perimeter blocking and downfield hits, we've had -- we're getting a few of them. Not nearly the extent we'd like.

And that's play-action pass game. And when those three things are in unison, if they're all working together, then we're probably talking about something else right now.

Q. You had already taken Evan Spencer and Devin Smith out of the equation, and now you have Noah Brown and Corey Smith on the shelf. Torrance Gibson has been hurt. And Dontre Wilson has had some foot injuries. What do you see when you look at your wide receiver unit right now?
COACH MEYER: I saw four guys that graded out champions. And we just lost one guy. I think we get Parris Campbell back this week. I see another group of kids -- James Clark, Terry McLaurin and Parris Campbell, our gunners. They're treated with reverence around here.

The gunner is on our kickoff and punt team. That's why we're so good at it because they're fast and tough guys. So I see a group that's getting better. I see a group that's not where we want to be. And the timing between the quarterback and receivers is not where it needs to be right now.

Q. You referenced two things with Braxton, the chop block and that first play of the game. Just is it difficult to manage him right now?
COACH MEYER: No, no. I want it more -- as bad or more -- you know, we gained two touches, one was a carry that went for 15, 16 yards. And one was the push to start the game. And he's in there -- he played 30 plays. We can't direct -- the defense directs where the ball goes. You can't say throw it to him, you just can't do that. What if he's covered? No it's not. It's frustrating -- you know, he graded at champion. The Virginia Tech game he did not. So think about that. So individual effort was outstanding. He did touch the ball but he had so many mistakes, blocking and -- offensive football is not a one-man show. It's 11 guys getting their jobs done. So the positive, he's heading in that direction to be a full-time receiver.

Q. Ideally in your offense how would you like the quarterback run game to work? And are you okay with where things are right now? Obviously seems to be a little different when Cardale's in there. Are you okay with that?
COACH MEYER: The quarterback run game obviously depends on who that quarterback is. We've had Alex Smith, we didn't use him a ton, but he had some yards.

Josh Harris, we used him extensively. Giving you a little quick history -- Josh Harris, Alex Smith, Chris Leak not much at all. Tim Tebow a lot. Braxton Miller a lot, and then Kenney Guiton not much. And J.T. a lot. And then Cardale not much at all.

So you'd like to have that. The threat of that cleans up defenses for you. That's the extra component that you have in an offense.

We haven't really done much at all this year. Obviously Cardale is not that type of player. He's a very good runner, but he's more of a scrambler than he is quarterback counter, quarterback power, those types of things. So we're not where we need to be, but we're not heavy on that right now.

Q. In picking Cardale you were okay. J.T., if you picked J.T., you would, I'm sure would do more of that. That's a decision that went into that, you're okay?
COACH MEYER: I think it's like the question you might have asked earlier, do you just take the guy for scheme or do you take the guy, best guy at the time and do you take the best guy and build around what he can do?

Q. And we've asked a lot about Braxton a lot, but you've said that Dontre is coming on a little bit, playing better. You said good things about Curtis if he gets back to health. Braxton had the block that took back the touchdown. He didn't do much when he got the ball in his hands. Does he still deserve a lot of playing game or do Dontre and Curtis?
COACH MEYER: Oh sure. He touched it twice, and we've got to give him more touches, direct touches that he can do. He almost came out of one -- 14, 15-yard gain and the other one is just a bad call by me.

But, no, he deserves touches. He's an electric player with the ball in his hand. We just have not got him loose the last couple of games.

Q. You said he was a champion. He was blocking and doing -- what was he doing to be a champion?
COACH MEYER: Effort and blocking. He played, I think, 30 plays. He played, yes, 30 plays and graded out 85 percent. That means a lot -- some of those runs -- I can't off the top of my head think, but some of the hits in that were because of his effort.

Q. You have some experience, obviously Florida, with a goal line specialist-type quarterback. I don't know if this past week was a pattern or an anomaly but would you consider J.T. in to be the red zone guy? He had good success there last year.
COACH MEYER: That's a good point. We've thought about it. We've had that conversation. At this time we haven't made any decisions on that right now.

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