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October 17, 2016

Urban Meyer

Columbus, Ohio

COACH MEYER: Our players -- we got in at 5:00 in the morning on -- was that Sunday? Sunday morning. So we gave them Sunday off. We're going to have a team meeting today. I don't want to announce champions and players of the game because they're going to find out as a team today at 2:30.

So one of the best I've ever been a part of as far as a come from behind against a team we have a lot of respect for. The personnel we played against was as good or better than we thought going into it. The coaching staff we coached against was as good or better than we anticipated.

Just the intricacies of -- I think there was about four new concepts they sent our defense that we saw during the game that we had not, and we adjusted well the second half. Then the same offensively. They just did -- their defense, they did a very good job coaching with very good personnel. Also, a credit to their crowd. I thought that was one of the best environments that we've coached in.

So we've got to move on. We have another tough task, a team that's 4-0 at home. I called it -- the last two times, wish they saved the white outs for other games, but I guess they used it for our game. It's one of the top five atmospheres, again, in college football.

Got to get them healthy, get them rested. Another team with a bye week, night game, and get them ready to go.

Good momentum. I think we're fairly healthy too. I'll answer any questions for you.

Q. Second game in a row it looked like the passing game had a square wheel. Have you been able to pinpoint some specific problems that you can address?
COACH MEYER: Square wheel. Yeah, we just need to play a little better. We need to hit -- the one game was a little different. Indiana, we had people behind the defenders. This one, we did not beat the defenders. Very good secondary. In the second half, I do believe we made some plays. Some of them were broken -- not broken, but scramble plays, which is part of the passing attack as well.

Yeah, we're working hard on it. I never heard the word square wheel. I take offense to that. Guys work too hard around here for a square wheel comment. It's a work in progress with a bunch of young receivers, and they have to continue to work at it.

Overall, the way we finished the game, good balance as far as offense and defense. J.T. had 199 of his 318 total yards in the second half against the top five defense in the country. Just need to keep working.

Q. I wanted to ask you about Dontre Wilson. He had the big catch on Saturday.
COACH MEYER: Huge catch.

Q. Came in with a lot of expectations. How would you describe the way his career's kind of gone?
COACH MEYER: The poor guy has been -- he broke his foot at Michigan State in that big win we had two years ago. Those feet -- and we're not the only program dealing with it. When you break a foot, it's tough, especially a skilled athlete. So it's been one of injury. He's fighting like crazy. He's still not 100 percent now. He's still dealing with -- doesn't practice early in the week.

I just love his unselfish approach right now, and the fact he made a play to help us go win a game. He flipped the ball to the official, went back, and almost made another great one to help us. I like where he's at, and he's a team player that's doing the best he can.

Q. Urban, I remember several times when you talked about J.T. and the competitive spirit. You referenced that 2014 game at Penn State. I don't know if that means it's a turning point or just maybe when you really identified something special in him. What was it about that game that resonated with you?
COACH MEYER: Well, this is the only other one that's been like that that I can recall, that every indicator was up that we lost the game. At Penn State, the story was told. In that kind of environment, our quarterback was not playing well. We had a pick six, I believe, in that game, and he also had a second degree MCL sprain, and here we go. We're going to go play overtime down in front of their end zone, and we're seven points behind.

So the script was written. I just remember thinking what am I going to say to this team afterwards? It crossed my mind. And he kind of just took it on his shoulders. I get to see things that all fans do not get to see. I get to see him about six inches from my face and see the intensity and the focus and the human spirit that is as good as I've ever been around.

Q. If you had to pick, maybe the way you think about that Penn State game, was Saturday on that same level?

Q. Or better?
COACH MEYER: Same level. You're talking about an elite performance against -- that defense at Penn State that year was excellent too. The team we just faced -- I don't remember the ranking for Wisconsin. I remember looking at it before the game started. They played LSU, Michigan State, our rivals, and they played -- and still they ranked that highly in defense after those kinds of teams are playing.

Usually, sometimes you play lesser teams early, and the stats get a little padded. This team did not play soft games, so that's how good their defense was. And after playing Wisconsin's defense, that's as good as we've coached against.

Q. And one more thing. Is your head okay?

Q. You got hit on the sideline.
COACH MEYER: So I text the -- I don't know if I'm allowed to say this or not. I don't care (laughter).

This should not have been a penalty from Bill Carollo. He barely grazed my headset. I remember Shelly saying, did you get hit in the face? What are you talking about? Oh, that. It should not have been a penalty. We just got to do a better job staying back.

That broke my heart. To put your players in a 15-yard penalty for that in a big game. Some will say, well, that's just the rule. Get rid of the damn rule. That's not a good rule.

Q. Have you ever had other 15-yard penalties before?
COACH MEYER: I had a 5-yarder in an SEC Championship game. They apologized and said they were wrong.

Q. Which SEC Championship game?
COACH MEYER: None of your business.


Q. When you look at J.T.'s record, he still has -- he can have 20-plus games still left. Is it kind of crazy he already has that at this point for total passing?
COACH MEYER: It is. Someone made the comment three weeks ago that he's real close, and I couldn't believe it. He's only been our starting quarterback for -- it's not like he's been a four-year starter here. I hope he is. No, just very impressed with him.

That's why, when I started hearing, your passing game -- no, our passing game, we're okay. We're going to get keep getting better at it. He's a very good passer. When you're the number 1 quarterback in the history of Ohio State University, you're doing okay.

Q. When you look at the way the schedules fall, getting back at 5:00 a.m. is obviously tough on a routine. Is there anything that you do with two night games, where you have trips like this, getting back way early in the morning?
COACH MEYER: We changed our whole schedule. We gave them Sunday off, and today they're coming in -- we're going to have a team meeting, evaluate, get rid of all the film, and then they're going to go out and just do a quick 15-minute with coach Mick and us. We're going to run them a little bit and get them out.

We're going to keep the twos and threes out and practice a little bit, but, yeah, the fatigue is an issue. I talked to most of the guys already, and they feel pretty good. So giving them the day off. Usually, Sunday is our workday. So we changed our schedule, to answer your question.

Q. You guys have been slow to start most games offensively. As you've studied the film, is there one thing you've been able to pinpoint is the reason why you guys have started slow?
COACH MEYER: Let me think. I really haven't thought about it. I think we started slow. The whole team was kind of slow this week, and a lot of it's who you play. To answer your question, I haven't thought much about it.

Q. You mentioned the halftime adjustments. Obviously, they were very good. You guys dominated the third quarter. Could you give us some insight into the halftime adjustments. Is it very chaotic?
COACH MEYER: It can be. I talked to somebody about this. I came in at halftime, and it's 16-6, I believe, and we're not playing well, and I look in the locker room and ready to kind of go after everybody, and I see Coach Fickell has the -- you know, they use that projector, and they're going through making adjustments. All the defense is sitting right in front of them. I go walk in on the offense and get ready to implode a little bit, and they're in there, Ed Warinner and everybody is working like pros, working on things. The worst thing I could do is open my big mouth and get in the way of a bunch of people working their tails off and being professional, as they were.

The other players took over before they kind of went back out and played very well.

Q. Urban, you guys were number 1 in the Big Ten in passing efficiency. Is that the indicator that things are working one way or the other? How do you look at it?
COACH MEYER: That's the one stat we use. There's no one out there more than myself, or certainly J.T. and the receivers, that want to perform a little bit better. I would not consider us elite performers right now. But once again, efficiency is what we look at, and that takes everything into consideration.

We do not look at yards and number of throws. We look at efficiency, and the one bad play was the interception going in. That's what we look at. If we manage that one right, then you probably score on that play.

Q. One moment rained all night.

Q. You were allowed to be where you were, aren't you, as a head coach when you did get hit?
COACH MEYER: You have to stay off the white, and I think I had one foot on the white, and I was behind the ball, though. So I always try to stay, for that reason, stay behind the ball. We all have to do a better job. I'm not being critical, but 15 yards on that?

Q. He kind of leaned back into you, if you watch it.
COACH MEYER: Thank you. Print that.


Q. Obviously, Penn State's changed some things offensively this year. What do you see defensively that's maybe different about them?
COACH MEYER: Very similar. They changed coordinators, but the coach who is running it now is on the staff, very similar, very similar concept defensively. Offensively is a lot different. It's a completely different system.

And I will say this about Penn State, their first rounder tailback, and we believe this is as good a group of receivers we've faced, not this year, but in a while. I shouldn't studied them yet, but Greg Schiano and Kerry were saying this is by far one of the best groups we've faced in the last few years.

Q. Urban, you've talked a lot about how good J.T. is, sort of getting positive yardage, getting north when things break down. But I guess Wisconsin, it seemed like a couple of times, when things broke down, he scrambled but he kept his eyes downfield and made the throw to Dontre and to Marcus. There was one in the end zone too. Just curious if that's something you told him to do?
COACH MEYER: That's just him playing the game he's good at. And there's also, right off the top of my head, there's three or four where he put his foot on the ground and we got six or eight yards, positive yardage when it was maybe not a great play selection or they defended it well.

That's where I thought Wisconsin did a nice job. We had some very set plays against them, and they zoned us off instead of playing man like we expected. It was just a chess match that they had some good calls there. What happens when that happens? It happens all the time. The guy with the ball in his hand has to be creative and make a play, and J.T. is as good as anybody.

Q. You just mentioned Penn State's running back. He almost broke 200 yards on you guys last year and gave up some big hits the other night. What needs to get better to shut down a running back like the one you're going to face this weekend?
COACH MEYER: I'm going to give you the coach speak answer. You got to tackle well and make sure your gap's sound. You're certainly welcome to talk to Coach Fickell and Schiano about that. But that's number one on the hit parade as far as Penn State, to stop them -- you won't stop him, but minimize the impact the running back has on us.

Q. You talk to us a lot about off-field stuff you guys do, whether it be with Coach Marotti or leadership training or things like that. I'm just wondering, a game like that on the road, how much of that extra stuff you do that has nothing to do with Xs and Os in football matter in a game like that?
COACH MEYER: You make it sound like we have all the answers, but we certainly don't. I remember, actually, when we were writing that book after the 2014 year, they kept saying, give us -- what did you say to them at halftime? Everybody is looking for that. There's a lot of movies out there where people give great halftime speeches, and that's not true. It doesn't matter what you say at halftime. It matters what you say and do January, February, March, April, May, June, July because you train for those moments.

It's kind of silly when you say, how was the pregame speech, Coach? I don't know. They're certainly not listening for something -- are they going to play harder because you said something? They play harder because of the training, power of the unit, and brotherhood of trust, in our opinion, the way we approach it. That's why they play so damn hard. I would be shocked if our players said anything other than that.

The best I've heard is when Larry Johnson and his guys get together. That's a brotherhood. That's why they play hard now. That's not something that's said at halftime. It's something that's been in progress really since you walk foot on campus, but for this year, after January.

Q. I want to ask this right. You won a very emotional game, a very -- the hardest game you played all year, but you also got outplayed for much of the game for the first time all year. Do you take both sides of that, or do you just say, okay, we won and learn from it and move on? Where is this team right now, do you think?
COACH MEYER: I think that's going to happen, and I'm kind of glad it did. Lou Holtz sent me a nice text. He studies everything we do. You need to get hit right in the chops. We did. Your statement is correct. They came out smoking. They had 300 yards, if I remember right, in the first.

But not every fight's going to be tilted one way. Just watch Wisconsin play. We knew -- maybe someone in this room was shocked about the environment or the quality of player and the quality of team we were getting ready to play. I can assure you not one of our 70 guys were shocked. That's why you just got to hang in there and keep swinging as hard as you can.

So your statement was correct. We did get out played. I wouldn't say we got out toughed. They didn't out effort us. They had some very good stuff. Very good team, very good coaches, and you keep swinging.

As anguished as that was, as much of a root canal as that was, I'd much rather have it that way for that kind of game, for the development of your team.

Q. Also want to ask you about Tyquan Lewis. He had the sack in the game. He's been playing very well.
COACH MEYER: He had a little injury too going in. He got dinged a little bit in that game. He's fine, but he came back. That's a testament to what was asked earlier.

Q. What has he meant to you? Last year he had some nice stats, partly because of the (indiscernible). This year he's had to be one of the main guys. How well has he played?
COACH MEYER: He's played well, but he's the J.T. Barrett of our defense in that respect, him and Raekwon. I feel Tyquan constantly about energizing those around him, and the last play was a perfect example of what he did to create. He's the first one there. That whole thing about, when we needed you the most, you played your best. We needed him at that point, and he played his best.

Q. Urban, this is kind of wrapping up everything you've talked about, but I think in your career here now, you're 4-0 in overtime. You're 12-2 in games decided by a touchdown or less. You've had some games where maybe you guys didn't play your best, but you still won. Why is Ohio State so hard to beat? It's almost to the point, I think in the fan base at least, where if and when you guys ever lose, people are shocked. Why are you so hard to beat?
COACH MEYER: I think that's a great question, and once again, this comes off wrong sometimes because we do not have the answers. We have very good players that get extremely close, and they will not let go of that rope. They will not stop fighting. It's not because of halftime speeches. It's not because of lucky T-shirts. It's because of the program and the culture that's created.

That's where I give our nine coaches and the leaders on our team more credit than -- not enough credit because everybody -- that's how we're playing hard. It's within units. Small unit cohesion is something we call it around here.

Teams are too big. When you talk to this team, that guy doesn't really know that guy. When you get into small units, it's plagiarism from the United States military. That's how you get them to play really hard and fight really hard is get really close within that unit. In my opinion, that's why we are in these situations.

Q. Seeing what you did in overtime at Wisconsin, seeing the Penn State game two years ago, the way overtime is set up, it seems like you guys defensively are good in the red zone at keeping teams out of the end zone. You often force them into field goals. And offensively, you're good at getting in the end zone. Does overtime fit you guys because the success you have --
COACH MEYER: I actually thought through that when we had the ball with 40 seconds left and two time-outs. That was part of the reasons why we did what we did. Defense is really good down there. That was going through my mind, and I felt like we could move the ball and get in.

It's to start winging the ball around in that environment right now, and we were backed up into their student section, that's why -- to answer your question, that's why we did what we did, a portion of the reason why we did what we did as far as get that thing to overtime and go play.

I was kind of hoping to get away from that, and it worked out. We had the ball first, which is not the easiest thing, but I wanted to get the hell out of that area. Pretty tough down there.

Q. Nobody wants to go to overtime, but if you do, you like your chances?
COACH MEYER: Probably a good way of saying it.

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