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OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY FOOTBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
October 30, 2017
COACH MEYER: Thanks for coming. I'll give you the champions from the game. Big mantra around here is if you play nine strong, you win games when you start playing equated competition, and that's what happened Saturday. So I'm very proud to say I think every position unit graded out as a champion as a unit.
On the defensive line, incredible effort. Tracy Sprinkle, Dre'Mont Jones, B.B. Landers. There's more. Oh, we'll get to them in a minute.
You have linebackers, Dante Booker, Jerome Baker, Chris Worley. Great to see Worley back full speed. Played a lot of plays and played very well. 93 percent grade out. Five tackles, three assists, a tackle for loss and a PBU.
Jordan Fuller, safety, Damon Webb got honorable mention. If they would have counted his interception, I understand he would have graded a champion but they did not. Jordan Fuller is really starting to be a good player for us.
Players of the game: Corners, corner, corners. Just the three corners made honorable mention. Kendall Sheffield, Damon Arnette and Ward. They didn't graded champions.
And players of the game, to not much anyone's surprise, Tyquan Lewis, two tackles, a tackle for loss, four QB hurries, was all over the place. Jalyn Holmes had a tackle for loss, a sack, three QB hurries. Sam Hubbard, all over the place: Four QB hurries, a QB knock-down, two assists, a tackle for loss, 95 percent grade out. And Nick Bosa, very upset with himself he didn't get a sack, but he had seven QB hurries -- seven QB hurries. Played very well. Played very well.
On offense, wide receivers, Austin Mack, six catches, 90 yards, tough as nails. Terry McLaurin, two catches and a touchdown. Our leader, spiritual leader and inspirational leader. Johnnie Dixon, great to see him just continue to get better -- two touchdowns, 92 percent grade out. And K.J. Hill had a day -- 12 catches, 100-plus yards. J.K. Dobbins, 88 yards, 62 yards after contact, two explosive runs.
In a position that really counts all five graded out a champion. They're really doing a good job in growth, development, toughness, something that's been lacking since we had that best offensive line in the Big Ten leave here a few years ago. We're starting to see that culture return. And boy we need that.
Billy Price, four knock-downs, 86 percent. Jamarco Jones, five knock-downs, 86 percent grade out. Demetrius Knox, two starts, two champion grades, three knock-downs, 82 percent grade out. Isaiah Prince, four knock-downs, 85 percent out. What a difference makes in his growth and development. Michael Jordan, four knock-downs, 84 percent grade out.
Tight ends, Marcus Baugh another champion effort. Had a drop. But two catches, 20 yards, obviously the game winner. And his effort was good.
Special teams. Special efforts: Denzel Ward had as much impact as anybody in that entire game when he blocked that punt and that was an incredible effort.
And also Denzel downed a punt at a critical time on the six yard line. Zach Turnure and K.J. Hill had special efforts. Player of the game was Denzel Ward, downed a punt on the six-yard line and blocked a punt. With that said, I'll answer any questions for you.
Q. You said a couple weeks ago about wanting to get J.K. more involved. He didn't play at all in the second quarter, very limited in the fourth quarter. I know you want to play them both. Is it quarter by quarter, each guy gets one?
COACH MEYER: I don't know, that's up to -- you can talk -- I'm not micromanaging that right now. I trust them both.
I still had 88 yards and however many carries. So we're throwing the ball so darn well right now, too. So there's no, once again I don't micromanage. That's Kevin Wilson, and that's Tony Alford to determine. And they're both practicing very hard. You'd like to get them more carries.
Q. And you talked about playing them both at the same time in two-back sets. That hasn't happened yet. Is there a reason why you haven't used that formation yet?
COACH MEYER: No. It's in. Those are all game time, if something's not working or it's ways to create issues, but we just haven't used it yet.
Q. I assume this is a pretty good weekend for official visits. You had the game itself, you got the big win. They got to see the environment. But they also saw the culture that is required to come back like that. How important is seeing that culture firsthand on official visits like that?
COACH MEYER: Well, if we scored two points less it would have been awful. Yeah, it's huge. Are you kidding me? I mean, I often look at players and I'll tell them, here's our recruiting pitch, do you want in or not? And there's nothing else I can say to you.
You're in the locker room. You met our players. We're a good, clean program that does things the right way, and they play their tails off. Want to talk about ACT scores and the College of Education and everything, we can go on and on. You're looking for something else. So that's what these kind of games do in those kind of moments. It's, for us it's not, that was kind of cool. No, it's none of that.
Q. Are you ready to talk about special teams yet?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, we blocked a punt and downed a ball at the 6-yard line.
Q. That's very true. On kickoff as you reviewed --
COACH MEYER: Yeah, we've made some recruiting -- whenever you have transition of players at a certain position or two, you think we've had some kids leave here in the back end of our defense. We've had some mistakes. And at some point you've got to pay the piper.
We're paying it right now. Some kids playing kind of maybe out of position. We're having our struggles kicking the ball, and we're taking the best kickoff team historically in this conference. We're a very good one. Maybe it's not the best. But we've always been top 2 or top 3, if I remember right. And it's a joke right now.
So we had a meeting this morning. We're trying to figure -- we don't have a personnel -- you look at two things. You look at the scheme. We've adjusted the scheme somewhat. You look at our kickers, and someone said why don't you just kick it out of the end zone. I'd kick it out of the end zone every time. We're the only school in the America that can't kick it out of the end zone, even with the wind at our back. So that's a great question. I'm not a kicking expert but kick the ball out of the end zone and we don't do that. It's not because of not telling them to kick the ball out of the end zone.
Q. Blake has had a couple, I know you used Sean this last game, Blake had a couple of -- more than a couple of, maybe two, three, four touchbacks earlier in the season. Is he closer to being that kind of guy that can -- how close is he to being a guy --
COACH MEYER: (Indiscernible) on the 28-yard line, middle of the field. I'm not blaming. It's just I feel the same pain, man, let's go.
Q. Parris Campbell, update on his status?
COACH MEYER: He's questionable for this week. He got dinged on a kickoff return. He's tough as nails, too. So he's questionable.
Q. You were asked about the H word on Saturday night so you addressed it. I wonder will that be the extent of it or do you and J.T. ever discuss that amongst yourselves?
COACH MEYER: No. No. We talk about Iowa and their front four and their pressures and all that. That was the conversation we have in the inner sanctum of Woody Hayes. I wouldn't do that unless somebody asked me a question. Sometimes I do feel an obligation to -- I've done that before with Tim Tebow -- when is the appropriate time to say something, because when is that time? Certainly not right now.
He had a really good game. In fact, he had one of the best games in college football history, certainly one of the best quarters in college football history. Other than that, let's go beat Iowa.
Q. I ask because you've been through this a number of times with a bunch of different players and J.T. was one of them a few years ago. Wonder if there's ever been a time where that discussion or the spotlight or the speculation about a campaign, if you've noticed that has an impact on the way they play or if they press or if you've ever had to have a conversation about that in that sanctum about handling that?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, Tim was the one because it was overwhelming, the media. We don't do this at Ohio State. We don't send out flyers -- we're not going to have billboards put up and all those type of things. We're just going to try to play really well. Ohio State you don't have to. Ohio State -- I just saw we're the highest rated Fox game of all time.
And we're in the hunt for a lot of big things right now. But the target is Iowa on the road at 3:30. And we don't have those conversations.
If it was an immature guy. But J.T., he's a man's man. If I ever went up to J.T. and said what do you think about the Heisman, let's have a conversation. He'd look at me like I had seven heads, say, who are you to talk to me about something like that? Let's go find a way to win this next game.
Q. You reacted, great reaction after the game about what, you looked at the stat line for Barkley and how well you defended him. Life in the big city, that's what you get this week. You come back with perhaps the other best running back in the league in Wadley and what he does. How much have you studied him? And what worked so well against Barkley that you think stood out?
COACH MEYER: Our "D" line, whenever you control -- it's a line-of-scrimmage game regardless whether you're playing against Iowa which is very much a pro-style team. I haven't studied him a lot. I know they've got a great running back. I checked the stats. But I'm all offense and kicking. Later in the week I'll certainly give you something. And certainly Coach Schiano will.
But they're two different, very different offenses we're getting ready to face. One spread offense. But regardless, my point is regardless of the spread or pro style, if you control the line of scrimmage good things usually happen in the run game and that's what happened. I thought we had some very good mesh charges (phonetic), we call them, on the spread. That one was we were waiting for it all night and they ran it near the end of the game where Sam Hubbard took both. And they've been working on that for a long time.
Q. The winning touched play, J.T. mentioned that was a play that was just put in on Wednesday of last week. And you always talk to us why 50-year-old men are looking at tape and everything. How often does that happen where you see something I think if we get this to work it will work, that it pays off big that --
COACH MEYER: I'll tell you what happened we have very good coaches in that room. Ryan Day and Kevin Wilson are idea guys, and it's my job to make sure it doesn't stress and strain outside the confines of what we do. And that play fits perfectly.
I can't remember who came up with it. But I kind of have to give the approval and look at it, and they say what do you think, what do you think, and we kind of went through it, went through it. But that happens quite often. When you have two -- they're not co-coordinators, they're both coordinators and they're both feeding off of each other good.
Very smart, very aggressive. That's what I like about them as opposed to I have to be the aggressive guy. They're very good.
When you have very smart, and they're -- now that they're very clear about what we are, they're fitting really nice into what we are and what J.T. can do. And that was a perfect example of the hard 8-17 Y seam. And when it was called over the headset, I won't tell you what I said. Because I thought it was going to be a blitz-fest down there. And they didn't blitz. That was perfect for the defense, what they called.
Q. Obviously that was a huge win. Opens up everything for the rest of the year. But every game now is a must-win. What was your message to the team about enjoy this, understand what it means, but also bigger things are ahead?
COACH MEYER: You treat them like elite warriors, and elite warriors are trained to celebrate the win for whatever it is, 24 hours. Come back in and I'll give you the next mission and do all your best to -- it's no different than -- I learned that from military people, the Navy Seals. What do the Navy Seals do when they execute and win? They celebrate like they should. They come back and wait for the next mission. And our players are celebrating; they have a day off.
They've already received their running orders. And part of it is getting your mind and body right for Tuesday practice.
Q. And following up on a question about the culture. If you didn't have the culture, the grinding kind of mentality, could you have come back and overcome what you did on Saturday?
COACH MEYER: No. No that was a grind. That was a never-say-never, love-of-brother, long-live-the-brotherhood-type mentality. You don't win that game, when you spot a team -- a team like that, spot them 14 points. And the team last year would not have won that game. They would have dropped their head. Offensive line would have dropped their head.
Q. Why is it different this year?
COACH MEYER: Maturity. Isaiah is older. I couldn't be more proud. You should have seen him in the locker room and on the sidelines of the game, it was a grown man. It's the maturation process.
What happens is when you have recruiting mistakes or you have guys leave early, people are forced into positions too early to play.
But it's not like we're the only team that deals with that. And when guys get stuck too early, they're not mature enough to handle it. That's when you rely on Billy Price, Greg Studrawa, Kevin Wilson, Jamarco Jones to help them through that.
Q. With Isaiah, how worried were you going into that game, but it was exposed in the Penn State game. How big a game was Saturday for him?
COACH MEYER: Had the best week of practice. He's unbelievable now. Isaiah, not worried about him at all. He's a grown man that's handling his stuff the way a right offensive tackle at Ohio State should.
Q. Is this your first trip to Iowa?
COACH MEYER: I was a graduate assistant. We went to Kinnick Stadium and Chris Carter made a ridiculous catch and we beat 'em.
Moxley got hurt -- who was our left tackle? Kotterman. You remember that. Tim, you remember that? You're older than dirt.
Q. I remember the Chris Carter play like it was five seconds ago.
COACH MEYER: You don't remember Kotterman got hurt. Tim Moxley went into the game. He's a friend of mine. Don't act like you know; you didn't know. (Laughter).
Q. I knew Tim Moxley.
COACH MEYER: He got hurt. Look it up. Him or Schafer went into the game.
Q. I can't remember.
COACH MEYER: They played their hearts out and we won a really tough -- that was back when, my gosh, they were good. It was the year after we played him out here in the rainstorm and Terry White hit that splish splash. Remember the cover of Sports Illustrated? You remember that?
Q. I was there.
COACH MEYER: Splish splash - Iowa took a bath. That's how big of a Ohio State fan I am.
Q. Who will you consult about playing there since you haven't taken a team --
COACH MEYER: I know they're right on you. I know they touch your shoulder pads. I remember that. We'll do it later in the week. I haven't had time yet.
Q. You were vocal about playing Big Ten night games on the road. It seems to have worked. This game's 3:30. Could have been a prime timer. Do you think you can affect -- do you think you affected the --
COACH MEYER: I don't have any idea. But I think that's something in the offseason there's going to be a lot of conversation about with our commissioner, with our presidents.
I want to make sure we're having that. If they say, Coach, shut your face and we don't really care about that stuff, then I probably won't look at the media when I tell them that's what was said.
If you're getting home at 5:00 in the morning, that's going to impact your study. It does. Just ask the players.
So I don't know if that had impact or not. But I think down the road there's some decisions to be made. And I certainly think a few night games are great. When you start talking about four, that's too many.
Q. You've talked about not micromanaging when you were talking about the playing time and the way it's divvied up among the running backs. I'm curious how hard that is for you and when you reach that point in your career where you were willing to let coaches coach.
COACH MEYER: Oh, if it's a good coach, and I trust them and there's not a big difference between 1-A and 1-B, and I trust both the players because I watch them every day at practice.
I think it's the same way with in the receiver room right now. I don't tell Zach Smith who to play, because we used to have Mike Thomas, and then now you're dealing with K.J. Hill. K.J. Hill is a great player. Terry McLaurin, Johnnie Dixon, Bin Victor and Austin Mack, and then Parris Campbell. Play who you've got to play.
And same with running back right now. I think Mike Weber has really done a nice job. He's been humbled because he went through the injury and we were all expecting -- his goal is to try to get to close to 2,000 yards. And some day I think he'll still have that shot to do that.
Q. But that trust factor being key, how long does it take you to build that typically with a coach?
COACH MEYER: It takes a minute. But if they're good -- Tony Alford is an excellent football coach. The last thing he needs is me worrying about that stuff.
Q. We talked earlier in the season about trying to block a punt, might be harder these days to do that. How did you guys get that one?
COACH MEYER: Well, the guy who blocked it can run like the speed of sound. And it was tough to come off that back edge. And normally we don't do it at that position on the field, because if you run into them, that's a nightmare.
And I always talk with Greg Schiano at that time and I kept staring at the clock and saying if -- so we did. I don't know if we ever went after a punt at midfield like that, because they were in pooch punt. You saw his drop, he was going to do that rugby-type square drop that you do when you down a punt.
So practiced awful hard at it. And the execution was impeccable. And Damon Arnette had as much to do with that blocked punt as Denzel.
Q. Are you thinking we're going to get this, like you're making the decision we're going to try for it; knowing it's Denzel, you think you've got a good shot at it?
COACH MEYER: I do. Because the way they practice. We spent a lot of time on it this week and it never presented itself like that.
Q. Is Parris a concussion protocol when you say he's dinged?
COACH MEYER: I don't know. I don't want to give you something that's --
Q. And I know you were only worried about your game, but you spent a lot of good years at Florida. They just made a coaching change. When you have a guy -- can it be hard when you, when anybody has a lot of success there and the next guys have to come in and try to duplicate it, I'm not asking you to criticize anybody at Florida, but they've had a tough time since you left. Why would that be?
COACH MEYER: I have no idea. I've got enough to worry about here. I love Florida. I love all the people down there. Wish them nothing but the best. But I don't have time to worry about that.
Q. Why is it that Iowa has a knack of getting teams into the fourth quarter with a chance to win, the little bit you've studied them?
COACH MEYER: That's exactly who they are. That's exactly who they are.
Q. What is it about them the way they've played?
COACH MEYER: I played them in the Outback Bowl when I was at Florida my first year in 2005. And sure enough we started beating them pretty good and they just bleeded back into it. Bleeded back into it. And we will to recover an onside kick to save the game.
They're just tough. They're like their coach. Their coach is a tough guy. They're like the State of Iowa. They're tough people. I love Iowa. I love -- I never met too many people or players that just don't have that Iowa characteristic of toughness and I'm going to hit you as hard as I can.
We played them here a few years ago, and they came out in three tight ends. And I think they went up 10-0 before we knew what was going on. This will be as good a defensive line as we've faced.
The thing I love about their coach, who is a friend, is that consistency is impeccable. It's like so many people change and always grasping for different ways of doing things -- he's as consistent, tough as you can get. I think he does a great job.
Q. Johnnie Dixon to me is an example of a guy I call him an embedded player in the program that suddenly is coming on, just like K.J. Hill. What is it about these guys, what do they -- obviously he had to deal with chronic knee problems there. But what is it about these guys that kind of see the light? Is it opportunity? What is it, you think?
COACH MEYER: You gave some good stories. There's also storylines of a few that haven't. And I'd rather not talk about that. But I think it has to do -- I just called his high school coach today, 15 minutes ago. We talked to him on the speakerphone, me and Johnnie.
He comes from that kind of program. He comes from that kind of family. They don't know quit. And they know that at some point that rock will break if you keep hitting it.
That's no different than Antonio Williams, and no different -- I can go down the list of guys that are from that, that are raised that kind of way. Unfortunately, other guys are raised the other way: Man, this is tough; I'm out. And those, unfortunately they don't really make it wherever they go.
Q. Much ballyhoo was made of this defensive line group and defensive ends, especially the depth, et cetera. When you watched the last five minutes of that game from Saturday night, what just comes to mind when you think about it, because literally, defensively, you all played sic 'em, what stands out as you think about those guys?
COACH MEYER: I flipped over and listened to the defensive coaches and listen to what they're saying. I heard Larry Johnson say: Let them go.
In those minutes, are you going to blitz? Twist? Are you going to say let them go? They were, my gosh, and the one thing is we have that depth right now. You're playing 30, 35 plays, you're as fresh as you can be, as I've ever seen a defensive line.
And you talk about two minutes left in the game and they're as fresh as they are in five minutes to go in the beginning of the game.
Q. Does Hubbard's tackle rank right there with Joey Bosa's?
COACH MEYER: The two-for-one?
Q. His defensive walk-off sack, where he shoved the running back into Hackenberg. Does it rank right up there as an incredible play?
COACH MEYER: Are you asking me to rank it?
COACH MEYER: I don't know. Have a good day (Laughter).
Q. Every team has a different personality. I'm sure you can pick a team, BG, Utah, Florida and here. What defines this team?
COACH MEYER: I think it's still to be determined. I think earlier over my career, I'll make a comment and it's still too much going on right now.
If the focus is there, this is going to be a decent ending. If the focus somehow gets abstracted by talk of other stuff, then we'll be an average team. But there's a lot of ball left right now.
Q. But like there's not a personality, there's not a person?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, big time. But it's too early. We've got to go beat Iowa.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
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