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April 2, 2018

Urban Meyer

Columbus, Ohio

URBAN MEYER: Hi, guys. I'll answer your questions for you.

Q. Middle linebacker situation developing?
URBAN MEYER: Good. It's a positive right now. Actually moved Malik Harrison to Will for a little bit to try that out, Keandre at Sam. That's one of our better units as far as getting better. Baron Browning graded a champion for Friday's scrimmage, so did -- who else? Hilliard was honorable mention, and Pete Werner graded champion. So they're getting better. Really talented guys.

Q. What is Tuf's prognosis?
URBAN MEYER: The normal guy takes longer than a guy like him, so we're anticipating September.

Q. You had a team with a plethora of great leaders last year. I'm wondering where you are in the process of placing that leadership?
URBAN MEYER: Average right now. When you lose that many quality guys like you said, all those fifth-year seniors, guys that invested so much, I see promise. I see there is some very good promise. So today was a better day. But it's day-to-day. We'll know more after spring ball, but it's nothing like it was last year.

Q. In the past sometimes you named some captains in the spring because you needed leaders at that time. Is that something you're going to do?
URBAN MEYER: No, but Parris and Terry are elite leaders on the defensive side, and Dre'Mont Jones is going to be a good leader for us, and Jordan Fuller has turned out, but I haven't done that yet, no.

Q. The last question about leadership. In the same way that if you don't have leadership at the quarterback position, is it the same with coaches that if your coordinators aren't leaders that there's a lack of alignment in that room?
URBAN MEYER: Oh, I think that answer is an obvious yes, and if you don't have leaders, it's your job as a position group or coordinator to develop them, and then you have to provide it until they grow up and become that leader. So I think there's been great examples around here where maybe there wasn't great leadership to start the season, and as it went forward, that developed because of the position group coach.

Q. You mentioned Baron Browning being a champion in the scrimmage, who are some of the other guys that stood out to you in Friday's scrimmage?
URBAN MEYER: Offense, none. Offense was not a good day. I mean, I shouldn't say none there were a couple guys that made some plays. But overall not a good day for the offense, and had a bundle of them on defense. I don't have the list in front of me, so I just don't want to -- defense played very well.

Q. Who are some of the other guys like Baron who maybe have made a big jump from that first year to that second year?
URBAN MEYER: You have Baron and Pete Werner, you have Justin, even though he's a year older, he's really made a nice jump. It's the linebacker crew, Davon Hamilton, you see a heartbeat there, and he's a big, powerful guy, so he's had a very good spring so far, defensive end. Offensive line, Malcolm Pridgeon is making a jump. I know he's a JC guy but it's really his second year in the program.

Those are a couple names. And Luke Farrell, Luke Farrell graded a champion. He's had as good a week as he's ever had.

Q. How did the quarterbacks look in that scrimmage? Did it help sort anything out at this point?
URBAN MEYER: No, the quarterbacks, I'm not making excuse for quarterback, but we're playing and I'm protecting some of the older receivers. It looks like it's awful when you start pulling those guys out, so that's alarm for down the road. We've got to get much better. But they were better today. The receivers played better.

Q. Going back to last year, you reminded us that Joe and Dwayne were neck and neck in training camp, that it was going back and forth throughout the spring. If it stays that way for two more weeks?
URBAN MEYER: I will just worry about Monday's practice, and now that that's over, let's have a good Wednesday. But you wish one would take it, and that has not happened.

Q. Another quarterback question, where have you seen -- I know they are obviously competing, but where have you seen individual growth with Dwayne, Joe, and Tate in the spring, like individual?
URBAN MEYER: It's day-to-day. Tate had much better day to day. He's got a skill set that's a little bit JT-ish as far as the Q run, the Q, he's just built for that and he actually threw the ball. He threw the ball well too. Joe probably had the better scrimmage on Saturday, but then Dwayne came back.

So, once again, where have I seen the individual growth. I would take too long to go through each guy.

I think the quarterback situation you'd wish one would take it, but then again, you like having the day-to-day competition, which is what I'm seeing. They started very poorly today, and the quarterback receivers got much better as the day went on, which is encouraging.

Q. Thayer Munford is a guy you took offer late in the process a year ago. Four months later he's got a chance to start at right tackle. Where have you seen the biggest amount of growth with him?
URBAN MEYER: Yeah, lot of credit to a lot of people. His family, and Nate, the coach at Massillon and his family for taking him in, and Coach Stud for sticking by him after we denied him, denied him, denied him. He's going to be a very good player here. He's very consistent, one of our more consistent offensive linemen.

Q. Everybody talks about Dwayne coming in the Michigan game, but people also remember Thayer had to play a few snaps. How much of that was depth at offensive tackle a year ago, and how much of that was just a young kid who even as a freshman forced his way into the two-deep how he practiced?
URBAN MEYER: Yeah, freshmen shouldn't have to do that, especially him. It's just there were some recruiting errors, et cetera, so he was forced into action. But I'm glad he was, and I'm glad he's here.

Q. You always talked about what a good practice player JT was. When you have an established quarterback who is a good practice player, what does that do for the rest of the offense in practice when you're going 11 on 11s and stuff? Maybe what does it do now when you're not in that situation?
URBAN MEYER: That's a great question. One that I've had those great quarterbacks that they're great practice players and they raise the level of play around them. I call them palm's up guys. They're not the guys that look at the coach like this, they just keep the group going. It's the most unique position in all the sport. Very strong opinion about that, where everybody's looking at you. If you're doing that, then you have an offense that's doing that.

JT was among many strengths that we had, the strength you just said might have been more powerful than anything.

We're not there. You can see the void, but at times you can see it get much better. We're much better today in practice nine, I believe it is, than practice two or three.

Q. There are those rare guys, and I know you went through it with Tebow, and I imagine the way you talk about JT is similar. When you have a guy that's such a huge part of the program for so long, does it just take a while sometimes for that void?

Q. You just miss him for a while because he was there for such a big deal?
URBAN MEYER: Yeah, but the other guys have been here. There's guys that have been here for a while, Joe and Dwayne. Dwayne not as long as Joe, but they've been here for a while. I don't want to be negative. That was a pretty good practice today, and a lot of guys doing things.

Yeah, you miss JT, but early on in spring, the void was very obvious. I don't feel that void as much anymore, and I'm hoping that closes by the time we get to the end of summer.

Q. We're now more than halfway through spring practice. Can you give your general assessment of where the team is in terms of the progress that you hope to see versus where it is?
URBAN MEYER: Just the amount of new players out there. I think the defense is way ahead of the offense. You're also being cautious with guys like Nick Bosa and Dre'Mont Jones, so we're developing depth on the defensive line. And the linebackers, you get one of your best players who is going to miss several months with Tuf.

So I'm actually pleased our safety position is not solid, the one is, Jordan Fuller, we have to keep him healthy because he's playing excellent right now. We don't have mistakes at corner. We have very good rotation at corner right now.

So there are so many strengths on defense right now. Offensively you're trying to find the right five up front, and that's hard with Michael Jordan who is not practicing, and there is one other Bowen. Then you also have KJ Hill, and I'm protecting Parris and Terry.

So it's a little herky-jerky out there. The answer is go play those guys and put them in harm's way too much, we're not going to do that. We just have to fight through it.

Q. Do you feel anymore certain that you'll have a clear leader quarterback by the end of spring?
URBAN MEYER: I don't know. I'll worry about practice, whatever, 10.

Q. Why can't you play three quarterbacks?
URBAN MEYER: If one could play receiver. People say play two at a time, play two at a time. People who say that don't really know what they're talking about, because what do they play? Well, just put him at receiver. Okay, just put anybody at receiver then.

The one thing is Tate's got an incredible skillset. There is some conversation about that, because he is a gifted guy.

Q. Is football practice almost set-up for you to be sort of like a little bit miserable every day? Because you do want to see your defense playing well, but you want to see your offense playing well? How hover the years have you learned to deal with that, judge that, know that if the defense is playing good maybe you're not going to be happy with the offense?
URBAN MEYER: I think it comes down to match ups. If the defense is playing well because of very good players and defeating blocks and all that, if it's because of chaos and missed assignments or because a guy's just getting whooped, then that's tough.

Defenses should be ahead of the offense really all the way through training camp and all the way through spring unless you get really established players. I'm fine. I've done this long enough that it's all part of the process growing up.

Q. For a guy to take the reigns, to be that quarterback that you want to see at the end of spring, what has that fellow got to show you in the next six practices?
URBAN MEYER: Just lead the team, and there's got to be a separation at some point, and right now there is not that separation. Just when one starts going, the other one comes up, and the other one drops a little bit. And I'm talking about the three.

Q. You guys recruit a ton of different areas all over the country. Sometimes I feel like you do need to go into some pretty tough areas. In situations like that, how much more challenging can it be to recruit?
URBAN MEYER: Tough area for competition, you mean? What do you mean?

Q. No, just tough areas like kids being exposed to things like drugs and gun violence and stuff. The reason I asked that is I know you just got asked about Thayer, but Thayer has been exposed to some of those things. Do you have to look out for certain things when you're recruiting a player that's been exposed to things like that, and how do you recruit areas and prospects in kids like that?
URBAN MEYER: More cautious than we've ever been about digging in deep, and you have to have somewhat confidence in everybody there is going to be truthful with you, where it's happened in the past they were not. But I put it on our staff and the area coach. Then I do as much homework as I can.

But those are great questions, especially nowadays. You have to be extremely careful. We got really good guys here right now. I use the term healthy, this is a very healthy program right now. The worst thing you could ever do to a healthy program is bring chaos into it. I'm watching that as hard as I ever have.

Q. When you were recruiting Thayer, obviously he's in a position to be a starter as a red shirt freshman. He had some academic issues in high school, I think he grew up in some pretty tough areas he was telling me about. What did you see from him during the recruiting process?
URBAN MEYER: I did not. I did not. I saw the coach at Massillon and his wife who took them in. I saw our offensive line coach. There is nobody -- I can't imagine a guy doing a better job than he did as far as hanging in there and doing all the homework. When they finally presented it to me, and Gene Smith was involved in that decision, once you met with him, find out his background and all the support, I just think there were a bunch of people that did their work.

I don't want to get emotional about saving someone's life, but this has been good for Thayer now to be in this kind of structure. He's an awesome guy, awesome guy.

Q. He said that being in this program and having the opportunity to start is a chance for him to save his family. And I know that that's a pretty important thing?
URBAN MEYER: That's a bold statement, isn't it? Well, God bless him, if that's one of his focuses, you can see it every day. He's doing a hell of a job.

Q. Every team is different, has different strengths of course you've talked about this before, just adjusting to the strengths of your players. Can you talk about that process and how it pertains to this year's team?
URBAN MEYER: You used the word, that's a process, that's evaluation. At the end of spring we'll list our top 20 players in order on offense and defense, and that will be determined what kind of style offense and defense we are.

There have been times we've been more of a downhill, there have been times we've been more of a perimeter-run game. That's going to determine who our best players are. Obviously, we've got a little different style quarterback, potentially. If it's Dwayne, a little bit different. Joe can do both, and Tate's a little more in the JT mold.

The good thing is we're very flexible. You can't name a play that we don't have. It's fitting that together with our personnel.

Q. How much of your conversations with the quarterbacks are leadership based and how much of it is more technique?
URBAN MEYER: I think more leadership based, but Ryan that's his job with the technique. A big part of that is leadership as well.

Q. How do they respond to that?
URBAN MEYER: Oh, they're great. They're good dudes. They're good people, and they all want to be the quarterback at Ohio State.

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