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November 12, 2012

Urban Meyer

COACH MEYER:  Okay.  I'll answer any questions for you guys.

Q.  When you look at Wisconsin on video, what just jumps out at you first?
COACH MEYER:  Well, they're a much improved football team.  Teams either get better or get worse.  Obviously, the team we're playing this week has gotten a lot better, and they're playing probably their best on both sides of the ball right now.

Q.  Does he look clear now?  Does he look like he's going to play now?  Sabino?
COACH MEYER:  Yeah, I can't tell you what percent he's at, but he's in the starting lineup for the game.

Q.  Coach, I want to ask, in terms of stopping the run, your team's done an adequate job, Michigan State, Nebraska, some of the other teams you've held to under 100 yards.  You see a team that puts up (indiscernible) that's going to be a tremendous challenge for you guys.  And the other question, if Sabino's going to play, how do you envision those three linebackers lining up?
COACH MEYER:  The three that broke the starting lineup today on Monday is Shazier, Zach Boren, and Sabino.  Storm Klein will play as well.
Still not near the depth we need.  I think there's ways to stop the run.  What they do a nice job is just these multitude of shifts, formations, and motions that are hard to get gap control or gap security, and then that's what‑‑ the good thing is we've had a bye week.  A lot of time's been spent on that.
And then if they're good enough at throwing the ball, they didn't throw it much last week, didn't have to.  The No. 4, I believe his name is, he's a heck of a player for them.

Q.  How much do you think‑‑ now that you've been through it, how much do you think that off week did help you in terms of getting healthy in preparation?
COACH MEYER:  I just got him back today, so I don't know.  Evaluation friendly, I'll find out at 7:00.  I'll let you know at 7:30 on Saturday.  But we had an excellent day today.  But it's just one of three.

Q.  Do you sense that there's rejuvenation at all?
COACH MEYER:  Oh, yeah.  I just feel that we've got to be smart as coaches to keep that rejuvenation up.  Excellent day today.  I don't want to say surprise, but sometimes you have to beat it out of them on the first day back.  Not at all.

Q.  Along the same lines what Bill was talking about, a lot of coaches are always hesitant coming off the bye week because they see their teams kind of lose their edge or lose the momentum.  Did you do anything at all to kind of, I don't know, maintain that?
COACH MEYER:  We're very worried about that.  I guess you worry about everything.  Other than we get plus one day, we go real hard.  We were full pads today.  A lot of coaches bring them out and do shorts workout or something like that.  We're full pad.  Probably our most physical practice of the week will be today.
So that's our‑‑ over the past 11 years as a head coach, that's a big concern.  So there's a couple‑‑ you go into it gradually, or you just put the ball down and go as hard as we can, and that's what we did.  Usually that works.

Q.  Do they have difficulty picking back up where they were?
COACH MEYER:  I can't remember.  If they did, I would have changed our‑‑ because every year I evaluate that.  What I do is grab practice schedules from our best years, and then I post bye weeks and take a look at how we did it.  I'll measure it to the players we have here.

Q.  Where you seem to really get consistency from Linsley snapping, a few issues.  Has that‑‑
COACH MEYER:  Why would you say that?  Pitcher throwing a no‑hitter, man.  Next question.

Q.  Did you anticipate that that could be the case for somebody that was just trying to learn it?
COACH MEYER:  He works real hard at his trade.  That's summer, that's spring ball, that's on his own.  That's a guy that comes out five minutes every day before practice.
Once again, I don't want to spend too much time talking about it, but he's a pro.  He's a guy‑‑ I love him.  I'm glad he's our center, and he's a serious guy, takes his job very serious.

Q.  Have you had other centers in the past that you've moved over that haven't had much experience snapping before?
COACH MEYER:  We've had‑‑ Pouncey is probably the most famous guys.  They all moved to center.  Mike really struggled at first but came on and was great.  Marquis (phonetic), nothing horrible.

Q.  Earlier in the year, you had said, when people asked you about no bowl game, that being addressed later in the season, is that later now, and how has the conversation changed?
COACH MEYER:  Haven't had to.  I kind of like my guys.  They're competitors right now.  We started everything‑‑ if you remember back from January until this date, there's nothing they do when they wake up in the morning.  They're competing in the classroom.  There's rewards at the end if they compete.  If not, there's a nonreward or whatever at the end.
They've developed.  There's some gifted competitors already in the group, Simons of the world, and there's some maybe average competitors that have become competitors.
So, no, we've had zero discussion about it.  We're doing the best we can to play a very good team on the road.

Q.  You like Boren as a fullback because you're giving him more carries.  How does he rank as a linebacker playing against a smashmouth team like Wisconsin?
COACH MEYER:  Probably fits his style a little bit.  He's been a stabling force for our defense after the one debacle in Bloomington, our defense is not a silver bullet yet, but they're playing much better, playing with much more confidence and leadership.
One of the most undervalued characteristics of a football team is leadership, and that's what No. 44 gives you.  Like I told you, he was‑‑ I really admire him.  Not a very good leader whatsoever throughout spring, throughout the winter, has developed into one of my all time favorites in my coaching career as far as a selfless leader that does it all for us.

Q.  You've made an effort to keep your players from getting too rah‑rah on Fridays.  Is it ever a concern before then that they might emotionally spend themselves too much on like a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday?
COACH MEYER:  Sure.  I think that's something we watch.  I think I've not had that issue with this team.  This would be a game‑‑ and obviously the one after that‑‑ would be a game that you worry about.  I try to watch that, and our strength coach does a good job of helping me with that.  So I haven't felt that yet.

Q.  How do you keep from getting‑‑ you're the identify that has to center the team.  How do you stay centered?
COACH MEYER:  There's so many holes on this team right now that we're trying to keep together.  There's weaknesses that are also turning into strengths.  Our focus‑‑ I've never really had a problem with that because the focus is just to get through Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday practice.

Q.  Two games left, only four teams left.  I know you're concentrating on the games and all that.  But you don't have very many opportunities to go undefeated.  Do you ever fight the urge of thinking what you're losing by not getting the chance to play a bowl game?
COACH MEYER:  You know, I could lie to you and say that I don't.  Every once in a while, but not as much as I thought.  I'll hear it and read it once in a while, and I have good friends in the profession that will make a comment, and I'll think for a second.  But then I go back to knowing exactly who we were, and you go back to how we've won and who we are right now, and we're pretty fortunate where we are.  Let's find a way to get No. 11.
I tried years ago not to control what we can't control.  We've got to have a really good Tuesday practice.  We can control that.  We can't control anything else.

Q.  Wanted to follow up on a couple of earlier questions.  I think you mentioned you do discuss the polls with the team.  Just as an incentive this deep in the season, even though the list may be very long, have you mentioned the fact of an AP national title with them just to throw it out there?
COACH MEYER:  For some reason, I have not even addressed that these last few weeks because I just like our team meetings, man.  We're going and we're talking about practice, we're talking about how to stop one of the most potent run games in America and how to ‑‑ they have 300‑pound‑plus defensive tackles.  I used to have state of the unions.  I think that's probably what you remember when I told you that.  I did talk about that in the past.
Our guys know where they're at.  We're good.  I really like coaching this team right now, and that's not worrying about the nonsense.  We haven't really discussed it.

Q.  I was wondering what your message was to those two teams when you finished up last week, kind of what you wanted them to be prepared for coming into this week?
COACH MEYER:  The number one thing to worry about is that phone call, everyone driving home to families and doing something ignorant on a Friday or Saturday night.  My comment was, if it's going to help us win our 11th game, do it and do it a lot.  If it's not, don't do it.
They came back bright‑eyed.  That's the number one thing you worry about, when they go home.  It's great, especially for local guys, to go home to their families.  We really encourage that, go to their high school game and all that fun stuff.

Q.  Urban, obviously, when you got here, you had a good sense of the Michigan rivalry with Ohio State.  What's your sense of the rivalry with Wisconsin?
COACH MEYER:  Pretty good.  I'm learning about it.  I think they stole a season.  They were telling me that story a little bit.  But it's interesting hearing our players talk about it, especially ones that I listen to, guys that have been in some of those big games.  So it's real interesting.
But this is a rivalry game, and it's a rivalry game because you have to understand who you're playing and what they've done the last few years.  So they're a good‑‑ very good team.

Q.  I know the focus this week with Wisconsin offense is on the run game, but what you have at corner this year with Travis Howard and Bradley Roby, whether it's this week or just in general, the way those two guys have played, how good have they been, and what has it done overall for the defense to have two guys like that?
COACH MEYER:  Great question.  And I think with two games left, you don't want to jinx him like he jinxed our team already.  I think those guys have played very well.  I think Coach Coombs has come in and demanded two talented players.  One was a freshman, I guess Roby was last year, and then Travis to me‑‑ I can say this because of how much respect I have for him now‑‑ was not a good player.  He was a guy that kind of lined up out there, but I wouldn't consider him to be a good player.
Him and his coach have worked themselves into what I consider a very good player.  That's one of the most improved position groups on our team, no question about it.

Q.  Coach, similar to Doug's question, do you see this as bad blood?  It's a pretty rich recent history here.  And is bad blood healthy?
COACH MEYER:  I think it's‑‑ I don't‑‑ bad blood, as far as I'm not quite sure the question.  I think whenever you have two good teams that have played for a lot in the past three, four years, if that's considered bad blood, then I mean it's an intense respect for getting ready to‑‑ they know what's coming.  I can tell the way they practiced today.
And they're smarter than the coaches.  They know what's coming.  I always worry about the ones they don't have respect for, and that's when we got to rah‑rah and cheer them on and scream and yell and throw things and all that.
Other than teaching technique, we didn't have to teach them to go hard today, and that's an indication of the respect they have for the team they're playing.

Q.  How about you personally?  Are you all on the same page now?
COACH MEYER:  Same page?  I have a lot of respect for his team.  Other than that, we're fine.  That was kind of a lot of stuff that was blown up.  I've never had any issue other than they're a good team.

Q.  I think you hinted at it a second ago, but this is a team with a highly rated defense, total defense, scoring defense.  Is that defensive line really the strength?  What else do you see?
COACH MEYER:  Their linebacker, I think, is one of the best players in the Big Ten, 44.  He's an instinctive player, gigantic in the middle, 326 pounds, 310 pounds, very sound.  They're not a blitz team.  They're a team that is extremely well coached.  As good a front seven as we faced, and we've faced a couple of good ones.
One thing about this conference, you can take shots all you want, but there's some very good defense ins this conference, very good front seven.  And probably better than I thought.  Because everyone is Big Ten, Big Ten, Big Ten.  Wait a minute, Big Ten has a very good front seven, some of these teams.

Q.  Wisconsin already is, because of circumstances, they're going to represent the Leaders Division in the Big Ten title game.  Is that anything to you guys knowing you can't go there to play the team, saying we should be there kind of thing?
COACH MEYER:  We have talked about the fact, when they announced we could win our division, and we haven't won‑‑ I guess we're co‑winners as of now, but we didn't win it.  And we win this game, I think are we winners?  If we win this game, then we win it.  That will be brought up.  That's real important to us.

Q.  Have you ever been to (indiscernible)?
COACH MEYER:  Oh, yeah.  I was with Coach Bruce and stood up in the booth.

Q.  Your impressions and memories of it?
COACH MEYER:  Oh, great college atmosphere.  It's a great town and great atmosphere.

Q.  You had a chance to see Montee Ball last year as an analyst and now studying him as a coach.  What do you see that makes him so effective as a running back?  What have you seen in his progress from last year to the way he is this year?
COACH MEYER:  He started slow, and I don't put that on him.  I thought they had a lot of transition in the coaching staff.  Their coaching staff has been together for a while, and you can tell.  Probably a little more creative in the run game than they were earlier in the year.
His strengths are great vision, and he's really a fast player.  He pulls away from angles, and his toughness.  You can give him the ball a bunch of times, and he just keeps getting stronger.  He'll be a very good NFL back.

Q.  Urban, is it to the point now where you feel like you've got guys that can deliver big plays?  I'm talking Corey Brown gave you that little girl whatever stop, he caught the ball and ran the play.  How big is it going into the last two games to have guys step up and do the extraordinary?
COACH MEYER:  I would still grade us a C to C‑minus on the ability to pull through plays.  Number 5 certainly can.  I think 34 is developing into a very good person that can break tackles and pull through tackles.  He's done that pretty consistently.  I wouldn't say he started the year that way in his injury.
After spring practice, I knew 5 could probably do it although we didn't let him run much in the spring.  I felt on our team, which is amazing, No. 7 was the guy that could make men miss and accelerate through a tackle and those kinds of things.
Now I still would grade us not very good.  I mean, Ohio State, we should be better than we are.  But his development, Philly, but we should have four guys like that.  We should have four players that can take a curl, make a guy miss and accelerate away from people.  We don't have that right now.

Q.  Are you constantly challenging them about that?  Talk about that.  Corey said he walked by you after he made that play the other day, and you didn't even really acknowledge him.
COACH MEYER:  Well, that's his job.  I'm trying to develop that with everybody, it's not a big deal.  It's like an offensive lineman blocks in three technique, it's what you go get your scholarship to do.  Catch a three curl, make him miss and catch a guy and go.
I think it's a mindset we're trying to develop here that it's not great, nice job, Philly, move on to the next play, as opposed to oh, my gosh, what a play.  It wasn't that good, it's just you're supposed to do it.

Q.  Quick update.  You named some guys on your radio show the other day.  Linsley is kind of banged up, Stoneburner.
COACH MEYER:  Linsley is still banged up.  We hope to get him full speed by Wednesday.  He practiced today.  Orhian Johnson was dinged a little in the game.  He's good to go today.  On the injury front, it the been pretty positive.
Bri'onte Dunn, did we announce him?  Bri'onte is out.  He hurt his knee.  Nonsurgical sprain.  So we're hoping to get him back for the finale, but that will be questionable.  And he was doing good in practice.

Q.  In 2010, they ran back a kickoff, and it snowballed after that 21‑3.  Given the special teams this year, how much pressure are you putting on that?
COACH MEYER:  We got Armani back.  Armani Reeves is coming back on the left side of the kickoff.  Very valuable player.  Very concerned.  All we can do is work real hard at it.  Special teams will be the‑‑ as in very closely matched games, which I consider this one dead even, special teams usually has an impact in the game.
Thanks, guys.  Have a great day.

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