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September 9, 2013

Urban Meyer

COACH MEYER:  Great to have him back at that position on the kickoff.  Obviously offensively to have our quarterback go down early in the game on that first drive was a blow, but our team responded.  It's an incredible case study of arguably one of the greatest that I've been around as far as your backup quarterback is elected captain.  I think that would be, once again, an interesting case study.
I wonder how many times that's happened, the backup quarterback is elected captain, and there's no real surprise internally; maybe externally it is, but internally he was one of the leading vote getters.¬† He was a guy that just ‑‑ I was talking to Philly Brown the other day and there's a lot of respect for Kenny Guiton about everything; the way he handles his business, and where he's come from, once again, around incredible case study what Kenny has done for this program in our brief tenure here.
But the way they played, he distributed the ball very well.  He moved the ball around.  We have to do better in the open field as far as breaking tackles; I would grade us a minus.
We protected the quarterback much better in this game against a team that blitzed from‑‑ they got off the bus blitzing; it's one of those kind of defenses.¬† We did a little more six‑ and seven‑man protection; just means we kept the extra guys in there because of that, and it worked.¬† And I thought overall, on offense, we did a fairly good job.
The champions on offense were Jack Mewhort played very well, had some incredible efforts down the field on Kenny's long run.¬† Had a knock‑down about 35 yards down the field, 30 yards down the field on his long touchdown run.¬† And three explosive plays, he was the key guy that got us to the second level.
Jeff Heuerman is starting to play like Jeff Heuerman again.  He played very well, graded out champion, had one explosive play, two catches, 33 yards.
Wide receivers, we had two of them, Philly Brown, two big plays.¬† Our intent was to get him involved.¬† He had six catches, 73 yards, two big ‑‑ one excellent catch, and the other one, just great technique as far as boxing out a defender.¬† Really that was‑‑ I've been very critical of the wired receivers, but he's a wide receiver now.¬† He's starting to box out defenders and he's starting to do things you ask wide receivers to do, not just go out there and run fast once in awhile.¬† He's getting better and better.
Evan Spencer only had one catch but he graded out very high and did a nice job.¬† The Offensive Player of the Game was the old right‑hander, Kenny, did a very admirable job in all areas, distributing the ball, making the right checks.¬† A lot of what you saw was him controlling the game as far as making checks.¬† That's it.
On defense, I watched it‑‑ I didn't have time yesterday, I watched it this morning, and we are getting close to the kind of defense that I have a dream of seeing, and that's aggressive.¬† Our defensive line is playing at a very high lively right now.¬† I don't want to jinx them‑‑ they just are playing ‑‑ they are not perfect at all; matter of fact they are very poor in some things they do but as far as effort, energy, enthusiasm, esprit de corps, that whole unit is playing ‑‑ and I have to give credit to their coach, Mike Vrabel.¬† They play like Mike coaches and I imagine the way Mike played here; it's just high energy, intense, very close‑knit group.
Steve Miller comes in and gets a sack; and Coach Fickell showed it to the team yesterday, the sideline erupted and Joel Hale was the first one to congratulate them.  That doesn't happen by accident.  That's because of the leader of that unit, Mike Vrabel, they are buying what he's selling.  That's very much a positive right now.
But overall, I thought we played well on defense.  C.J. Barnett, graded a champion, graded out very high, first game back.  Brad Roby, graded out 99 percent, very high; he had 12 opportunities, made a play at 11 of them.
And then co‑players of the game, Michael Bennett, I keep telling you he's our best practice player, the correlation between that and performance is obviously very high, and he graded out 90 percent co‑defensive player of the game, very proud of him.
And Ryan Shazier, didn't play as well his first game but he's starting to look very active, ran some people down, very good awareness on screen plays and that was Ryan Shazier.
So I was very impressed with our defense.¬† Just the energy, once again, there's a lot of things we can fix.¬† We are too soft on zone coverage.¬† At times, I thought we were too soft in man coverage, but I liked the philosophy that we pressure‑‑ I had that written down on the other paper, but we pressured more than we had the previous week.
A couple comments; we are going on a long trip across the country, I can't remember if I have experience doing that.  When I was at NotreDame, we would go play USC, and that was a tough trip.  We have got to really manage it well, and we've had many, many discussions with people who have made that trip, as well.  We are going to leave Friday morning and make sure we get them acclimated as much as we can.  We are facing a team that averages 104 plays a game on offense, so we need all able bodies to be ready to go.
Braxton Miller will be a day‑to‑day decision.¬† I just met with him today.¬† He's feeling much better.¬† Was, a little stiff, which is‑‑ our trainer and I and him just met ten minutes ago and he's feeling‑‑ the first 48 hours after that injury is very tough.¬† It's a sprained MCL is what it is.
And then Adolphus Washington has a groin injury, that will be day‑to‑day, also.¬† Neither one of them has been disqualified for this game but neither one of them has been cleared to play yet, so I'll keep you posted.

Q.  Having coached a little bit out west, what do you think the culture and the passion for the game is out here compared to here or the southeast?
COACH MEYER:¬† Well, I think‑‑ my own experience, Colorado State and Utah, extremely high.¬† It's a pass‑happy, fast‑type atmosphere that I remember when we played out there.¬† But I think the new stadium, I hear it's incredible.¬† Jeff Tedford is one of my closest friends, and he's been talking to me about this for years, getting that thing build, and obviously it's been built.¬† It's going to be a great atmosphere.

Q.  In a situation like this with Braxton managing this with him, this injury, is it as simple as if he's healthy enough, he'll play, or is it possible that you would maybe hold him back at this stage of the season to err on the side of caution?
COACH MEYER:  I don't think so, no.  I think it depends.  If he's healthy to play and play like Braxton plays, which, you know, he's not your pocket quarterback, he does a lot of things for us, so those are decisions, but if he's healthy to go, he'll certainly go.  We are not saving him or holding back.  This will be everything we've got to win this game.

Q.  The times he left games last year, what happened on Saturday, is there anything in your mind that there is any durability questions with Braxton?
COACH MEYER:  No, the obvious, that quarterbacks at times get hit, especially Braxton is a fearless player.  That was a pass that he ran on third down and I think two.  That was a pass all the way, and then he saw an open seam, because the guy was actually open and he decided to get the first down.  I like quarterbacks who think that way, get the first down.
So I just think we have to have‑‑ always have Plan B ready.¬† Now when Plan B is in the game, that means Plan C is not too far off, and that's one that we are working on, as well, right now.

Q.  Players today, saw the National Championship Game and probably the Rose Bowl itself; do you think going out west is what it used to be to people in the Midwest, players in the Midwest?
COACH MEYER:¬† Great question.¬† My only experience with that is when I was at NotreDame going out to USC.¬† You would think that would be the biggest thing in the world and I used to sometimes wonder‑‑ in the days that was a great rivalry‑‑ I can't speak‑‑ this will be my first time doing it.
I would imagine it is.  I don't know that.  It's a great question, though.

Q.  Inaudible.
COACH MEYER:¬† Dropping the torches‑‑ who was it, Oregon?¬† Oregon had a big win I think over Virginia.
Can we explain it or does it impact us?¬† It doesn't impact us and I can't explain it.¬† So I think at the end‑‑ in the end, I think everything's going to work out, the best teams will be up there.

Q.  Inaudible.
COACH MEYER:¬† By the time I had that, maybe get them in the game, it was pretty well‑‑ it was 28‑0 or it was 21‑0.¬† So there was really never that consideration.
Like you said, Kenny was managing really well.  It was the kind of defense where management was really the key the whole game and getting us in the right stuff at the right time and Kenny is really strong at that, so there was no conversation about that.

Q.  Did Braxton on Saturday say anything about, I'd love to get back in there, or since then?
COACH MEYER:¬† Oh, God, he wanted back in the game, and he feels very strong.¬† He wants to play this weekend.¬† We'll know more after the first 48 hours.¬† Just letting you know, insider conversation here, but the conversation was we'll know more tomorrow morning.¬† After the 48‑hour period of this injury, we'll know more.

Q.  Is car dial the next guy, is he Plan C at this point?
COACH MEYER:  Plan C and Plan D are real close to each other right now.  We practiced them both yesterday.  I just made preliminary travel plans of them both going, so we are going to see.  As of right now, Kardel  is the first one in.

Q.  That's J.T. you're talking about?

Q.  Has he made tremendous progress?  Just talk about him a little bit.
COACH MEYER:  Well, it's hard when you're No.4.  He's a guy that doesn't get many reps.  He's a very serious guy.  He's how I like our quarterbacks to be.  He's a real smart player, had a good day on Sunday, Sunday's practice.
So he has made progress; how much, he's been running scout team really for us, so I haven't watched him that closely.

Q.¬† Run 50 more plays than you have in two games‑‑ how do they do that and what is the biggest challenge for your defense?
COACH MEYER:  The defense would be the ball comes out so fast, the screens, it's quick passes, you don't really have a chance to get to the quarterback, you know, how do you disrupt passing is you disrupt the quarterback's flow and all that.
So I have not studied them at all on offense yet.¬† I will, usually that's later in the week, because I spend all my time on kicking and offense.¬† I talk to my defensive staff and rotation of defensive linemen to keep them fresh, because they will wear you out.¬† After a while ‑‑ pass rushing, other than running pursuit, where sideline to sideline, pass rush is the most exhausting thing for a defensive lineman.
So just keeping them fresh, so we can at least when they do drop back, try to get a hand or two on their quarterback.

Q.  Your team has changed since a year ago, and Cal has had some changes of coaches.  How much would you watch last year's game as you prepare for this one?
COACH MEYER:  Really defensively a completely different story, that's when they came out in that brand new defense they worked on all year, and the guy's name, Clancy Pendergast, did a heck of a job, but a defense that we had not prepared for.
This right now, obviously, I would say it's a new staff, they shot their gun‑‑ Northwestern is a big game, so they are not going to have a new defense‑‑ had some injury issues at safety, too.
So I think last year's game will be no impact at all.

Q.¬† You have two games to watch this year, are you still looking elsewhere at what they have done or just zoned in on what they have done‑‑
COACH MEYER:  They hired a defensive coordinator that was at Wisconsin, we'll watch that one.  Offensively, you'd have to have Coach Fickell and Coach Withers that.
So much of it is personnel based but already we did the summer preliminary scouting report, you always do on the first three opponents, and so we did a summary report on Cal, so I'm sure there's some carry over but we'll watch some of the cut ups from Louisiana tech.

Q.  Philly Brown was a running back in high school, and he was a quarterback when he was recruited here, just talk about his evolution as wide receiver, you talked about him boxing out.
COACH MEYER:  First of all, he was a very poor running back, and you can tell him I said that (Laughter).
Philly has done a great job.  His evolution as a leader and performer in the weight room, the way he's taking care of himself, the way he's mentoring young people, he's falling into that category of guys that have made a 180 and the way he handles his business academically, I'm a big Philly Brown guy right now, and I was not at all.  I say that, and I say that in good faith that I really appreciate what he's done.
His transition, he's legitimate, he has a wide receiver maybe playing again after this year and if you would have said that at this time last year, no chance.  So I really like what he's done.  It's more what he's done with his work ethic and who he is.  I'm very proud of him and I'm sure his family, they can see the difference, as well.

Q.¬† When a team does something occasional, like you did with your two‑point conversions, or what Cal does with their formation where they have the offensive lineman and the fullback, how long can you spend preparing for something like that because they only do it a handful of times yet they seem to be counting on unfamiliarity to get something done.
COACH MEYER:  It's the same reasonwe did that, we called it the Aztec formation, the one that Kenny scored on, put Kenny out there, we are going throw a screen.
That's really something, ever since we got into couching, you have basically on Tuesday, now that you're in work week, you have Tuesday and Wednesday to practice, and you have injuries that you're dealing with.  Washington probably won't practice on Tuesday, so he's going to miss all those reps.  Tuesday is all first down, normal situation.  And then on Wednesday it's all red zone and third downs.  And if you're going to spend your time working on stuff, then you're taking away from fundamentals and taking away stopping their five base plays and offensive rush and pass, and it's just a pain in the rear end.
So they have to work on the field goal and they have to work on this Aztec formation.¬† There's a lot of reasons to do it.¬† One is to get a big hit, which is we did, and the other is just to drive them nuts as far as what they have to prepare for.¬† Those are the same issues we deal with.¬† That's why I think college football is unique.¬† I have talked to coaches who were maybe in the NFL, you don't see this kind of variety of stuff.¬† I think the creativity in college football is real. ‑‑ you have two work days‑‑

Q.  Is it all spent on preparing for the opponent or do you spend tie any time tweaking what you do?

Q.  50/50?
COACH MEYER:¬† 51/49?¬† I don't know.¬† (Laughter) depends, if ear lousy, then it's probably 60/40 doing what we do for a functional group of people, then it's more time spent on your opponent.¬† I'm proud to say that more of our time is spent now‑‑ last year trying to get snap counts and ID targets and all that, and now we are enhancing our scheme.

Q.  Just wanted to ask, going back to the California game from a year ago, the two long runs, did your defensive staff use those as maybe teaching moments or was that game maybe a moment where your defense began to evolve into what they are and what they are trying to be?
COACH MEYER:¬† Well, I think‑‑ and those are great questions for our defensive staff.¬† What I saw, I probably saw a lot like you, because I was so immersed in the offense and kicking game and just trying to develop a team that I just saw very poor tackling and very poor leverage.¬† Those are two fundamentals, like blocking and protecting the quarterback on offense.¬† Those are two fundamentals and you get exposed.
If you ask me, I can't tell you the defense, I can't tell you the play, but I'll just tell you it was very, very poor tackling and very poor leverage on the football.  Those teams, if you watch our teams play right now, I think Luke and Everett have done a really admirable job teaching that and you can see a big difference.
Thanks, guys, have a great day.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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