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OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY MEDIA CONFERENCE
October 28, 2013
COACH MEYER:Â Hi, guys, thanks for being here.Â A couple of quick comments about last week's game.Â Very much impressed with like really impressed with the way our guys started that game.Â I was worried anytime‑‑ he always look for advantages and disadvantages going into the game, and the fact that we had a very physical game against Iowa the previous week, very physical, and our opponent was off.Â So I just think our staff and our players really, the good thing about this team, I'm very honest with them and very open with them and I was very concerned about them being fresh and especially after that game we still get our work done against a fairly complex offense and defense.
And they did a great job.Â My hat's off to our staff and our players for, because we didn't practice as long as we would normally just because of the previous week's game and then I had to get them fresh, we had to get them fresh for the Penn State game knowing that Penn State would be very fresh.Â Very impressed with the work ethic for that week.
On offense, the champions are Marcus Hull, Corey Linsley, those guys are playing‑‑ I made a comment, if we're not‑‑ it's hard for me to say we're the best offensive line in America because I just don't get to see everyone else but I've done this a while, and this is‑‑ I take this offensive line over any offensive line that I've seen.Â These guys are tremendous players and their work ethic and alignment and cohesiveness is arguably one of the best I've ever been around.
Tight end Jeff Heuerman and Nick Vannett graded out champions, playing very well.Â Jeff Heuerman playing a very high level right now.Â Certainly in blocking, need to get him some more catches but playing at a very high level.Â Wide receivers continue to improve and play very well, Chris Fields, Devin Smith and Philly Brown.Â Trying to think who didn't make it.Â Evan Spencer.Â Got dinged up a little bit but he'll be fine for next week.Â Co‑offensesive players this week are.
Carlos Hyde playing at a very high level and then offensive tackle Captain Jack Mewhort played as well as we have seen him play and he plays at a high level too.
On defense Ryan Shazier graded at champion effort and Doran Grant, got Evan Spencer back, Braxton Miller also got hit in the knee a little bit late in the game so he's fine.Â So we just gotta‑‑ today's the day to get him healthy because we need him full speed tomorrow, Tuesday and Wednesday.
Q.Â When you took the job, you inherited a team that had a losing record, seven losses.Â Were you wary there might be problems with the cultures or personnel that might take longer to turn this around that what you might have played the optimum?
COACH MEYER:Â Not really.Â I guess I have so much respect for Ohio State and the previous coaching staff, I knew all those guys.Â I knew Coach Tressel very well.Â So I kind of figured it would be, there's some maybe issues but nothing that can't get fixed and you can recruit good players at Ohio State.Â I think early in the season our first year I was very alarmed.Â We weren't playing very hard.Â We weren't playing very smart.Â I had a brand new coaching staff that I was concerned about, and all those concerns seemed to be working themselves out because we had incredible leadership last year and our coaching staff turned out to be very good.Â But I didn't know seven of the nine I didn't know.Â So I didn't think it was‑‑
Q.Â Were you a little bit surprised that, not surprised that it's worked out how it has, but again, they've lost seven coming off the bowl game and big losses down the stretch the year before, that that they've been able to overcome any problems they've encountered, you win close games, big games whatever?
COACH MEYER:Â I try not to look back too often.Â I look back to the beginning of last year and that was very alarming.Â And up to now we're just trying to find a way to get to the next week.Â And we compartmentalize.Â And so to answer your question, we haven't really thought about until you brought it up, we're just trying to get the win on the road at Purdue.
Q.Â You guys brought a lot more pressure defensively.Â Did you go to the defensive coach and say, hey, this is something I want done or can you take us through the change there?
COACH MEYER:Â We did have some conversation.Â I think Ryan Shazier is one of the blitzers in America, doesn't blitz very much.Â We had that conversation.Â I think disruptive defense is hard to go‑‑ I'm an offensive guy.Â Disruptive defenses are very hard to work against.Â And I thought Luke and Everett did a very good job mixing it in, some pressures.Â But we did, we disrupted this quarterback.Â And to let that guy sit back and throw, I'm not sure‑‑ I don't know if we'd lose a game but we certainly wouldn't have held them to 14 points.
Q.Â Bogard, when he left, is he okay?
COACH MEYER:Â He hurt his knee.Â ACL, same knee.Â Just crushing.Â He's in my office right now.Â Great kid.Â Actually very positive about it.Â He's going to have surgery this week.Â Big blow.
Q.Â In terms of the defensive pressure, how frustrating was it and still last week the team seemed to be a little more passive than you want?
COACH MEYER:Â I think it's frustrating for everybody.Â There's a time here where a decade of defense that was as good as anybody in America, last three years hasn't been that way.Â But I see improvement.Â I think player development is going to be very important.Â We lost a lot of great players from last year's team.Â Last year's defense, the last half of the year, was Buckeye defense.
I was used to watching all those years.Â First half was not.Â The first half of this season we were okay.Â I knew we'd have some growing pains with all their brand new players, when Christian Bryant went down, you're playing with, I want to say, eight or nine new starters on defense.Â But we're nine games into it.Â So I think we should be, I'm glad we played the way we did because I was starting to get a little concerned.
Q.Â What's the next step, do you think, in terms of development of the defense?
COACH MEYER:Â Just keep doing what we need to keep doing.Â Next step we want to be a disruptive defense and we will be a disruptive defense.Â That means sometimes you'll give up a play.Â That's okay.Â That's better than just giving up a bunch of plays.Â So I like where we're at.Â I like the fact we're getting better.
We addressed some situations and you see some development going on.Â The Christian Bryant injury was, I keep going back to that, because that's not just something you brush underneath the carpet.
I mean our best player and he's out of the game.Â Our best leader on that side of the ball.Â He's out of the game.Â So I like the fact that we finally, I saw some energy.Â I saw some pulse on defense, and that was concern the last few weeks, like a lot of people were.
Q.Â With that in mind, Corey "Pitt" Brown had a big play what does that do for a player's confidence, he was thrust into that role of Christian Bryant?
COACH MEYER:Â Coach Fickell and I had a meeting this morning and he made the comment, we were giving ground at alarming pace again, a little bit like the Iowa game started.
And for him to step up, you know, the energy level‑‑ I go right to offense.Â I don't see what happens on the sideline.Â You saw a very confident team coming off the field like we can do this.Â Where Iowa wasn't that way at all.Â They score there, that's a whole different ballgame.
Q.Â Dontre Wilson, he was upbeat after the game.Â He got more touches.Â I know we ask about him every week, but he seems to be adding more every week, what do you see in your crystal ball coming down the stretch?
COACH MEYER:Â I see a guy on one of our big plays he was blocking.Â That means he's learning to be a full‑time member.Â It's not just Dontre's in the game.Â So he'll be more and more involved.Â The thing that I like about Dontre that you all see is incredible passion for the game.
He's an energizer, and we've, I don't want to say mandated it, but he'll be more and more and more.Â Played very well, by the way.Â I mean, when I say very well, of course he carried the ball well and all that.Â But he did a lot of things well.
Q.Â Is there anything that you guys do differently now that the calendar changes until November, you coach him with more urgency, do you expect more urgency from him, seems like November is a month around here where things mean a little bit more than not to dismiss anything else that's happened but seems like there's more of a sense of urgency in this month, not just here, but across all top 25 programs?
COACH MEYER:Â We don't go into the season saying we want to win this one, this one.Â If you look around there's not a bunch of goals.Â We're goal‑‑ win the National Championship, we don't put that down.Â There's too many variables involved.
And my concern ever since I've been head coach, let's win our goals for the year and we don't have that conversation.Â It's always the same:Â To compete for championships in November, to get to November and then let's go try to find a way to win a championship.Â Because there's injuries and issues you have to deal with.Â So that's our focus.Â We're going to be in November.Â We are competing for championships so you can bet the focus is very intense.
Q.Â Things get turned up a little bit like practice?
COACH MEYER:Â Oh, I don't know about that, because I think it's on the, it's a fine line.Â We have some kids eight games into it that are playing 650 plays so there's a lot of wear and tear that we're very cautious.Â But the focus is very much there.
Q.Â I know there's a lot that goes into developing a quarterback.Â Braxton's completion percentage is up around 12 points.Â What do you think has been the most important part of that improved accuracy?
COACH MEYER:Â Fundamentally, he's a much better player than he was a year ago and knowledge of the offense.Â Those two things.Â I see it every day.Â The thing that we can't do, and I challenge our coaches all the time, and myself, we can't get bored and create these new plays, because you're bored with the old ones.Â The old ones work fine just do it over and over again.
The more a quarterback does the same system ‑‑ you've got to figure up to this point Braxton was, his last year was the second system as a quarterback and now he's in the same one, same coach, same system for two years you should be better.Â But he's really better.Â I anticipated he would be better.Â He's better than better.Â Nice job.Â That's my master's degree from Ohio State.Â Better than better.
Q.Â Go back to what Tim was saying about Dontre, have you found that he's as available as a decoy as more valuable than when he gets the ball?
COACH MEYER:Â Maybe not as.Â Because he's pretty lethal with the ball in his hand.Â Wait until you see him next year.Â We'll get him big and strong.Â He's gained 15 pounds since he's been here.Â He's a great practice player, on Fridays walkthroughs he's going full speed.Â He's one of those guys, gotta have him around.
Q.Â One of the motivating methods that coaches use with players is don't forget the sting or the taste of losing.Â You got guys on this team that have never lost in college, going back a couple of years.Â How do you keep them agitated, you kind of lost that bullet, so to speak, to use with them.
COACH MEYER:Â We're pretty good agitaters around here.
Q.Â So that's one.Â Two, you've gone three years since you've lost a game personally.Â Have you lost any of the exact feeling of what, of that sense of loss and the feeling of losing, do you remember what it's like?
COACH MEYER:Â Are you allowed to remove him from‑‑ (laughter).Â I think it's very valid, don't worry about coaches, about players keeping them hungry.Â I think that's kind of the message of the question.Â And that's something we think about all the time.
But I mean that "L" word is not a good word for anyone.Â And so the one thing is we coach very hard.Â And Lou Holt said it best:Â You coach hard when you win.Â When you lose, it's very fragile and we're coaching‑‑ you come out to practice and you are like, my gosh, you act like the offense is the worst in the country, especially on Tuesdays, they're Bloody Tuesdays around here for a reason.
And I think that's the‑‑ as long as we're still coaching that way and we will, they're very hungry.
Q.Â The feeling of losing, do you still have it?
COACH MEYER:Â Do I still have it?Â Yeah, I mean I just want to avoid it at all costs.
Q.Â Urban, since Kenny Guiton was warming up at Northwestern, Braxton Miller has gone to a different level.Â Curious as a psychology major if you find that to be a coincidence?
COACH MEYER:Â I don't think it's coincidence.Â I think he knows and I've told him that there's absolutely no doubt he's like‑‑ it's maybe a little more complex than that, but if our center doesn't play well we're going to make a change if we have a good center behind him.Â And you see that in some other positions that as guys improve, we're going to make a change.
And he knows that.Â He's not used to being second fiddle, his high school and college career so far.Â I love him to death; he's like a son to me.Â We get along great.Â But he knows I have a job to do and that's to make sure the best players are on the team.Â The guy behind him happens to be a very good player, very good leader.Â Great to get him in the game.Â We're going to keep trying to figure out ways to do that.
Q.Â On Braxton, as good as he was on Saturday, do you have an envisionment that it can get even better?
COACH MEYER:Â Much better.Â You're talking about an incredible release, arm strength.Â There's still some things he cowboyed it a few times which means when they kind of broke down he panicked in the pocket when he didn't have to.Â We already had a meeting this morning about it.Â And he needs to know where his check down is.Â Those are just two things from this past game he panicked in the pocket three, four times and he panicked to the point where he didn't know where his check down was, that's a problem.Â That's not good quarterback play.
Q.Â Urban, when you were running through things at the beginning you mentioned good linebacker play, defensive line, safeties, like the offensive line, the receivers are improving, tight ends, Braxton, do you feel like every part of this team is working the way you want?Â I know you can always improve, but do you feel like there are any weak spots on this team or is everybody doing their job?
COACH MEYER:Â There are.Â The linebacker position is still not solidified yet.Â We're not Ohio State expectation level linebacker position.Â After this past week I think most other positions played at a very high level.Â And so linebacker position's one we're keeping our finger on hard because we need to improve the level of play and the number of backers we have in the program.
Punt team was good.Â Kickoff return was excellent.Â Kickoff coverage is probably the best we had all year.Â Those guys did a great job.
Q.Â Were you strong everywhere across the board?Â Are great teams strong everywhere, sometimes are great teams even covering up some deficiencies?
COACH MEYER:Â Great question.Â There are‑‑ I'd say the one team that was strong across the board was 08, special teams, offense, defense, the way they played Saturday, across the table, pretty strong, the linebacker position is the one that continues to get a little better but fairly strong.Â But you can be strong, and our expectation level is to be strong in all areas.
Q.Â Curtis Grant, he got the head bump on Saturday?
COACH MEYER:Â Sore neck.
Q.Â And just want to make sure we get something in about Purdue.Â They're a very young team.Â Is it difficult to get a read on them?
COACH MEYER:Â I have not watched their offense yet.Â I've watched their defense.Â They changed they were all 4‑3 defense about three weeks ago before the Nebraska game changed completely.Â They're now 3‑4.Â Means they're just going through some personnel issues and scheme issues.Â Very big up front.Â But like I said we're just still trying to figure out what we're going to see Saturday because it's completely different from the first half of the season until now.
Q.Â Unrelated, but I'm curious, you get the question about the halftime speeches that go on when games aren't going well.Â You're never asked what halftime is like when the first half has been humming along.Â I'm wondering how you handle that break in the action when things are going as well as they were against Penn State?
COACH MEYER:Â If it's a hungry team, it's very easy and the zero, we tell them zero zero, we're starting the game over again and you're being evaluated.Â We put a lot of pressure on these players.
You come to Ohio State to start and the good thing is when you recruit fairly well, they know there's a guy right behind you.Â If you want to go take a few plays off there will be someone else in there.Â That's when you start getting a good program.Â And right now the cert positions playing the best, it's not by accident.Â The gentleman asked me a question about Braxton.Â He knows the guy behind him know.Â The friggin' stadium is calling his name.Â He better be pretty good.
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