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January 10, 2015
Q.¬† What makes (inaudible) step up and play as well as he has?
URBAN MEYER:¬† Physically he's a very talented guy that he's always been that way.¬† However, in the last six months, yeah, he's really grown up as a person that can use his skill, you know, a guy that's very talented but just is immature and doesn't use it, it's kind of a waste of time.¬† But he's really grown up here, and especially the last couple weeks, his practice routine and his attention to detail is off the charts right now.
Q.¬† When you called (inaudible) after the Alabama game, was that a sign your team was (inaudible)?¬† Could you comment on that a little bit?
URBAN MEYER:¬† Yeah, the question is about the play call, and it was mine.¬† I could blame someone else.¬† It was mine.¬† I thought we could get a PI against Alabama.¬† It was bare, no deep, you're not going to gain a yard against it, so you can say, why didn't you hand off the ball to Ezekiel, and it would be 2nd and 12, and we did that afterwards, and we ran the quarterback a little bit.¬† There's no chance‑‑
Q.¬† But the time your players‑‑
URBAN MEYER:¬† Yeah, I think they'd expect that.¬† There was no chance.¬† We've done things before in the past, where we take a very aggressive approach to the game, whether it's going after blocked punts, taking shots down the field, reverse pass right before the end of the half.¬† I think there might be more shock on the outside, but we'll do it again.¬† If someone says why did you do that, we're probably going to do that again, and I hope we're in that situation.
Q.¬† Is it like Thursday for you guys, what's practice been like?
URBAN MEYER:¬† It's been great.¬† It's very uncharted waters now.¬† These are three basically championship fights one after the other.¬† You went from Wisconsin to in particular the last one against Alabama, extremely physical team.¬† Our linemen shared with me that was the most physical game they've played all year.¬† Michigan State was similar, just the pounding that the offensive and defensive lines take, so we were very smart how we went about our business, but I like where we're at.¬† We're ready to go.
Q.¬† In terms of offense, does this have to be a shootout?
URBAN MEYER:¬† Oh, I think Oregon's defense is much‑‑ especially the last few weeks, they're playing very well.¬† And the Ohio State defense has been playing very well.¬† To do what they've done against Alabama, because you take Alabama, our game, the offense put our defense in horrible field position several times, and then they played their best‑‑ the best defense that we've played, the best defensive football we've played in the last three years, maybe the last forever‑‑ not forever, but certainly since we've been there against Wisconsin.¬† So I think the defense, for me to predict the score, I don't know that, but I think both defenses are much better than they're getting credit for right now.
Q.¬† At the Sugar Bowl your team seemed loose.¬† Can you talk about how they're reacting to championship week?
URBAN MEYER:¬† They're pretty good.¬† I think we kind of shelter them, and the good thing is we weren't in classes.¬† That was a good thing for us that we were kind of locked down and spent a lot of time with them.
Loose, I'm not sure that's an appropriate word, but just very workmanlike.¬† I hear loose, and what does that mean, loose?¬† I think they have a routine they're used to, and they are approaching their business like a bunch of pros right now, which if you're hoping to see a bunch of players walk around nervous and tight, I don't think you'll see that right now.
Q.¬† You said you learned more from this team than any other team that you've had.¬† What sorts of things have they taught you?
URBAN MEYER:¬† Oh, it's coach‑speak or clich√© or whatever you want to call it about caring for one another.¬† I've done this 30 years.¬† How many teams actually do that because the dynamics of college football, the different cultures that you just put in a meeting room together, the age group of nonsense, from 18 to 22 year olds, and we all want that team, and you can say, well, the coach put it together.¬† Coaches don't put that together.¬† You can mold it and work on it, but at the end of the day, these guys, the circumstances that they've been put in are probably never happened before, where you lose your starting quarterback 10 days before, you lose a player like Noah Spence, you have Jeff Heuerman.¬† We went our first four games without an offensive captain, both of them were playing, and Jeff finally got back, but you can't lead when you're not playing.¬† And then obviously near the end of the season with the things we dealt with then, that's when I learned how they responded to those‑‑ it was genuine, because if it wasn't genuine, it would have surfaced.
Q.¬† I know you don't like words like surprised and all that, but where you're at, are you a little‑‑
URBAN MEYER:¬† Yeah, I don't like surprised, either, but you have to give credit and testimony or what did that, and the thing I will say this, we spent an inordinate amount of time on leadership training.¬† You know, corporate America you do your homework, which we did.¬† Corporations are spending millions of dollars on corporate leadership.¬† College football is nothing more than a corporate America.¬† Interesting dynamics, and I don't know if anybody has ever spent a dime on leadership training, and we have.¬† We put our coaches through a five‑week program in the spring, Brotherhood of Trust.¬† We put our players through two years in a row now, E+R=O, how to respond to events, and I'd like to think as educators, that's one of the reasons they responded like they did.
URBAN MEYER:¬† Yeah, the question is about Evan Spencer, and I made a comment the other day that if we finish this right, he'll be a write‑in captain at the end of the season.¬† That's not charity, it's not a gift, it's something earned, and there wouldn't be anyone in the Woody Hayes that would question it.¬† He recovered the onside kick, he threw the touchdown pass, and he knocked down two guys down on the block.¬† On the field it's obvious, and then off the field what most people don't know is he's kind of the glue.¬† He's such a great leader by example.¬† Everyone respects him, and he's the MVP of our team.
Q.¬† I talked to Trestman and he said that was the catch of the game.
URBAN MEYER:¬† Oh, it's unbelievable.¬† If you slow it down, I'm glad we have those sticky gloves because it looked like it stuck to his hand.
URBAN MEYER:¬† All when Chip was there.
Q.¬† College coaches are very (inaudible) did you learn anything during your time there?
URBAN MEYER:¬† I think that's changed.¬† There was a day where we would even open the doors.¬† We don't allow people to come in.¬† We're very selective because you work really hard at your trade, and I know Mark but I don't know like him Chip.¬† A lot of respect for Coach Helfrich and Coach Frost and his offense, but more than offense, I went out there just because of the culture that Chip was unique, I kept hearing about it, and I talk to Chip all the time.¬† He used to go on the Nike trip with me, we'd always go separate ourselves for a couple days, and I'm always trying to learn, and then the year off I went out there and spent a lot of time, and then I went out to the bowl game.
Coach Kelly actually asked me to speak to his team one time.¬† We've shared a lot of ideas.¬† I want to say Chip came to visit us at Utah and Florida, so that's been going on for a long time.
Q.¬† Did you get anything from him Monday night?
URBAN MEYER: ¬†Not so much Monday night, but there's certainly things in our program that we've used from what we learned from Oregon.
Q.¬† As you get along into the week you said you get a theme.¬† You talked about workmanlike.¬† What's going through your head mentally in terms of motivation?
URBAN MEYER:¬† Well, it's currently‑‑ this morning Mick and I went and sat like with do on the Bob Newhart couch as I called, we went and sat on the corner and talked.¬† There's no better person for me to have a conversation with than Coach Mick.¬† He knows our program.¬† He knows our team.¬† He spends more time with our players than certainly I do and our coaches do, and he has a unique, unique way about his business.¬† We're not where we need to be exactly, knowing what we're going to do, but those conversations will continue today.
URBAN MEYER:¬† Oh, he thinks we're in really good shape.
URBAN MEYER:¬† I don't think‑‑ the question is about how much different.¬† I think during the season it's very similar.¬† I've tried to make sure, and it's not just me.¬† I want to make sure our players enjoy the journey.¬† These kids have been on a heck of a run for the last three years, and I'm more cautious about making sure it's not just an absolute grind.¬† Someone asked a question one time, when does the joy of winning disappear and the fear of losing or the agony of losing overtake that, and when that does, that's not good.¬† That's not good for anyone.¬† So I make sure that we enjoy the wins the best I can and the best our coaching staff can.
URBAN MEYER:¬† J. T. Barrett?¬† Obviously a Texas boy and a guy that comes from about three hours from here.¬† Tremendous leader, came out of his shell this year, incredible amount of respect.¬† He's still very valuable to us right now on helping Cardale, as is Braxton.¬† Braxton has been great.¬† There's a unique camaraderie on this team that like I mentioned before is unlike any other.
Q.¬† What about their quarterback, Marcus?¬† Now that you've had a week or so to look at what he does, does he compare to anyone you've played in the past?
URBAN MEYER:¬† Oh, I haven't really thought about that.¬† I think his athleticism is very similar to Braxton Miller.¬† I think he's a sub‑4.4 player that plays extremely fast like Braxton.¬† I think his skill set is a lot like Braxton, so probably Braxton Miller as far as skill set and just taking over a game with athleticism.
Q.¬† What are some other things that jump out to you?
URBAN MEYER:¬† Well, their defense, their defense and their return game.¬† That's where I spend most of my time watching their film.¬† Dynamic athletes like they had, I remember I watched them in the bowl game against Kansas State and they brought a kick return back for a touchdown.¬† They're just athletes all over the place.¬† And then their two defensive ends are high draft picks, and they play a style of defense where only those kind of body types ‑‑‑ we try to do it.¬† It's call odd four eyes, where they play the two defensive ends in really unblockable positions, because you'll get washed down if not.¬† To find that 6'7", 290 guy, we've been looking a long time, too, and they've done a good job finding ‑‑ 44 and 9 I believe their numbers are, just great players.
Q.¬† When you guys beat Alabama, that meant a lot not just for your program but for the conference, and I know you guys can't put all that on your back, but it's there.¬† When you were off the field after that, you won a Sugar Bowl and it felt like you won a national title.¬† You had this team so perfectly prepared and ready and focused for that game.¬† How did you get them back for this one?
URBAN MEYER:¬† We're going to find out.¬† Obviously it's still only Thursday of game week, so we've still got some time.¬† It was all about preparation after that game and putting a schedule together.¬† I made the comment many, many times, it's very important for Mike Bennett and Ezekiel Elliott to get back on a routine.¬† There's every obstacle in the way to disrupt your routine.¬† Our focus has been all about that.¬† The practices have been much different just because of the wear and tear ever since the Big Ten Championship game, and then I really saw it against Alabama because that was the sledgehammer game that you have to be very cautious.¬† So I believe we were.¬† I think we handled it the right way.
But it's to be determined.
Q.¬† Was there a point this season that was a turning point that they learned that they were National Championship caliber?
URBAN MEYER:¬† I don't think‑‑ you never know that.¬† There's too many variables.¬† I think I made the comment, the first overtime against Penn State was in my opinion the turning point, when I saw a team that didn't play very well.¬† I don't want to say anything against Penn State because Penn State has got a fine team.¬† But the script was written.¬† We should have lost that game.¬† It happens every year where a team loses a league, doesn't play very good, every excuse in the world to lose that game, a quarterback playing on a sprained MCL, offensive guard, freshman that didn't play very well, and they found a way to win that game.¬† That's when I personally walked in the locker room after going, that could have been a program changer for us.
Q.¬† Are wins so much more rewarding when you have the entire family around you?
URBAN MEYER:¬† My personal family?¬† Oh, yeah.¬† That's special.
Q.¬† Was it always that way?
URBAN MEYER:¬† Oh, no, it's always been that way.
Q.¬† How much do they mean to you?
URBAN MEYER:¬† Oh, that's the world to me, and they know that.¬† They're the first ones that‑‑ it's a dead sprint to the field.¬† I remember in '06, Nate was a little guy, and Shelly tells the story that all the wives were down in the corner, three, two, one, and he takes off, and she can't find him.¬† He's trying to find me.¬† So there's some great stories, though.
URBAN MEYER:¬† Well, I heard our players say thanks for the College Football Playoff, and that's real.¬† We would not be in it, either would Oregon.¬† I think the other two schools, Alabama and Florida State, would be playing, and we were all part of the BCS for a long time, and I think it's the closest thing.¬† You've got a bunch of people trying to do it right, and it's an imperfect way to do it, but the more I'm in it now, this is the only way to do it.¬† You can't start adding more games.¬† That's not going to happen.¬† That's not going to happen.
Q.¬† There was a lot of debate about (inaudible) obviously beating Alabama justifies you being here.¬† Is there a carryover to this game?
URBAN MEYER:¬† Well, there's a school not too far from here, the head coach is a very good friend of mine, there's a lot of people that think that‑‑ and they probably should have, TCU I'm talking about, and they played great in the bowl game.¬† I think as long as, once again, there is an imperfect, unless you go 64, it's just completely different.¬† So I think there's going to be a time where Ohio State or someone is going to be left out, and I think the way Gary went about his business, Coach Patterson went about his business, it showed that there was no excuses.¬† They went and played great.¬† And I think that's the responsibility of whoever is in that situation.¬† It's hard now, because there's a bunch of players and coaches that think that maybe they should have been in the playoff.
Q.¬† Ezekiel said he can't carry the ball really well with his left hand.¬† Have you had a running back that can really only go with one hand?
URBAN MEYER:¬† Oh, I don't think so.¬† I know he's been dealing with it all fall, and I know his wrist is causing some issues.¬† I don't think, to answer your question, no, I don't think I've had that.¬† He's the best.¬† What adds to him is his selfless approach to the game.¬† If you remember a year ago, he was one of my main guys on kickoff.¬† He started his career on punt, and he's been‑‑ that's a credit to mom and dad now.¬† We like to take credit for that one.¬† We got him like that.¬† That's a mom and a dad that taught their son the right stuff.¬† He came in with a very selfless approach to the game.
URBAN MEYER:¬† Haven't had a lot of time to reflect.¬† You know, I think as you get older, maybe after the season, you reflect a little bit.¬† This is all about preparation, and I've made the point many times to our staff because I'm not the only coach in that room that maybe went through some reflection in their own careers about making sure‑‑ the most important people are your players, and you can't grind them to the point where they're not enjoying the journey.¬† So it's just being more aware of it.
Q. ¬†How about the fact that you can't grind yourself the way you did at Florida?
URBAN MEYER:¬† I'm not sure of the question.
Q.¬† How differently do you approach this level of the game, the championship atmosphere, for you personally?
URBAN MEYER:¬† I don't think at all.¬† I think that was a unique situation near the end of my career down there.¬† No, I don't think‑‑ I'd like to think if someone looked at our coaching staff, very passionate, care about our players, and making sure they enjoy the moment, and the majority of my career has been spent doing that.
URBAN MEYER:¬† Team speed?¬† I don't know.¬† That remains to be seen.¬† I think this will be without question the fastest team we've faced.¬† I think this is the fastest team in America.¬† More importantly they play very fast.¬† They look pretty fast, but that's a sign of preparation.¬† They know what they're doing, and I think that's going to be a big part of this game.
Q.¬† Do you feel like you've been able to simulate that in practice this week?
URBAN MEYER:¬† It's been hard because of injuries.¬† We have four receivers out for the year.¬† They're not the starters.¬† We have 12 players out for the year total, once again, not starters, but that affects how we practice.¬† So we have not been able to do that the last few days of practice.
URBAN MEYER:¬† Oh, it's been exponentially.¬† Like I said, it's been a great‑‑ of all the things, because my kids have gone through the school systems, there should be a case study on Cardale Jones because we all know the negatives.¬† We can go list all the negatives.¬† People that haven't had the mentorship and guidance at home like Cardale Jones has, and tragic results, tragic.¬† Here's a person that the alignment‑‑ I keep saying this, I hope someone puts this in a book that my kids can study some day because I'm going to teach them, Teddy Ginn and Michelle, all they had to do was question our approach, and the kid is a mess.¬† They didn't question it, we all went in together, let's get this worked out, and as a result it's obvious.
Q.¬† What is the biggest danger in (inaudible)?
URBAN MEYER:¬† No, no, we've thought about it, and obviously I didn't think we would be where we are.¬† Not to devalue our personnel, but they were so young.¬† If someone said Darron Lee would perform like an All‑Big Ten outside backer, Eli Apple, Zeke Elliott would be a 1,600‑yard rusher, Joey Bosa would be a premier defensive end in America, I could go on and on, and I hoped that it would happen, but I didn't certainly foresee‑‑ no one could foresee that.¬† We certainly did not prepare for it, but now that we're in it, it's very‑‑ I used to go to NFL practices and wonder why sometimes they don't practice kind of the way we do in college, and now I know why.¬† I'll never forget when I was talking to‑‑ I would go watch professional baseball and I'd be in the locker room before the game, and it's kind of subdued, where college football is‑‑ one of the baseball players looked at me one time, and he says, 162, Coach, just remember, 162, and that means it's the length of a season.¬† It's not a sprint, it's a marathon.¬† It seems like this has been‑‑ I had our strength coach do a little study for me.¬† It's been 22 weeks of football.¬† 22 weeks of football.¬† I know when the season is over, we're going to go back and research, did we do it right, did we do it right, because we lost some players there at the end.¬† Parris Campbell is out, James Clark is out, Terry McLaurin is out, and there's one other receiver I lost, injury‑wise, but we lost him, and that really hurt our preparation for that game.¬† Did we run them too much?¬† What happened?¬† And I think every coach in America in this situation has to research that because you can't go back and say, well, how did they do that back in 1978.¬† There's no book on this.
Q.¬† With that in mind, how did you approach having that extra practice time?
URBAN MEYER:¬† That 20‑hour thing?¬† Yeah, we were way below that.¬† We didn't touch that 20‑hour rule because you're nuts if you‑‑ it was all about get your work done.¬† The term that I kept using with our staff is efficiency.¬† Don't repractice things you don't have to repractice because you're just wearing them out.
URBAN MEYER:¬† I visited Oregon several times.¬† I can't remember, it was either two or three, one time in a bowl game.¬† Phil Knight is one of my great friends.¬† I knew they were doing a brand‑new facility.¬† I actually visited them when I was at Utah to look at their facilities, and Coach Bellotti was the coach.¬† We played them when I was at Utah in 2003.¬† So there's been a good relationship, a lot of respect.¬† One of the great things I've found out about Oregon is the way, and I brought it back to Salt Lake City, is everywhere you went, there was green and gold.¬† I just thought that Eugene, Oregon, does a great job supporting their school.¬† Not every place is like that.¬† Salt Lake was not like that.¬† It's like that now.¬† It was more than just plays, it was the way he ran the program.
Q.¬† What did you learn about the offense after spending some time with Chip?
URBAN MEYER:¬† Well, tempo.¬† Their tempo was No.1 on the hit parade at Florida.¬† It was not No.1 on our hit parade, and I would say it's No.1 now.¬† But more than that, just once again, how to run a program because of the alignment of the staff and the support staff.
URBAN MEYER:¬† Big time.¬† I mean, we used to do drills before practice and stopped it.¬† The wear and tear, and you start losing‑‑ we didn't lose starters, but we lost a bunch of the twos and threes, and we don't have a scout offensive line right now because of injuries, and so that's a much different approach than we've ever had.
URBAN MEYER:¬† We went full pads on Tuesday and uppers on Wednesday, and then we started cutting out even way back as the season progressed.
URBAN MEYER:¬† Yeah, but just the amount of contact, because even if you're in uppers, it used to be you were still‑‑ but we really backed off.
Q.¬† How does the level in Ohio compare to (inaudible)?
URBAN MEYER:¬† That's a good question.¬† Texas and obviously I'd put Georgia right up there, as well.¬† I think New Jersey and Ohio are similar, great talent, just not the depth because of the decline of population, where in Pennsylvania‑‑ I'd put Pennsylvania, usually just talent‑rich states, and now they still are.¬† Great, great football players.¬† Obviously our team is built from that.¬† But just not the depth maybe in the past.¬† I remember when I first went to Notre Dame in 1996, where there would be‑‑ I had western Pennsylvania, northeastern Ohio, and you'd have a big chunk of players to go recruit, and it's just smaller now.¬† I'm not saying the quality, because the quality is still there, it's just the depth.
Q.¬† Does that make it more difficult for cold climate teams to get here?¬† It's been a long time since we've had cold climate teams meet in a championship.
URBAN MEYER:¬† I think that's real.¬† I think, once again, the quality is there.¬† If you had to say the best player in that state compared to‑‑ there's argument that there's better.¬† I'll take an Ohio kid in a minute, it's just can you have 18 of them, and then you have our rivals, Penn State, Notre Dame, and you're all going after the same kids.¬† Same thing with Chicago; Chicago used to be, I want to say four times.¬† It's just the quantity is the thing that's concerning, not the quality.
Q.¬† Joey was talking about fitness and discovering (inaudible) because of how quickly Oregon snaps.¬† (Inaudible.)
URBAN MEYER:¬† Ryan Stamper, one of the guys on my staff now, was a captain of the '08 National Championship team when we played Oklahoma.¬† Oklahoma was the same type, I think, 16 to 18 seconds they ran at tempo, and I used him a lot because I went back to those practice schedules, and he said as hard as we worked, the first 15 minutes of the game, he didn't breathe.¬† It's just so fast.¬† We've been trying to prepare them because I think it's as much mental as anything.¬† We've certainly practiced it, now it's being able to fight the demons because there's going to be demons telling you‑‑ it's called your body.
Q.¬† When you watch that Oregon‑Arizona game where Oregon lost‑‑
URBAN MEYER:¬† We certainly watched it over and over again, and I think Arizona played great.¬† I just think it was a great football game, and Oregon lost.¬† Certainly some things maybe schematically we looked at, but that's all we took from it.
Q.¬† What was the difference between that game and the Pac‑12 championship?
URBAN MEYER:¬† I don't want to sound simplistic, but Oregon played really well.
Q.¬† You had a lot of great players on that '08 Florida defense.¬† Did you guys pride yourselves on that?
URBAN MEYER:¬† Well, if you remember we had two turnovers, they drove the ball the length twice, and one was a fourth down and one was an interception.¬† The offense that I was very involved in didn't do its job.¬† They came out and played a different structured defense.¬† To get into that‑‑ it was 7‑7 at halftime, and then we were able to get some thoughts together at halftime.¬† But defense played outstanding that day.
URBAN MEYER:¬† It's bizarre.¬† I mean, like I said, this is all‑‑ I'm trying to get our guys back to get them on routine as fast as I can.¬† I think they did it right, to come for a whole week and have dinners again and all the bowl experience, I think we had that.¬† That's good.¬† I think for the one year, the people at the CFP have done a great job.¬† I can't imagine those minds coming together and saying‑‑ it's never been done before.¬† We start classes on Monday.¬† Think about that.¬† So here's a group of players that they started in August, they've got a couple days off for Christmas, and that was it.¬† On Thanksgiving we played our rival.¬† Think about that.¬† So every other person in the world, person in the world, is experiencing life.¬† Our life is the locker room and the practice field and a game, and that's why I admire these guys.¬† You talk about great lessons for life that‑‑ you talk about selfless?¬† Why would they do that?¬† It's about love for each other and love for the university.¬† Otherwise there would be every reason to complain and whine.¬† August 4th through January 12th you have three days off for Christmas, and by the way, when you go home, study your iPads.¬† Think about that.¬† I don't hear much around when they're talking about payoffs for conferences and all that, what about those kids?¬† I think there's enough common sense in this world that every time any committee will ever get together again to have any conversation about a college football schedule, there needs to be student‑athlete and coach representatives.¬† That has to happen.¬† And I'm sure with the help of you guys that will never happen without the proper representation at those meetings.
Q.¬† In the 2006 title game where you went into (inaudible)?
URBAN MEYER:¬† Oh, I'm not sure yet.¬† We're still just in the preparation phase.
Q.¬† How much do you want guys all on the same page and how much do you want push and pull in the room and debate?
URBAN MEYER:¬† Good question.¬† That's why you hire a staff.¬† You can have a bunch of bobbleheads, but that's not as intriguing to me.¬† That's why I think Tom Herman was not good.¬† He was great.¬† Ed Warinner is not good.¬† He was great.¬† I had Steve Addazio and Dan Mullen at Florida, and they're very different.¬† But at the end of the day, the most important thing is selfless, and if you carry‑‑ because your idea might not go, and at some point the coordinator and myself will say, okay, we're done, this is it.¬† So I like a lot of push and pull in there, and I've been really fortunate to have great‑‑ at the end of the day, man, put your hand in the middle, we're one for all, all for one, and that is why I think Tom Herman and Ed Warinner have done such a really good job.
Q.¬† Is it better than it would have been at the end of year one, this game‑‑
URBAN MEYER:¬† Oh, yeah.¬† It's much different.¬† We've also recruited a little bit to our scheme, but just the staff, because the staff knows inside out, upside down, our offense. ¬†That first season, I think we led the Big Ten in scoring and I still have no‑‑ it was because Braxton was really fast.¬† That's why.
Q.¬† You were talking about that player commitment a while ago.¬† Have you gotten any feedback from them on how the NCAA travel (inaudible) can help the families out?
URBAN MEYER:¬† Oh, yeah, we've had a lot of feedback.¬† Once again, I talked to Dr.Emmert, and I think that's‑‑ I've always been a big fan.¬† You'll hear people rip apart the NCAA, and I'm wondering why.¬† NCAA does a great job.¬† The NCAA is us.¬† It's not like the NCAA is a separate entity.¬† It's a bunch of university presidents, faculty reps and ADs that are all coming up with ideas, so I'm not sure everybody understands that.¬† I think the NCAA should have more power in enforcing rules, because once again, the NCAA is member institutions, so I think they've done a great job.¬† I think they're trying.¬† I think, once again, this is completely uncharted waters, and to reach out and assist a student‑athlete and their families, I think that's one of the monumental things that's ever happened in the sport.
Q.¬† What do you think of the fact that the NCAA comes in and does a drug test (inaudible) wildly inconsistent (inaudible)?
URBAN MEYER:¬† I haven't thought much about it.¬† I think that's intriguing, especially‑‑ I haven't given much thought to that.
Q.¬† Do you have a program where you have the athlete (inaudible)?
URBAN MEYER:¬† Yeah, it starts all spring.¬† It's called Real Life Wednesdays, and it started several years ago, and it's been an overwhelming success.¬† Kids already have job offers for when they're done playing football.¬† Not the 2.0 person that doesn't go to class, but the 3.0 guy that does it right, he should.¬† Ohio State is a powerful institution.¬† So we have people come in and speak, and I think universities have an obligation not to just get them a degree but point them in the right direction, and we take that very serious.
URBAN MEYER:¬† Chris Leak, Braxton Miller, Kenny Guiton, now Cardale Jones, J. T. Barrett, that's good, I love saying it.¬† So the question is about Josh Harris, one of the best players I've ever been around, a skinny kid from Utah named Alex Smith who did okay, Chris Leak, national champion, Tim Tebow, Heisman national champion, Braxton Miller, Big Ten Player of the Year two years in a row, Kenny Guiton, best backup player in America, J. T. Barrett, Heisman, I want to say three or four or fifth, whatever he finished, and then Cardale Jones.¬† No.1, they're all competitors, and they're all guys that have bought into the system and really learned well.¬† Obviously they're talented, but each one had such different talents.
Q.¬† Is it a reflection of the system that you've had guys that have‑‑
URBAN MEYER:¬† Sure.
Q.¬† Do you have similar‑‑
URBAN MEYER:¬† I made a comment when I hear people say he's a system quarterback, and usually I always see who says that, and he usually certainly has never played quarterback because a real quarterback would look at you and go, of course I'm a system quarterback.¬† I'm a system linebacker, too, I'm a system defensive end.¬† Those without systems are usually the ones that don't know what to do, so they're very much system quarterbacks.
URBAN MEYER:¬† Oregon is a great example, too.¬† Those are system quarterbacks.¬† Very talented guys that do very well.¬† So I think they know what they're doing, obviously.
URBAN MEYER:¬† Oh, sure, yeah.¬† The question is the difference, and I think it is a much different game.¬† There's going to be a lot of 17 year olds playing Saturday and 18 year olds, much different game than the 27‑year‑old veteran.¬† Also, it's an All‑Star Game in the NFL.¬† Those are all the players off every team, so it is a much different game.¬† I'll hear someone say, even though we've had several first rounders at quarterback, probably as much as anybody, do we develop quarterbacks for the NFL.¬† Absolutely we do.¬† That's absolutely true, we do.¬† Some of them make it, some of them don't.
So we have a job to do, and that's to develop players and win games at the college level.¬† The game is different than the NFL, and the more I study it, it's significantly different, however, there's been a little bit of a gap change because you see that style‑‑ there is a quarterback run component, there is the quarterback read component, there's certainly second level read components now that maybe you didn't see several years ago.¬† So I think the gap has been bridged.¬† How much further will it go, that remains to be seen.
URBAN MEYER:¬† Well, Rich Rodriguez was a guy we had a lot of conversations with, it was Randy Walker and Kevin Wilson at Northwestern, Rich Rod was at Clemson at the time, and then the guy that doesn't get enough credit was a guy named Bill Snyder, Hall of Fame coach at Kansas State, and I actually went there and really studied, because they were doing unique things.¬† A lot of coaches back then‑‑ we had to make a decision.¬† We weren't very good.¬† We took over programs 1‑10 or 2‑9 and I looked at our schedule and we were playing some good teams, and the options were run wishbone, which I think is a great offense, equalizer offense, or come up with some unique scheme, and that's where that all started.
Q.¬† Was there a time that came where you realized you were ahead‑‑
URBAN MEYER:¬† Oh, yeah, pretty quickly, because we beat Missouri in the first game, and we had two receivers that couldn't catch, but we put them out there and they still covered them.¬† There was a lot of interesting stories back then that‑‑ because it was all the learning stages, early stages of it.
URBAN MEYER:¬† You know, hired guys like Tom Herman, Ed Warinner, Steve Addazio.¬† I've hired excellent coaches and they know they can enhance it and make it better.¬† But great questions.
Q.¬† How do you talk to Ezekiel about high and tight with the football?¬† He told me something about (inaudible) is that normal or is that special for this week?
URBAN MEYER:¬† No, it's normal.¬† We added a few of them and we made them a certain color.¬† Everywhere they look they're getting hit and trying to knock the ball out.¬† Zeke lost one last week, and it was his fault, but how many times at practice‑‑ a lot of times we work in practice at this.¬† He's great at this.¬† That wasn't the fumble against Alabama.¬† It was a side shot so we're trying to do as much as we can to prepare them for the game because Oregon is great at it.
Q.¬† They tend to score and get a quick turnover, next thing you know you're down 14 points.¬† How important is it for you guys to stay even with them and not fall behind?
URBAN MEYER:¬† Well, I look back now and I'm glad that happened.¬† Once again, our team has had another opportunity to build character and toughness through adversity, but obviously we can't‑‑ I don't know if you come back from this team because you get‑‑ I think Alabama is great, too, but you're living on the edge by falling behind.¬† It's time tested in big games, special teams and turnovers are almost always the difference makers, and this was certainly the case.¬† It was the case last week, too.¬† If we didn't get the turnovers back on defense, we don't win that game.
Q.¬† You mentioned special teams.¬† I know you take a lot of pride in building your special teams:
URBAN MEYER:¬† No.1.¬† And more than just seeing it, obviously functionally it works, but to see our players and recognize the selfless approach to the game, where Bri'onte Dunn was a great high school tailback, now he's the best 3 on kickoff in America, and he takes great pride in that.¬† That's his spot.¬† Corey Smith is a junior college transfer that probably has never been on kickoff in his life.¬† If I had my first draft on kickoff, I'd take him.¬† He had three hits inside the 10‑yard line last week against Alabama, and here's a skinny little receiver from Akron, Ohio, that couldn't spell kickoff a year ago, and now he's great at it, and our players appreciate it.
URBAN MEYER:¬† And he does that every week, and he's the best gunner, and the great thing is the Bill Belichicks of the world, NFL coaches, his stock is soaring right now.¬† It's because he catches the ball, but that's No. 2, because he's one of the best gunners in college football.
Q.¬† What did Arizona do well in that game‑‑
URBAN MEYER:¬† Well, Oregon turned the ball over.¬† I think Arizona just played a great game.¬† I think it was two excellent teams.¬† Obviously Arizona had a great year, and they were on point that game, and they created some turnovers and played excellent.¬† They didn't play as well the second game and Oregon played fantastic.¬† A lot of people are asking what did they do.¬† It wasn't one thing they did.¬† They just played very well.
URBAN MEYER:¬† I've been asked that a lot, and I think the biggest thing is just reconfirmed.¬† The time I spent with Mack Brown, Bob Stoops, Brian Kelly, David Shaw.¬† I was fortunate just to go around and sit, and I just love doing that.¬† So every one of them came back.¬† I shared with our staff many thousands of times that Bob Stoops is very different than Chip Kelly, different than Mack Brown, but each one of those great football coaches had a very clear plan, and they didn't stray from that plan, and they made sure that the people in their program followed the plan, and deviation from that is not acceptable.¬† So I hope people say that about our program, that we're different than Oregon.¬† We're much different.¬† But I'd like them to say that the alignment is there from the bottom to the top, that everybody is fighting for the same goal.
Q.¬† You said you want to be the Philadelphia‑‑
URBAN MEYER:¬† They took a next step as far as player welfare, as far as the hydration, nutrition, they all wear these things and a lot of our guys do, too, they do GPS tracking.¬† So it's just player welfare.¬† They do a phenomenal job on nutrition to the teaching them and educating them.¬† It used to be don't do this because, don't put bad stuff in your body because.¬† We still do that because you're modifying behavior, but as long as a player knows if you have any dream of becoming an elite athlete and you do that, there's a great chance that's not going to happen for you.¬† So we really took all that and brought it back to our program this spring and summer.
URBAN MEYER:¬† Probably as important as what defense you call.¬† Not probably.¬† As important as what defense you're going to call.
Q.¬† (Inaudible.)¬† Can you talk about how far he's come as a player and how important he is to your defense?
URBAN MEYER:¬† Yeah, first of all, he's a great guy.¬† He just works his tail off, and truth be known, he played really good, but he also had some errors in that game.¬† The good thing is he recognizes it.¬† He hasn't changed who he is.¬† We're watching that very closely.¬† But that's one of the great transformations, as well.¬† But he's always been a great kid.¬† He was a quarterback in high school, and he's now an MVP of the Sugar Bowl.
URBAN MEYER:¬† Have you read it?
URBAN MEYER:¬† It's a game changer.¬† Todd Gongwer is the author, Todd Blackledge my good friend on the way to Stanford.¬† I couldn't put it down, and I remember because there was a little bit of a time change, too, I was up at 4:00 a.m. walking through the campus of Stanford with that book in my hand rereading it, and that's when I saw the author's email on the back, and I grabbed my phone and I just hit him up at 4:00 in the morning Pacific time.¬† He's a brilliant person, and that book is a must read.
Q.¬† Does he sometimes send you a text‑‑
URBAN MEYER:¬† All the time, and that's the first‑‑ I usually have a bunch of them when I wake up or whatever, and that's the first one I go to.
Q.¬† Do you think that played a huge role in you deciding to come back to coaching?
URBAN MEYER:¬† Yeah, it did, no question.¬† It was the same why I had back in 1986 when I first started coaching.¬† Great question.¬† Yeah, that's true.¬† Great book, isn't it?
Q.¬† (Inaudible.)¬† Do you remember that conversation?
URBAN MEYER:¬† Yeah, he's usually right on, and the thing about Mick, that's why our conversations are so real, because he pushes them to the point where they say, it's called a fight or flight mentality in our weight room, and the way we go about our business, you push someone to the point where they either conform or they don't, and it's the E + R = O.¬† You try to put them in the second overtime against Penn State in front of 110,000, and you do that in the weight room.¬† How do you do you that?¬† Well, there's creative ways of doing that, and it's the whole special forces training mentality that you create that bond.¬† That's what he does better than anybody in America.
URBAN MEYER:¬† I mean, I personally‑‑ it was because I know probably, and so our strength coach would say that, too.¬† There's been a lot of them along the journey.¬† The script was written.¬† We lost, and we didn't lose, and that's a sign.¬† 99.9999 you walk out of that one with a loss.
URBAN MEYER:¬† Well, I don't want to‑‑ I've got to be careful because I don't want to‑‑ you talk about a family, you're talking about ‑‑ to say that's why we win games, that sounds real superficial, and what it does, it strengthened our relationship to the point where I don't want to say it's inseparable, but I saw extreme growth of even closeness, but I don't want to ever say that's why we were winning games or something.
URBAN MEYER:¬† I did.¬† I did, but once again, you've got to be very careful.¬† I saw a group of players, some because they knew him better, that loved him as a teammate, and I think they got very close, but I also think that they saw how precious the blessings in life are, so don't miss one.
Q.¬† How much do you think about pregame speeches, what you're going to say to the team?
URBAN MEYER:¬† A lot.
Q.¬† How much of a difference do you think that makes?
URBAN MEYER:¬† Oh, not in a game like this I don't think it means as much.¬† I think it's for the 12:00 noon game against a team that you're picked to win by three touchdowns and there's stuff going on.¬† I think that's matters more.¬† I tell our staff all the time we need to not necessarily cheerlead but let's get some energy going in there.¬† This one, this is going to be all about composure and assignment.¬† For me to say, hey, this is a big game...
URBAN MEYER:¬† How much more difficult is it to prepare?¬† It's just a completely different approach to how you prepare, and it's more schematic because this is an east‑west and vertical‑‑ so much is it about the 16.¬† We're hammering that home, and that's every 16 plays, ready, get your hands in the dirt and get ready to go play and focus on your job.¬† So it's much different preparation.
URBAN MEYER:¬† Yeah, some of them had to.¬† Adolphos Washington is a guy that he felt like he had to.¬† A lot of these guys are mature enough that they get it.
URBAN MEYER:¬† Oh, I hope it's the impact.¬† I think there's been a lot of things written over the years about maybe our approach, and you can ask a disgruntled player, but you can also ask people that aren't disgruntled, and I think that at the end of the day, I'd be disappointed if, say, the genuine care for our players is there, and that's why we all coach.¬† If that wasn't the statement, I'm not sure you're talking to the right guys.
URBAN MEYER:¬† I think there's certain things that don't translate.¬† Once again, I think it's an all‑star team in the NFL.¬† Your players are starting to get a little older, the wear and tear on the bodies.¬† I've heard that because this conversation has been going on for quite a while.¬† Alex Smith transitioned great.¬† There's other guys that have transitioned great.¬† There's been a lot of dropback pro‑style quarterbacks in college that haven't made it.¬† I think to sit in the pocket is one of the most difficult things to do, especially against how good the defenses are nowadays.¬† So it's certainly more of a pocket game than maybe in college, although Cardale, because we have that kind of body now, we're a little bit more of a pocket team.¬† I think that's going to be a never‑ending conversation.¬† That was back probably years ago, too.¬† It's going to continue, because it is a different game.¬† Every best player from every team is playing in the NFL, and they're mature guys.¬† We've got the 17, 18, 19 year old that you need to find a way to win a game.¬† And they get to pick their players, and if they don't like them, they cut them.¬† We don't cut players.¬† We recruit them and we've got them.
URBAN MEYER:¬† I think this is the most improved offensive line from start to finish that we've ever had.
URBAN MEYER:¬† First of all, excellent‑‑ the keys are excellent players and a very good line coach.
URBAN MEYER:¬† Yeah, if you make a mistake, make them on the D‑linemen because they usually can‑‑ if you make a mistake on an O‑lineman, there ain't many places for them to go.
URBAN MEYER:¬† They changed more before the championship game in Indianapolis.¬† Now it's more he's got it, he knows it, he's very mature.¬† I watch closely.¬† I think Tom Herman does a great job with him.¬† I listen.¬† The changer was when he jogged off the field after the first or second series and said that one is on me, and I watch how he prepares.¬† There hasn't been a lot of those conversations which maybe sound good.¬† It's more just here's what we have to do to go win the game.
Q.¬† (Inaudible.)¬† Your players seem to be having a lot of fun.¬† Is that the way they've been all season long?
URBAN MEYER:¬† No, that's the way‑‑ they're having a lot of fun, and I think they truly enjoy it.¬† They love being around one another.
URBAN MEYER:¬† Oh, yeah.¬† Spring and summer.¬† Yeah, spring we were awful.¬† We were a bad team in the spring.¬† And then summer, I thought, especially after the first couple games, too‑‑ I wasn't disappointed.¬† I kind of knew it.¬† Whenever you lose two juniors, and like I made the comment, we've got seven players starting in the NFL, those are great football players.¬† Any time there's a coaching transition there's that void usually that you need to somehow overcome, and it's been pointed out to me several times, that sophomore class really accelerated our development.
URBAN MEYER:¬† Oh, I'd say that I thought this would happen‑‑ you don't really think that.¬† You're just trying to get the next one.
URBAN MEYER:¬† He's sick.¬† He's fine.¬† We just let him go.¬† He's sleeping at the stadium right now, and he'll be fine for the game.¬† We just wanted to hydrate him, and he wasn't feeling good.
URBAN MEYER:¬† Well, I think our team, first of all, quarterbacks are a product of those around him.¬† I think everyone played very well in his starts.¬† I think Cardale Jones is not a rookie third stringer.¬† He's been with us for three years, and I think it's one of the great‑‑ I've made it many times, a case study about his maturity and growth is off the charts.
Q.¬† Do you encourage your players when they first get to the stadium to look around and think about where they are?
URBAN MEYER:¬† Yeah.¬† As a matter of fact coach Mick changed that at the Big Ten Championship game when we first got there.¬† They get you there a little early for whatever reasons, and I think more than ever, Coach Mick and myself are making sure that these are life‑changing experiences for them and make sure they do enjoy it.
URBAN MEYER:¬† Oh, it's very critical.¬† I just wish we would have had the receivers.¬† They were all hurt.¬† So we had Jeff Green.¬† He's also very, very important to our preparation for this game.
URBAN MEYER:¬† The reach?¬† Oh, no, because I saw that in 1986, and the fan base is as powerful as any fan base in America.¬† The following is incredible.¬† I mean, I'm blown away, but I'm used to it.¬† I expect that.
Q.¬† How far has Oregon come as a program?
URBAN MEYER:¬† Well, like I said, I played Oregon when I was at Colorado State in 1990, and we beat them in the Freedom Bowl, and I had never really heard of Oregon.¬† We played them again when I was at Ohio State‑‑ I guess that was before that.¬† But then I started to see when Coach Brooks did a great job, I know the history of that.¬† They've done a phenomenal job.¬† And it's not just Oregon, when I went there, the community, I think it's one of the unique places in college football.¬† They're all in.¬† And that's not by accident.¬† The whole community, university, has done a great job.
URBAN MEYER:¬† Yeah, you know, we're going to see what he can do today.¬† He's been limited in practice, and I wish we had him full speed, full time, and I'm hoping we'll find out more today, but that's a tremendous boost.
Q.¬† You'd say he's probable?
URBAN MEYER:¬† Probable, oh, yeah.
URBAN MEYER:¬† Sure, well, you see there was a point in time where every team that was in the top eight in the country, because I used to do that for recruiting, because you would hear that the spread won't work in the SEC or the spread is this or the spread is this.¬† First of all, when you say spread, there's so many variations, just like the West Coast, there's so many vary variations.¬† So it's certainly cyclical.¬† It's very quarterback driven.¬† Well, I hear the NFL is a very quarterback driven league.¬† So is high school football, so is college football.¬† That's the nature of that position.¬† So it's very cyclical, and if you've got a‑‑ and I think systems, because people like to rate that, are overrated.¬† If you look at our 2012 undefeated team and this offense, completely different.¬† We didn't have an H‑back.¬† It's all personnel driven.¬† It's not system based.
URBAN MEYER:¬† Before I answer that, I want to think about that.¬† I don't know that.¬† I think certainly the player welfare is more important to me than handing them a check, and that includes education, life after football, and preparing them for life, so before I answer that one, I don't know that.¬† I do know that especially now that I've gone through it, 22 weeks of football, on 85‑‑ actually I think we're below 85 because we're still coming off of that issue we dealt with.¬† You've just got to be really cognizant about that conversation needs to be in there.¬† We're just finishing our 22nd week of football without a break, and they're starting classes on Monday.
URBAN MEYER:¬† I've been in this situation several times, and sometimes I hear that.¬† Loose isn't the proper word.¬† When I hear loose, I sound like silly or not serious. ¬†Loose, I'm not sure what everybody wants.¬† If you want them to walk in, sit down‑‑ they're kids.¬† They're 18‑19‑ 20‑year olds.
Q.¬† What would you call it then?
URBAN MEYER:¬† I'd call it they're at media day getting ready to go to practice and they've been cooped up in a hotel, and a bunch of people asking them a bunch of questions.¬† I get that question every time we're in this situation.¬† I'm not being disrespectful, but I've never had the question, boy, coach, your guys are really rigid.
URBAN MEYER:¬† We're rigid?¬† Businesslike.¬† I always say we're very businesslike about our approach at Ohio State, very businesslike, not very loosey‑goosey if you're going to write that, all due respect.
Q.¬† Talk about Coach Herman's value to the staff.
URBAN MEYER:¬† It's great.¬† We're not going to give up on it, but he was certainly very good at it.¬† We love Texas high school football.
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