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January 1, 2016
Ohio State 44, Notre Dame 28
THE MODERATOR: We'll begin with some opening comments from Coach Meyer.
COACH MEYER: Well, great appreciation to BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl. This is not my first time. I told our players the moment we were selected that this is one of the truly great bowls because of the hospitality and the location. They were outstanding.
Our team just won their 50th game. That's incredible when I sit and think about it, in the history of college football. I've heard conflicting, where I think Boise had won, too, and then we...
Regardless, it's an incredible achievement for a group of players that I love as much as I've ever loved a group of players. Appreciate 'em.
With that said, we'll answer any questions.
THE MODERATOR: First question, please.
Q. Urban, Joey Bosa goes out early in the game. How does that affect what you have?
COACH MEYER: Doh.
Q. How much of an impact does that have?
COACH MEYER: Oh, my goodness, that was a kidney shot.
I guess it was a proper call. Hit him below. But it was leading with the crown of the helmet.
I looked out, we were down another lineman, Adolphus Washington didn't make the trip. We were playing with some cats out there I didn't know were going to play.
But they played hard and did fine against a very good team.
This team has a way of fighting through adversity, and that's a great example.
Q. Urban, I know you're excited about this game, but the way the offense played the last two games, if they would have played that way against Michigan State, do you think you would have played for the national championship?
COACH MEYER: Thanks for coming (laughter).
Those who know me, I can't let go of things. I've let go of that. We just won the Fiesta Bowl.
Q. J.T., can you talk about the offense, imposing your will against Notre Dame today.
J.T. BARRETT: That's what we do as far as an offensive line. That's what we strive to do, is definitely dominate the line of scrimmage, those guys definitely did that, which opens up our whole offense when you're able to do that.
Zeke being able to run, me being able to run then play-action pass, and then drop-back pass when you have control of the line of scrimmage. Offensive line did a great job today.
Q. Coach, Brian Kelly was saying he thought you spread out your offense a little bit more to get it going. Was that something you did the last couple games?
COACH MEYER: No, last game against our rivals, we're going to adapt our offense here a little bit in the off-season, I want to make some adjustments. I want more of a balance, like we were in 2014.
We need to throw the ball. J.T. threw it 31 times. That's more what I'm looking for.
We did 500 yards of offense, very balanced. Nowadays, you have to do that. We have too good of skilled athletes. Today's game was a little more conducive of what we're trying to be.
Q. Coach, has Zeke or any of your other players officially said this will be their last game?
COACH MEYER: Zeke, Joey and Cardale.
Q. Urban, back to Ezekiel Elliott. Curious what you saw from him today and if it was indicative of what you have gotten from him in his career?
COACH MEYER: I think Zeke, all due respect to all the great runningbacks in Ohio State history, my first-round draft pick, I'd pick Zeke Elliott. What he does without the ball, his work ethic in practice, just his attitude every day, the way he shows up, bounces around with us. I love him.
He's as good a runningback as I've ever been around.
Q. Coach, I know getting out to fast starts in games like this is so important. What were you able to do to impose your will on both sides of the ball early?
COACH MEYER: That was kind of our challenge. I tucked every guy in last night. I just remember looking them all right in the eye and saying, We need a fast start. Not that that is the reason we did it.
We were more open in the offense. We were throwing it around a little bit in the first drive, getting good spacing, spreading the defense out. That was a very good drive to start the game.
Q. Coach, you come in here without two starters and you lose one pretty early. Talk about how proud you are with your guys' effort to stop an excellent team.
COACH MEYER: Yeah, you're right. That's one of those ones we didn't exactly stop them. They had some yardage. But we did what we had to do to nail it down. We did stop the run, 120.
The area that we were probably shortest is the defensive line as we go forward. Larry Johnson has his hands full to develop. We got some people that we got to develop into very good players.
Today was a very good start. Like you said, to slow down that offense, they did a nice job.
Q. Eli, talk about how you guys were able to take away Notre Dame's deep threat. You dominated the deep pass.
ELI APPLE: Just being aware of it and playing fundamentally sound. Just doing well with our technique, especially in the backfield as well.
It was a team effort. We knew our linemen were going to do what they had to do. As a secondary, we knew we just had to stay on top of everything, make sure we play aggressive, but at the same time be aware of their deep threats.
Q. J.T., the way you've dominated the last two games, maybe I'm putting words in your mouth, do you think you're one of the best four teams and belonged in that playoff?
J.T. BARRETT: Yeah, I mean, I always feel like that, that we're one of the top teams in the country.
But like I said after we lost to Michigan State, that was something that we could have controlled. Losing kind of put our destiny in somebody else's hands. We put that on ourselves and used it as a growing opportunity.
I definitely feel like we grew for the better of this organization. Going up to Ann Arbor, playing a good game, then coming here to the Fiesta Bowl, great atmosphere on New Year's, putting a good game together as well.
With that, we just live and we learn. I feel like we're better as a team for what happened.
Q. You kicked a couple of balls out of bounds early. I thought your kick coverage was very good today.
COACH MEYER: Kick coverage and punt return, looking at our yards, we had 73 returned yards in the punt return game. Jalin was outstanding. They had zero kick return. We did a nice job.
Yeah, we had two inexcusable balls kicked out of bounds. I told him not to do that and he did it anyway. We got to get that worked out (laughter).
I thought our coverage units, I think we're number one into the country. Going into the game, we were number two. Somehow our whole goal, we wanted to find a way to be number one. With our performance, I think we might have moved up there.
Q. When they lost Jaylon Smith, how much difference did that make?
COACH MEYER: He's a monster. He's a dude. He's a guy that is going to be playing in the NFL for a long time. I wish I had the chance to shake his hand. I know his family.
I hope he's fine. High ankle sprain?
Q. Significant knee injury is what Brian said.
COACH MEYER: Knee? Oh, shoot. I didn't know that. I know he's a wonderful player, but I know him more than that, too.
Q. J.T., what did you see from Notre Dame's defense.
J.T. BARRETT: Being able to spread them out. I think what they try to do is not let us take deep shots, find windows underneath. When they did get depth in their drops, just being able to scramble from there.
I mean, that's a good defense over there. Like coach said. Unfortunately, No. 9, he went down. Other than that, that was the main thing, they tried to make sure they took away our shots. We was able to try to hit things underneath. Did a good job of that.
Q. Urban, knowing Michigan State as well as you do, now you know Alabama pretty well, too, were you shocked by last night's 38-0 score?
COACH MEYER: I was. I didn't stay up because we had to get up early, but I saw the game start. It kind of started the first half the way I thought it would. Two great defenses going against each other. But Alabama's skill level is very good.
Q. Eli, obviously you lose a lot of star players on defense for next year. You'll reload with lots of talent as usual. What do you want to work on specifically to contribute to this team in 2016?
ELI APPLE: I feel like I just have to make sure I fine tune some things with my technique, especially my press, make sure I don't get too high, too low, stay more even-keeled out there. Just work with the guys around me, just become a better team player.
Q. Eli, last spring you were looked at as now someone who is going to have to be the anchor of the secondary. It ends with you winning defensive MVP. Talk about the journey for you in the last 10 months.
ELI APPLE: It's been a wild journey just with this team, something that I couldn't even imagine, couldn't dream of, the stuff that we've been through.
It's just a blessing to be a part of this team, part of this great university. I mean, it will bring a tear to my eye thinking about everything I've been through, everything we've been through as a team.
Just got to keep it going and I see great things in the future for us.
Q. When it was 28-21, Ezekiel broke off the great touchdown run, was that a case of great blocking that opened that up?
COACH MEYER: Of course. Our job, the offensive line, one of the best lines in the country, whether it be J.T. or Zeke, get them to the second level. He's such a fantastic player, once he hits the second level.
The first level blocking gets him to the second level, then Zeke hit the third gear, whatever, took off, so...
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, gentlemen.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports