Ohio St. Football: Urban Meyer’s Press Conference Transcript

COACH MEYER: Probably our best all around effort. Obviously, we had a couple weaknesses in the game, but overall really proud of our guys. Extremely grateful to Buckeye nation for one of the best atmospheres I’ve been a part of in 29 years, whatever it’s been. So extremely grateful to all involved, most importantly, our students.

Champions for the game on defense, Tommy Schutt, who by the way, just had surgery. He’ll be out on a wrist. He should be back in a couple of weeks. He’s out for this game. Hope to get him back. He played very well. Had a sack and a tackle for a loss. This was all with a broken bone in his wrist.

We found out middle last week. It was his decision to do the best he could. Obviously, a big game. He wanted to play in it, and he did very well. Really impressed with what’s happened to Tommy Schutt. He’s been a guy that under achieved for a while, but really good family, good people, great story for Tommy.

Adolphus Washington played very disruptive. Two tackles for loss, two sacks, two tackles, quarterback pressures. Him and Bosa were very disruptive in their throw game. They had 25 called drop-back passes and only 13 scrambles and sacks. Our guys did very well against that.

Darron Lee, compared to a year ago where they threw it 50-something times.

Darron Lee graded out a champion. Von Bell graded out a champion. Defensive player of the game was Joey Bosa, just dominant. We moved him around, played him inside. That gives a guy like Hubbard a chance to get on the field a little bit, which he’s earned that right. Played very well.

Offense, three receivers graded out a champion, Michael Thomas, Jalin, and Braxton graded out a champion. Did not throw the ball near what I’d like to do, but they were very efficient. Once again, Braxton continues to become a wide receiver and did a nice job blocking downfield and just overall responsibilities as a receiver.

Offensive line was — they were really the player of the game. They did an excellent job. Pat Elflein, Jacoby Boren and Price all graded out champions. Two tight ends again. Marcus Baugh played his most extensive time at receiver with Dontre being banged up a little bit. His foot still bothering him. We had five receivers out for that game, and we were still very effective. Marcus Baugh played very well. Nick Vannett played well also.

Running back, Zeke graded out a champion. Just his — I think he’s getting a recognition. I hear he does. On Braxton’s long run, he went and chopped the linebacker. Just his effort. Someday that kid is not going to be with us, and we’re going to miss, as much as his excellent running ability, his toughness and selflessness without the ball.

Two players of the game, two of them, co-players of the game. J.T. Barrett graded out very well, over 90 percent. And Taylor Decker, captain, played probably his best game. Played very, very well.

Special teams guys that did well — special efforts Terry McLaurin, which is great to see. Malik Hooker, he’s a guy that’s really embracing the whole opportunity he’s been given. He had three tackles on kickoff. Bryce Haynes did an excellent job down on the punt.

Jeff Greene, we had a couple of injuries when Josh Perry had a sprained ankle, book had some cramping issues and tightness, and Cam Williams got thrown out of the game. That put us in a little bit of a dilemma on the sideline with some special teams, and he goes and downs a punt on the 4 yard line. So Jeff Greene, really appreciative for him.

And then the special teams player of the week is the Australian. He’s really, really good at his job. His job was to drop the ball on the 8 yard line, and I think had two catches on the 8, and two other ones we downed inside the 8. Downed a punt on the 2 and the 4 and two fair catches on the 8. Very, very — and then I want to say a 56-yard punt against a very, very good returner. 56-yard punt that we forced a fair catch.

So that said, about the quarterback issue, nothing’s going to be announced right now. We had a night game obviously. I met with the recruits all day yesterday. I have not had a chance to sit down with the quarterbacks formally and review everything. That will happen today. I imagine that I do media stuff every day, I think. Tomorrow — just not keeping anything from anybody. But to all involved and to the staff, it’s been — when you meet with six, seven recruits during the day yesterday, and then we have practice and all that, just didn’t have time. So I’ll address that at a later date.

I’ll answer any questions for you.

Q. Coach, Torrance Gibson, I don’t think was at the game. I don’t think he was dressed. What is his status?
COACH MEYER: He’s on the team. You just have to earn your right to dress, and he didn’t do it last week. I’m anticipating he’ll be back shortly. Just academics and that kind of stuff. Nothing serious. It’s just to go out there, you have to do a series of things.

Q. He switched positions from quarterback to wide receiver. From a football perspective, how is he doing at wide receiver?
COACH MEYER: He’s doing great. His production and grasp has been better. We haven’t made that decision — when I say we, because he’s going to be involved in that — what may be his future. The injury set him back during training camp, and obviously dive right into the season, a little bit like Mikey Weber. He was playing so good and got dinged, and all of a sudden right in the season do you burn his redshirt? Those are things were going through right now.

Made a decision with Jerome Baker. K.J. Hill did not go in, but he’s the next one that’s so close because of this time of year. But Jerome did pretty good when he was in there.

Q. Coach, you guys are trying to map out some national recruiting target areas, and New Jersey seems to be one of those places.
COACH MEYER: I love New Jersey. I recruited there for many, many years.

Q. Why do you love New Jersey? How do you feel you guys are doing in creating your little niche out there? There’s a lot of programs in that area. To pick that place, why is that so important?
COACH MEYER: I think it’s very much like Ohio. I think the respect I have for the high school coaches, the seriousness they take, not just in coaching football, but you get those really good New Jersey high schools, I think it’s a lot like here — about the attention to detail, about the academic, about the character, about all the things that you look for, and that’s normally what my history is. That’s what you get out of New Jersey, and that’s why we love it.

Q. We have Michigan in there, Penn State, obviously Rutgers is in there, and Virginia schools. It’s a very competitive area for a place that you love and a place that you’re trying to infiltrate as a territory for you guys, how tough is it to do that when there are so many other schools?
COACH MEYER: It’s tough. We’ve done okay, probably not good enough. We got Noah Brown, one of our top players. Curtis Samuel’s from New York. A kid named Kevin Feder that’s going to be playing offensive tackle. I’m sure there’s another couple guys from the New Jersey area.

It’s always been Ohio State. Ohio State should be in the middle of that, and we’re doing the best we can. I shouldn’t say doing the best we can, that sounds silly. We can always do better. Personally, I love going. Really good delis out there too when we go to Jersey, for those of you who haven’t been there.

Really, really good high school coaches, though. Some of my favorite guys out there.

Q. Do you know in your mind who the quarterback will be next week?
COACH MEYER: I think so, yeah. I have not had — once again, we’re just behind because of the night game and all that. And you might not believe this, but my whole day doesn’t center on this press conference. So there’s a lot of things going on.

I have an idea, but I want to make sure I visit with everybody and make sure we’re doing the right thing.

Q. Last year in training camp when J.T. went ahead of Cardale, simply because the offense ran better with him. Do you think the offense is running better with J.T. right now?
COACH MEYER: I think it ran better yesterday in the football game against Penn State.

Q. When you look back to 2012 and what you inherited at linebacker, can you evaluate the talent you had at that position compared to now.
COACH MEYER: 2012? Ten years ago, right?

Q. [ No microphone ].
COACH MEYER: Yeah, but there was injuries. I’m not one of those blame guys, they didn’t leave us anything. They left us fine. We had some injuries, and at one point at that Tuesday practice, I do remember that we had three linebackers out, and I went over and tapped Zach Boren out, what do you think?

We were a little bit at ground zero Saturday too when all of those kids got hurt, and we’re making that decision trying to get Jerome Baker ready to go.

It’s a very strong unit room right now. The kids all care about each other. They’re performing pretty well. But I don’t really like to go back to ’12 —

Q. It looks like there may be a different level of confidence. But the depth you have there — I saw at certain points Raekwon left with a concussion in one game and Darron’s been out —
COACH MEYER: Not a concussion, a migraine. Big difference.

Q. You had to replace all three of them at some point.
COACH MEYER: That’s a good point. Got pretty good production, and I think Luke has done a good job of recruiting and developing that group. I would agree with that.

Q. How delicate is that decision when you have to make it during the season? I know you’re going to be announcing —
COACH MEYER: Quarterback?

Q. Yeah, with the players involved.
COACH MEYER: If there’s a change, it’s always delicate. That one is probably more because of the obvious. Someone made a comment, do you really care who plays quarterback the other day? Absolutely, we care. We care who plays guard. It’s not number — what is it? Number 16 and Number 12. Those are people, and those are people we care about deeply.

We’re not ashamed to say that. This is not a business here. This is not — we’re going to do what’s right for the team first, but does the individual and all that take matter within the confines of this building? More than anybody will ever know. And we’re extremely proud of that. Is that always the right thing to do? In my opinion, it is. So that’s really the only opinion that counts. And I know our coaches all agree with that, and more importantly, our players agree with that.

Q. I know you strive for balance. Going into last week, you had the exact same —
COACH MEYER: We weren’t very balanced during the game.

Q. How does that work as the game develops? You see passing is not going at the level we’re doing. Do you just know what it takes to win? Are you consciously saying we’re not throwing enough?
COACH MEYER: No. I said that to myself. I said that to — I thought Ed did a really good job preparing our offense for that game. I can’t remember where they were ranking, but that was a legitimate run defense. That was the ones that all week last week you had that knot in your stomach like can we block these guys?

They had a certain scheme that we really prepared for, and it worked really well. It was going and going well, and that’s why we kept going at it and going at it. I just — I can see now — Hackenberg, I just have a lot of respect for him as a quarterback. He brought them back a year ago. My intent was to eat the clock and give it to Zeke and let J.T. just manage the offensive line, and it worked pretty good.

Is that what we want to be? No, we want to be balanced. To answer your question, no, it was game management. What was going was going well, and we’re taking care of the football, and you win that game if you take care of the football and keep moving the line of scrimmage.

Q. Urban, following up on that, just in the press box, there seemed to be a zing to the offense with J.T. in there. Did you sense that too from the sidelines?
COACH MEYER: Sure.

Q. How much is that playing into, like, as you look forward? Obviously, he threw the ball well last year, statistically anyway. How is that all playing in as you look forward?
COACH MEYER: It all does. Everything plays into it. I don’t know what else to say. It certainly plays into it.

Q. And the other thing, just J.T. in particular, have you been impressed by the way he’s kept his mind in the game?
COACH MEYER: Incredible. He’s a very, very unique guy. I always go 10-80-10 is the principle we use around here. 10 are the elite. Elite doesn’t mean great player. It means incredible work ethic and self-discipline and leadership skills, and he’s an elite guy. Then there’s the 80 percent, and that’s most of us. That’s the people who have to get up and swing as hard as you can every day, and he’s certainly one of the upper 10.

Q. You mentioned how well the offensive line played on Saturday. You know you had all those guys coming back. What have you seen sort of building up to that game? What was it that came together that allowed them to play their best game Saturday?
COACH MEYER: The defense played kind of what we thought they would. That’s number one. Part of offensive and defensive football is they’re not tin soldiers. So you go out there and practice and get something and get something, and all of a sudden, you get in the game, and they’re doing a lot of different things. That’s one thing that slows down an offensive line, and they played pretty much what we thought they would play, and we prepared pretty well for it.

Q. And then with the experience you have playing two quarterbacks and what you’ve seen the last two weeks with that, is there a part of you — is it possible that playing two is better than playing one? Do you keep the opposition on edge? Do you exploit the strengths of both guys? Could two be better than just one guy?
COACH MEYER: I don’t know. Those are all discussions we’re going to have soon. I kind of felt that way after the Maryland game that we had a 300-yard pass here and a very productive that was similar to what I’ve done before, and it didn’t go quite that way. It’s not always going to go by script. So I don’t know.

Q. You talked about how you like to put these soft goals with number of touches that a guy gets in a game, correct? What’s the upside of that? I’m assuming you’re not doing it for fun. So I’m assuming you get something out of it.
COACH MEYER: We have a big belief that scheme isn’t what wins games. That’s very important. That’s not what wins. What wins are the dynamic players that touch the ball. Because it doesn’t go — there was a play when J.T. scores to our right going in — I think it was a 15-yard run, and it was probably the perfect play.

It’s the — he read the defensive end. The end grabbed the tailback. The tight end came up and fit up on the corner, who squeezed. The wide receiver blocked the X at tackle, grabbed the mike linebacker, and J.T. went in for a touchdown. That is so rare when it’s perfect because they’re on scholarship too. Someone loses a block. Someone does this. They line up not exactly right.

So you can spend all your time on scheme, and they don’t come out and play. So more important than scheme is who is physically touching that ball. Does that guy have the ability to — like Braxton Miller had two plays yesterday that weren’t exactly the script, but he’s a monster. So we have to make sure monsters — freaks touch the ball. I’m trying to be respectful here with monster and freak. I guess great athlete touches the ball.

So to answer your question, that’s how we do that. I’ve always believed that. The good guys — it goes back to that Notre Dame story. The good guys have got to touch the ball. They’ve earned that right.

Q. And to those who wonder if those soft targets might lead you to force the ball where the game doesn’t dictate —
COACH MEYER: Who wonders?

Q. I’m sorry?
COACH MEYER: Those who wonder. You mean like you?

Q. I didn’t assume I was smarter than the National Championship coach. I thought there might be a temptation to force the ball —
COACH MEYER: There is. Great point. The overriding is that, when they do touch it, it’s dynamic. There’s a little bit of consternation to that, a lot of effort to get that done, and it’s really cool to have those options that there are pieces where you touch the ball.

I’m not trying to be disrespectful, but that is a big part of what we do.

Q. J.T. had those two nice plays against Virginia Tech, and I think a lot of people assumed at that moment he was all the way back. And then Northern Illinois you played him out there for three quarters, and he did not win the job away from Cardale —
COACH MEYER: That’s right.

Q. — with his play. A month later now, is he in the groove? Is he getting back to close to what he was a year ago?
COACH MEYER: That’s very observant. I feel the same thing. He certainly had an opportunity earlier in the year and did not do it. Same thing with training camp. I feel a little bit like you do, and anyone who watched the game the last two weeks, he gets in — and I think we’re doing a good job calling things that he’s good at. So I see the same thing that you see.

Q. Auburn ran back that missed field goal by Alabama a couple years ago. Like you said, you used that to make a point. Do you take what happened to Michigan on Saturday also? Is that a teaching point? With ten seconds left, I guess what’s the lesson learned from that?
COACH MEYER: I’m not going to go there. I’m just going to say that every coach in the country, we have something on the 6 yard line now as the clock runs down because a team I was watching — sitting on the Saturday night watch, oh, my gosh, the clock ran out, and they lost the game. So we practice it every Friday.

There’s a series of things through the last 13, 14 years of being a head coach that we’ll practice those situations because you can’t practice everything. I’ve never seen something like that. How do you practice that when it shows up? When you see the hail Mary with BYU twice this year. Got clips of that. We studied that as a staff and covered that with our players, actually show it to our players.

So not just that opportunity. Every Saturday when you see one, you use that.