Ohio State Football
Urban Meyer: My wife reminded me after the game I did not say anything about our veterans. And respect, much respect of our football team and our players and our staff. So I apologize. That was just, a lot going on and there was certainly no intent not to recognize the men and women who serve our country, this incredible country.
And the respect that we have certainly within this university and within this facility that we have for the men and women who serve. My father was in the Army and my sister was in the Air Force. And so I apologize for that. There was certainly no intent not to bring that up.
Champions after the game, Michigan State on defense, Nick Bosa, Sam Hubbard, Tyquan Lewis, Jalyn Holmes, Chase Young on the defensive line. Chris Worley, Malik Harrison in the linebacker unit. Denzel Ward, Kendall Sheffield, arguably played his best game. And Damon Webb on the back end of our defense.
On the other side of the ball, you had five wide receivers. Incredible — as they have been for most of the year, very unselfish with their approach to the game. A lot of those big hits were because of their efforts down the field. Johnnie Dixon, Parris Campbell, K.J. Hill, Terry McLaurin, and Austin Mack all graded champions. The running backs had their best game as a unit against a very good rush defense. Ran extremely hard and fast. J.K. Dobbins obviously and Mike Weber had his best day.
Offensive line, you had Jamarco Jones, Michael Jordan, Isaiah Prince and Knox. That’s a good sign when your offensive line — especially with that style of defense. And good to see tight ends again, Marcus Baugh and Rashod Berry.
Player of the game on offense, we talked about him — I was asked a question. He just started his 51st game at Ohio State, which is obviously a record.
Probably one that will be hard to ever be broken and a guy that we have great respect for Billy Price.
Special units, special forces, kickoff team was outstanding. And let’s see here, player of the game was Erick Smith. And two solos on kickoff. And played exceptional for us. So special teams was a bright spot for us. Punt, once again, no returned yards for the year. Kickoff return, we only had one opportunity. And punt block we almost got one, but pretty good effort all the way across the board. So with that I’ll answer questions for you.
Q. Something just seems off — the targeting penalty in college football. I know the intentions are good. I want to get your opinion on this. Seems like a player should have to do something really egregious to get ejected from a game. I guess what can be done about this? One example might be the first one is a warning plus a 15 yards, the second —
Urban Meyer: I don’t agree with that. I think when you start talking about the safety — no, I think if they make a mistake — Denzel Ward’s was a mistake. That’s where the replay official should not be replay official anymore. You don’t have that.
The guys on the field make mistakes; it happens fast. But a replay official screws it up, then you can’t do that. But the other ones we’ve had — I was disappointed in Dre’Mont. It was a late hit. It was you don’t do that.
So we are — we teach it. Obviously we don’t teach it well enough. But I don’t agree that they should change it. They just, it’s what it is. Keep your face out, keep your helmet out of the game.
Q. At linebacker Chris Worley seemed to play well at outside linebacker last year. He seemed to play well this week and Tuf Borland seemed to play in the middle. Is there a chance that Worley is best on the outside and Borland —
Urban Meyer: That’s the conversation we’re having right now. I agree.
Q. We know you guys would prefer to have a quarterback in every recruiting class. When you have one who is committed for a while and maybe you’re not certain how that’s going to end and that’s such an important position, at what point do you have to maybe move on from that guy to make sure that you will get a quarterback in your recruiting class?
Urban Meyer: You have to have one every year. That’s setting yourself up for disaster if something goes on down the road. So you always have plan A, B, C and D. And we do.
Q. Is there any chance in this class, I know spots are tight, that you could have more than one quarterback in this recruiting class?
Urban Meyer: Possible, possible. Just like you said the issue that’s going to come up here is the early sign in period. And you still don’t know who is going to declare for the draft a month later. Mark just keeps wanting to talk to me about it — and I said, give me some time. But we don’t have much time.
But the other thing you’re going to see is the guy you keep on the back burner and try to flip him at the end, he signs on the 20th, you don’t have those guys either. It’s going to be an interesting year.
Q. I’m sure you’ve given this no thought but it’s certainly the topic of conversation among Ohio State fans is the playoff. Looked like last week you guys were out of it. Is that something you think about, something you broach, something at least once the players —
Urban Meyer: There will be zero conversation around here, especially when you guys talk to the players, there will be zero conversation about what happened before and what’s going to happen in the future. Zero.
Q. Does it give hope that there’s something a higher ceiling?
Urban Meyer: Zero conversation about it either way.
Q. Talk about the linebackers, Malik Harrison looked like he had a good game. Do you see him as a guy who can get more playing time going forward?
Urban Meyer: Yes, it was a very good game. I wouldn’t say big — he’s certainly not there yet. He’s certainly a guy that’s earned more and more time.
Q. You’ve also talked a lot about the offensive line, how in 2014 that was such a crucial part of your success that year. Now (indiscernible) issues with depth this year, but in terms of the starting five, do you feel they’re getting close to where that 2014 line was?
Urban Meyer: Once again I want to keep focus on right now. I’ll tell you after this game. But to say that they’re much improved, I think Coach Stud’s done a wonderful job with them. I think the intentions and the intensity is there, the intentional work that they have at practice each week, it’s been good, and we are down to our sixth guy.
Bowen got hurt and Demetrius Knox came in and graded a champion again. I think that’s three games that he’s graded at champion. So we’re moving in the right direction.
Q. You’ve seen it all over college football, it’s happened to you the last couple of weeks, I guess it happens every year, but wild swings one way to the next. You’re in it with these guys. Can you, fans are always asking, how do you explain that? Can you explain being in it and coaching how one week things can go really well for a team and next week it doesn’t or vice versa?
Urban Meyer: I imagine I wasn’t here 100 years ago, but I imagine it’s every year. Every year I’ve been involved in college football there’s like what? What happened? And it’s the nature of the beast.
And that’s once again zero conversation about what happened in the past and what could potentially happen in the future. We’ve got to really have a good Tuesday practice and I’m going to be out of my damn mind on that. There’s going to be zero conversation about that, other than play really hard in Tuesday’s practice and get ready for a game on Saturday.
Q. Also it’s the last game at home for your senior class. How is that going to be for you?
Urban Meyer: We’re very close to this group of seniors. There will be, once again I haven’t thought about it much and there will be the right time to have those conversations, but it’s very well documented the respect and love we have for these guys because it’s the first time we’ve had a couple of fifth-year seniors who have decided to stay throughout their journey, and we’re going to treat them right. And best way to treat them right is go win this game.
Q. You told Doug last week that you didn’t accept the things that happened inside (indiscernible) — that you wanted to examine why. Did the answers you find in Michigan State indicate that you have answered that question to your satisfaction?
Urban Meyer: We’re not going there. And we’re going to have a good week of practice this week.
Q. Going back to the quarterback recruiting stuff, you guys deal with a lot of difficult situations in recruiting all the time in terms of how to balance things. But when you’re talking about the quarterback position specifically and having a guy who has been (indiscernible) for a long time and then having plans A, B and C, as you said. Is that the most difficult thing you have to do in terms of conversation and —
Urban Meyer: Not really allowed to talk about —
Q. Not specifically just —
Urban Meyer: Yeah, it’s — quarterback is an unique position. Offensive guard, you can take two of them. Receivers, you can usually take two or three guys. Those are all critical spots. The quarterback, that’s the position. So, yeah, it’s just a lot of time and a lot of effort spent on that position.
Q. And the other thing, you’ve been around a lot of really good teams in your career and have won multiple national championships. When this team turns it on like it did in the fourth quarter of the Penn State game and the way you guys played on Saturday, does this team look like a team that could resemble or be in the same conversation as some of the better ones you’ve had here?
Urban Meyer: Those would be good conversations to have down the road. And we have a very good team. Just gotta practice like it and play like it.
Q. I know this probably won’t be a conversation that you guys have this week, but I think in the weight room you guys spent the offseason talking about winning a conference championship. In the playoff era, it seems like for some people it doesn’t seem to mean the same amount to them. They only talk about a national championship and not a conference championship. Do you feel like conference titles have been devalued or they’re not appreciated as much for how hard they are to win every single year because there’s maybe attention on another thing that you can’t control?
Urban Meyer: With all due respect, we’ll talk about that in February or March or something but not now. Just our objective is to find a way to get a good week of practice to win this game.
Q. Can you believe that this will be the last time J.T. plays in the Horseshoe?
Urban Meyer: I’m sorry?
Q. What does it mean maybe to you that J.T. is playing for the last time in the Horseshoe, what he’s given to you over the last years?
Urban Meyer: It’s well documented, and I love J.T. J.T. is a member of the Meyer family and the Buckeye family for the rest of his life. And I just want him to play really well and do the best we can to prepare him to play very well.
Q. You said after the game on Saturday that one of the guys who stepped up maybe in the shock of what happened at Iowa was Billy Price, spoke to the team, et cetera. You spoke earlier in the year about players having ownership of their team. Did he and the seniors in your opinion take ownership of what happened, and what was to come after that game and how did it show up in your mind?
Urban Meyer: Yes. I think — I don’t think — that’s what happened, what you said. I don’t want to keep going backwards but that’s exactly what happened. And with that, that one’s over. That one’s done. And now let’s see them step up for Tuesday and Wednesday’s practice and play really well on Saturday.
Q. How did he respond to your call for better coverage, et cetera?
Urban Meyer: He’s not been the problem. He’s been part of the solution. And he is a tough guy. I love that kid. His family should be very proud of who he is. He’s on scholarship now and it’s not because of a gift. It’s because he’s earned that.
He’s one of our most productive players on the team. Even when you see him not making a tackle he’s usually creating enough chaos that someone else makes it. He’s a stud. I love that kid.
Q. Obviously Illinois is in seventh place in the West. What is it about them that will get your players’ attention do you believe this week?
Urban Meyer: Their defensive line is really good. That’s one area that — and obviously today is Monday, we’re right, knee deep watching them. I’ve not watched their offense yet like I normally — just don’t have any answers for you on offense.
But defensive line catches your attention and they’re penetrators and they’re big dudes, 310 pounds and 290, the other guy. But the defensive line catches your eye as a strength.
Q. I know sometimes in your career you have a workhorse tailback. Sometimes you have a couple of guys you used. What have you thought of the way you guys have worked J.K. and Mike together this year? And we saw it Saturday. Where are you at the tailback position?
Urban Meyer: I think we’re as strong right now as we’ve ever had it as far as depth. Antonio does a nice job, too. I like the way we use the guys — obviously it worked out. But I thought, I think it’s a good credit for Coach Studrawa as well. That’s as active as he’s been in the game plan.
When the line coach takes ownership like that — I think that was against the number one rush team in America, at least top 5. And I thought our backs ran really hard. They played fresh and they played fast and they played hard. So I liked the rotation we had. I think J.K. had 18 and Mike had 10 or 9 or something like that. I liked the mix.
And then obviously Mike Weber is also going to be involved in the return game as well.
Q. You talked after the game running a couple of different run plays, you mentioned the draw. We know how often you guys talk about evening up the numbers in the read game. Just what’s the conversation like when maybe you were talking about, maybe let’s look at some different running plays where it is just a hand-off to the tail-back? What was it like for you to look at some of those things?
Urban Meyer: It was done well in that room. And the one thing about a draw a lot of times is you lose equation of numbers. And you have to run the Q all the time. Q draw, you can equate numbers, but, my gosh, you keep running the quarterback too much. So, you can only run it in certain looks. And that’s if they leave the box because they’re worried about your pass defense.
And that’s what happened on that one, the big hit was they were, because we’re a good crossing route team. Once again I’m not their coach, but they were playing in coverage. We hit a draw on them. So those are great conversations we’ve had. And we’ve had them before but direct hand offs to the tailback you get outnumbered quickly. That’s why you’ve got to use unique formations or formations you’re not comfortable with.