Urban Meyer speaks to the media after the Buckeyes 36-31 win over Nebraska
COACH MEYER: First, I’d like to start off by I want to thank the skull session for the standing ovation we gave to the men and women who serve our great country and the military appreciation day. That was an awesome experience. My father was in the Army. My sister was in the Air Force. And the one thing that Ohio State, that for as long as I can remember has been exceptional at supporting and showing appreciation for the men and women who serve. It’s just a great experience to be part of that today.
And also thank Buckeye Nation, like we always do, to come out and support at a noon game like that, and really helped with the noise at certain times of the game. Very appreciative of it.
Q. As you entered this week, the many questions you had of your team, do you think more were answered today and specifically the run game —
COACH MEYER: Yeah, the run game in the red zone, I think we pounded the ball in there pretty good. We worked ad nauseam at that. The amount of time that we spent at that was over the top, and I felt the line of scrimmage change. And it’s difficult to run against that bear defense that Nebraska runs.
And I thought the backs worked on pad level. And even when there was a free player, which is going to be when you learn more of a pro-style offense like we are, you’re going to have a free player at times. And they have to run over those guys and drop their pads. And I thought they did a good job with that.
Q. There were times you were very exercised, as you usually are on the sideline, like, getting up for big moments in the game. Did you get the effort from your team that you wanted?
COACH MEYER: I did. I think obviously I’ll watch the film tomorrow. And there’s defensively still some things but we didn’t give up a big hit. We had a couple of hits, but not the big hit. And we were without three starters in the back end of our defense — you got Jordan Fuller, you got Jeff Okudah and Isaiah Pryor. They could not play. And obviously Brendon White came in and did a hell of a job. He had 13 tackles. But I thought our team gave great effort, I thought the energy was there. So I was pleased.
Q. I was going to ask you about the defense. Also, missing those guys, how did you feel that the defense overall played? And also the passing game wasn’t as sharp as usual.
COACH MEYER: I wish we didn’t have — not wish, if we didn’t have those three turnovers, obviously, you don’t put your defense in a bad situation. I thought our defense improved. Obviously nowhere near we need to be, but they improved. We’re still stop-gapping. That means the lineups continuously keep changing because of injuries. But I think we should have everybody back next week if we don’t get a guy hurt in practice.
Q. The passing game?
COACH MEYER: The passing game wasn’t as sharp today. We threw a pick and we had a sack where sack/fumbled, it was just a missed assignment by a tight end. Shouldn’t have happened. And then K.J., he is very tight with the ball usually and had a fumble. The other guys, Mike Weber had two times he laid it on the ground. We have to get those fixed. It never ends, you’ve just got to prioritize and emphasized and get it fixed.
Q. Overall, nine games in this season is this team anywhere close to where you want it to be?
COACH MEYER: I still don’t think we’re close — I do, I think we’re close. We better be when you see what’s coming up next week, but I liked the effort today.
Q. Brendon White, how long have you seen this sort of coming from him, this potential to play? And he went in and seemed to play his position extremely well, not just as a stop-gap.
COACH MEYER: He’s been working very hard in practice to earn the trust of the coaches to get on the field. First thing, you gotta earn the trust to get on the special teams. And to see that he started and I kept hearing about it, earning the trust — he’s getting better, he’s getting better, he’s getting better, and then obviously he proved it today.
Q. And Okudah, was he still in protocol? And Isaiah Pryor —
COACH MEYER: He had a groin issue that happened on a Tuesday practice, a freak incident. And we thought we’d get him ready.
COACH MEYER: Pryor has an impingement of the shoulder. He’ll be fine this week.
Q. You wanted your running backs to make their own hole if they had to. It looked like J.K. did that a few times today. What did you see from that aspect?
COACH MEYER: I thought they both did. You sit and watch games last Saturday, yeah, go — there’s a guy there, do something with it. And I thought the emphasis was there all week.
Q. With J.K. on that last drive seemed like it might have been Weber’s turn. Was there a sense that J.K. was hot?
COACH MEYER: Ball security has something to do with it too. If there’s a chance that ball is going to go on the ground then really it was just something — I wasn’t aware who was in. I let Coach Alford and Coach Day obviously handle that.
Q. Seems like at times you guys defensively are maybe playing some more off coverage. Is there anything you’ve done schematically to say, we really don’t want to give up big plays maybe if we give up some stuff underneath we can live with that?
COACH MEYER: As hard as that is to do, I think there’s some adjustments we’ve made. That was in two weeks, bye weeks. So there’s a fine line, you can get bled to death and we don’t want to do that obviously. But we did play a little more off coverage, a little more zone coverage too.
Q. You’ve said many times that you’re going to enjoy every win. I don’t mean to take anything away from the victory, but I wonder if this matched up what you thought you would see after two weeks to address the issues and get a little healthier and all that stuff? And obviously you weren’t, but how does this match up what you thought today?
COACH MEYER: I’m very upset with the turnovers. That would have been a different game. I thought special teams was awesome. We blocked a punt. Our punter did a great job. He had four kicks, averaged almost 50 yards per kick. Kickoff return wasn’t great.
But the biggest thing to get that darned bad taste out of your mouth from a couple weeks ago and go win the game. It was a close game against a team that was hitting stride now.
I remember, I was talking to Brady Quinn, who did the game, and you watch the beginning of the game and that’s going to be a hell of a team down the road now. And we’ve got a lot of respect for them.
Q. You talked about Mike Weber and J.K. Dobbins. Did you do anything differently schematically to get the running game going?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, all kinds of stuff.
Q. We talked about all the changes the last two weeks about how you wanted to make those changes. I know that’s probably a pretty tall task, but how would you assess on both sides of the football how you guys did in terms of all those bye-week changes that you were trying to make?
COACH MEYER: I’ll know more Monday when I talk to you after watching the videotape, but my initial assessment is once again get rid of those three turnovers, that’s a pretty good game against a team that put 600 yards on a Minnesota team, a top 20 defense.
There’s things to fix obviously. I see Jordan Fuller leave the game and you’re thinking, my gosh, here we go again. You’re down to two corners because Okudah couldn’t go and you moved the other cornerback to safety, Shaun Wade. So, it’s still that, putting that puzzle together. It’s not solved yet.
COACH MEYER: Changes you mean?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, it’s awful. You ‘d like, by this time of year, you’d like to have consistency of personnel, consistency of scheme. And we had some scheme issues. And it’s hard to change or adapt schemes on a Tuesday/Wednesday practice as you’re getting ready for the next game. And the bye week, we kept coaches in on Monday. And really for whatever it was, 6:00 to 10:00, 11:00 at night, we were working red zone offense, run the game — run the ball and how to eliminate big plays on defense.
Q. You looked good and improved in some areas. But it was a two-win team, and it was a struggle. Is it unrealistic to think that you can get everything done in a bye week? How much can you improve?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, we did. And I get it that that was a two-win team. But that’s a two-win team that people don’t want to play right now. Like I said, on videotape, I wasn’t expecting to see what I saw. And very good players, very good scheme and guys are going to get very good.
So to answer your question, we’re going to go back to work. We’re going to enjoy that win now. We’re going to have a victory meal tomorrow night as a team, go enjoy it and go to work on the next one.
Q. Since November is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, do you and the team have any plans to promote awareness?
COACH MEYER: That’s a great question. I’ll address that with our staff and I think we will do something.