URBAN MEYER PRESS CONFERENCE
COACH MEYER: Thanks for coming. I’ll give you the champions from the rivalry game.
Receivers did really an excellent job blocking. We didn’t throw the ball as much as we normally do. But K.J., Parris and Johnnie Dixon all graded champions.
Players of the Game, we had two of them. Co-players of the game: Isaiah Prince had six knock downs and played very well. His maturity and growth has been really much needed and really exceptional right now. And Marcus Baugh. How about that one? Co-player of the game against our rival. Had a touchdown catch, but more importantly really blocked well and I can’t say enough about Marcus. The improvement as an underachiever to a very good player, a guy that I have an incredible amount — we all do — have a lot of respect for the way he’s turned it around. And he’s a very good team player for us right now.
At linebacker you had three of them — Jerome Baker, Worley and Tuf Borland. The back end of our defense, you had Kendall Sheffield, really coming on, he was four out of four making play opportunities.
And co-players of the game — Sam Hubbard, 95 percent grade out, 2.5 sacks, a QB hurry, one QB knock down. Just played terrific, and this guy really played well, got his hand on a field goal. Should have got his hand on a punt, but he graded out 95 percent — 17 of 20, he had 20 opportunities to make a play — eight tackles, four assists, and that’s Denzel Ward.
Special teams, guys did some great things on kickoff for us — Jeff Okudah, he also tackled a guy on a punt for minus-2 yard return. Justin Hilliard continues to be exceptional for us. And Zach Turnure, hard to say he’s not one of our best players on special teams for us.
Player of the game. Had 16 plays, 22 production points, two kickoff tackles and is really doing a lot of things for us maybe that not everybody sees, but much respect and that’s Erick Smith.
And with that said, obviously honored to represent arguably the best conference in America and arguably the toughest division in America in the Big Ten Championship game in Indianapolis. And we’re going to do all the best we can to go represent Ohio State and go play our best.
Q. The Greg Schiano situation is so incredibly unusual, Tennessee rescinding the officer what are your emotions regarding that? Are you angry about this? What’s your take on all of this?
COACH MEYER: I’m not angry. I just will make this comment — I apologize, I’ve said it many, many times — he’s an elite person, elite father, elite husband, elite friend and elite football coach. And I stand by my coach. I just don’t know enough, and it’s not fair to my players to make any more comments than that because we have a huge game this week.
Q. Regarding J.T. Barrett status, will he play in the game —
COACH MEYER: Moved into probable. He’s doing a nice job with all the rehab.
Q. In regards to J.T.’s injury, you described it after the game as a (indiscernible) in place and moving his knee around it?
COACH MEYER: Cartilage.
Q. Loose cartilage?
COACH MEYER: A meniscus. Yeah, I don’t want to pretend that I know I’ve dealt with it before, but it’s a cartilage that once it comes out of the area — I shouldn’t even — I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about. So —
Q. He made it hard to understand, too. I didn’t know what kind of injury we were talking about?
COACH MEYER: We’ll work on it the next couple of days. Let me know if you figure it out.
Q. It’s been something all year. Have you had to manage that with him?
COACH MEYER: I really haven’t. I see he gets it worked on and all that. But until I looked over on the bench and I saw him that’s the first time I saw him.
Q. You’ve done this three times now, I think. How do you keep this team — is there an issue you come off an emotional win, to play another game that might be even bigger?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, that’s a concern. Every team’s different. You can’t just say this is the way we’ve done it in the past because every team is different. This happens to be somewhat a mature team.
And the term around here is laser focus. And they’ve been good. And I put a lot of reliance on my older guys, because they’ve earned that right.
Q. The way Dwayne played in place of J.T., what does that do for a coaching staff and also a team, you think, from a confidence factor knowing you now have that guy? And does he factor into maybe the plans this week in some form or fashion?
COACH MEYER: Great question. And, first of all, the comfort — and it’s still so young, I can’t say it’s comfort yet — but to see him perform in that environment, and more importantly against that defense. That’s an elite defense.
And to come in, I can’t remember what the score was, but we were down, I know that. And to come in and I think someone said 17 unanswered points. And more than a coach, the comfort and the confidence that those other ten players have, the quarterback is the most unique position in all of sport.
And to see that there’s confidence amongst them and when he was rewarded yesterday as grade in on championship, I could see it in the room that there’s a lot of confidence in him.
Q. But, like, if you see any kind of like hitch in a get along, if you see any hitch in J.T. Barrett’s get along on Saturday, does it make a little you more, I don’t know if eager is the right word — eager is not the right word. But would you get the hook, you know what I mean, that you’ve got a guy that’s proven himself?
COACH MEYER: I mean, that’s an option. I can’t speak for that moment, because that’s a lot of things go into it, score, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, and how we’re playing on defense, et cetera, et cetera.
But the comforting and more almost hate saying comfort. It’s the confidence. Because you’ve seen it.
Q. I asked you after the game, Hubbard and Denzel Ward especially. Did they jump out of you. Obviously they were co-players of the game, but when you watched Hubbard on video he seemed to be all over the field at times. Just specifically what did you see out of him Saturday from an effort standpoint?
COACH MEYER: He’s just an energizer. He just doesn’t — once again it’s a credit to his family. He knows one speed. And that’s you turn him on and he goes. And he’s one of my all-time favorite players.
Q. This is an important part of J.T.’s game, being mobile. If he is able to play as a quarterback, more of a traditional throwing quarterback on Saturday but has a little less mobility because of his injury, are you still going to play him or would that be —
COACH MEYER: It’s too early to tell. That’s what this week’s for. But those are all things we’ve taken into consideration.
Q. (Indiscernible) linebacker, their top two leaders in sacks, tackles for loss and tackles period are all linebackers. What are they doing so well there?
COACH MEYER: They run a 3-4 defense primarily, so there’s always four of them on the field at all times. One of them is primarily the rusher, the boundary guy.
So it’s — a lot of respect for their coach. Got a lot of respect for the athletic director. I’ve been in this conference now six years, and it is what it is. And I think they do an excellent job of development of players and recruiting of players because it’s the same. You can turn it on — back when we played them, I want to think in the second year here, ’13. Maybe the first year — first year? Yeah, there. We beat them in overtime then second year here when Gary Andersen was there. Yeah.
Q. You guys are getting ready for game 13, had a lot of tough games this year. Just where do you think your team is physically, mentally, emotionally at this point in the season?
COACH MEYER: Energized because of where we’re at. This has been a stretch. That’s one of the great things when I was at Florida we always played Florida State before the SEC championship game. I guess it was good for fans and everybody but it was tough on players. We play our rival you can’t say we saved a little bit of energy for this next one. But also our guys are energized, ready to go for this one.
Q. You talk about the Big Ten East, everybody knows what this division is like. When you play in a division like that, does it toughen you up? Or does it wear you out?
COACH MEYER: To be determined. I think you have no choice but that it toughens you up. Toughens you up, but that’s where I’ve got to be smart and our coaches have to be smart. We understand what they’ve been through. And this was a tough — think about where it’s gone from in six years, this side of the conference.
Q. You guys are obviously preparing to face a very talented running back. Under different circumstances you could be preparing to face Antonio Williams, who was recruited there. I’m sure they had plans for him to be the starting tailback by this point. Just what do you remember about Antonio’s recruitment, he was committed to Wisconsin when you first got in contact with him, and how it shook out?
COACH MEYER: I wasn’t involved in that, Coach Alford was recruiting him all along, I guess. And I think Antonio’s had some injuries, but we’re glad he’s a Buckeye and he has a nice future.
Q. I know you’re more plugged in with the offense, but when you evaluate the defense from the Michigan game, there seemed to be a lot of guys running free and open and their quarterback missed some throws. Was that Michigan changing up their offensive game plan? Was that maybe some poor preparation on you guys at the start of the game that was allowing guys to get free on some of those pass plays?
COACH MEYER: You’ll have to ask our defense coaches. I visited with them. And I don’t know how many that were wide open. But at times that happens; you have to recover and go make a play.
Q. In terms of reps this week with J.T., you said he’s running along better, does he need the — he’s so veteran, does he need a full complement of reps, in your mind, or do you split him more with Dwayne?
COACH MEYER: We split him more this week, yeah.
Q. In terms of J.T. practice-wise, is it a to-be-determined thing?
COACH MEYER: To-be-determined.
Q. And Wisconsin defensively, their numbers are impressive. In your early look at them, what jumps out at you? What makes them —
COACH MEYER: They’re — I can’t tell you the exact ranking — but I think they’re number one in everything. And very good skilled athletes. They play a lot of man coverage. And they are giant up front, and it’s like a linebacker — every year, no disrespect to this group or no disrespect to previous groups, but I can’t remember ever playing Wisconsin without elite linebackers.
Q. Your friend Chip Kelly is back in college football, got a job this week, as I’m sure you’re aware. He has some relationships with some guys on your staff. And I didn’t know if there was any sort of agreement, unwritten rule, how do people go about a guy, when he’s trying to fill out his staff and has relationships with people on your staff and he’s also your friend? Second part to the question, with Greg and with what happens every single year when you’re in a situation where you have to win a championship and you’re trying to be in the playoff and all the stuff that’s going on, how do you manage coaching staff, coaching changes, interviews and all that stuff?
COACH MEYER: Exhausting. But there’s two kind of coaches: Coaches that people want and coaches that people don’t want. We’re very fortunate here that we have a bunch of wants.
Q. As far as Chip Kelly is concerned —
COACH MEYER: I’ve not talked to Chip. I’m glad he’s in. He’s a very good friend. Our focus is on beating Wisconsin and certainly there will be zero conversation throughout this week.
Q. Greg Schiano is more than just a coach to you. I know he’s a good friend. To see him go through what he went through yesterday, as a friend, what was that like for you?
COACH MEYER: As a friend. And I wasn’t obviously part of any phone calls. I was part of the conversation with him several times. And sometimes the one thing about coaching, there’s got to be a perfect fit. And maybe it wasn’t. So that’s — once again, I’m certainly not saying that. But move on and keep swinging as hard as you can; you’re at a great place.
Q. The challenge of facing — as you said Wisconsin is always Wisconsin — of facing that run game, the power run game. Obviously your defensive line, your defense is very good against the run. Can you just describe that challenge this week?
COACH MEYER: Giant offensive linemen in Wisconsin. And obviously a very good challenge against an elite running back.
Q. You know how good (indiscernible), how impressed were you and what did you think of the job and Michael Jordan did against him?
COACH MEYER: They did okay. 73 is the real deal. And he’s gotten better and better and better. And it’s time for him to go to the NFL and get paid. That’s how much respect I have him as a player, though. He’s not the lone soldier there. That other big dude, 320 pound, No. 90, time for him to move on, too.
Q. J.T. has not practiced yet this week, didn’t practice yesterday?
COACH MEYER: Did not practice yesterday.
Q. Follow-up from yesterday and maybe this morning, did you get any clarity from Michigan or any violation there, what happened pregame?
COACH MEYER: That’s all administratively. I made a comment that they should look into it, and I guess that blew up and all that, and they should. The quarterback got hit on the sideline before the game.
But I trust that all the right people will look into it. And sidelines have gotten — it’s too much now. And I know I can speak on behalf of our sideline, and I’m disappointed, from this point forward there will be no human being near our sideline that’s not —
Q. Where does that go? How did the follow-up —
COACH MEYER: I don’t know. But I trust our administration will handle it.
Q. Hubbard was not announced before the game you played against Illinois. But your social media sent out that he did go through the senior tackle. Is that just in case he doesn’t come back, or is that kind of up in the air? He’s considering it right now? What’s your —
COACH MEYER: I think that happens, and I don’t want to start a precedent. He’s been a three-year starter. He’s a graduate. And that’s his decision. We talked about it, and he wanted to go through senior tackle. And that’s his call.
Q. Do you feel like it’s final in your mind right now or —
COACH MEYER: I don’t want to speak for him.
Q. — is your door open?
COACH MEYER: Our door? (Laughter).
Q. Is it final in his mind?
COACH MEYER: Let’s go beat Wisconsin.