Sept. 22, 2012
An Interview With Coach Meyer
THE MODERATOR: We’ll open it up with some general comments from Coach Meyer.
COACH MEYER: Pleased with the win. We’re 4 0. I like to give credit to the team that we played. They played very hard, UAB. Well coached. It’s glaringly obvious we’ve got to get a lot better or we won’t win next week.
Enjoy the win tonight, get back to work. It’s Big Ten season. And I might be new to the Big Ten, I’m not new to the big time atmosphere of college football. So we have to be ready for this one.
Q. I can’t figure your team out. Would it be giving them too much credit to say they turn it on and they turn it off when they need to? You got down in the first half and scored three TDs in 5:29. When they inch closer, you go 71 yards for a touchdown to seal it.
COACH MEYER: Yeah, I’m with you. I’m with you. I think we seem like a very passive team. We’re on defense, we give up little screens, little bubbles. They didn’t score a touchdown on our defense but we gave up a lot of yardage.
That hurts I sit there, I’m pained watching it. But we’ve got to be more aggressive on defense and play a little snuggler coverage. If our corners are as good as we think they are, we have to go play a little man coverage on people.
On offense, our explosive plays, our explosiveness is obviously nonexistent for much of the game. If there’s one things we could make adjustments and fix it, it’s more than one thing right now.
So we’ve got a long way to go. The fact is we’re a great defense, which is painful to watch. Missed too many tackles today again. And then offense, just a couple of times we’re second and long, but we’re not a methodically dominating offense. I mean, we’re not a very good offense right now. So we have to get a lot better and fast. We’re facing a good defense this week.
Q. You referenced a lot about how hard it is to win a game. And you did win one. But going into Big Ten, would you like to have seen something a little more dominating than today?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, I thought our guys were ready to play. I think they were ready to play. That’s a cop out. They’re ready to play. Didn’t play very good. I thought I really had confidence this was going to be a Ohio State looking team. And it wasn’t.
Q. The blocked punt at the beginning of the game, the pop up kickoff at the start of the second half, where does it hit you in the heart to give up those kind of special teams plays?
COACH MEYER: It’s nonsense. Just a flat missed assignment. We’re playing a lot of young players. Injuries are kind of forcing some guys in.
C.J. Barnett and Roby obviously didn’t play. They’re big special teams performers for us. You get a true freshman in there, we have a missed assignment. Just flat bust.
So we can’t have obviously mistakes like that. And then the kick you have to react, watch the ball kicked and go. We work a little dribble kick. And we work and talk about this, about expect the unexpected, especially in this kind of game where the team has nothing to lose. And we didn’t get it done. So got a long way to go.
Q. With Braxton Miller today, 11 carries, first carry I think was at 8:50 of the second quarter, was that part of the game plan, to not get him hit as much as you go into Big Ten play, or is that just the way the game unfolded?
COACH MEYER: That’s the way the game unfolded. We were very conscious of it. I’m exhausted talking about it, how many hits he takes and all that. He’s going to play quarterback in a spread offense and we’re going to do what we’re going to go do to win a game. We’re not good enough to start worrying about he’s one of our best players, if not our best player on offense. He’s got to play better, too. We’ve all got to play better.
No, it’s not like on the headsets like quit running. No, we have to do what we have to do. And we didn’t do it very well. So we have to get better.
Q. Your talked last week about the importance of tackling, how much you worked on it during the week. I wonder, did you see some signs of improvement this week in what you would look at doing in practice this week?
COACH MEYER: Sure. Tuesday and Wednesday we’ll tackle again. I saw some signs. We’re facing a 250 pound back coming in next week. I still see guys flailing across and missing tackles. Far too many third down conversions on defense.
And it’s hard to pinpoint one thing that we have to get better at. But tackling is something we’ll continue to that’s the fundamental that’s the essence of tackle football. And we’ve got to continue to improve.
Q. Which is more distressing to you, the passiveness that you refer to or the stupid penalties, the Christian Bryant taunting, those kind of things, those kind of penalties?
COACH MEYER: I didn’t see was that it was, taunting? Which is more stressful and which is more whatever? They’re both awful and we’ve got to get them fixed.
Q. Urban, you talked last week about your conversation with Braxton about making more changes at the line of scrimmage. How often did you see him do that today? How did he handle that, and how do you think it helped?
COACH MEYER: He did pretty good in that phase of it. We gave him the keys to the offense a little bit today. He did good. It was very minimal, but it was a great first step for him.
And we’re developing a quarterback as we speak. And it takes time. He’s still an elite competitor with some elite talents, but we just have to keep improving. It can improve around him as well.
Q. Without Roby and Barnett, the injuries you’ve had defensively, do you think that’s part of some of these issues, the lack of depth and trying to play a little patchwork with those injuries right now?
COACH MEYER: I think we’re playing a lot of very young players as a result. The positive is there’s some three freshmen, true freshmen defense linemen, given an inordinate amount of work this season.
But, no, that’s an excuse for being passive. Obviously you want your starters in there. But there’s some capable backups. But you’re seeing some guys thrust into action.
When you saw Shazier went down, you have Roby and C.J. Barnett. So basically C.J. Barnett, Roby, Shazier and Bennett are four starters out. But the quality of the personnel behind them, they just have to play better.
It’s not lack of talent. It’s maybe lack of some experience. But we gotta play better.
Q. Talk about Rod Smith. You got him touches like you said. He delivered a touchdown, almost delivered another one. Are you uplifted by what you’ve seen over the last week or so with him?
COACH MEYER: Sure. And I think we’ll get Carlos Hyde back. But we were worried people would go very hard for us in special teams. And he did. And I was proud to see I can’t tell you how he played. Off the top of my head I can’t remember. I think he ran hard and scored on one of them.
The other ones were short yarders. We went a couple times just to line up and settle everybody down and went a little I twins, which is kind of what this personnel was built for a little bit. And we pounded, came off the ball a little bit. Still nothing.
I thought we’d come rocking off the line of scrimmage. So having the ability to do both would be pretty critical as we move down to run the little true under center package. And all of a sudden, bang, you’re right in spread.
As you can see, we’re trying to continue to grow our package of offense. And we’re still in that process. But trying to grow is over. Now it’s trying to perform.
Q. You were lucky, you put him in there on your last TD drive, you scored, put him in there on the goal line. You weren’t reluctant about that.
COACH MEYER: He’s earned it. That was not a hit or miss and boy I hope this works out. He’s done it in practice. And he’s earned that right. So there’s no reluctancy at all to put him there.
Q. Urban, are you happy with the progress from Game 1 through Game 4?
COACH MEYER: No.
Q. What area concerns you the most?
COACH MEYER: There’s too much. Defense, offense and kicking game. We have to be better in all three phases.
Q. Urban, have you had other times in your coaching career when you’ve maybe gotten through a nonconference schedule without losing, thinking, boy, we need to improve on a lot of things going into conference play?
COACH MEYER: Yeah. There’s been very few that you’re just cooking, just clicking, especially, you’ve got to think about where this team was now. This is not a finely tuned machine right now. It hasn’t been for a while, especially in both sides of the ball.
So we gotta develop a finely tuned machine. And obviously there’s some growing pains. And it’s not as easy as I thought we’d be further ahead. It is what it is. We gotta get better fast and get better fast. The good thing there’s no pushback.
The guys enjoyed a win in there, singing the fight song. We’re 4 0. And, boy, we’ve got a big one coming up this week. They realize that. I’m loving coaching this team. I love working with them.
I have a very clear understanding of where we’re at. Disappointed, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love the guys. I think they’re working their tails off. We’ve just gotta keep grinding.
No, absolutely, I’ve been through that’s a long time I’ve been through some teams that you thought would be better at this point of the season. You never try to factor in injuries.
But we have a depth issue here at Ohio State right now, severe. Whenever true freshmen are forced I think we had six on our kickoff unit, true freshmen starting on kickoff. I hope we don’t have to do that very often. But it is what it is. We have to keep continue to develop these guys because those freshmen are no freshmen anymore. They’re sophomores. They’re second year players because they’ve been in the mix right now.
Q. You’ve lauded Braxton’s acceleration before. It seems that his cutting is remarkable also. He gets a lot of guys overrunning him or grabbing air. Could you comment on that?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, he’s a dynamic athlete. I agree with you. I used to say Percy Harvin has a great first step because he’s incredible. I think he’s great acceleration but he’s got an uncanny ability to make guys miss. So he’s without a question one of the best athletes in college football. That’s a true statement.