December 27, 2016

Urban Meyer, Pat Elflein, Raekwon McMillan Press Conference Transcript

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Dec. 27, 2016

THE MODERATOR: Welcome Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer, center Pat Elflein and linebacker Raekwon McMillan.

COACH MEYER: On behalf of the Big Ten Conference and The Ohio State University, much appreciate you being here. And Buckeye Nation has always been very strong in Maricopa County and at the Fiesta Bowl. So thank you to PlayStation. Thank you to Mike Nealy for the invite.

And I also want to have a special — John and Amanda DeMaris, I don’t know if they’re allowed to get raises but they’re our volunteer hosts, I think, but it’s great to be back with them as well.

We’re here for a reason. We’re here to enjoy the sunshine, the desert, but most importantly to put on a great performance against a great football team in Clemson. And I couldn’t imagine being in a better place with a better group of player with my players, my coaching staff and representing a great university, Ohio State. So it’s the third playoff. This is our second time in three years. And we’re honored to be part of it. Thank you.

THE MODERATOR: Questions.

Q. Urban, when you get to the bowl game, did everybody make it? Is everybody healthy? Any suspensions, anything like that?
COACH MEYER: I think everybody’s healthy. I think we have one guy sick, he’ll be here tomorrow. We just don’t want him flying with the team. Everybody’s healthy, everybody’s ready to go.

Q. Coach, in what ways are you better following the Michigan game now and the bowl practice? You talked a lot about protection and throwing the football?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, that was an area — to win this kind of game you have to be nine strong. At times we were not. Not just singling out one unit or one position group because that’s not fair and that’s not correct. But this was — throughout the recruiting weeks we actually kept a couple of guys home now and then to work on some position units and specifics and they’ve done a great job.

So I believe we’re a better team because we really took a lot of time. I know I think we had 11 official practices, but we had many more than those with one-on-one work with our coach — position coaches and the players.

Q. Probably more for the players than Urban. How different is the feel this year? You were here 12 months ago. It was a big bowl but it was not the bowl you wanted to be at. How different is the feeling coming back here this time.
Pat Elflein: You know it’s always a little different feel because you’re playing for it all, but we approach every game the same. We prepared very hard for last year’s game, and it was a good product.

And just with the younger team this year, just relying on the leadership, the guys that have been in the playoff before, teaching those guys how to prepare and how to get ready mentally for a big game like this one coming up.

Q. Pat and for Raekwon, playing off of that, what are sort of the rules of the road for next week for the players as far as you’re concerned about making sure you’re taking care of business?
Raekwon McMillan: It’s kind of a situation where we come out here to Arizona, here in Phoenix, to enjoy the atmosphere, enjoy the fanfare that’s going on around us, enjoy being blessed and being in the College Football Playoffs again but at the same time getting ready for the Fiesta Bowl in five days. We’ve got a job to get done and we’ve been working hard to get it done, so we’ll see what happens.

Q. Urban, you’ve been here with three different teams. Can you reflect on your connection here playing at the Fiesta Bowl?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, actually five times, I was counting it as the plane landed, five times we’ve seen the yellow coats as we arrived. And once again, being politically correct, I don’t know if we’re allowed to rank our favorite bowls, but this is one of our favorite bowls.

And it’s just great to be here. And what I’m not surprised at when I saw last year because first time representing Ohio State, is the amount of people that will show up for Ohio State. As a matter of fact, in ’06 I was on the other sideline, it was about 75 percent Ohio State fans. So I know Ohio State will be very well represented in the game Saturday.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you.