Aug. 25, 2014
COACH MEYER: I think he met with his doctor, I got a text this morning from him. He met with, I believe, Dr. Andrews today and surgery is set for tomorrow. J.T. and Cardale responded very well. The biggest issue I see or the positive we have right now is we have a good one and two group of wide receivers that are just rotating out. There’s really not a set one or two. We’ll list the starting depth chart, I imagine, tomorrow, but the nice thing is that I can see six that’ll be getting ready for us. And I’ll answer any questions from you.
Q. You’d said last year that one of the pivotal moments in your season was the injury to Christian Bryant. I know the circumstances are different. Did anything about the way that played out formulate Braxton’s injury?
COACH MEYER: I think getting younger the issue was last year, and I expressed to all of our staff, I think I probably said it publicly, too, is you gotta get young players ready to play, and sometimes they say, they don’t quite know what they’re doing. That’s why they call you coach. Get them to know what they’re doing. And I’m really fortunate this year, putting a lot of pressure on our coaches to get guys ready to play. So if you have the talent, not knowing what to do is not acceptable. So that’s the biggest thing I took out of last year.
Q. Do you have any relationship with Keenan Reynolds? I only ask because he says he was a big fan of yours and wanted to play for you with the Gators.
COACH MEYER: Keenan Reynolds.
Q. The Navy quarterback?
COACH MEYER: Oh, I’m sorry. Yeah. I’m a big fan of his, too. I didn’t know him coming out of high school, and I just know him, the Navy coaches and some people I’ve talked to think that he’s the best that they’ve ever had, which that tells you takes your breath away a little bit.
Q. Urban, you’ve had a couple of different battles in the preseason. Where do you stand with the other two spots in the offensive line and the other starting corner spots?
COACH MEYER: Left guard is not named yet, and it’s not because of ability. It’s just, one, the guy hasn’t separated himself, so in the hunt are Joel Hale, Billy Price, Tony Underwood. They’re still in the hunt. Who’s the other position?
COACH MEYER: Center is going to be, probably be Jacoby and Chad Lindsay will we haven’t named the starter on that either. But once again, it’s still because the battles are going on.
Q. And the other corner spot?
COACH MEYER: The other corner, it’s Eli and Gareon. They haven’t separated themselves yet either, which is a good sign. They’ll both play.
Q. So to have competition still in game week, is that good or is that not good?
COACH MEYER: If they’re bad players, you got a problem. If they’re really good players and they’re just battling and battling and battling. It means they’re both going to play. That’s kind of normal this time of year. Like I couldn’t tell you the starting receivers either right now. Evan and Devin. Evan Spencer, Devin Smith. You got Dontre Wilson, you got Jalin Marshall, you got Mike Thomas, and Corey Smith. And all of them could march in, and they all deserve playing time, so it’s just a matter of who breaks the huddle first.
Q. For as long as you’ve done this, does your anxiety level ever change before the first game based on graduation losses or last second injuries of quarterbacks?
COACH MEYER: It’s who you play a little bit. I have such respect for the United States Naval Academy, and I played them when I was at Notre Dame every year, and we played Air Force every year. I was at Utah and Colorado State. It’s typical back when Air Force was winning the Commander in Chief Trophy all the time like Navy does now, it’s just incredible efficiency in offense and that odd three four defense where they’re all over the place. So they’re good players. So there’s a little I use the term anxiety a little bit more this year just because of who we’re playing and the quarterback and the skill that they have.
Q. Do you still get excited the first week like you did 10 years ago or whatever?
COACH MEYER: Oh, yeah. Once again, if you have good players, good team. I’ll fake it sometimes if you don’t have a good team. (Laughs). But I can tell you this, I think we got a good team.
Q. Coach, you mentioned J.T. and Cardale came out. When J.T. got the job, he was edged past Cardale for the number two job. How close is that, and do you go into the season with him as your solid number one guy?
COACH MEYER: It’s pretty close. It was thrust upon us pretty quickly because in my heart I thought Braxton would be ready to go. I didn’t envision this. So I thought, man, this would be a really close battle for the backup spot. But J.T. is the starting quarterback, but there’s not a big separation.
Q. Do you see a scenario where Cardale would come in in these first couple of games if J.T. is not doing what you need him to do?
COACH MEYER: Sure.
Q. Middle linebacker, is it Curtis Grant’s job all the way or is Raekwon McMillan possibly pushing him for a starting role?
COACH MEYER: Yeah. I’ll announce captains here, too. That brings up. Curtis is starting linebacker. The good thing is once again, I think we’ve recruited some depth. You’re going to see some rotation in this first game, including that position. You’re going to see some guys rotate a little bit at the D line as well, which you need and same at the corner spot. But Curtis as a starting linebacker. We voted captains, and Braxton Miller was high vote getter, and Jeff Heuerman, Michael Bennett, Doran Grant, which is a great success story, his turnaround, and Curtis Grant, which here is a guy that, once again, that’s one of the great things about what we do for a living is to see young people grow up, and boy, has Curtis Grant done a nice job.
Q. Urban, Jeff Heuerman, is he 100 percent, is he ready to go? Are y’all going to be reluctant to play him? Where does he stand?
COACH MEYER: Yeah. He’s not 100 percent yet. We anticipate he’ll be ready to go. It’s just going to be volume, and that’s what we’re dealing with right now.
Q. You talked about this before, but how much maturity growth have you seen in him in the last six months?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, in the last month he’s one of the most improved. He’s in the Tommy Schutt, the Nick Vannett, Curtis Grant, Doran Grant, those are all just over the top most improved guys. Nick Vannett has had as good of camp at tight end that I’ve seen, which is great for him to see him do that.
Q. You haven’t said a whole lot about how J.T.’s responded. Life’s kind of really changed for him in about 10 days. The last time he played in a football game is playing in a high school stadium, and now he’s going to start in an NFL stadium here in a couple days. How is he responding mentally to everything?
COACH MEYER: That would be a good question for Tom Herman. I just watch what I watch and spend some time with him. He’s Guiton ish. He’s a calm guy that had a very good practice today, like really good practice today, and very business like about his approach. He’s not someone you have to watch to see they’re demeanor because it’s the same as it was two weeks ago. We all know what’s coming down the barrel at him, but he’s handled it very well.
Q. Is it hard for you to divide up practice snaps? Obviously you want to give him as many snaps at the one as you can, but like you said earlier, the guy who’s number two is not real far behind.
COACH MEYER: It hasn’t been hard because they’re both the thing that you have to keep in mind both of them got every rep in spring and fall. So we’ve divided them J.T. is getting the majority of number one reps. This has not been thrust upon us, like you read these stories, we coached against Sam Bradford in the title game. What a great player. And when something like that happens, when he was getting all the reps, that’s the hard thing. I obviously wish him the best. He’s a great player.
Q. Just wondering with the way Navy runs offense and as effective as they can be ball control, how does that affect your game plan? Does it affect your offense or how you play it?
COACH MEYER: Yes, it does. I’ve been working through that, talked to some people that have coached in these situations as a head coach. I don’t believe I’ve been in this situation facing a team quite like this. I talked to about two or three of my colleagues who have been in this situation, and there are some things, game management areas where we’re going to adjust a little bit.
Q. You guys a couple years ago started looking for a quarterback to recruit and settled on J.T. as maybe the first guy signing at Ohio State. What was it that initially struck you about him?
COACH MEYER: He went to elite 11, and I remember we talked to some people that were there, and his competitive spirit is something and you can see it now, it just kept coming back to us, especially deposition. One thing nowadays, quarterbacks are committing so early, which we’re not getting normally, back in the Tebow, Cam Newton, Denard Robinson area when I was at Florida, you went to your camp, you evaluated them; you watched them, and now kids are saying I’m going to go here because you haven’t offered us yet and I’m a sophomore. Coaches are put in really, really tough situations. And so J.T. was a guy that we were was one of our guys, and then we have those camps where kids wouldn’t come to camp or for whatever reason and then we just did as much homework as we could and decided he was the one we wanted.
Q. J.T., is it fair to see he’s more natural than that?
COACH MEYER: A little bit. He’s not a loud guy. Very confident guy, though. A lot like our previous quarterback, Kenny. They kind of migrate, too.
Q. Urban, is Ezekiel Elliott full go now?
COACH MEYER: He’s full go. Yeah. That’s very odd. Rod and Bri’onte had a great camp. Warren Ball had a slight cushion so he hasn’t practiced the last few days. And you have four guys, Curtis Samuel, Zeke, Rod Smith and Bri’onte Dunn have all had they’re very involved in the kicking game, which you can’t carry the ball unless you’re involved in the kicking game, and they’re all very involved.
Q. Is it a good first step that you’re playing on this neutral field rather than playing on home court?
COACH MEYER: I’d much rather play right there. No gnats, though.
Q. Under the circumstances would this be a good way for you to see how everybody is handling things?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, I think so. This is where you count on your veterans to you know, you go on the road for the first time. We’ve never done that here. So to put it your new terms, it’s a great gauge to see what kind of maturity they have on their team and how they handle the business.
Q. A lot of questions even 10 days ago about this team. How ready do you think this team is for the season?
COACH MEYER: I think we’re pretty ready. I like where we’re at, especially after today’s practice, and I like how they responded to Braxton’s injury. So I think we’re pretty ready.
Q. Two things, first of all, Miller being a captain and not able to play in the games, that’s kind of an interesting dynamic. How does that factor with travel squad, and I presume he’ll be at every one of your games. Will you have to make an allotment for him and that’s one less guy you can travel or how does that work?
COACH MEYER: Yeah. I tried that before. They don’t let you take
Q. They don’t go for that?
COACH MEYER: No. They don’t go for that. So he’d be one of the 70 if he can go. He won’t be able to go this time because of his but there will be times we have to make that decision.
Q. And just other thing, J.T., is there a chance we could talk to him before he makes his first start?
COACH MEYER: No. We’re going to let him go play a game and take care of business.