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Oct. 27, 2014

An Interview With: COACH MEYER

COACH MEYER: Okay. Thanks for coming. A couple of quick comments. Obviously pleased. I don’t think relieved is the right word, but pleased to get out of State College with a win. That was I’d say that was a Top 5 atmosphere. I got it in the Top 3 now after that one. That was incredible. That’s a credit to their student body and their fans. They did a great job.

J.T. Barrett took the field; we were down by seven points after blowing the lead, and to see him lead an offense as a redshirt freshman into the student section, down by seven in the first overtime was I just remember I’ll probably never forget that look when I saw our offense taking the field against the whiteout of the student section, down by seven, against the defense that really kind of shut us down in the second half, No. 1 rush defense in the country, and take us in for a score.

Obviously we’re going to build upon that. A lot of things we gotta get better. The offensive line did not play up to Ohio State standards, and that’s where it starts. That certainly wasn’t the only issue on offense. J.T. actually had just an okay game as far as some of the reads and some of the decisions he had to make, and anytime a team has a bye week and it seems to be this is the year. We’ve had a couple of those years where you get two or three games right in a row where teams have a bye week before they play you we gotta do a good job as a staff getting ready for the unexpected. And that’s been kind of the theme the last several weeks when you get a team off a bye week.

Defensively other than the final drive, very pleased with the effort. We are getting better on defense. Playing a little bit of swagger and a little more confidence. I can tell the way our coaches are coaching, and more importantly, our players are going after it, the way just the behavior and the way they go after a game. So very good.

Special teams was a major factor in that field position. Our punter is really good at what he does. Kickoff coverage, I think we just had two, one came out a little bit and we overran it. But the effort was there.

Kick return we’re getting very close. Dante is hitting it hard. And punt returns really didn’t have any opportunities; a lot of short punts. So a great win for the Buckeyes and looking forward to coming back home and continuing our journey.

Q. You mentioned about J.T.’s reads not all being correct. On the one zone blitz, the pick six, what’s the correct read there?
COACH MEYER: That’s tough. When the correct blitzes throw hot, and he threw hot, and they schemed us up pretty good. So that was not one that was a schematical thing. A veteran quarterback would just probably burn it, which means throw it into the ground. But that is the correct read is to throw hot, and it’s called hot. It’s called hot. You hear that a lot. When they bring more than you can block, which they did, you have a sight adjustment hot, and you throw to them, which we’ve done a few times this year. They did a nice job the thing the defenses have to figure out, which side that is. And they did a nice job.

But in those situations, veteran quarterbacks like just burn it. Get the second and tens, no issue or punt the ball.

Q. Are you pleased with the pace of the offense? I think you guys were averaging about 76 plays a game?
COACH MEYER: Saturday I was not. Up to this point it’s getting better and better and better. And once again, when you’re three in and out pace that’s not we kind of slowed it down a little bit. That was one of those games where I kind of not kind of. We were playing very good defense, playing pretty good field position. It’s a little bit like Wisconsin a couple of years ago.

We threw the pick six and I saw a rattled quarterback, so we kind of got conservative there for a little bit, and as a result didn’t get as many yards or as many first Downs as we normally get.

Q. I know you’re not going to overlook Illinois but in two weeks you got Michigan State. It will be a very similar atmosphere to what you faced Saturday. Do you think that what you guys experienced on Saturday is actually a good thing? Obviously you survived it?
COACH MEYER: It’s not a good thing. It’s a great thing. I talked to a couple of my colleagues who I talk to on a weekly basis. They made those comments, and that’s true. It’s not just the atmosphere. You gotta nut up, man. You’re down. You’re down by several points in that environment, and there’s no don’t look to anyone else for help. There’s 11 guys out there, have to score a touchdown, and they did. And there’s incredible efforts.

With Dontre Wilson at one point going in there and blocking a guy I just saw some incredible efforts. The thing I like to see as well as anything, when we score you can see the most invested players just on Joey Bosa’s sack to see Darron Lee and everybody just there’s not much energy left, but invested players and invested teams really celebrate wins, and our guys did.

To answer your question, there’s no question. Not just environment, but the toughness element that you just were in a street fight, and you’re winning. You started getting your tail kicked and you came back and won. That builds toughness.

Q. Is there a part of you that you’ve coasted really for a month, you’ve blown out everybody. Were you almost hoping for something like that?
COACH MEYER: No. No, no. No. No, no, no, no. No. (Laughs). Monday afterwards was a Monday afterwards. I’m good, but we didn’t play very good. There’s some positions and some players that didn’t play very good that we have to get fixed. And to overlook Illinois, Illinois just won a big game. Illinois is much improved from a year ago. So there’s no there will be no overlooking anyone.

Q. Is J.T. Barrett going to be limited in practice this week?
COACH MEYER: He’s got a sprained knee, MCL, so obviously there’s no surgery or anything, and I think he will be limited. We’re going to go we adjusted our practice schedule, we got in at 4:30 and was going to have a 6:30 team meeting and get going, but we decided to give them Sunday off, so we’re going to practice today, and we usually practice on Sunday.

Q. Is this the time of year I imagine you’re backing off on your starters a little bit in practice, especially after an OT game. How hard does it make that to improve week to week?
COACH MEYER: The area that takes that’s a great question. The area that takes a hit is your fundamentals because you just can’t be out there for that long. The two hour practices become hour and 45 minute practices. So that’s a hit. So we’re going to actually keep the young players out that didn’t play much today an extra 35 minutes to work on the fundamentals. But there’s some guys played 80 plays, 70 plays in those games, and to take them out today, it’s going to be a 9 period, 10 period practice and we’re off. But Tuesday and Wednesday you have to do what you gotta do. That’s why when you hear people talk about bowl practices being so important, which we missed a couple of years ago, but it’s just to get back to that, because some of these kids are not going to get fundamentals until spring practice if you don’t go to a bowl game.

Q. Going into halftime you told the sideline reporter you thought you were being too conservative and you needed to open it up. In the second half you guys were pretty conservative. You touched on this a little. J.T. was a little rattled after the first interception. Also the offensive line, as you reflect on it, do you think you guys were too conservative?
COACH MEYER: No, I think we did what we had to do to win the game. It was ugly; it was nasty. I didn’t like it. No one, I’m sure, any Ohio State fan, if we do our phone call and let people call and rip us to death, it would be interesting. We’re not going to do that, but we won the game in a tough environment, and our freshman quarterback threw a pick 6 three times; offensive line gave up quick sacks against a very good defensive line, but no excuse. You just gotta get better.

Yeah, it was a little when you’re playing good defense, at one point you take away the final drive, I want to say we held them to under 200 yards offense, and you’re playing very good defense, you’re getting pressure on the quarterback. It’s called game management.

And sometimes I watch TV, sometimes and I’m like, what are they doing. Win the game. Sometimes fans don’t want to they want to throw, throw, throw; do this; where is the reverses? Where is this. And you look at the score and you’re up 17 nothing, and you gotta do what you gotta do to win that game, and that’s what happened during the course of that game.

Q. I know there’s a lot of interest in the first college football playoff rankings coming out tomorrow. I know it’s probably not on your mind right now, but have you taken a chance to familiarize yourself with the criteria, and with the committee more than computers, do you feel like there’s maybe more of an emphasis on so called style points heading into games like Saturday?
COACH MEYER: The BCS is no different in my opinion. There was I think style points are real. Does that affect the way we go about our business, not at all. I have no idea what their criteria is. But I imagine, everything I hear is it’s very similar the BCS and the playoffs are the same thing. Instead of the Top 2 you gotta get in the top four.

Q. A ton of one loss teams out there, obviously five major conferences battling for those four spots. Do you think the BIG TEN should and will be in the conversation at the end of the year?
COACH MEYER: I think so. I don’t have in any idea what the I think Michigan State is playing great football right now. They’re the top team in the BIG TEN right now. They’re playing great. Not good. So I don’t know.

Q. If you have players who are 18 to 20 years old whose focus can wander from time to time, does Illinois’s win against Minnesota help you a lot this week?
COACH MEYER: In the videotape, I say this quite often, the videotape because they’ve already got today they came in for an hour and a half and we put the Penn State game away, and they’re going to come in again today, and they’re going to get another 30, 45 minutes of videotape on the opponent, and that usually wakens you up. If they were lousy, then you’d have a problem, and the good thing is for our conference and them, Illinois won. Illinois is much better. I know they lost their quarterback, but they’re playing much better. I just spent all morning watching their defense, and they’re much better than a year ago on defense.

Q. Any other health issues other than J.T.?
COACH MEYER: Help me with that. I don’t think so. Was there someone got dinged in the game? Cam Burrows should be back. Frazier should be back this week. He had a sprained ankle. Devan Bogard is going to have surgery, ACL. Bri’onte is close and Ron Tanner is close. So that’s going to be a game time decision on those guys.

Q. Couple things, No. 1, you were a wiley defensive back back in your day. What is the difference being on top of a guy, covering the guy and then making the play? Eli had a couple of challenges the other night.
COACH MEYER: So did Vonn Bell. I actually talked to Chris Ash about that today and that’s giving the guys like Tyvis Powell was that guy, and he stepped in front of one and made a great interception. Some guys are really just naturally playing the ball. A lot of times those are the offensive players.

Joe Haden was an offensive player his entire career, and he was very natural at going after balls and stuff like that. Vonn Bell is usually much better than he was on that one play down on the far end zone. But as often as you can put him in practice, I’ll even go down to the scout team and I’ll tell them to throw picks. I’ll tell Stephen Collier, let this go, because I want to see those guys make interceptions.

Q. The reason I’m asking because obviously
COACH MEYER: Armani had

Q. Armani had a ball right there that would have ended the game. What do you tell those guys from a confidence standpoint or whatever about, you know, you still believe in them. What do you tell those guys this week?
COACH MEYER: We have a method of coaching here that the only time we’ll jump a kid and jump them really hard is the effort. Other than that, it’s all coaching and opportunities that you give them in practice, and that’s why I love our staff, and they do a good job with that. There’s no you don’t rip a kid. That was great effort, great coverage. We have to give them that. It’s called competitive excellence, how many times do we give you that opportunity in practice.

Q. Just to follow up on that previous one, college football playoffs, this is a committee, though. There’s going to be discussions between do you think that will make it a more inclusive kind of group at the end of the process, meeting teams from around the country? What do you kind of expect from the fact they’re going to have discussions?
COACH MEYER: Tim, I couldn’t tell you I think Barry Alvarez is on the committee, and other than that, I’m not quite sure who is, and that’s just because I’m good friends with Coach Alvarez, and he’s a great guy. That’s all I know. I spend zero time on that. We gotta try to find a way to win our seventh game.

Q. You said J.T. will be somewhat limited in this week’s practice. When you have a situation like that, do you already kind of know how many reps he’ll get throughout the week? Do you have to play it by ear? How do you manage a situation like that?
COACH MEYER: I think each player is different. He’s a guy that’s not going to say he’s one of the toughest cats I’ve ever been around. To think what he did to that game, I’m just so impressed by that.

To say I knew that, I didn’t know what. What he did, now, how many guys could have done that, had a very serious injury MCL injury is a serious injury, and to go in, and he won he got hit on the three yard line. I didn’t realize that until one of my friends who watched it on TV says, unbelievable. I said what happened, because on video it’s hard to see. I guess the television copy they showed it, and he got on the three yard line, and he bulls his way against Penn State’s defense to win the game.

So we’re going to to answer your question, I don’t know. We’re going to see how he goes. He’s going to probably be a guy that you won’t tell that he’s limited. We’re just going to make sure he limited. Not on throwing. It’s on running.

Q. Obvious question, but how good is Joey Bosa playing right now? What do you see in him that has kind of elevated him even more?
COACH MEYER: I always go back to, and I say this all the time about Joey is I don’t see him changing, and if I do, it’s going to be a bad conversation, because what’s got him to this point is it’s also a credit to his dad who played the game and his high school program, St. Thomas. He’s a practice player. He goes out and practices and does a good job, and it’s effort, and that’s why you continue to see a guy like that improve. And he is getting better. He’s better than he was at the beginning of the season right now.

Early in the season he made some mistakes. We didn’t probably announce it, but he had some mistakes in the run game when he’s supposed to come under and he didn’t do that. He’s playing much better now.

Q. That winning play, what was your reaction?
COACH MEYER: I didn’t really see it until I came in the next day and watched it. It was a tailback that was trying to block that big monster, and he was actually supposed to loop out. He was contained on that, because we had a little pressure, bare pressure against him. That guard blocked down, tackle blocked out, and he took a step and it’s him in the back, and he just took it right into ’em. Obviously tremendous physical specimen what he was able to do. He’s a fast twitch guy that’s real big and strong. So great player.

Q. Urban, you’ve talked about how the defense played well, except for the last drive to tie the game. What do you think happened, they marched 19 plays, 77 yards to tie it up?
COACH MEYER: We had penalties along the way, and we played too soft. We gave up a couple of underneaths, and you give Penn State credit; the guy made a couple of tremendous throws, but that was a tough one to I think. Is that the one where Vonn Bell, the guy caught it on the two yard line, too?

Q. That was their score in overtime.
COACH MEYER: We just in my opinion played a little too soft and a little bend with no break, and the guy Hackenberg is a hell of a player, made a couple of throws that were outstanding.

Q. And you talked about after the game just the operation of the offense in the second half. You guys had put up so many points and so many yards, I know not against a defense like that, but the previous four games. Did you think you were rolling even against a defense that good, did you think this offense was going to be able to do whatever it wanted to do?
COACH MEYER: Not whatever it wanted to do, not against a run defense like that. You start becoming balanced a little bit, and I knew they had a bye week, and the bye week stuff sets up red flags in that offensive staff room because you can spend all your time working this, and you’re going to get something and Penn State did a very good job.

We’re checking our own tendencies more than we ever have right now because they’re making some good defensive calls against us right now, and we’re facing right now the BIG TEN’s got some really good someone gave me a list of there’s some teams, including ours, in the Top 10 or top 15 in defense. Penn State there’s no question that’s a Top 5 defense right now.

Q. And you guys put in Cardale just for one play on a short yardage thing. Was that like a wrinkle or was that because J.T. had the knee or what was
COACH MEYER: That was the head coach’s thing that didn’t work. (Laughs). He’s a big guy that runs well, and I knew J.T. had his thing, and they were doing a good job defending our short yardage, and we had some success early on with that play; and I thought a 250 pound quarterback could drop his pads. Instead, he jumped. So we’re going to keep his feet on the ground and[] get his pads down. That’s why.

Q. You’ve got a few disciples out there now, if you will. You talk about Charlie Strong, Mullen, etc. Tim Beckman was one. Because he’s struggled a bit, fourth year, he’s 10 and 22. Over the years has he consulted with you? Have you talked with him? And maybe now that he’s in the league you can’t do that, but advice to him?
COACH MEYER: It’s not advice. He’s a colleague and a good friend, so it’s more conversations about our families, and his father actually I’m very close with his father. He’s an old football coach. He was a real coach back when I call them.

Not advice. Certainly we don’t talk football because we’re in the same league, but a lot of respect for Tim. You watch his team, they’re getting better. Now it’s just a matter of how much better can they get, because I think their players are well coached. I’m just speaking about their defense. Even Tom Herman said this is one of the better coached defenses we’re going to face. So more friendship conversation than anything else.

An Interview With: COACH COOMBS

Q. Tyvis has made some big plays in the secondary, big turnovers, going back to the Michigan game and then of course the interception at Penn State. Urban talked about how important it is for defensive players to play the ball the right way and how you guys had some drops. Talk about Tyvis’s growth as a playmaker and how he’s impacted your defense from a play making standpoint.
Kerry Coombs: Yeah, I think Tyvis is playing with great confidence. I think that confidence comes from study, from Tyvis is a very diligent worker in the film room, on the practice field, spends a lot of extra time. I think that gives you an incredible advantage on the field, in a game when it’s played that you haven’t played the other team, but if you’ve played them in your mind, you’ve seen them on film, you have an anticipation of what’s coming. And he plays with very, very great energy and effort, and I think that puts him in places to make plays.

I thought that interception Saturday night was spectacular, coming across the field, running in front of the receiver, laying out, and making that play. I thought and that’s just typical of what Tyvis is doing right now.

Q. How have you seen his evolution as a playmaker? Obviously he’s been somebody that you’ve included and the team has relied on since he’s been a freshman.
Kerry Coombs: Well, you’ve got to remember he spent a year as a red shirt. He got here early, and Tyvis’s growth is directly related to his maturity, his growth as a man and as he begins to take on more and more, and he’s a leader right now on the defense, he’s a leader in the back end and as he begins and continues to take on more of that role, it just enhances everybody around him. I’ve noticed, and I think we all have in Tyvis, tremendous leaps and strides in this season, knowing that he’s coming in, he’s going to be a starter, none of that there’s a difference when you’re fighting to get a job and when you have a job, and he’s got a job, so he can take another step I think in his development that way.

Q. Coach Meyer was talking about how well the defense played at Penn State except for that last drive in regulation.
Kerry Coombs: Yep.

Q. Was there anything on that last drive that stood out to you? There was a penalty, but what stood out?
Kerry Coombs: There was a couple of penalties. There was a 19 play drive for 77 yards. There were things I think we’d love to as players and coaches go back and do differently. I think you have a mindset based on the amount of time left in the half or left in the game what you’re trying to accomplish, make sure there aren’t big plays, and then we had the quarterback sneaks and those kind of things that extended the drive, a couple of missed tackles, a couple of missed opportunities, a couple of balls that we didn’t catch that we would like to have back.

I don’t know that we would do anything differently. I think our kids rose to the occasion. I know that sounds odd because they caught us, but they only caught us; they didn’t go ahead of us. We walked out of there with another chance to play and line up and play in overtime, and I think that that was important, as well.

It was a momentum shifter. I think our team was back on our heels a little bit there in that last drive, and that’s a tough place to play and a tough situation to be in.

Q. Teams have defensive backs with a dropped interception do push ups as kind of punishment on the practice field. Do you guys do anything similar to that? Do you have to take penalties if you do it in the game?
Kerry Coombs: We don’t do penalties for doing it in the game. We talk about it. There’s not a kid in the world that goes out there with the intention of dropping a ball. I think we all understand that. At the same time, we call them MOBPs, missed opportunity to make a big play, and we made those, and so that’s extra time on the jogs, it’s extra time in functional work, catching balls, turning around and having to see it suddenly. There’s some things obviously that we’re going to work on today that are going to be beneficial to that for all of our guys, but we do have things that we do with them when we drop them in practice, and to be honest with you, we’ve caught the ball extremely well in practice this year. It’s something that will be a continued area of emphasis for us this week.

Q. Is there an amount of time or a number of balls on the jugs per drop or anything like that?
Kerry Coombs: No, what I would say to you is that what we would like for all of our players is to adopt a mindset of being a pro, and what a pro does is he works on the things that he’s deficient in. You always enhance your strengths but you try to work on the things that you’re deficient in, so I think our guys know that. They will spend a lot of time, and it’s time on their own, that they’re going to go out there and they’re going to get some work done.

The biggest thing is you can’t stand in front of the jugs machine and catch the ball like this. It’s not functional. You’ve got to get a scout team quarterback to throw you the ball, a punter to throw you the ball. You’ve got to go at the jugs side to side, you’ve got to catch the ball in different arenas, because the ones that we did not catch were not ones where the guy said here’s the ball. It’s turning around, see the ball and grab it, and that’s the functional part of it.

Q. Illinois has gone from when Wes Lunt was quarterback throwing about 61 percent of the time to 37 percent since. Early season tape, how valuable is that, and how much have they changed?
Kerry Coombs: Well, they’re different. They’re running the ball more, obviously. You just articulated that for us, but the kid is a this kid is a dynamic runner, but you can’t not cover guys, and they still have the passing game and the same attack that they’ve had in the past, so they’re going to get guys down the field.

I think it actually expanded their offense rather than shrunk it. So I think for us we’ve got to defend it’s not that you throw out the early tape, you’ve got to defend the things that they’ve put on film, but there’s got to be a greater emphasis for what they’re doing right now.

Q. Do you think that kind of the near death experience Saturday will really pay off?
Kerry Coombs: Near death? That’s a little strong. A little strong. Do I think what about it?

Q. How much do you think that’ll benefit you
Kerry Coombs: I will say this: That was a great character win. That was a great character win. You’re not supposed to win in that situation. You get caught from behind in an environment like that and then go behind in overtime going into their student section. You are not supposed to win that game. The only way you win that game is if the men on your team are men of incredible character and resilience, and they are, and that was a fantastic finish. Do I think it makes a difference this week? I don’t know.

I think this: You can look every guy in that locker room in the eye and say you have proved something to yourself and your teammates about the kind of man you are, now let’s go enhance that this week. Let’s take that energy, let’s take how we finished that game, and let’s let it carry us forward.

So yeah, I think it can be a great benefit. Fix the things that allowed us to get caught, but let’s not forget, we were in a tough, tough environment, and we came out on top.

Q. Special teams question: How valuable is Cameron Johnson?
Kerry Coombs: Well, I’m going to be honest with you. It’s not just Cameron, but Cameron is remarkable. I’ve got him down for 19 punts now, and think 12 of the 19 have been on the 11 yard line in, which is a ridiculous number. It’s a function of who we are as a football team. It’s the plan to win. We are not going to hesitate to punt when the ball is there at the midfield, 45 , 40 yard line to pin them down. We’ve kept great track of where we are. We’re No. 1 in the country in field position differential, offensively and defensively, and that is a huge factor for us.

We talk about it every week as an entire team, and everybody is responsible. The offense is responsible for getting a couple 1st downs, the defense is responsible for three and outs. We’re all responsible for ball security because those make a factor in field position, and then our units, our coverage units, our kickoff and punt team have to get down the field and hold the other team down inside the areas where we want them to be. Our returners have to pop the ball out. We’ve been doing much better in those phases of the game. And then you have to have your specialists perform. Your long snapper has got to be great, your punter has got to be great, and your kicker has got to be great, and Cameron Johnson right now, I don’t know that there can be anybody better in the country at doing what he does.

Practice on Thursday is an amazing thing because we ask him to drop that ball on the 8 yard line, and I cannot tell you how many times that ball hits the 8 yard line when he’s working that drill. It’s like telling a guy to take his pitching wedge out there and put it in a hole, and he just keeps doing it. So he’s very, very valuable.

Q. How much does Illinois’s win over Minnesota on Saturday help you guys to get your players to focus on Illinois?
Kerry Coombs: I’ll be honest with you; to me that’s a non factor. We didn’t play well last year when we were there. They know that, defensively. I think that they’re a very, very capable football team. Our guys are going to see that on film.

So I don’t know that that win or loss we have great respect for them and their coaches, and I know that our players do, so I think our kids will be focused. It’s 8:00, it’s in the Shoe, we’re going to come out with our feet not touching the ground on Saturday night.

Q. Their quarterback, what stands out about him? Obviously he’s had to step it up.
Kerry Coombs: He’s making plays. He’s a playmaker. Whether he’s running the ball, distributing the ball to a variety of receivers, reading the option game, he is a playmaker, and I think he’s got great momentum right now, and so that’s to me that’s what stands out. Last week you would say, well, that kid is a big, tall gunslinger. He’s got a strong arm. This guy is a playmaker.

Q. Doran Grant the other day had a Batman tee shirt on and we asked him who’s your Robin, and he named you.
Kerry Coombs: Oh, he did, did he?

Q. My point is if you see him
Kerry Coombs: Let me have a little conversation with Doran today. I’m his Robin?

Q. I thought you were the alpha, but anyway
Kerry Coombs: He’s the Joker. We’re going to have an issue.

Q. Has he blossomed as a personality? What have you seen different about him?
Kerry Coombs: Doran, I love Doran Grant. I know you know that already, but Doran is a very funny guy. He does impressions and impersonations, and he never does them around because he knows I’m going to rip him. But he’s got a great sense of humor. I think the thing that I appreciate most about Doran is the way that he is able to lead in a very firm manner, and that is that’s refreshing to see because in today’s society, pure leadership is not something I don’t think that’s valued a great deal.

We’re watching film this morning, and I’m having a conversation with one of the other secondary players in the room about a particular technique, and he’s kind of mumbling around and he’s not really articulating the answer very well, and Doran says, come on, man, it’s this and it’s this, with firmness. Now, Doran can go in the locker room and yuk it up and hug them up and be that guy, but when it’s time to go, he can look those guys in the eyes like a laser right now, and the way he’s playing and the way he’s leading is making a real difference in the back end. He’s the only experienced guy back there. He’s the only senior. He’s a lot of only things, and we need him to do that, and he’s doing it, and I think that’s because of the stuff that Coach Meyer has spent so much time on with him and others in a leadership capacity.