Sept. 24, 2012
An Interview With Coach Meyer
COACH MEYER: Grade out. Extremely productive. Five tackles, one assist tackle for loss to sack, interception, forced fumble, fumble recovery. 29 production points.
And our defensive player of the game was Christian Bryant, was 93 percent grade out. We, on the back end, make a huge deal out of the point of attack. Because a lot of times they’re not at the point of attack; when they are, they have to make the play, obviously. He was eight of nine and he had four tackles, four assists, forced fumble. Big hit. And 12 production points.
On offense, champions were played his best game as a Buckeye, Reid Fragel. Played very well. Very impressed. Best game of the year, really best game of his career.
Braxton Miller graded out as champion. Philly Brown graded out as champion. Four catches, 67 yards, two big plays. Jake Stoneburner, with the point of attack blocker for the day and really did a nice job for us.
Evan Spencer graded out as champion at blocking and then offensive player of the week was Jordan Hall, had 105 yards rushing. I guess that was the first time in his career. Averaged over six yards per carry. Three explosive gains.
Kicking game, our scout team player of the week was Bryce Haynes, did a nice job of covering down on our punts. Down him inside the 10 yard line. Big challenge. A lot of credit to this team. We’re getting ready to play.
I think we’ve seen some good defenses in my career. And this is one of the best. This is very well thought out. They’re going to take away the run and force you to throw the ball down the field.
Very good players. Very, very good players. A bunch of NFL players on their defensive line. We have our work cut out for us. Offensively, there’s no secret what they’re trying to do. I don’t think their receivers get enough credit. They’re big and athletic. I think the new quarterback is eventually, they’re coming together as an offense as well.
So with that, I’ll certainly answer any questions for you.
Q. Can you take us through the punt block? Was there an adjustment that needed to be made or missed and collectively the special teams on Saturday, given how involved you are, your thoughts on that?
COACH MEYER: It was a missed assignment. You’re supposed to block two. If you don’t block two, something bad happens. And because of injuries, we had a lot of young players, that was his first rep in the game rep. So we did not do a good job preparing him.
But, no, it wasn’t like an overload or something like that. The guy is supposed to block him. He didn’t block him. So that was a bad start. The way that game started, we called a deep shot to Devin Smith to start the game. We missed a block and he was behind him by about 15 yards. And we got pressure. And then two plays later we drug out the punt team, I think 7 0, they missed a field goal or something. So not the way you’d like to start that kind of game.
The kickoff, pooch kickoff, landed a couple of yards behind our tackle. Stand there and catch it. And gotta put on the tip sheet: Catch the ball if it’s kicked to you.
In all seriousness, that’s a major error. And we just gotta cover it. We have to do a better job getting that ready. What was the other one? Kickoff out to the 20 yard line, ran into a punter. It was a bad day for special teams. Have to get it fixed.
We’re playing six or seven true freshmen starting off kickoff right now. It’s probably too many. I’m going to readjust that and take a look at it. Just trying to get some of the young guys in the game a little bit.
Q. Over the last four games each game you guys have won, fewer offensive plays than the week before. How big of a concern is that because obviously you need plays to score points?
COACH MEYER: We need plays and we need drives. I saw a stat somewhere where we had 10 drives over 70 yards or something. Last year they had all nine. You should have 10 in a frickin’ game. At some point we’ll do that around here. We didn’t have that. So very disappointed.
Is that a concern was your question? The answer is yes. It’s a combination of getting off the field on third downs on defense when we’ve got them backed up and sustaining drives on offense. I know that’s rather obvious, but it is a concern.
Q. Now that you’ve had a chance to watch the tape, analyze it, do you feel better about where you are as a team heading into the Big Ten season?
COACH MEYER: I do. I did something yesterday where I want our focus on MSU, on a team we better put all our focus on.
And so I just put together a reel of four drives and it was about as well done as we played all year. I’m talking about players that are heading into graduate level football like holding the five man pressure, the quarterback being able to hold one of the underneath droppers as opposed to panicking sitting there feeding, which I saw our quarterback do many times during the maturity. As he feels pressure, underneath droppers, you have to hold him and throw to Philly Brown. He did that with seeing Reid Fragel, we call it wedge 90, where you block in the zone block, guy disappears and go up to the next level. Those are all graduate level things, high level that normally at some point we’ll have a graduate level offense. We don’t have that right now.
I did that more for me, I think. I have to eat lunch and I wasn’t about to eat lunch after what I saw. I said put together two, three, four good drives for me. One thing about this team, when it’s time to go win a game, to date they’ve gone and won a game. But we are what we are right now, and that’s just a workman like team that has to get better.
Q. You went against Nick Saban a few times when he was at Alabama and you were Florida. You remember those times. Do you see any similarities with him and Dantonio’s defense, and what are the kind of common traits between those?
COACH MEYER: Commitment to stop the run. I think coaching against Coach Saban for he’s a little more complicated in the pass defense. But very similar pro style, pound you on offense. Very similar I didn’t think about it, but very similar type mentality. Very sound kicking game which they do.
Q. Urban, Michael Bennett unable to play this week. How much thought have you given to redshirting him?
COACH MEYER: I didn’t even know I did hear that he had a redshirt. We’re not thinking redshirting at this point. But I think every indication is he’s going to play. If he doesn’t, then I’ll address that. But if he plays, he plays.
Q. Barnett and Roby, looks like they’ll play this week or too early to tell?
COACH MEYER: I’d say probable on both. We’ll give an update. They ran around yesterday. Roby has a shoulder, Barnett C.J. has an ankle. I saw them both earlier today. They’re bright eyed, ready to go, getting treatment. I’d say probable at this point. We need them, obviously. Hyde is very probable. So pretty closest to cleared.
Q. Given that about Carlos, what can you envision for the run game with Jordan and Carlos in terms of both in the game this time for this year and where do you think your run game would be then?
COACH MEYER: There’s a strong commitment for this team. We’re playing to stop the run, like the whole defense is there to stop the run. So we’ll have to be very efficient and not just beat your face against the wall and do things that we can do.
So Carlos, Jordan Hall and Braxton Miller, we have to find a way to get some yards running the ball. It has to be some creative stuff because to turn around and hand the ball off, we tried it last year a little bit and it went reverse. It’s a very good defense against the run. We’ll have to be very efficient. That means we just don’t want to waste time.
Q. How much time will Carlos and Jordan be on the field?
COACH MEYER: Working on that now. I put together a drawing on the board with both of them in there. I think that’s what you want. We want those guys in there.
Q. Two weeks ago there was talk about how you challenged your wide receivers going up against Cal’s quarterbacks. Similar thing going against Adams and Denard, how good are they, seeing what you’ve seen so far?
COACH MEYER: Very good, I think Adams is a very good player. Probably as good as the guy Devin did answer that, but he made very good plays, very good. It’s no secret what they’re doing. They walk up on you and say I got you and the other guys go stomp something else. So the challenge will be there again. And that’s for us to move the ball on offense that’s going to be a big part of what we have to do.
Q. Urban, I know you’re focused on winning the game. But have you noticed the Big Ten this year been down generating criticism about the conference. Is whatever you’ve seen in your perspective
COACH MEYER: I can only compare to what’s the strongest conference I have a lot of experience in, one, and I can tell you this defense we’re getting ready to play will be in the top couple of that conference. That tells you the quality of player, number one. And then they do a good job on defense.
So I have not had I haven’t I’m just watching what I watch and that’s the first four games which weren’t a whole lot of Big Ten teams. So I always like to save my judgment until we get playing. But all I know is this team we’re getting ready to play is what I’m used to seeing on defense the last seven years or six years.
Q. You mentioned Reid Fragel coming along, where is the line overall? I know the team gave up nine sacks against Michigan State last year. I know they’re different teams. But how well do you feel
COACH MEYER: Getting better. Nowhere where we expect. That’s the message I had for the team yesterday was that a lot of things are going to change as we continue to grow.
One thing that will not change is the expectation level. And that’s to lead the Big Ten in offense and eventually lead the country in offense. That’s our goal. I’m not saying that will happen, if it will happen. But our expectation level won’t change. So our offense lines, the apex or the part that controls that. And right now we’re not playing at that level.
So am I disappointed? Absolutely. Do I understand the growth and tight end that has just been moved and three returning starters and all the other excuses I’ve heard and will continue to hopefully not hear, but they’re much improved. Especially that fifth guy. Once we get that fifth guy playing, Reid, we only got him for eight more games or whatever it is. But it’s nice to see him make that improvement.
Q. Kind of going off that, you keep those expectations so high. How do you at the same time keep it so that your guys aren’t afraid to make a mistake, because Etienne Sabino said he thought maybe they were trying to be too perfect and that’s why they’re tentative?
COACH MEYER: I’ve heard that. That’s fine. That’s called maturity and grow through it as opposed to I’d much rather have a team trying to play as opposed to, hey, I missed my gap or whatever. So I’ve heard that before. And we demand, I don’t want to say demand perfection, because we don’t. We demand guys attempting to get perfection and we won’t change that.
And especially Sabino who I ran and I trust his comments is something that I have to emphasize, it’s called coaching, making sure if you make a mistake that’s fine, just make sure you’re making it real fast. We’re not doing that. That’s one of the issues I have. If we make a mistake it’s not point A to point B, it’s making a mistake.
Q. You’ve expressed concerns just about the defense. How does that how does the challenge of Le’Veon Bell step it up even more?
COACH MEYER: Once again, if it turns into a 200 yard rushing day where they just lock you into next week, then we’re going to lose the game.
So I think our defense is kind of built for this. It’s not built for sideline to sideline thinking dunks. So that’s a challenge, the conversation that I have with our defensive staff as well. But your question was very easy to answer. That is a huge concern. That is the concern on that side of the ball.
But they’ve got a really good tight end. I guess he used to play basketball. I was watching him. Big guy, athletic, can make plays. So we have to and I was hoping I didn’t see what I saw. And it’s not because of lack of athleticism at receiver.
Q. Garrett Goebel said that they planned on going after the first punt, that they were going to block it and score a touchdown. Did he see something in the scheme?
COACH MEYER: No, he changed the scheme. Block that guy, and he didn’t block that guy. He said that, huh?
Q. Block and score a touchdown.
COACH MEYER: Keep moving. They did a very nice job.
Q. This is the first time first four games you’ve been home, confines of the stadium. First time this team is going on the road. Speaking of that challenge, also is there I know every game’s important, but is there any difference, any different feel this week that it’s Big Ten season?
COACH MEYER: I’m hoping there is. I saw a little bit last night, but our whole focus on Sunday is victory meal and enjoy the win and let’s correct some errors and move on.
And that’s what it is. When they start rolling in today and obviously tomorrow is going to be the preparation days. But I do feel a different pepper in the step. I would expect it. This is a rivalry game. This is a game that’s going to have an instrumental impact on the Big Ten conference.
So I feel it. And plus going on the road. I think going on the road is sometimes overrated. I think it’s a quality opponent when you go on the road. Going on the road against a team that you’re far superior, that’s not a big deal. Going on the road against this outfit, this is a significant challenge for us.
Q. You talk about they’re going to force you to pass the football. Are you good enough now to tweak your plan, make a new plan, come at them with some new stuff to make that happen?
COACH MEYER: I think so. And also utilize our guys Devin didn’t play particularly well Saturday, but he’s a guy he’s our down the field shot guy. I think the game would have been a whole different ballgame if we protect better on that first play, he runs right by him.
I’m feeling much better about our quarterback. If you notice his fundamentals are much improved from where it was from day one to day whatever it is. You can see in the highlight when you talk about, you always talk about the stripe of his helmet, I’m going to throw the ball over here. You just can’t stare there all the time. He’s doing a very good job.
Tom Herman, I mean that’s really good it’s fun to watch, go watch a highlight of a couple of passes he threw. His stripe of his helmet is this way and he sets his feet, that’s the trust between him and the wideout and it’s just his growth as a quarterback.
Q. Changing the play 20 times; is that right?
COACH MEYER: Change the play?
Q. Audibles on Saturday?
COACH MEYER: This past week? Yeah, we changed them a bunch. I don’t know if it was 20. But there was a bunch of times he walked up and changed the play and did a good job. Just gotta execute better.
Q. Sort of answered that. But this was Braxton’s second start last year, he looked pretty overwhelmed. How far did you see that as I’m sure you saw that. Can you compare him now to then?
COACH MEYER: I’m not going to watch the game. I’ve watched a lot of the cut ups of the game. What I mean by that is you watch the formation and you watch the down and distance. You don’t have time to watch the whole game. But, yeah, it looked and we came out trying to throw a little bit and had a bunch of sacks. And the defense forces you to do that. So Braxton, you said it was his second start, yeah, he’s come a long way.
Q. The traditional goal in this program is to win the Big Ten. Ineligible for the championship game. Do you restate or redefine that goal in any way?
COACH MEYER: Well, we did the first time we talked about that was yesterday in our team state of the union meeting we had and this is you have an opportunity to go win your side of the Big Ten. So that is a goal. And that was not a goal when we were playing UAV and Miami and Central Florida and Cal. It’s a goal now. That’s why we addressed it.
So are we playing for something? You’re darned right we are. It’s really important here. Look around. Really important.
Q. Back to Le’Veon a little bit. We had a chance to watch him here locally growing up playing high school football. How have you seen him? I know you haven’t you might have had a game of his last year on commentary, I think, but I’m curious what you see in him that makes him a unique threat?
COACH MEYER: He reminds me of Ron Dane even more athletic. A guy that’s extremely powerful, guy. Times up his blocks very well and runs through tackles and you see athleticism that usually people that size don’t have.
To tell you his athleticism, he returns punts as well. That might be the biggest punt returner in the history of college football. Bob, can you do a study on that for us. 250 pound punt returner. I mean, you have to be just think about that for a second go back and catch punts.
Q. You said you put together the drives, which I assume meant you wanted to pick up their spirits, how did you feel before that or Saturday night?
COACH MEYER: Terrible. Terrible. I think coaches have a tendency, we all expected to play better. I thought we had a clean game plan. I thought we had a very good Friday. I would just like to evaluate Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, getting to learn how to practice better on Tuesday and Wednesday that’s how I judge if a team’s ready.
I felt good about our plan. It wasn’t chaotic, it was very clean. The defense we saw wasn’t going to be chaotic like the other games. And I was very disappointed we didn’t play better. You watch four drives and you feel like, okay, we do get it. People are stepping with the right foot.
Our right tackle has not played like a right tackle for Ohio State as playing like one. You see a quarterback in the spring practice, when we’re throwing the ball over here, he was, the whole world knew he was throwing over there and he’s doing a good job. So I’m seeing enough improvement that he gets you real excited.
And I know the way I felt. Right when we finished watching that drive I said run those, I had our staff offensive staff do that again, and this is about noon. And the players are coming in at 3:30. That’s all we’re going to show them. Because I want these guys with a great taste in their mouth get ready to go play a big time college football game. That doesn’t mean go pull out a couple of plays we have to have corrected. Let’s go have a positive week and it was.
Q. Just given the issues that the special teams had with a couple of plays on Saturday, what would you say the progress of that unit is in comparisons to what your expectations were coming into the season?
COACH MEYER: Very good question. Expectation level like the other two phases are not where we need to be. However, it’s not because of like the scheme issue. It’s because of maybe immaturity that we’re forced or I was playing some young players that weren’t first time in a game and here it is. We locked up. So the concern is there. However, the try hard and the coaching and the emphasis will be there and we’ll get better.
Q. Had a couple of periods of tackling and trying to shore it up in practice. Do you think that had any positive impact and would you do it again this week?
COACH MEYER: Sure, we’re going to do it again this week. It was not a finished product by all means but it was much better than it was the week before. The aggressiveness of our back end of our defense right now is a little bit of a concern. And that’s being discussed. And we have some thoughts on that for this week because you have to.
You know, you face those, the teams that go sideline that think and dunk, it’s a whole different process than when it’s this.
Q. Couple weeks ago you said that you wanted more pressure on the quarterback last week. After the game you said you prefer the more type coverage. How comfortable do you feel with the way the scheme is designed?
COACH MEYER: Very comfortable. The scheme’s not the issue right now. It’s matching it to our personnel, who is in and who is out. Doran Grant played very well. That’s his first game. And the way that team, we went into that game, the way that team comes in here beats Ohio State, we expected to play much better on special teams. Much better on offense, was launching the ball down the field. And we didn’t allow so they didn’t score a touchdown.
I’m going to use the word “painful,” because I know it was painful for people to watch. It was painful for me to watch to. However, at the end of the day keep them out of the end zone. We did. Not worried about the scheme. When we get the personnel in there I believe we have to stress our corners a little more. The problem is when you stress corners means linebacker has to play man coverage on someone. That’s what we did a couple times against Cal. And that was a problem. So make the corners play man but there’s three other receivers somewhere you have to cover as well.
Q. (Question off microphone).
COACH MEYER: I don’t know that. You have to ask Luke about that.
Q. Where is his development now?
COACH MEYER: He’s getting better. A year ago I know he wasn’t even in the plans. Now he’s either starting or co starting or playing, and I don’t know why, if that’s in case true. That’s something to ask Coach Fickell. But he keeps coming.
Q. If Reggie is back healthy, could Doran Grant start on the other side?
COACH MEYER: He sure could, especially after the way he played. But before Travis got dinged up he was playing at a high level. He didn’t play great Saturday but absolutely. I think three guys that can go play corner for us right now. And the guys that have the best weeks of practice, best week of practice will play.
Q. (Indiscernible) was defensive player of the game a couple of times. Productive game. Everybody knew he was a good player, but what you’ve seen the first four games, did you think it was what you thought it would be?
COACH MEYER: With him, because he’s such a quality person and a smart guy, I think the sky’s the limit, I don’t think we’ve touched where he can be. I think Mike Grable is doing a nice job fundamentally. But he’s still got some development to do. And when he does I think he’ll be one of the best players in the country.
Q. You and Rod Smith both missed or didn’t make the plane trip to Jacksonville. You weren’t going to. But he missed the plane. How far has he come from that moment or that episode to getting your trust and now scoring touchdowns, what were your conversations kind of like in January that kind of brought him around?
COACH MEYER: The conversation in January is probably you’re not going to make it; it’s probably best you move on and play somewhere where you can play, because it’s obvious you’re not good enough to be here. Real honest conversation. Had a talk with his father, great guy. Came down and sat in my office, said this is exactly where your son is. The option is there and we’ll sign the paper and move on. He wanted to stay.
He didn’t do great as the spring went on, moved on, moved on did not have a great summer. Then something clicked these last few weeks. I mean, he’s on a mission right now. He’s a good guy. I love Rod Smith. I love guys that turn it around. Now that’s one game.
But he earned that right to carry the football at Ohio State and score that touchdown. That wasn’t a mop up. We had a very set 12 package, one back two tight ends. And he was the back to go in that game. So what a great message for our entire team, because there’s guys lower higher he was lower than most guys on this team, to see him rebound, his grades are doing well. He’s got a good look about him. It’s called maturity and it’s happening.
Q. Does he still have is he still in your plans even though you’re getting Carlos back?
COACH MEYER: Absolutely. Absolutely. If he continues as is. He’s in the plans for several more years, too. He’s a talented guy. But it’s just how the family got involved.
We do that a lot. If we see a young person that’s kind of there’s got to be something going on that we’re not aware of. And so I think having because I have two girls in college. I want to know right now what’s going on. And I think that’s our obligation. And his dad and his family are fantastic.
Q. Barry Sweitzer said a long time ago when he had Jamal Hall, he said go out there make a play, beat Texas. Could you talk about Denard Robinson beating this team last year, does it sometimes just come down to that, have you ever done anything like that?
COACH MEYER: I did it Saturday. I’ve done it there he games in a row. Come here, go win the game, pal. Yeah. That sounds like something Barry Sweitzer would say. You break it down to its simplistic form and that’s get your best player to go win your game. And he’s playing at a very high level. And his response is what you would expect from a great player.
Q. Coach, is it a compliment to say it’s a bend but don’t break defense, and if not, why is it not okay to give up 500 yards zero points?
COACH MEYER: I think that’s a very good question, because at the end of the day your job is to go win a game. I’m not comfortable we have a plan to win around here. You see the field position chart. We make a big deal once we pin them in, get them in there, give us the ball back and let’s go. That’s not happening.
We have a lot of punts saved where we’re getting the ball back on the 12 yard line. That’s because we give up some yards, give up some runs but we’re not giving up the home run yards.
So I am not personally that’s not how I want Ohio State defense to be played for our careers. However, I do understand injury issues. I do understand when a team comes rolling in here with good athletes at receiver and they’re not going to be systematically beat Ohio State. So there’s a lot of reasons. But your question is I think that’s a question of a lot of people. A lot of coaches have that same discussion.
And at the end of the day keep them out of the end zone. That’s where we’re at right now.
Q. After four games, there’s starting to be a little chatter now about expectations versus reality in this team. I don’t know if the expectations were realistic going in, or how much you pay attention to that. But how much of this start is not surprising to you? You used terms like “average football team” and “we need to work on this,” “work on that,” is there any aspect of being where you are right now that’s not surprising you give where you were when you started?
COACH MEYER: I thought we’d be further ahead. I was well aware of our shortcomings. I didn’t foresee an injury to one of our defensive ends. I didn’t foresee that we missed two defensive backs. I thought we’d be more aggressive in certain areas.
I wasn’t aware of like you said, I know we’re Ohio State. And there’s all kinds of expectations here. And I still I’m not giving up. I think by the end of the year this might be hell of a football team. I mean, might be sooner than that.
There’s some people that gotta make some choices and do a better job in a lot of areas and get some young players experience. We’re playing more freshmen than any school in America. And sometimes it looks awful at times, but it’s our job to coach them through that and get them to be sophomores real fast.
So that’s where we’re at. So I still think we have potential to be a hell of a football team. By the end of the year I think people will be thinking, saying great things about Ohio State, I really do, if we continue to grow and mature.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.