Oct. 8, 2012
An interview with: COACH MEYER
COACH MEYER: How fragile college football is. All you have to do is watch it every weekend and see how fragile it is. The best thing about 6 0 is a chance to go 7 0. So that is our focus now.
Couple of champions for us on defense. We expect to play better on defense, however, some guys played tremendous for us. Christian Bryant, again, is a champion, four tackles, five assists, graded out at point of attack at 83%, and overall graded 91%. He’s cut down on his missed tackles. Still had a couple, but he plays with great intensity. He’s played a little banged up.
Our co player of the game on defense, our leader, our soul, John Simon, six tackles, one assist, five tackles for loss, two sacks, a force fumble, 33 production points his best game, he’s getting healthy.
Co player of the game as well on defense, it’s every week, making play opportunities from the corner. He’s 21 of 24 for an 88% grade out, 95 overall percent grade out. Three tackles, two assists, a pass broken up, two interceptions, a touchdown, and 27 production points. So that was our guys right there on defense.
On offense, tight ends, fullback, our leader. He’s graded out 86% his last two weeks. I’ve graded him A plus on leadership. When I say that in spring, I would not have graded him very high. But his leadership has been tremendous and instrumental in our practices and instrumental on the sidelines during the course of the game, and that is Zach Boren. Wide receiver, Philly Brown, graded out a champion. 87% grade out. Three catches. Had a good peel back block that sprung Braxton on his long run.
Offensive line did it again. Jack Mewhort graded out 90%, had five knock downs, no sacks, no pressures, no MAs. Playing very well for us. Love what he stands for.
Andrew Norwell, 63 snaps, 91% grade out, eight knock downs. One extra effort play, one hit nominee, another peel back block. I think it was on the same play, Braxton’s long run, no sacks, no pressure, no MMAs. And our Apex which is our center, 63 snaps, 81% grade out, five knockdowns, no sacks, no pressures, no bad snaps, that’s Linsely.
Offensive player of the week, 84% grade out, 28 carries for 148 yards, five yards a pop. Over half, 56% of his yards are after contact, post contact yardage, two big runs, four touchdowns, and one T.D. block when he sprung Braxton. He did lay the ball on the ground, however. I usually do not allow that to be player of the week, but he played very well for us, and that was our tailback Carlos Hyde.
Our special teams player of the week was Philly Brown. And our kickoff team, the piranhas Coach Coombs calls them because they’re not big enough to be sharks, they’re piranhas. I like the way he put that. That’s Bogard, Armani, Najee Murray and little Griff, and Zach Domicone did a really good job for us. Those are the guys. That was impressive. That was a very good kick returner.
Our punt coverage wasn’t as good. We’re not getting much hang time on our punts. Really disappointed right now, so we’ve got to do a better job. That said I’ll answer any questions for you.
COACH MEYER: Tremendous blow, very good player, but it goes farther beyond that. I made a comment a couple weeks ago the toughest thing about coaching and Sabino’s like a son and a brother to everybody. He’s an incredible human being. I love that guy. He’s hurting.
He talked to the team afterwards, and it was an emotional moment. This team’s getting pretty close because of guys like him. So that’s first. We’re going to miss him. He’s out. Best case, he did have surgery, I don’t know if Jerry told you. He had surgery. He had a plate put in. He has a broken tibia. Is that right? Not weight bearing. I think it is tibia, not weight bearing. So the best case is three weeks. The worst case is longer. We hope to get him back.
Q. How did he get hurt?
COACH MEYER: I have not asked that question. I should find that out. I don’t know. He only played 14 plays they said.
Q. Halfway through the scene it’s 6 0, we all know when it ends, but are the stakes higher now?
COACH MEYER: Oh, yeah. We’re not shy. We have state of the union every week with the players and they know. We’re not hiding it. That’s your Top 10 football team, and the stakes are real high. Obviously, you’re in the middle of your conference season as well too.
So my biggest concern is you’re starting like every team in America is dealing with physical games. Our last two games were really physical and we lost some players. Are the back ups ready? Do they want to be ready? That is the challenge I have. There are some guys I’m very concerned about as back ups. So that is the challenge right now.
Q. Some of the players were talking Saturday about the AP National Championship and that sort of talk. Is that okay with you for them to use that as motivation?
COACH MEYER: No, they were excited and I’m sure someone said, with all due respect, I’m sure the kid didn’t walk in and say that. Someone asked him that question, and I get it. I’ll chat with them about that. We’ve got to get I think we only completed seven passes and gave up a bunch of yardage. So we’ll handle that. We’re not going to talk about that stuff.
Q. Little off subject here. The couple from Zanesville had a baby girl and named her Braxton and their last name is Miller, they changed the O for an I to make it more girly.
COACH MEYER: I’m glad you clarified that.
Q. What’s that say about his growing folk hero status or just the devotion of OSU fans?
COACH MEYER: It’s both. I think the quarterback position, a lot of young Tebows running around this world too, I imagine. So, yeah, and he’s playing very well. The good thing is he’s very humbled. He has virtue that not many guys have. I know a lot of you guys know him. He’s a very humble guy. That is a credit to his family and high school coach who I just talked to today. But he’s a very humble guy. Just got to keep our eye on the target.
Q. Go back to what you talked about the offense stealing that pass, 371 yards rushing. How do you mix the two in your head? It was a pretty good night, right?
COACH MEYER: Great night.
Q. You still feel like there’s a lot left?
COACH MEYER: Oh, yeah. The thing I did see is we went into that game and the only guy that had a run of over 12 yards was our quarterback. We left the game with a bunch of big runs. One was a punt return which we all had to see that. The whole world, 107,000 people in that stadium right there had to see that, and that was Philly Brown.
You saw Rod Smith come out the other end of one. You saw Carlos Hyde come out the other end. So we need explosive plays in the offense. We crushed them last week in practice, and talking about it. We finally saw that. Nebraska does a good job in their coverage unit. We knew they did that. That’s a pro style, very good scheme, but it’s not conducive to quarterback run. So we felt going into that that we were going to run the quarterback, which obviously is our best player.
But our offensive line is the whole reason why we’re where we are today and feeling good after a big win is because the offensive line played. Tell it the way it is. Our offensive line is coming on. And I saw someone asked me yesterday or today, that we called that group non functional, because they were. We’re not going to lie to you. If they were non functional today, I’d tell you they’re non functional.
Our back ups are non functional. God bless us, if a shoe string breaks or something, we’re going to call timeout and get a new shoe string because we just don’t have the depth there right now.
Q. There were several runs where Braxton wasn’t touched or almost touched. Talk about the offensive line. Are they really getting dynamics as far as getting to the second level? What do you see in that development?
COACH MEYER: When I say offensive line, our tight ends are very good players. Zach Boren is playing very well. And Carlos Hyde got the touchdown block on the one where he came out.
If you could use the word dynamic with an offensive line, right now this is as good as I thought about an offensive line in a while. They’re really playing well, really playing well. And they’re just fantastic human beings. I mean, last night I go to victory and they’re all eating together. The offensive line, they’re dudes now. The good ones, the good offensive lines are always together. They always do things together, and their coach has done a very good job. Coach Warinner has done a very good job with them.
Now we got to get the next two, and Chase, and the meeting was not about glorifying our offensive line. But I went after some back ups. Taylor Decker has all the talent in the world, he should be rotating in there, and Chase Farris and Underwood are the next three that have to be ready to go and they’re not. So that is the pressure I’m going to put on them even more this week. They’re good guys and they have talent.
Q. As great as the second quarter was, you mentioned after the game the first quarter. You’ve been outscored in the first quarter. Can you put a finger on why?
COACH MEYER: Are we for the year? We’ve been outscored?
Q. 36 34.
COACH MEYER: We started good against Michigan State. We came right out of the chute. I think Cal we came out of the chute pretty quick. I remember the first quarter of the first game was brutal. I’m trying. I’m trying to evaluate as well. We made a huge deal about that before the MSU game, and then we actually made a huge deal about this one. They defended us very well.
Once again, good players on that other side, but we just couldn’t get it going. Once it got going, it got going. And Braxton’s our I remember over the headset saying it’s Braxton time, let him run the ball and get us started here. Let’s get on the other side of the 50 yard line where things ease up a little bit.
Q. Also, Josh Perry. How do you feel he did after?
COACH MEYER: Okay. Great kid. A local guy. Very talented. He’s just got to learn to release and let it go. But obviously, Coach Fickell had a conference with him, and I asked the same question. I meet with our defense and go through each guy. How did he play? He played okay. He’s got to play better. But he’s willing and a good person, and a lot of talent.
Q. We’re halfway point. You’ve been through this Heisman thing before. Where do you stand on promoting a kid, Braxton in this case? What do you look for? What is your definition of a Heisman candidate winner?
COACH MEYER: I usually don’t even speak of it when I’ve been asked the question until after the season. I’ve been lucky to have four Heisman candidates, Josh Harris at Bowling Green, Alex, and the left handed kid down there for three or four years, three years.
I mean, it’s an honor to be mentioned. I’ve been to that thing and it’s incredible for these kids. At the right time I don’t think Braxton’s a Heisman candidate right now. I think he’s certainly to watch. He’s got the ability. But then again, I don’t know who is. We’re only halfway through the season. In about two or three games I think you can start talking about that. I’m not talking to Braxton about it. We’re trying to win some games, so…
I think at the right time, he will be a candidate if he continues to play very well.
Q. Maybe I’m just going to drop the word AP in the question. But did you say earlier when you handled the state of the team, you said you’re a Top 10 team.
COACH MEYER: Uh huh.
Q. So you do take into consideration the coaches poll in the BCS, do you think that’s one way of gauging where you are what people think of you?
COACH MEYER: Sure. Especially if I was talking to a group of players out there, the reason they’re not in the USA Today poll and the BCS poll and all that kind of stuff, I wouldn’t talk to them about it because they didn’t deserve it. But last time I checked there wasn’t one player in this room maybe there was. I shouldn’t say that, because I’m not quite sure. But these players are just playing football, and they have a right to know where they stand on a national level.
You come to Ohio State, and that’s why we’re all here. You should have those discussions in the middle of October.
Q. Usually a coach will say we don’t look at the ratings or anything.
COACH MEYER: Not this coach.
Q. But also is this uniquely close in the circumstances that you’re dealing with?
COACH MEYER: No. We’re just trying to get to 7 0. The thing is, they’re going to talk about it when they go home, when they walk to class. They’re going to talk about it. Why not have here’s really where we’re at. We’ll have a conversation about that once it starts. We don’t talk about it in September. But once it gets going, absolutely, we’ll talk about it.
Q. Just on the Braxton name topic, are there any little Urbans? Have you heard a story of that?
COACH MEYER: Oh, careful how you ask that. No, I hope not (laughing).
Q. You’ve never heard anybody name their kid after you?
COACH MEYER: No.
Q. Is Josh Perry for sure
COACH MEYER: You guys are something (laughing).
Q. There are Tressels out there. Is Josh Perry for sure, do you think the answer at this point, or will there be things that you evaluate? Curtis Grant has started games this year. Could you move some guys?
COACH MEYER: This week will probably be a lot of nickel, so you’ve got Storm, and you’ve got Shazier. So I think it’s safer to ask Coach Fickell. Will he have a chance to visit with the media?
THE MODERATOR: He’s not scheduled, but we can ask.
COACH MEYER: You’re tough, Jerry. Don’t blame that on me. I got the Twitter thing, and everybody accused me of that (laughing).
Q. Talking about the depth or lack of depth in the offensive line. I think you’re at 76 scholarship guys right now. Do you feel it?
COACH MEYER: Oh, yeah. You feel it on special teams big time. Yeah, you see guys. Once again, the challenge that we are scoring our 63rd point of the night, and Jack Mewhort and Norwell are on extra point field goal. That shouldn’t happen. That’s wrong, and that’s where the young linemen have to step up and go play. That’s not right.
So we are definitely feeling the issues of a scholarship reduction, absolutely we are. Any time there is transition of a coaching staff, there is transition of players and we’re feeling that in a big way. When we lost a couple of D line men. That hurt us bad. It doesn’t show up until someone gets a turf toe or someone has an issue, then it really starts to surface, and we’re at that point right now.
We’ve got a couple of older linebackers and everyone else are freshmen. We’re at 76 you said, right? Yeah.
Q. 24/7 tieing up some loose ends last week. (Indiscernible) Jamie Wood having the surgery, and just those two guys, what the prospects are for them? They’re still in school, I presume to finish the term?
COACH MEYER: I don’t think he is. I think he just lost his love for the game ask wanted to get back closer to home. And Jamie, I think had two or three surgeries on that shoulder, right?
THE MODERATOR: This will be the second this year.
COACH MEYER: He was helping us. We need his help. He’s a great kid, a great kid.
Q. Do you foresee a chance for this to be a medical waiver? Will he have a chance to come back next year?
COACH MEYER: Jamie Wood? Right now we’re evaluating that. We’re looking after the best interest of him. Two shoulder surgeries are tough.
Q. Cardale Jones obviously put some comments out there. Anything you can talk about what happened with that?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, we’re getting ready to play a big time game in a great stadium and I get a bunch of text messages and phone calls about did you hear. So we suspended him immediately for the game. Very ignorant comment, but that’s a 19 year old making an ignorant comment, which makes him 1 of 460 million. So we’re moving on. I’ve moved on already.
We’ve had a good chat. He’s very apologetic. He does go to class in case people want to check, and he’s actually a hell of a kid, a heck of a kid, excuse me. It kind of surprised me.
Q. Sounds like a moment of weakness. He was a little frazzled.
COACH MEYER: Yeah. I’ve been there. Have you been there? Yeah, probably be there again. Probably be there again.
Q. Indiana obviously has had some pretty major struggles the last year and a half or so. But they played Michigan State very competitive?
COACH MEYER: They’re coming on.
Q. And what do they do well?
COACH MEYER: Offensively that guy’s a heck of a coach. He was at Northwestern back in the Randy Walker era. He was one of the originators of this up tempo. We actually coached against him when I was at Bowling Green in ’01. They had Zach, remember that whole crew? Tremendous. He was on the cutting edge.
Then he went to Oklahoma and we coached against him there, and they were tremendous with Bradford and that whole group. I think he’s one I’ve always loved his coaching. Tom Herrmann and I were talking about him today, Kevin Wilson, and we’ve stolen a lot of stuff. He’s an innovator. I mean, lot of respect for him as a guy. I know him very well too.
Indiana’s got the right coach now. He’s a tough guy. He’s a very good coach. They’re getting better in all phases. I wasn’t here last year, but I watched some of their film. They’re a much better team. They have pretty good players too. They’re throwing it they’re way up there in throwing, right? They throw the ball very well. I have not spent a lot of time watching their offense yet. I will later on in the week.
Q. Historically, you’ve been kind of a big time kind of person. But what did you see there? Were you just trying to flip the field? I thought after the timeout they might have suspected something?
COACH MEYER: You’re right, right, right, right. And we went away from it. I saw they’re a big hold up team. I watched the first two or three times where we did punt, and I thought it would be there and we needed a momentum shift. Because the offense was in reverse, and the defense eventually are going to give up some points to that talented group on Nebraska. Unless that the second fake punch did not work. I was reminded by my son, it doesn’t work and he was a little upset with me afterwards.
Q. You said when your team needs grounded, the best solution to that is a good workout. But are you getting to the point of the year where you’re getting diminishing returns from tough workouts? Do you have to back off at any point?
COACH MEYER: Well, we probably had our toughest workout for the back ups on Sunday, yesterday’s practice. We had a good 25 minute scrimmage. I mean, they wept after each other. The old guys went and ate a victory meal. But the young players, we have to develop depth. College football as opposed to pro is all about development of those young players. So I was counting it one day. If you’re a non football player, you basically have five days off if you’re a non player. You practice Tuesday and Wednesday, and everything else is shorts and Friday you get up and don’t do anything. Saturday you go watch the game like everyone else. You don’t play. Then Sunday you kind of mess around a little bit and then Tuesday, and Wednesday you go again. So we’re trying not to I wish there was an NCAA rule that the non players could practice or the guys not playing in games, because they have to get better and they want to get better.
You’re right with the older guys though. You’ve got to be very careful. These old guys got so many hits on the shoulder, so we’re being very smart about that. But we’re all about development too. So we have to develop the younger players.
Q. Is it tough determining how much Braxton should practice? I know you extend sort of more of a leash to older players in terms of practice time. But he’s just a sophomore, and he’s so integral to the offense?
COACH MEYER: Very good question. He absolutely will not miss a moment of practice. He can’t and won’t want to. Now we don’t hit him. That is the difference between him and the three technique, and the tough ones are Goebel, Hankins, Simon, Nate Williams and my five starting linemen.
The reason those five linemen are getting better, they get to block Hankins every day on Tuesday because we go against each other. I mean, hard, violent practice. So we do back down, but that’s why they’ve gotten better.
Because you can go out there and block scouts all day long, and you’re not going to get better. The offensive line if I’ve shown you video, it might be fun for you to watch. If you watch a spring practice video of that offensive line on April whatever, and then on October on that night, it will completely show you how much progress they’ve had because of hard, physical practices.
Q. Talking about Coach Warinner for a second. I know this ties to Ohio and everything. But you look where the offensive line has come. What were you looking for from an offensive line coach?
COACH MEYER: Right. I knew of him. We knew each other. Just Steve Addazio had been my line coach, the head coach at Temple for a long time, and I wanted to hire another Steve Addazio. I wanted to hire a tough guy that’s very involved in the game planning, because sometimes line coaches just go live in their world.
The thing I liked about Ed Warriner he was, the offensive coordinator at Kansas when they went to the Orange Bowl. He’s got a great concept of the big picture, but he’s also a tough guy that coaches tough guys, and I thought he’s done very well.
Q. You referenced that Simon was feeling a little bit better in the play calling on Saturday. How difficult is it to figure out if he’s feeling better since he doesn’t tell you?
COACH MEYER: We have grown man conversations. I ask him, and he’s very honest with me now because we need to know. Hurt players sometimes will hurt you. As far as he’ll put himself out of position. But John’s awesome, and he let us he know now.
Q. So he’s telling you where it’s hurting and how much? Earlier you said he just says it’s fine all the time?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, I don’t ask him how you doing. We go through a check list. We’ve got the rib squared away, the groin squared away, the rolled ankle squared away, now we’re dealing with the shoulder.
Q. Urban, go back to the depth things. Are you disappointed that some of these freshmen, fairly highly touted linebackers haven’t stepped up more?
COACH MEYER: Very.
Q. Talk about a couple that you think obviously, Shazier’s out there running around limping a little bit and stuff like that. Who would you like to see step up this week specifically? Are there a couple that are pretty close to you think?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, Josh Perry has to step up. He has all the talent. David Perkins is a guys that’s helping us on kickoff but should be further ahead. Jamal Marcus should be further ahead. Cameron Williams played a little bit. He was in on the big one. They’re all good kids. They come from good people, good families, and they have talent. So we’ve just got to accelerate their growth.
Q. (Indiscernible) the kid for the replacement line for Indiana. Talk about guys like that. Does he stand out on video when you watch him?
COACH MEYER: Well, it seems like every week we play someone from Ohio. That tells you how great high school football is in this state. Yeah, he’s very good. He’s their best D lineman. When I was watching I asked them a few times. That’s when they told me he was a Centerfield guy. And his brother played there as well, right? Yeah, he’s their best defensive lineman.
Q. I know this is your team, this is your focus now, but there was a time in the past when some had criticized you about what you had left at Florida. Sort of the cupboard was bare. And there were kids that you recruited and you know those kids very well. Have you been paying attention and what do you think of their start so far?
COACH MEYER: Absolutely. Always be a Gator. I keep in touch with some of those players. Great win. Great, tough win against a tough opponent, absolutely.
I don’t want to get into all that cupboard is bare, because that’s one man’s opinion, and it’s not we’ve got to move on. I’m very proud of those guys. Love those guys. Really proud to see Jeff Driskel play well. He’s a heck of a player.
Q. Johnson in the starting role, how well has he played? And last year, he was a guy from Chicago. How do you respond to that?
COACH MEYER: He has responded. He responded well through a hip injury. He had a hip pointer. He intercepted the ball and almost couldn’t run as he picked off the pass. He’s doing well. Johnson is a guy that’s very active in a lot of roles on this team, very talented guy. More talented than he thinks he is. I don’t want to say he’s accepted the role, because he’s not. He’s a starter.
If we get C.J. back, I’m not sure what Coach Withers is going to do. But I know Orhian Johnson is not going to just hand that starting spot back.
Q. Is he more talented? What do you mean by that?
COACH MEYER: I think he’s as tall, big, fast safety as I’ve ever been around. Sometimes I’m just not sure. He’s got to learn to keep playing and let loose. He’s playing very well at times. He’s just got to play better all the time, because he’s a really talented guy.
Q. Talk about C.J. and Jordan Hall where they stand?
COACH MEYER: Jordan’s not right yet, and C.J. is a good sign yesterday. He’s out there running around. We need to have him back for obvious reasons. Kicking game too.
Q. I wanted to know if seeing what Indiana did against Michigan State at home this week and making it a close game and Michigan State having to come back. What do you do with your team to make sure you don’t have a slow start and have to come back and fight it out at the end?
COACH MEYER: Very concerned. We’ve had two very emotional wins. Two very physical wins. There were a lot of sore bodies out there last night at practice. Very, very concerned about that, so I’m still working through that. I don’t know to answer your question. I have some ideas, but I want to evaluate where they show up tomorrow because they’re off today, obviously.
That’s a big concern. How we handle I think the couple questions how do we handle the beat up bodies and still develop young players and also make sure this team understands. The best thing that happened was they played well against Michigan State. Every player right now has already seen that game on their iPads and all that stuff. So they’ve already seen that. That is the best thing that could happen.
You go in there and face a team that didn’t play well. The good thing is they are getting better. Indiana’s got a lot of talent in certain positions, and they’ve played an offense that you better have every T crossed or I dotted or they’re going to pop one on you. So the film doesn’t lie and that is the best thing that happened.
Q. Wanted to ask you. Tight ends caught 85 of your yards receiving last week.
COACH MEYER: Yeah, they’re good guys.
Q. Is that a branch of the offense that is getting there and can be explored more and more? What did you see last week?
COACH MEYER: I see really improved players. I see Heuerman and Nick Vannett have earned that right to do that. Jeff Heuerman didn’t go noticed on the stat sheet. But was he a champion? He was real close to being a champion, because he did play well. No, he was not. But he was very close. He did play well. And Nick Vannett has been doing that in practice, so he’s earned the right to do that.
Those catches, two of those were very difficult catches they made, but they’ve earned that. You’ll see more and more of our tight ends.