Sept. 3, 2012
An interview with:COACH MEYER
COACH MEYER: Hi, guys, thanks for coming. I first would like to thank our fans and most importantly our student body. Someone told me the second best opening day turnout from everything from the skull session which kind of took me back a little bit. The first time I was here, 20 some years ago when I was here, so that was an incredible moment. Also our pregame tradition which I hope catches on a little bit with Coach Mick and the student body getting involved in the quick cals.
What I’d like to do instead of just up here and babbling since this is our first postgame press conference, is give you some information that I think is important and share it with you why we won or why we had a bad day. But we have a very clear plan to win here, and number one is the plan to win.
And great defense, certainly I would not say we played great defense. However, we played three quarters of very good defense. Gave up 303 yards passing, but 138 was in the last three quarters, and we held them to minus one yard rushing, which you usually come out on the plus on side in a game like that.
Turnovers we were plus three which is a key time tested stat. We had two picks and a fumble, with zero on offense. Red zone we were 5 of 7, very disappointing. That was probably the black mark on the game for us as an offense was really the most disappointing one was the 1 yard line shot that we can’t allow happen. Miami was 1 of 2.
We spent a lot of time preparing in the red zone, and kicking game we hit all eight of our goals that we had, and we also scored a tough down.
Third down, these are just stats that I look at and handle with the team meeting yesterday. Ohio State we were 52% on third downs, Miami was 26%. Field position, we were at 36 where our average drive started, which is fairly positive. And Miami started at 22. That’s taken after all kicks, all coverage units and we gave up zero return yards on the punt. We should have downed four we grade our kids on champions each week.
I’ll go through champions. I’ll give you a couple thoughts and then discuss the opposing team and answer any questions for you.
Champions Club, those are the guys that graded out winning efforts. Brad Roby was also our defensive player of the game by the coaching staff. He had what we do on the defensive backs is how many opportunities you have to make a play, and he had an incredible amount, 30 opportunities to make a play. In that kind of game where they throw all over the place, he was 25 of 30 for 83%.
And our defensive back, you ask them to grade out a winner, you need to be at least 80%. So point of attack, if you’re a defensive back and it’s an inside run, you’re not point of attack. That’s rather obvious. Any time a defensive back has an opportunity to make a play, that is a much more significant grade than an inside run. So he was 83%, very good. Five tackles, one assist, three passes broken up, and one fumble recovery.
And our defensive staff does production points like most defensive staffs, and he had 30, which is 30 production points which is a very good day for corner.
Christian Bryant played extra, 96% grade out. 88% point of attack. Seven tackles, one assist, one extra effort. 17 production points, and Jerry will have these for you.
Travis Howard, graded 90%, which is our two corners graded out against the throwing outfit pretty good. 18 of 22 on make a play, that’s 22 opportunities. He was point of attack. He made the play 18 times, two tackles, one assist, two interceptions and a pass broken up.
On offense, the champions were Andrew Norwell graded out at champion, five knockdowns, two pancakes, no pressures or sacks. He’s really Coach Warinner is very high on him and says he’s one of the most improved players on our team.
Jack Mewhort, three knock downs, very physical, played very good. Our quarterback who is also the offensive player of the game set a Ohio State record for quarterback and rushing yards, and then was also can play a lot better, but managed us through some tough situations.
Kenny Guiton came in and did well. His nickname from this point forward is Coach Guiton. He does some things. He made a couple of checks out there, and he does it without the reps, so a lot of his things are mental reps, so really appreciate Kenny Guiton. Did a nice job.
Carlos Hyde, 93% grade out, which is very high. 70% of his yards were after contact. 58 yards after contact of his 82. Zach Boren graded out at champion 81%. That is his grade. Scored his first rushing touchdown of his career.
Corey Brown graded out 81% in the wide receiver crew. He was 6 of 8, made play, and 7 catches, a career high for him made 87 yards. Devin Smith also graded out at champion, which he’s come a long way. If you told me after our first week of spring practice, he graded champion our first game, we’d have a little conversation about that. But I’m really proud of him. He’s done a nice job and has improved. So that’s our offense.
Kicking, special mentions were Jamal Marcus played well. Our kicker Drew Basil did a heck of a job. Really unnoticed, but I asked him to kick them out of the end zone, he did every time. And I asked him to place it inside the 5 and he did that every time. So talking about place kicks on the kickoffs.
Ben Buchanan averaged over 42, and Christian Bryant gave great effort. Our special teams player of the week is Adam Griffin who was involved in every special teams, kind of an unsung hero for us, and I love the guy. He goes really hard and tries really hard.
With that said, I’ll talk briefly about our opponent. Proud of the way our guys played. Very disappointed in the first quarter, and I’m glad after you evaluate it now, I’m very glad that happened. It gives us an opportunity to coach very, very hard and get some things corrected.
Whole different animal coming in here this week. I know this team, I know this coach, I know this coaching staff, and we have great respect for everything they’ve done. They’ve led the defense in their conference the last three years. They have very good players. 300 pound plus defensive tackles, two athletic defensive ends, it’s what you’d imagine out of Central Florida.
On offense, they pounded Akron a couple weeks ago or I guess it was last week and they ran power downhill at them with a big effort at quarterback that also threw the ball very well. His stats were really good. You guys can find that out.
But to say that we don’t have a lot of respect for Central Florida would be nonsense. The good thing is nowadays our players have already seen film so they have a touch of what’s going on with all these iPads floating around here. They have plenty of film to watch.
You can get up here and babble all you want, but if they see it on film what they’re getting ready to play against, this will be a war and something we have to be ready for, and we will.
Q. You said after the game 14 of 24 for Braxton wasn’t ideally what you wanted. Have you looked at the film and do you find a pattern with the incompletions or something that concerned you?
COACH MEYER: I think we had two drop balls right off the top of my head, Zach Boren and Evan Spencer. I saw him jerk a couple passes, and that’s something that when he has a nice stroke, he’s as good a passer as I’ve ever seen. When he pops open and wants to get out there so fast, his fundamentals kind of get away from him. One time he scrambled out of the pocket instead of hanging in there with a little option route we ran to Philly Brown. So he’s going through some growing pains and we have to get him through those growing pains really fast, because we expect more out of our quarterback.
Q. You practice for months and had a pretty good sense of your team. Didn’t realize you get a chance until you play somebody else in the stadium and all of that. What do you know now about your team that you didn’t know before?
COACH MEYER: A bunch of good players that try really hard and play really hard. I kind of anticipate and hope that coming to a school like Ohio State and getting these quality guys that we have. So the issues were not play hard or try hard. If it is, this would not be a good press conference today. It would have been an ugly team meeting, and it wasn’t.
We’ve got to coach better, and we’ve got to adjust a little better, and the players have to adjust too. So much was new. I’m so glad. I can’t stand first games because are we going to the golf course, what shoes do we wear? Can I wear this? What about a visor, what about my parent’s tickets, instead of getting locked in on the game.
And also with a new bunch of coaches. I mean, there are some I don’t want to say issues, because there were no issues, but some growing pains as a staff that we have to get fixed.
At the end of the day I’m pleased with what happened. I’m pleased we got thrown around a little bit and were actually losing in our home stadium in the first quarter. I didn’t like it at the time, but I think everybody got kind of hit in the face a little bit and responded well.
Q. Obviously you’ve been candid in your assessments and how it’s motivated your guys. How soon after Devin Smith made that catch did he think I wonder where that rates on the coach’s wow factor scale?
COACH MEYER: Probably the second after it happened, knowing him. Big smile on his face and he just keeps walking by me waiting for me to say great catch, and I just won’t do it, I won’t do it. I’m not going to do that.
Q. I’ve heard three analysts and reporters bring up Braxton Miller’s name in connection with the Heisman?
COACH MEYER: Oh, gosh.
Q. Given how early it is in the season, how comfortable are you with the idea that he’d be capable of that?
COACH MEYER: That’s still one of the things that as we get to know each other when these kids come here, they’re worried about making Tuesday’s practice is really, really hard. So any thoughts of anything other than that than practice, we’ll have to make them harder. So there will be no discussion of that.
I think he’s one of those freaks of nature that has a lot of ability and great things can happen to him. But there won’t be billboards posted anywhere or anything like that.
Q. You mentioned how the 1 yard line stop just wasn’t acceptable. Are you going to try anything different in your goal line package to try to make that better?
COACH MEYER: Oh, yeah, yeah. Once again, absolutely. Is that what you can expect the rest of the year on the 1 yard line? No, we’ll do some things different, but that was a tempo setter. That was a timeout. We called them together, and I wanted to see something happen, and we should have scored. We missed a block. The offensive line can’t miss a block down there.
So to answer your question, would we change things up down there? Absolutely. Will there be times that we have to hand the ball back to the tailback and get one yard? Yeah, a lot. So that was the most disappointing part of the whole day, and we’ll get that fixed.
Q. John Simon said a little while ago and I think most captains say this, that this team is mostly self motivated. Without having you rank other teams that you’ve had, is this team relatively good at self motivating?
COACH MEYER: It’s just one game. I think that’s to be determined.
Q. Even in the weeks leading up to camp? Would you have to pull guys aside and inspire them or say anything to them?
COACH MEYER: I’m just not prepared to I don’t want to tag them as a very motivated team because we have a bunch of games left. I think I’ve seen not to discount your question or the validity of what John Simon says.
John Simon is one the most self motivated guys we’ve been around. We have a bunch of guys that are self motivated. But when you’re talking about a team, you’re talking about a bunch of players now. So that remains to be seen. I do see a lot of very self motivated players.
Q. As a follow up, a few weeks ago you said you never had a team that wasn’t playing for a championship in November. You didn’t know exactly what you might have to do later. Would you have to create your own bowl game or do you think that’s where you might be leaning that you might have to do in the future?
COACH MEYER: I don’t know. Once again, Tuesday’s practice against Miami’s going to be really, really hard, and inside drill, and we try not to look too far forward. If it’s a team that we have to make a bowl game or make it a bowl or wear a special shirt, we’ll certainly do that. I’m hoping it doesn’t come down to that, but we’ll see.
Q. You mentioned you’re venturing into the unknown with a new offensive staff. How did the first trial run go? And what are some of the concerns that remain?
COACH MEYER: It went pretty good. We didn’t have the substitution in. I think we had maybe one offensive penalty for the day, which for a new staff and an up tempo, we’re good now. Other than the mini huddles we do on the short yardage and that won’t just be short yardage but I think Tom Herman and the coaching staff did a very good job.
I mean, you talk about 180, it’s completely different. The tempo, the offensive line. I think we had one false start, and that’s pretty good when you’re changing up cadence and doing all the different variety of things that we’ve done. So I’m very pleased. We have a long way to go, but I’m very pleased with the first game.
Q. How many snaps for Nathan, and how did he tolerate that in order to get equal or more time?
COACH MEYER: I want to say it was 30 snaps. I don’t have that in front of me. We were dropping him a lot, and I asked the same question. I didn’t expect him to play that much, but they gave us a certain personnel grouping where we just weren’t comfortable with Noah Spence going in there and doing as much dropping, because we were dropping eight, and he was better at that.
He played a little bit more, and he was very sore yesterday. They’re off today, I’ll see them today, but I would anticipate that the rust is officially knocked off him and we’ll be ready to go. He was in a good mindset after that game.
Q. Just with the big play capabilities of this offense in the second quarter when you guys got it going, you did make a lot of big plays, and Braxton had the big run. Did those cut out of the offense the way you wanted it to in terms of when you scheme it up, you’re anticipating some of those I guess? Did you get the big plays you wanted from the offense?
COACH MEYER: We did once we changed formations. The team we played did a very good job. We have a base formation that we use and a lot of different answers out of it, and they defended it pretty good. Someone asked me the question how our staff responded. We went fairly quickly to another, and that is called adjusting.
When you hear what adjustments a team makes, we could have done it a little faster, but they defended a certain formation pretty well, and they defended our base plays pretty well. So they did a good job scouting our offense for the last ten months. So you have to have counter options, and we went to them fairly quickly. The big hits we had were off different set and different formations.
Q. Are there a number of big plays you expect each week?
COACH MEYER: I don’t have a set number. We really try to evaluate who can make a big play? I ask the question all the time, who can physically score the touchdown. I didn’t know Devin Smith could. I have not seen it, now I know he can.
I’m not talking about the one against Wisconsin where the guy scrambles the run, catches it and falls down. I mean go make a touchdown. I think Carlos Hyde can. I think Braxton Miller can. To see Evan Spencer go up, we had to see him do that.
We’re still trying to figure out who can score a touchdown. Not who can score, but who can go make a touchdown, and that’s what we’re trying to still figure out. The good news is I think we have a couple guys that can do that.
Q. What was Devin not doing in the spring and maybe even preseason that made you have doubts about him? Number two, a play like that totally change your way of thinking?
COACH MEYER: Absolutely. I’ve never been down on Devin at all. He plays like a young player that had a new offense thrown in his lap, a great kid to coach. He’s also running track in the spring, if you remember, so we didn’t have him all the time.
Playing receiver in this offense is real. It’s not one of those, hey, you stand out there and we’ll flip you the ball once in a while. You are very involved in blocking. All those perimeter runs with Braxton Miller takes it 60 yards and no one touches his jersey. There is something other than Braxton Miller running down the field. There are ten other guys that have to grade out a winner to have that happen.
So playing receiver in this offense, that is a grown man’s job. He’s really coming on. And to answer your question, I think we all know the answer to that, is there ignition plays in young players careers that make them get that confidence? Nothing greater than confidence, nothing worse than false confidence with an athlete. And I think we all now, I know I have confidence, but more importantly he has some confidence in himself.
Q. (No microphone) was that your call? They’ve played with that little fatter ball, what was the thinking behind that?
COACH MEYER: Our offensive coordinator and quarterbacks get to choose whatever ball they want.
Q. Is it because it’s easier to grip?
COACH MEYER: I can’t remember. I think so. I think the Laces, there is something about the laces. But that was back early spring, so I can’t remember that conversation.
Q. Early on there were some questions about blocking (No microphone). How would you rate it?
COACH MEYER: I would say B, good effort. Some good efforts blocking down field. Still had some missed assignments and things we have to get better at. But I would say a good, solid B.
Q. You talked about smoothing things out with your staff and everything in the first game. Can you give us a snap shot of when you’re up tempo like that, what is it like getting a play in and the couple seconds, what do you do as a staff?
COACH MEYER: You have to get the personnel grouping in. The offensive coordinator Tom Herman calls the play. Ed Warriner, we don’t have a conversation during the series. When the defense is on the field, that’s when I’ll ask, give me the script for the next series. What are the next five plays and what are we thinking? And he’ll start rattling them off, and I’ll say no, let’s stay on formation and stay out of that and get going.
So the conversation is give me the personnel grouping and the play, and then I’m really the only one talking to Tom saying run the counter, run the power, run the three level pass, take the shot, those type of things. So that is the communication, but it’s really fast. It’s as fast as I’ve ever been a part of.
Q. You and Tom, I imagine, working together for the first time, that is something.
COACH MEYER: Yeah, we did a lot of it in training camp where he was on the head sets and I’d stand right next to him and say I’m not going to physically call the play, and I’m going to say take the shot we’ve got to think a lot alike. We should know what that shot is. That means run the reverse. So it went very good for the first time.
Q. How would you grade Braxton’s ability to pitch out of the option, both to read that and execute it?
COACH MEYER: Very good. Better towards right. On his left, he brings it up from down here a little bit. He’s got to bring it here, but very good. He’s kind of a natural guy at that. He’s an athlete.
Q. Jordan Hall in terms of comebacks where is he and can he get a couple snaps to get the rust off?
COACH MEYER: I don’t think he’s available this week. I’ll know more today. He’s got the look on his face like he’s dying to get out there, so I think he might practice this week, but I’ll let you know. I should know that, and I apologize I don’t.
Q. You think Bennett is ready?
COACH MEYER: Bennett was ready to go and reinjured his groin in pregame, so I don’t know. We need him too. We need the rotation. The young defensive linemen did a good job. We played 14 true freshmen, usually D line men don’t play as a true freshman, but that is the confidence we have in those guys.
Tommy Schutt played, Adolphus Washington had a sack and played, Noah played and had a sack and Pittman did not play. But that’s unusual to have three true freshmen defensive linemen play, and they played well.
Q. Coach Vrabel said that (Indiscernible) will return at some point?
COACH MEYER: No.
Q. Is there anything you can shed some light on?
COACH MEYER: It was personal. Nothing with Ohio State, nothing with football, nothing with academics, he just lost his love of the game of football and didn’t want to play anymore. A year ago went through a very similar he’s a great kid. I love his family, good people. We wish him well. Nothing happened, he just didn’t want to play football anymore.
Q. The fans were very concerned in the first quarter. Were you concerned at all? What went through your mind?
COACH MEYER: That equalizer offense. They just tried to run against our defense. They did a very nice job. They dropped two passes. They well could have been 14 0. But you watch across the country, and they’ve got scholarship players too, and they played hard. I know Miami of Ohio, they’ve got a fine coach and a fine staff. I was real worried.
Then once I started getting things figured out a little bit on offense, I wasn’t as worried, because I thought it was just a matter of taking care of the ball and tackling our receivers.
Q. Following up on Herman, when you talked about him initially you said he knows what I want. What is his leash right now, and can you see that developing so you don’t call the plays?
COACH MEYER: He’s the offensive coordinator. It’s not one of those by title only. He coordinates the offense. The good thing is Ed Warriner is coordinator of the offense as well. And the other guys, Zach and Tim Hinton and Stan Drayton are very involved. And I want to make sure it’s clear. In between a series, he’s not just calling plays out of right field. We say when we get the ball back, here’s what we’d like to go with, so everybody has their guys ready. That’s what they do on the sidelines. They get with the receivers, run the flood, run the levels pass, and do this and this and this. He calls it and did a very good job.
So I’m not sure the leash is the right word, but he has a lot of freedom to call that game.
Q. How would you say the staff now that you have a game under your belt has matched up? Because obviously you haven’t worked with some.
COACH MEYER: Very good, high quality people. We had family day and all the wives and kids showed up on Thursday to hang out with our players. All the things that I’d like a coaching staff to do. I’m very impressed with our guys.
Q. How much do you still have questions about?
COACH MEYER: A lot, a lot. There is no way to test it until those situations occur. We hit one in the middle of the first quarter where we gave up two big plays on defense. You were in reverse on offense, and I didn’t feel our quarterback. I was really impressed with Braxton, because I’ve seen players overreact because coaches overreact like I was. But he was very good. I thought Coach Fickell, and they did a good job. There will be many more storms to hit, so the evaluation continues.
Q. How long did it take you to notice that number 35, the Cataline or Cataline kid what has he brought?
COACH MEYER: Last time he played football was 2005. Great story. He was in the Navy. I love the guy. When you talk about champion effort and you act like a man, get treated like a man.
Everybody thinks we talk about the star player. No, it’s everybody. Everybody has added value to the program. He got in the game, and I promised him he would, if he could, and he’s earned that right, so that’s a great story.
Q. From a football standpoint is it just his desire or how would you describe it?
COACH MEYER: It’s what you would imagine a guy that served in the Navy for a while. He’s tough as nails. He’s completely committed, and incredible discipline and just goes a hundred miles an hour. I wish he was more athletic, because we’d find a way to get him on the field more. He’s got some talent and he’s tough.
Our players love him. He’s the only one that will go after Simon’s tail now, and it’s kind of fun to watch.
Q. Wondered if you’d evaluate your pass rush? I know Zach was getting out quick, but you had two sacks both of them in the second half?
COACH MEYER: He was getting it out. And Coach Fickell probably for the right reason gave us new personnel grouping which happens in the first game. We just met, that’s why it’s fresh in my mind.
We dropped eight a lot. The quarterback, if I would grade Miami’s game plan, an A, because they said let’s take Hankins out of the game. How do you do that? Throw the ball quick on three step drops and roll out. There was a lot of break contain passing. That’s your defensive tackle is nonexistent. When they ran the ball, they didn’t run it for very far. So they did a good job.
In the second half when Coach Fickell and we’d communicate a little bit and get a little ahead of them and the offense started clicking a little bit and you become more aggressive.
But that first quarter, they’re out there for 28 plays and gave up 300 yards passing and 183 in the last three quarters. Is that right? So almost 200 yards in the first. It was a tough situation.
I didn’t evaluate that they called a poor game at all, because that situation at that time, settle down, keep the ball in front of you, and that’s what we did.
Q. Miami was a good challenge. How much higher does the bar go this week, and how physical do you expect them to be?
COACH MEYER: Well, sure. One is a 340 pound, Jose Jose I believe his name is, a 340 pound defensive tackle as opposed to 270, so that tells you right there. So we have to get no huddle and wear them out. But this is a whole different animal that we’re facing.
Miami, they’re going to make their first downs throwing the ball. This team’s going to run the power directly at you and get their first downs. So much different team and very talented team.
Q. You talked about Braxton and how impressed you are with him. How concerned were you with the potential Browning play where he kind of threw the ball up. Didn’t get called a fumble, but what were your thought there’s?
COACH MEYER: He’s got a little ball security issue. Not near as bad as I saw a year ago. Even when he runs he has a tendency to do this. But we worked hard to keep his hands on the ball and lock his elbows. Those are concerns of a young quarterback. Old quarterbacks do the same thing, especially competitors.
There were a couple of reads where that same play, most teams in America run, they read the defensive end. He pulled it a couple of times when he should have gave it.
But that’s one thing about this style of offense, every play the quarterback has to make a read. Some offenses you take the snap, hand the ball to the tailback and hope things work out well. We don’t have too many of those plays. He has to make a read on every play, so he’s going to make a few mistakes.
Q. You mentioned that Devin Smith’s a two sport athlete and maybe he missed a few things in spring. I know that’s a tough balancing act for both the player and the two programs. Can you shed some light on that conversation with the track team and helping Devin balance?
COACH MEYER: I didn’t recruit Devin, so a lot of that is done in the recruiting process. When kids ask, and you go to a kid’s home, I want to run track. I look at the GPA, I look at everything. Because being a two sport athlete and that’s why there are not many of them, it’s very difficult. He happens to be very blessed and has the ability to do both.
So the hindsight, did that set him back a little bit, maybe it did. But once again I wasn’t in the recruiting process, and I don’t think it’s right or fair right now to say you can’t run track. We’ll make that decision again in the spring.
Q. Braxton said after the game on Saturday how much you guys worked together to get more comfortable once the struggles were happening in the beginning. How much in one game did you grow more comfortable with that?
COACH MEYER: Great question. Because you can’t get that in period number four of practices over at Ackerman Field or you certainly can’t get it on Thursday practice. You’re in combat. You’re in the real stuff. And his reaction, my reaction was very positive. So much more comfortable now than I was going into that game, so it’s just going to get better and better. Same with Kenny. Kenny did a nice job. Braxton cramped up, Kenny went in, made a couple errors but also made a couple really nice plays for us. Thank you, guys.