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Oct. 7, 2017

COACH MEYER: I never want to take a group for granted, that’s our fans. 107-plus thousand. I remember looking over and seeing it. Very grateful for our fans.

And keep Branden Bowen in your prayers. I think He’s going to have surgery tomorrow, broken leg. Clean break, and so just gotta get him healthy and get him back.

Next man up, right now looks like Matt Burrell. And we’ll see if there’s any competition at that spot. That’s alarming, but Matt played okay. So we’ll see what happens there.

Defense was outstanding. So, I’ll answer your questions.

Q. A lot has been written and talked about the offense this year. The defense really has kind of stepped up the last few games. What impresses you most about the defense? And is it championship caliber?
COACH MEYER: I think it’s still too early to tell. I think you felt the “D” line in several games, and like Indiana you couldn’t feel them because the ball was out so fast. The line of scrimmage we just dominated. Coach Johnson’s bunch was — and the good thing is you see guys like Coop and Chase Young getting in there. Great depth.

We get Dre’Mont Jones back next week. Everything seems like it’s healing correctly. And he’s a weapon as well. So I don’t want to take away our pass defense. When you hold them to, looked like 16 yards or something like that, passing, that’s good secondary play.

But I know why they didn’t throw very much. The “D” line was all over them.

Q. We’ve asked you all year about the wide receivers and it looked like today they had a really productive day all around, especially Bin Victor. We’ve talked about whether or not anybody’s rising to the top. What did you notice about Bin specifically? And did the wide receivers take a jump in the last few weeks?
COACH MEYER: Not a jump but a steady incline — a bunch of first-time players for us. Even Terry and Parris were here for several years, but they weren’t instrumental in our offense. And they’re the leaders of that group, the zone six group. They block well. They perform well. Very pleased with their attitude and they’re making plays. Very pleased with them.

Q. You guys just dominated Maryland, obviously. But I would think in your mind, the special teams gaffe, what are you thinking about there and what needs to be fixed? Obviously it was almost across the board.
COACH MEYER: Field goal. A young freshman gave up a little blocked punt — blocked field goal. Our punter did not hit, the freshman punter didn’t hit it very well. And then a veteran kicker, I’m still befuddled with. We’re the only team in the country that can’t kick the ball down the field. It’s something I have to strongly evaluate and find out why.

And then obviously kick return, you know, part of our kickoff, a big part of our kickoff is kick the ball on target. And we’re not on target.

So that’s something to work on and get fixed. And there’s a lot of people upset about that and I’m one of them. We’ll find out.

Q. Obviously you guys almost had 600 yards tonight. But there was a couple of drives there where it looked like the offense wasn’t as sharp as it was early, but then the defense seemed to kind of jump-start that. Talk about the defensive line. What does that do for an offense when they’re playing —
COACH MEYER: It was around the time Bowen got hurt. We got backed up a couple times, couldn’t get it out of there. I’m very disappointed. Then we shanked a punt, and I think we had two fourth-down stops.

The defense smothered them and stopped them. And I think Tim asked: Is it championship-level defense? You start doing that against a team like that that went down — and they’re, once again, very realistic, the team that went down there, and they were running much more quarterback run against Texas. And obviously the quarterbacks, the top two quarterbacks got hurt.

So defense was just great effort, and if you can screw up on offense like that, those two or three series we had and have the defense save the day, that’s part of playing great defense.

Q. You’ve said a lot of times that quarterbacks get too much credit or too much blame. But it looks as if J.T. is playing with a lot more confidence the last few weeks. Is that what you’re seeing? Are you thinking, feeling, noticing a change with him the last few games?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, it all ties in together. You know, I see our offensive line getting a little better. I think we’ve still got a long ways to go in that area, and receivers are making very good plays for him.

Even though some of those short ones are getting the 8-, 9-, 10-yard on the bubbles and that sort of thing. So I think the quarterback, receivers are working well together. Marcus Baugh is really coming on at the right time. So I think he’s getting much better. And he’s hitting his stride a little bit.

Q. There were two targeting calls. The one on Damon Arnette was, I think that was fairly obvious. The one with Denzel, though, what did you see on that? Did you think that was justified?
COACH MEYER: I didn’t see Denzel’s yet. I saw Damon’s right in front of me. It’s 55 to whatever it was, and I’m so angry about that. And he’ll probably have to sit for the first half. Not very bright.

Q. With Denzel’s, which the crowd thought was a scoop and a score —
COACH MEYER: I haven’t seen it yet.

Q. Along those lines, Jeff Okudah stepped in today, will have to step in next week. How important was it to have him out there today and also next week?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, he’s on a steady incline. He’s a true freshman, one of the top recruits in America, and we thought we’d get some production out of him.

And I think everybody is excited — I know everybody is very excited about his future, and it’s time for him to go. And we’re obviously playing him. He’s part of the rotation now.