Oct. 23, 2017
COACH MEYER: Just jump right to questions.
Q. This is, of course, big recruiting week for you guys, I’ve seen other programs like Alabama for official visits use more of a Saturday to Monday for official visits than Friday to Sunday. Is that something you like on Saturday? I know you guys have done it a little bit Saturday to Monday so you can more focus on the game and then leave recruiting mostly for Sunday and Monday?
COACH MEYER: A lot of times kids can’t miss school. You start missing classes and all of that — so we’ve had conversations — we’ve done some of that, Sunday and Monday. To be honest with you, I just listen and do what I’m supposed to do.
Q. Talked to Earle Bruce once. He said you never know what team is going to show up. Are you curious which team will show up Saturday? And do you have a good feel or is it just you just never really know?
COACH MEYER: I’d like to think we have a very good feel. I’m not sure how to answer that. I’ve been wrong a couple of times, not very often. And we’re so practice-oriented here, I love when I hear our players talk about J.T. Barrett, the reason we played well is we’ve been practicing the best we have in several years.
And that’s (indiscernible), just talk about the players. I grade our coaches at practice. I evaluate our coaches at practice, and the energy level and moving around and getting guys going.
So we’re more — I have an indication how they’re going to play and how they practice.
COACH MEYER: To be honest with you, no.
Q. You guys have faced a lot of very good running backs here at Ohio State, a few of which are starters in the NFL right now. When you look and see what Barkley is doing, how do you attack another team when their best player is a running back? And is Barkley a different challenge than some guys like Melvin Gordon and Tevin Coleman that you might have faced because of what he does in the passing game and the return game?
COACH MEYER: No question. He’s the best all-purpose guy we’ve probably faced in probably, maybe my career. He’s obviously a great running back. But they do a good job using him and creating matchup issues.
I think back when I had Percy Harvin, we did some of that. He wasn’t quite — his body couldn’t take the pounding that a running back takes.
But his threat — no disrespect for the great running backs. You have different ways of bottling up great running backs. It’s hard, especially this guy, really hard. But the fact that they motion him out and create matchup nightmares, that’s what makes this guy — he’s — I’d be careful to say this, but he’s as good an all-purpose running back we’ve seen. And that’s 30 years.
Q. Against Indiana and (indiscernible) J.T. had three touchdowns — against Indiana in the opener, J.T. had 300 yards and three touchdowns — and similar numbers in recent games, what have you seen differently against, like, Nebraska that he wasn’t doing at the beginning of the season?
COACH MEYER: Other than one game, it happened to be against the best defense we faced this year, so we’re all realistic about what’s coming down. This happens to be the No. 1 pass defense in America, I believe. He’s been very consistent other than that one game.
And as I’ve said for many, many years, the quarterback gets too much blame and too much, you know, success aimed at him when it’s really because we protected much better the last few weeks.
The receivers are doing an excellent job, but what have you done for me lately? We’re going to find out against this team.
Q. This is kind of the question you answered before a little bit. But I guess the whole point of coaching, when you have a good team, the idea of getting your good team to play its best against a great opponent, right? You don’t play every single week of 12 weeks exactly the same. Every teams has some ups and downs. What is it that goes into getting your good team to play its best when it matters the most?
COACH MEYER: We’ve had templates of both. We’ve had templates when our team played their very best against the best opposition and that was — we’ve had a few years like that but obviously the most obvious one was 2014.
Same with we’ve had maybe some last year would probably fall in the opposite category against the best teams, we didn’t play our best. That’s leadership, that’s toughness, that’s coaching, that’s power of the unit. Those are all things we’ve worked so hard from February until now working on.
It’s funny, it’s not what did you say to the team before the Alabama game a few years ago? I don’t care and no one remembers. It’s the training that went into that. I know some people call it the process, some people call it whatever it is. It’s all true.
I call it a culture within a program. And culture is driven by leaders. If you have very strong leaders on the field and very strong leaders in the coaching rooms, you tend to have very great performances against great teams.
Q. You had bye week. Is Demetrius Knox definitely your right guard right now? Is that settled?
COACH MEYER: It’s settled. It’s day to day. I’d like to think there’s other guys on the program that are going to keep swinging and fight as hard as they possibly can for that spot. He did grade a winner. This will be hell of a challenge this week.
Q. Go back to Barkley and also with some inconsistency you’ve had on kickoff, does that influence your thinking or do you feel better after what maybe you saw during the bye week practices?
COACH MEYER: No, certainly anytime you face — I think the guy at our rival last year was a great kickoff return guy. We faced a few. The better I feel about them then the more challenge — I do, I feel great. Other than a couple bad ones — and a lot of it has been the placement of the kick.
We’ve adjusted that and it’s changed. So what’s the definition of insanity? Keep doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. So we’re working extremely hard on that.
Q. During your career, have you found revenge to be a good motivating factor or indifferent to that sort of thing when you lose to a team the year before?
COACH MEYER: I’ve seen both. We haven’t decided. I kind of listen and watch. Sure, you’re talking about 18-, 19-, 20-year-olds. We use that quite a bit. And other times you move on.
Q. You have the opposite situation of last year. Last year you had the back-to-back road games, Wisconsin and Penn State. They’re facing a little bit of the opposite. You’re coming off the off week. How big an advantage is that for you guys right now, how much preparation have you been able to get in?
COACH MEYER: It’s twofold. The minute you say it’s a great advantage, you don’t play well. What we do with it, our time — I loved what we did last week. This week remains to be determined.
We have to do a good job practicing the heck out of them. But you have to be fresh. The other instance is when you’re playing very well, you’d like to keep rolling. So actually on Thursday we played a game. It was in shells, but we played 55, 60 plays out here, because I want to make sure we keep going in this game mode.
Q. Where did you watch the Penn State/Michigan game, and what were your impressions?
COACH MEYER: I was home. And I think we’re playing a very good team.
Q. Mike Weber, looks like he might have injured his hand or wrist or something in the previous game. Is he all good to go?
COACH MEYER: He’s good. He’s wearing a little brace on it, but he’s good to go.
Q. You mentioned a couple of weeks ago on the radio show that Demario McCall is maybe you’re looking for a medical redshirt for, what’s his status right now?
COACH MEYER: It’s to be determined. He’s available as is and he’s not full speed. So that’s week-to-week as we keep moving forward. But he’s not full speed yet.
Q. You’ve been really successful over the course of your career in games after bye weeks. Just wondering, over the course of your career, has your approach of how you handle that bye week changed at all, and does it change when you’re facing an opponent like this?
COACH MEYER: Sure. I remember one year we had a really bad team, we went out full pads for five straight days practiced and got better. I’ve had very good teams where we’re very mature and we backed off them a little bit. So there’s no template. It depends on the team.
Q. Two things. You were asked a while ago when you watched the game, your reaction to it. As you watched defensively what they did against Michigan, what jumped out at you about the way they came after Michigan?
COACH MEYER: They just come after you. They’re very aggressive with — their defensive line, it’s not a read-and-react; they’re up the field. And they menaced the team up north. They were all over the place.
Q. No. 40 especially is he their wildcard guy, Cabinda, what jumped out at you when you see him on video?
COACH MEYER: Great player. The combination of him and that defensive line, like any very good team, that’s what you notice right away, is the explosiveness of the defensive line and a guy like No. 40, great player.
Q. They’re playing?
COACH MEYER: Yes.
Q. You offensively like to put stress on a defense. But there’s so much attention paid to Barkley, the passing game of Penn State and McSorley, how much of a challenge is that going to create for you defensively?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, he’ll probably be the first one to tell you, I don’t know, but he’ll be the first to tell you the tight end and receivers and he’s a product of some really good players — he threw a couple of jump balls up and they have very good personnel. Done a nice job developing and recruiting good personnel.
Q. Your guys, often asked about revenge, is that even a factor? This is such a big game, No. 2 versus No. 6?
COACH MEYER: You have to figure you’re dealing with youngsters. Sure. Is revenge a motivator, yeah, it is. I’m not saying this will be it.
But there’s times where we’ve used it and we look silly using it. There’s other times that worked. I don’t know yet. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday isn’t about that. It’s about execution of a game plan and focus.
Q. Similar to the question Matt asked, watching them Saturday night, they really challenge linebackers, it seems, because Gesicki is a threat and Barkley can catch a ball out in the backfield and quarterback can run it. Can you explain a little of how much they stress linebackers, when they try to get everybody in space, how difficult it is for a defense?
COACH MEYER: A lot of those are run plays, a little bit like what we’ve done with J.T., the run plays. And the catch phrase is RPOs, run, pass, options. And the quarterback has to be a very good decision-maker, yet he’s got to have very good players. This is one of the top offenses in America.
What makes it so good is, first of all, you can run that offense with bad players. So very good players and a very good scheme that puts the defense in a lot of stress.