Aug. 28, 2017
COACH MEYER: Thanks for being here. Before we get started on football, I didn’t realize you were in a cocoon and tied up in training camp about the issues going on in Houston and the surrounding areas.
I called Sheffield’s family today and they are locked up. They are safe. I tried to reach out to Mike Vrabel and he didn’t hit me back yet. Luke Fickell told me he’s in the Dallas area, so our thoughts and prayers are to them.
It’s one thing when it’s on TV and it’s another thing when you talk to a family that’s locked up in their homes right now. Kendall, I spoke to him last night and this morning to his family. Just everybody keep them in your thoughts and do all you can do to help. With that said, I’ll answer any questions for you.
Q. Are you curious to find out or do you know who is the guy, the receiver, that is going to take the top off the defense, as they say?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, this is as much depth as we’ve had. I can’t tell you the guy. I can tell you six people that will play in a pure rotation basis. That’s how much confidence we have in them, and we have six. At the X, it’s going to be Ben Victor and Austin Mack. At the H, it’s Parris and K.J. Hill and at the Z, it’s Terry and Johnnie Dixon. So there’s six in the rotation.
Q. When you go one-on-one, were you as good as you were in the spring with the deep ball?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, remains to be seen. Throughout camp we were but we’ll find out in a few days.
Q. How much of your true freshmen made the travel roster this week?
COACH MEYER: I think we’ll release that today or tomorrow or something.
Q. I’m talking about the travel roster. You said Grimes was on the cusp. Are you bringing taste?
COACH MEYER: Tate is making it. Tate will make it. I don’t have the numbers off the top of my head.
Q. Did Grimes make it?
COACH MEYER: On the cusp.
COACH MEYER: What’s cusp mean? On the edge, I think.
Q. Jaylen Harris?
COACH MEYER: Cusp. Edge.
COACH MEYER: On it. Are we going to go here for awhile? (Laughter).
Q. You do have quite a few. Wade?
COACH MEYER: On it.
COACH MEYER: On it.
Q. Davis? Myers and — Wyatt Davis?
COACH MEYER: Cusp.
COACH MEYER: On it.
COACH MEYER: Next. (Laughter).
Q. Okay. Thank you. From where you guys were when you walked off the field, did you think to yourself, how much better we need to get by the time we play our next game, and where you stand right now, did you do what you wanted to do?
COACH MEYER: We get evaluated and tested here in a few days. That thought was exactly what I was thinking, and what I had to do as the head coach to make sure we head in that direction.
So I feel very comfortable with the progress made to say I’m confident. I’m just kind of a worrier; to make sure that we’re covering everything it takes to win a game. It’s very clear around here what it does. It’s power of the unit, nine strong. It’s follow our plan to win. And it’s from that point forward last week, when the challenge went out to work the game constantly which I think we do as well as anybody. That’s how you go win a game and that’s our focus right now.
Q. The difference between getting your team ready to play a game for an opener off of camp versus week eight in midst the season. Is it easier or harder because you’re playing a conference opponent at night —
COACH MEYER: Much different. Especially when you have some new buys, some first time they are in it. Last year was very alarming because our whole team was new.
This year is a little more comfort because guys have been in the environment before. This is a whole different set of circumstances because it’s on the road in a Big Ten game. But we’ve practiced as such, and like I said, Billy Price is snapping a ball to J.T. every play, as long as they stay healthy and that’s a little more comforting.
Q. Calling the parents of players who have earned starting jobs has become a big thing around here. What was the genesis of that idea? I know last year with Mike Weber it went viral with Tony Alford calling him, can you talk about some of the guys like Austin Mack and Bowen that earned starting roles this year?
COACH MEYER: I’ve done that for awhile myself. It started when my daughters were playing college sports. I just think that’s one of the coolest things in the world to say, because quite often you have to call a parent because something stupid happened. I just try not to do that. I like having a relationship with the families and our coaches should have those relationships. It’s not always, why are they calling us; hey, congratulations, your son made it.
Yeah, it’s kind of taken off here. It’s a good thing.
Q. When the defense comes out with something you’re not expecting to see from an offensive standpoint, can you describe the difficulty of making in-game adjustments?
COACH MEYER: It depends on the maturity of, No. 1, your quarterback, and number two, your offensive line. If there’s a bunch of wide-eyed guys out there that they are just trying to survive; but when you have some experience and your coaching staff is well-oiled and on the same page, it’s not that difficult.
And it depends what the adjustment is, if it’s a completely different front like what happened to us in the National Championship Game in 2008 and what happened to us against Virginia Tech in 2014, that’s a tough deal now because you’ve never practiced it. But we’ve also learned a lesson. We will always practice those, even if it’s just a little bit.
Q. You’ve mentioned a lot over the last couple years, that 250 role that you want for your offense. How long have you used that as the standard and why is that 500 total yards and that 50/50 split there, what makes that important?
COACH MEYER: It was day one, 2001. That was our goal to be a balanced team and just history shows that balanced teams win. Imbalanced teams usually fail at some point. That’s just been our target. We’ve hit it a few times and that’s a very aggressive goal obviously but that’s what we try to do.
Q. Is hitting those numbers important or just having the threat —
COACH MEYER: The threat. Because teams play you a certain way. If you can’t function in the throw game, they are going to stop you and if you can’t function in the run game, you’re probably going to lose.
Q. Every season is a mystery, every team’s a mystery. Is it a little less so this year because you have those veterans, or is it still — are there still a lot of questions in your mind about what this team is going to do?
COACH MEYER: I think any time you lose those six juniors to the NFL Draft, those six guys are back — we have a pretty good handle on what you have, when people like that leave, your secondary, a little bit — I don’t know if I use the term a mystery, but an unknown, but that’s why you practice so hard.
Q. Branden Bowen is listed as a starter. What did he do to earn the job? How good do you feel about him right now?
COACH MEYER: Good. He’s the most improved guy, one of the most improved players on our team. Something clicked with him about — in the early summer, I heard it from Coach Mick; I saw it. It really wasn’t that close to be honest with you. Burrell was very close to him. But Bowen did a very nice job.
Q. You named nine captains for the season. Some people would say, that’s a lot of captains. What went into having that many captains? Just that many guys that are qualified for the role?
COACH MEYER: That’s a lot, I remember when Mike Vrabel was here, he was in our staff meeting and he mentioned that he was not elected captain, which blew my mind and it’s because — once again, it’s none of my business. Back then, but just because they limited it to three or four. And I kept thinking to myself, there’s been a couple years we had five or six guys; that I just think and he made the comment to me, “I wasn’t named captain but I was still a captain.” I’m thinking that’s one of greatest honest ares you could ever have, why would you take that from a guy that’s deserving.
Since that conversation I had with him, whoever deserves it is going to be captain, and it will be on the wall, down the hallway, and you’ll forever be known on your resumé as a captain of the Ohio State University football program.
Q. What makes each of them guys that are worthy of that honor?
COACH MEYER: That’s who I would have picked, and I’m glad the voting of our team correlated with what I would have picked. You’d have to ask our players, but if you ask me, it’s the maturity, it’s the leadership, it’s the toughness, all the things that we expect. And it started in January that those guy, all nine of those guys have been solid all the way through.
Q. I know you guys are recruiting the best high school athletes in the country, across the board, and in high school, those best athletes typically play both ways regardless of, you know, what position they play because they are the best athletes on the field. I’m wondering how much do you guys pay attention to how your kids that are committed are used, and to make up like a fake example, what if like your quarterback was used as a linebacker in a goal line situation and is busting through an offensive line and making an attack with hi shoulder. Are there things that, you know, bother you? Do you ever talk to a high school coach about it once they are committed?
COACH MEYER: I think I know where you’re going. I personally do not. We follow them very closely, though, because there’s an expectation level of sometimes people think they are committed and they just shut her down for the team. We’ll eventually try to walk away from that player, too.
That’s why our relation with high school coaches is so strong. I’ve never been in that situation where I would say, why are you doing that. I don’t think I would ever do that. However, I have called coaches before and said, is this guy doing everything that we all agreed that he should do; is he going to class, is he being a great teammate. I think — I never want to see it turn into, oh, I’ve got my scholarship, I’m going to shut her down. Those are not the players we’re looking for.
Q. Quarterback is a different value, you have to value it because you only get one a class. If the quarterback is playing defense and hitting people with his throwing shoulder, is that a concern?
COACH MEYER: No, I love that. That means he’s a tough cat. I think I know where you’re headed because I saw it.
Q. Yeah, it was a good hit. Do you guys have — finalized or what’s up with Mike Hill? Is it an NCAA suspension?
COACH MEYER: We know what’s up and I’ll at some point let you know.
Q. You’re in a situation between now this year between now the new signing period, you’re actively preparing for a game. How different does your time management have to be?
COACH MEYER: Because of the early signing period? No difference whatsoever. That’s all just, Mark, his staff, just making sure beyond — we haven’t discussed it other than when the time starts to come, get the paperwork out and send it in and go.
Q. Do you have to maybe speed up —
COACH MEYER: I think that’s coming. I think it’s happening. I can’t stand it but that’s part of what’s happened here in the last few years and this early signing will have an impact and what will really have an impact is the early visits next year. That will, once again, not a big fan of that at all but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.
Q. What is the one thing that you have definitely seen, not one thing, maybe a couple things you’ve definitely seen J.T. Barrett get better at from day one to now, day whatever this is of camp, that he needed to get better at in your opinion?
COACH MEYER: Continued development of his accuracy and his relationship and timing with the wide-outs. To say that he mastered our offense, he’s done that quite a while ago. It’s just the timing, the execution and the trust.
When you see a quarterback taking more than one hitch, and I’m giving you some technical stuff, you see him on a play that’s designed one, two, three and he hitches the ball and he takes two pitches, it’s because you don’t really trust what that guy is doing. That’s what I’ve seen improve.
Q. Mike Weber, is he 100 percent?
COACH MEYER: He’s very close. I’ll know more today but he’s close.
Q. Is there a chance J.K. Dobbins could start the game?
COACH MEYER: I don’t think we’re there yet but I’ll know more today.
Q. Y’all got improved for a $7.8 million improvement to the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. I’m not saying, where does this stop, but what is the need and what the reason for continuing to expand the facility?
COACH MEYER: It’s twofold. I think everyone knows the answer. It’s twofold. You’re expected, the Ohio States of the world, elite programs, which we are; expect to have the very best for the welfare of the student athlete.
A lot of what we’re doing is not as much bells and whistles, but it’s actual welfare about the health and safety of our guys. Making sure it’s the best of the best of the best and there is the fact that you’re recruiting. We don’t — our athletic director and administration don’t shy away from that. We expecting to — when you go recruit someone, we don’t need obstacles, we need advantages.
I’m so proud to say that our administration and our staff have been perfect alignment on that and not silly stuff but if it’s going to make a difference — but No. 1, got to be perfectly clear, it’s about the college experience ever the player that comes here. That’s why I think the retention is so good here. That’s why I think our guys perform in the classroom so well. That’s why they, knock-on-wood, stay relatively healthy, not one time have I gone to Gene Smith and said, hey, this is in the best interests of a player. The answer has always been yes.
Q. A couple guys I wanted to ask about. Seemed like they were in the mix early in camp. Justin Hilliard?
COACH MEYER: He’s in the mix. He’s got to earn his stripes on the kicking game so you’re going to see him. I want to believe he’s at least starting at one, maybe two kicking but his last two week’s been very strong.
Q. Josh Myers?
COACH MEYER: He’s got a ways to go but glad he’s a Buckeye. He’s going to be a great player. He’s got a ways to go.
Q. Anybody you’ve ruled out of this game because of injuries or whatever?
COACH MEYER: I think we’re pretty good.
Q. Branden winning the guard battle seems like for the second year in a row, you’ve had some guards, guys in the program who didn’t win the job when it was available, any part of that disappointing for you and what does it mean for a guy like did he me tries now that Branden is a starter there?
COACH MEYER: It’s the obvious and that’s that when you have to move someone or you take a true freshman in here and you move like you did last year, the pressure is on and there’s an expectation level that we have of you.
There’s certainly no one — counting anyone out because this is a long season now. We have had great storylines throughout the program’s history and even recent history of guys that were beaten out and came back. Stevie Miller is one of the great stories of college football; Darryl Baldwin. I could give you more, just kept swinging kept swinging, and bang, he’s in the game. Yeah, we are not giving up on anybody.
Q. Was there any, I don’t know if trepidation is the right word but even if Branden was playing well, was there any thought that maybe you won’t start him, just because of the hit that could give to your tackle depth?
COACH MEYER: There was. Munford is really, I mean, has done a nice job but those concerns are there. But you’ve also got to get your first five in there.