Aug. 21, 2017
Urban Meyer: I’m not going to share that with you guys yet. I just like our team. I hate to be redundant. As my wife says, coach speak. But I really like our older players. They’ve shown it throughout training camp. School starts tomorrow, so a whole other distractions.
And, you know, guys are on their own, they’re not locked down in their hotel. A little sluggish today. But we just have to have another attempt to have a good one tomorrow.
But, you know, I’m in the sure what you’ve expecting me to say. I think we have a great team. I don’t think we have a great team yet, but I like where we’re at.
Q. Training camp is over now, you shift to Indiana. Is that extra practice time? Are you full into game plan now?
Urban Meyer: Yeah, we’re full into IU. Today was the first day. We’ve been working bits and pieces. You have an Army team coming up on week three. We’ve been having to work on that.
It’s a complicated little schedule we have here. Not only the first three games, but all focus is on IU, and it has been for a while. There’s also just, you know, you have game two is rather significant, then you have Army game three.
Q. How much of J.K. Dobbins are we likely to see?
Urban Meyer: He’ll play. He’s earned that right. We’re going to call his family this week and tell them to get ready to watch some football because he’s going to play.
Q. And in the scrimmage on Saturday, offensively, defensively, who kind of won the battle overall at the scrimmage?
Urban Meyer: This time of year, you’re just getting ready to go play.
Q. Watching highlights you post up. Looked like Grimes had a few catches on Saturday.
Urban Meyer: Yeah, he’s much improved.
Q. Where is he?
Urban Meyer: He’s right on the bubble of travel or not. That’s determined here in the next two days, but he’s right on the bubble. His last 10 days have been much better than his first 10 days.
Q. What position group, in your mind, maybe individual in your mind, has made the biggest strides between when you watched him or them the first day of practice and up to now with camp being over? Which group caught your eye?
Urban Meyer: Oh, I think we had a three-hour meeting last night, went through everybody on the team. I had Mick. He made the comment about the receivers, the O-line, two of the topmost improved.
Bowen, if you’re singling out players, would fall into that category of really, really improved. I’ll put Michael Jordan in there, as well. He’s really improved as a player.
And on defense, I thought Damon Webb was a good player. He’s a really good player now. He’s playing at a high level. Those are just a few names.
Q. A few years ago you went to press coverage defense. You had the horses to do it. Is stressing the deep ball sort of a similar thing on offense, or is the deep ball necessarily a high-risk, high-reward play?
Urban Meyer: It was last year. It was a high risk and not much reward. I think any team that runs the ball well, you have to complete the deep pass because people are going to load it up on you. We run the ball. Someone told me in the last five years, we have not been out-rushed by anyone for five straight years, total, cumulative. So we’re a really good running team. We will be again this year.
You saw in ’14, when they put extra defenders in there to stop the run, you have to execute. And we haven’t done as well since then. That has been a huge priority.
Q. I know you’ve discussed how in the past you sometimes take time to discuss issues beyond football with this team. With the way things have gone since the start of camp in the world, have you felt that necessary this year or no?
Urban Meyer: Sure, we’ve had a couple conversations with what happened in Virginia. It was everywhere. You know, we were kind of buried in training camp. But I went to each room. We talked about things.
There were some tough things going on right here, and we’ve kind of taken the approach, it started last year, and Live Life Wednesdays, was you can’t really control what’s going on out there, but you can be a shining light and kind of a role model for the way you handle your business. Not only for your family, but Ohio State people watch you.
Very impressed with our guys, the way they handle themselves, what they say. But we did, absolutely, we discussed that. Can’t control Virginia, but you can control what goes on here within the family.
Q. You kind of addressed the right guard situation. Is there any more detail you can shed on that as well as the safety and even kicker?
Urban Meyer: Boundary safety is down to Erick Smith and Jordan Fuller. That hasn’t been determined yet. Right guard has not been determined yet. And kicker, the young guys, Blake is a pretty good player. Right now Sean is ahead of him, but not by a very far margin.
Q. You’ve now had a training camp with Kevin Wilson. You thought you knew what you had. What do you have with him? What makes him special as a play-caller?
Urban Meyer: He goes quick. He spits plays out real fast. Him and Ryan Day work very good together. I like where we’re at. We’ve done more unscripted plays than we ever have for that purpose. I’ll just throw the ball down second-and-one, third down and six, on purpose. They can’t look off a sheet. They have to call plays. Done a very nice job.
Q. We know how much you value special teams. We know there’s a lot of dynamic guys on this roster. In the punt return game and punt block game, have you guys been as dynamic as you would like to be?
Urban Meyer: No. We were decent when Jalin was back there. We’re not very good. We were poor last year, very poor in punt return.
Teams change. It’s really hard to block a punt nowadays. That whole system of punt that I don’t want to say we started, but years ago when I was at Utah, the big guys in the back, it’s just much more difficult to block punts now.
A little more emphasis on return game. That’s an area that we deemed inadequate a year ago, obviously. We worked very hard on it.
So right now I think it’s K.J. and Demario McCall that will rotate. They’ll be our punt returners at this point.
Q. Ezekiel Elliott’s situation, Stacy is around the program. From an Ohio State perspective, is that any reflection on Ohio State at all if he’s in the spotlight for negative reasons in the NFL? Do you think that has any reflection on Ohio State? Do you worry about that at all?
Urban Meyer: No. Like perceptions or things? I lived that down at the other place.
We have a responsibility here to do the best we can. Zeke’s family, we’re trying to do the best we can to stay in touch with him, stay in touch with his family.
His family, we had a nice meeting yesterday. Just sat and visited for a while. His sister is going to go to school here.
So yeah, I’ve commented many times on Zeke. We love Zeke. We want what’s best for him. The best thing we can do is educate, advise, and always be here for him.
Q. How important has it been to get Tracy Sprinkle back and fully healthy for the defensive tackles?
Urban Meyer: We’re going to announce captains tonight. I anticipate that he’ll probably be a captain. That’s how much he means to this team. The amount of respect he has earned over the last couple years. You know, he worked so hard. You see an injury, that’s awful. It’s just great to have him back. Plus he’s a very good player.
Q. When we talked to the offensive line last week, they had a lot of good things to say about Dre’Mont, how he looked this fall. From what you’ve seen of him over the past year, what has it been like to watch his development, to see a star in the making?
Urban Meyer: I didn’t mention him as one of the most improved players. He’s a very improved guy. I agree with our offensive line. Near the end of the season, he was playing very, very well. He’s even playing better now.
Q. The AP pre-season poll just came out, which of course doesn’t mean a whole lot. It’s the usual suspects, Alabama 1, you guys are 2. Is that good for college football, the same teams up there? Would you rather have parity?
Urban Meyer: You know my answer, right? I don’t care. We got kicking meetings here in an hour. Got to be ready for that.
Q. The guy that always getting mentioned is J.K. Dobbins. What separates him from another freshman back?
Urban Meyer: You remember when Raekwon McMillan came here, he was kind of a grown man, just showed up. However he was raised, what a credit to his mother. J.K. is the same. He came in here and he’s an excellent student, one of the best workers in the weight room. On top of that, God has gifted him with great speed, elusiveness. He’s a real one. We’re happy he’s here.
Q. Any more delineation backup quarterback-wise? How do you go into game one?
Urban Meyer: We’ll have a plan. It’s not been finalized yet.
Q. Can you put perspective on how much Nick Bosa may have grown since his freshman year. A lot of anticipation with his name on a jersey.
Urban Meyer: I remember last year, he didn’t really practice much at the tempo that he needed to do to get him ready because of the ACL injury he suffered in high school. He’s ridiculous right now. That name is very good right now. Need some more Bosas. Keep trying to talk (laughter).
Q. Didn’t mean to interrupt you.
Urban Meyer: No (smiling).
Q. If he turns out to be as good as his brother, which you don’t like the comparison, if he’s in the neighborhood, how much of an issue does that create in terms of how you get reps on the field? You have two good defensive ends.
Urban Meyer: Three. So he’s a fourth. Chase Young and Cooper right behind them. Coach J loves to rotate players. We also have some other packages where you’ll see more than a couple on the field at one time.