Sept. 8, 2014
COACH MEYER: Tough loss against a very good team. We’ve just got to move forward. First one we’ve had during the regular season, so there is no victory meal for our players. I can tell they’re hurting. So we get to hurt the rest of the day today, and then coaching staff and players need to move forward and try to get our second win.
Q. Coach, is it just a little fix here and a little fix there?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, just a little experience here. It was a unique style of defense. First time I’ve seen that. It was completely hours upon hours of game planning including in the spring we started looking at Virginia Tech, and they just completely played bear zero, which was a high risk defense, but obviously it worked. The coach and that staff, they’re good players. I think we hit four big plays, had a couple PIs and a couple plays in option football and still didn’t get them out of it. Just had to make more of them. We will as we continue to grow up.
Q. Is that the only area?
COACH MEYER: Well, no, there are plenty of areas, offense, defense, kicking game. That was a really good team we played. I think we’re a really good team. A play here or play there, a field goal here, field goal there and a stop I could go on, and on, and on, and that’s what’s frustrating. I’m not taking anything away from Virginia Tech, but a few good plays and it’s a different outcome, a great stadium, great night, so we have to rebound and move forward.
Everything we’re shooting for is playing for championships in November, and that’s still right at our disposal. I mean, we’ve got a heck of a long way to go, but you put your heart and your mind into that of a 19 year old, and everything’s still there, and I see that. Look, they’re still hurting. They’ll take our lead and take my lead and I’m still hurting, so we’ll be ready by tonight, get it out of our system and go.
Q. As you analyze the film offensively, what were you most disappointed with?
COACH MEYER: Oh, just not making the one on one coverage. I thought we’ve improved at wide receiver, and we just didn’t get open enough. When we did, it was either protection flaw. They made a decision to take away the tailbacks and there were nine guys within six yards of the line of scrimmage, and you have to make someone pay a price and come up with some of those catches. Dontre made a couple or one ridiculous catch where you have to do that, and we have to execute, get the ball to them and protect. One thing is just the execution. If they’re going to play zero coverage, you have to make those shots and we haven’t had a lot of that.
Q. Coach, obviously digesting a loss after the game was tough at first but how do you approach when you have such a huge recruiting weekend when you go in there? What do you say to the kids in the room?
COACH MEYER: It was tough. Those are very good questions. You don’t sleep much. You get up, you get a text, breakfast at 9:30, and you have meetings from 9:30 till 6:30 at night of recruits, and that’s what I did yesterday. You have to put the smile on your face and go attack them. The best thing going was the environment.
Everyone saw it. They also saw opportunities to help our football team but it’s a grinder. It’s much better when you’re popping around and you win, and the demeanor of everyone, because our players were hurting too. The campus was hurting. The feedback has been very good.
Q. Do you worry about that?
COACH MEYER: Do I worry about that? Tim, explain to him I worry about everything, yes.
Q. That was a big weekend for you. Would you approach the night differently?
COACH MEYER: The night of?
Q. I don’t know if you converse with them after the game is over. How do you approach it differently in a situation like this?
COACH MEYER: When you don’t win?
COACH MEYER: We always talked about the high risk. When I was at Florida, same thing. Do you really want to schedule all those official visits. There is such a great atmosphere in our stadium. We risked it last year between Wisconsin and Penn State, and risked it the year before against Nebraska, and those turned out the wrong way. I think it’s important to witness.
The crowd, I had my headsets on, but that is the loudest I’ve ever heard any stadium. I want to thank our fans for that. Our students were outstanding. It was great. We’ve got to play better. But to answer your question, yes, you are concerned about it, but there is so much to sell here, it’s a great time to bring them in.
Q. In the segment of college football fans, there are part of the people out there following the team, and when you’re winning, no one can be this invincible, and then when you lose, it’s like oh, terrible. The season is on lost. Do you have to get anymore insular or circle the wagon and say, look, everything out there is immaterial?
COACH MEYER: Sure, you have to do that when you win as well. I always make the comments you’d love to just go move them off to a desert island somewhere and coach a team and not worry about social media uncles, first uncles are okay, third uncles are bad. They’re the ones with opinions that have no clue what they’re talking about. First uncle is all right. But, yeah, those are concerns. That’s one of the cool things about coaching 18, 19, 20 year olds. It’s a challenge that I actually enjoy. If you have a good relationship with the player, which our coaching staff does, you just make them aware and have a good conversation about it and move forward.
Q. What is the offensive identity you want to create? Is it happening?
COACH MEYER: Well, we had two weeks that were very unique. We were just talking about that. We haven’t run a base offense set yet against Navy. It was all the 3 4, back and forth game and that’s not really we haven’t faced a 4 3 defense yet. And that is traditional what you’re going to see for most of the year. That is what most of our base offense is premised on is 4 3 defense.
We’ve had zero snaps at 4 3 defense and think about it. We’re two games into it. Our offensive identity would be last year with a little more balance and throwing the ball is who we’d like to be. That’s kind of what we’re built for schematically. We don’t have a Carlos Hyde but we have pretty good backs. We have a little more perimeter run game than we’ve had in the past, but it wasn’t there because they’re not going to give it to us and their style of defense. Does that answer your question?
Q. Yeah. When you were at BG and you’re playing Kent State, obviously, when you’re in that situation, you’re not thinking you’re learning for things to come, another job. But looking back, how did BG set the table for you as a coach?
COACH MEYER: Oh, it was, first of all, I loved Bowling Green. We took a team that was really struggling and our first game go beat Missouri. One of the darnedest thing you’ve ever seen. It was one of those moments where it was like, I can’t believe that just happened. I think our record against BCS schools was 4 0 or 5 0, which was remarkable for that group of players, and I am still very close to a lot of them.
I think it just sets how to develop a staff. You try things that if you did here it would be on every front page of the paper, and I’m glad we didn’t have the exposure, because there were a lot of mistakes made by yours truly and our coaching staff, mistakes for trying this, trying this, trying this.
So it’s a great opportunity, especially in that conference because you recruit all the same player, that’s why I love the MAC conference. That team comes out of the locker room and they all look alike. Usually the team with the quarterback wins that conference, and there have been some phenomenal quarterbacks come out of the MAC conference, really good players, too, but they don’t have the depth. But it’s a really good coaching league because for the most part they’re all about the same talent wise.
Q. As disappointing as it was, as upset as you were, is there a part of you as a coach that could see the long view that might think this could be a blessing in disguise?
COACH MEYER: That will show up tomorrow. No, not yet. That will show up tomorrow if you start looking at the positives. I saw a quarterback fight like I got hit, got hit too much. They were called green dogging. They were blitzing the back and did a nice job. But I saw there are some positives, but we’re still in that hurting mode. Just pain of regret is phenomenal, and there is so much regret about things we could have done better to win that game. But there are positives and we’ll address those in great detail tomorrow.
Q. The defense is supposed to be this new, very aggressive defense. At times it was, at times it didn’t look like it. Could you assess the defensive performance?
COACH MEYER: Average. Yeah, we didn’t pressure as much. We settled down. The first two drives were bad and then we settled down to play some really good defense for about two and a half quarters. We had one bad drive in the second half. For the most part I’m very pleased, but I want to get to the point at Ohio State where it’s shut down, lock down defense, and let’s keep it to seven points, and I think we can make that happen as we continue to grow this year. There is still some new blood out there playing, and there were far too many, when you meet with our defensive coaches, there were far too many mental mistakes.
Effort was not an issue. For example, it’s going to be a sack for a safety, and our defensive end loses contain, and the quarterback scrambles out and they complete the pass. We had a couple third down, didn’t get them off the field third down in the first half. But for a good two-and-a-half-plus quarters, it was a very good defense. It’s not four quarters of defense. I like the direction we’re going, we just need to get there really fast.
Q. Even with the defense that Virginia Tech was playing, you guys talked about the speed you had on offense. Did you do enough and try to get the ball to Curtis or Dontre or Jalen and those guys?
COACH MEYER: No, we did not. They took it all away from us. It was forced into the one on one. Nine guys with the line of scrimmage. They’re not quite ready. Dontre, I think Dontre we did. Not in the run game. We tried a couple times and everyone was right there. It was going to be a throw down the field type game, and Dontre I know made one play down the field. But to answer your question, we did not get to utilize that speed, and until you scare people off you, you won’t get to.
That is the first time I’ve seen that kind of defense and in maybe our coaching career where they were all six yards. The start of the game I remember on the head sets I said, wow, I’ve never seen them do that. That’s why second game we took a shot down the field and almost got it. We had a couple PIs, and it was forced into a one on one game.
Q. I know every team is different. Why wouldn’t every defense that you guys face look at that?
COACH MEYER: They felt good about I don’t want to speak for them. But after watching the films a bunch of times, they felt their match ups at corner were better, and they had a freshman quarterback and new offensive line. Before we get a play started, we were going to be in the back field. Pretty gutsy, but I don’t know if you do that against last year’s team. You’d have to ask their coach. I don’t know that.
But a veteran offensive line coming back and a veteran quarterback, I’m not saying the outcome would have been different. I’m not saying that. But I think the Virginia Tech coaching staff made a gutsy decision, and it really did a nice job.
Q. Having a young quarterback and a young line right now, do you think you guys have to prove something on the field or other defenses will try that same idea?
COACH MEYER: I don’t know if people have the personnel. I know one of them does. The team that won the Big Ten last year does. I don’t know. That’s risky stuff. You get a mismatch somewhere and they replace that one corner in the third quarter when we hit a couple plays on them, and the other guy is pretty good too. You can’t really do that. The thing, once again down the road because I’m friends with their coach. We play them next year, so it will be a while. But I bet that wasn’t something you put on Tuesday and Wednesday. That’s been going on for a while.
Q. As much as you guys struggled offensively, it was 21 21, and they took the lead. You had 14 offensive plays, six sacks, two picks
COACH MEYER: After that?
Q. After that. What did they do differently? Was it a mentality that they just closed better than you guys did?
COACH MEYER: Yeah. We didn’t do anything differently. That’s a tough stat. I didn’t notice that one. Last 14 plays?
Q. Last 14 plays. Six sacks and two picks. Up until it was 35 21 with a couple seconds left.
COACH MEYER: Yeah, they just closed better. That’s something we need to continue to address and play better.
Q. And on the one on ones, did the receivers most of the time lose battles or was it a combination?
COACH MEYER: It was a combination of both. We won some battles and there was pressure. We just don’t have much time. I think that is the one thing about game planning it, you sink your teeth into Navy, and that is another advantage. We had a team that we had to go. I’m not disrespecting William & Mary. But you could tell what they worked on was completely different. So if we knew that was coming, you’re much more prepared and you’re trying to make sideline adjustments with some young players and that’s really hard. We’ve just got to do, from now on you don’t want to hindsight, you have to be prepared to get those shots down the field. It’s turned into a complete one on one game when you do that.
Q. You talked about this last week. You’d like to see a couple of those guys like you talked about a minute ago, step up and make some plays and establish themselves. Who do you think still has that capability?
COACH MEYER: I’m not giving up on Corey Smith. He dropped a touchdown pass and it might have changed the game. I met with him today and he’s a guy that has a lot of potential. You basically look at his career and there is a word next to him saying potential. Not a lot of statistics or commanded respect, but he’s got a lot of potential.
But the way he’s changed as a human being, as a football player, we’re not giving up on him. I thought Mike Thomas had a career day. He’s not playing very well. I thought he played well in that game. Devin Smith played okay. But he was open a few times. Just couldn’t get it to him. Evan Spencer has to make a couple plays. So I’m disappointed, but I’ve not lost who he can become and there is a long time to go.
Q. That offensive line, there were times when they blocked them and times when they didn’t?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, but a lot of the pressures you saw were free guys, and that is because of the add on blitzes. I think the offensive line was kind of, we block them in the run game and there would be an extra guy right there. I’m still concerned about our offensive line, but Saturday was not a fair assessment. We have to hit one on one plays in those kind of situations.
Q. You thought there were some growing pains when you replaced the offensive line, Carlos, et cetera, on offense. Has the challenge been greater than you anticipated?
COACH MEYER: I think it will be greater. This one we got exposed a little bit. They played the traditional 4 3 defense, man three is what we prepared for and that’s not what they gave us, so we were exposed a little bit. Once again, it’s amazing how fragile this game is. You catch that touchdown pass, and what if all that other stuff, but if you make a couple plays, that is a different ballgame. We’re all sitting here, and that is the fine line of how fragile this whole thing is. So I thought we’d be a little further ahead. We were exposed in this game, the skill was. But the skill is going to rebound it, and we’re going to coach them as hard as we have and they have to rebound.
Q. Coach, no one has brought up J.T. and his situation, he took a little bit of a physical beating and mentally maybe just kind of the guys around him not holding up their end of the bargain to support him. Have you talked to him since the game and where is his mindset and how resilient is he after a game like that?
COACH MEYER: Probably that’s his best. I think he missed his whole senior year, if I remember right, with an ACL half of it. So he hasn’t played a lot of football. He had to get back and get healthy. He wasn’t healthy when he first got here. We recruited him because first of all his ability level. You could see he can throw and he runs it well enough, but the real, which is probably as important as anything, is the character and maturity and what kind of human being he is. So he’ll rebound. I have all the confidence in the world, so does our offensive staff. That is his strength. You’ll watch a young man that’s really going to rebound this weekend.