Aug. 29, 2016
COACH MEYER: …Barrett, Raekwon and Pat Elflein were recognized as captains, first time I’ve done it immediately after the Fiesta Bowl win because the lack of experience on this team, and they’ve done a very admirable job, and love those guys.
But we also took a vote. Joe Burger, Gareon, Tyquan, Billy Price were selected captains. I like more than less. Obviously over the years you can see that. That doesn’t mean that Fada and other players aren’t captains, because they’re certainly going to be leaders.
I think Mike Vrabel said it best, even when we had this conversation when he was here, he was not elected captain, but he certainly was a captain. So that’s a big part of our program and our culture and we need them to step up.
I want to say a couple of things also about a great school we’re playing this week, Bowling Green I love that screen. Paul Krebs, a former Buckeye, was an assistant AD who hired me, what was it, in 2001. And I took the job at Bowling Green. I remember taking home — wasn’t sure what to do, and I took home the media guide.
And the one thing that I loved about Bowling Green is that — and the reason we took it, first of all, I really appreciate the administration there — and a lot of respect for the previous coach, Gary Blackney. But they had a winning record against every team in that conference, overall record.
So that tells you, taking over a place that’s never done it is hard. But to take over a place that’s done it, maybe has fallen off a little bit. And I still remember that to this day, when I think about Bowling Green, it’s one of the most tradition-rich programs in the MAC. A lot of great respect for them.
I loved my time there, and a lot of great people there. So I’ll answer any questions for you. We’re excited to get going this week.
Q. When you look at those two years at BG, you had such a close relationship with those kids. How did they — when you look now — how did they impact the coach that they are now?
COACH MEYER: Shelley and I were talking about this the other day. It’s probably the closest — I’m still extremely close with those players. We had a little reunion up there last year, a fundraiser, and a lot of guys will show up at practice still. And I keep in touch with them.
It’s one of the really neat experiences, zero expectations. And that’s, obviously, you don’t experience that much anymore. But I remember we got, one of those preseason magazines came out, I think we were 129, or 119 or something like that. That was our ranking.
I thought you have to be blanking me when I saw that. I didn’t know there were 129 teams or 119 times, 120 teams. Posted that in the weight room, a 36-year-old coach trying to get a team motivated that was ranked preseason 119. Good thing is we did not finish 119.
Q. Your first game was at Missouri. Did you worry at all that if you lost that game that you might start to lose some players?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, I did. We had, I think, 50 some players make the travel team. We were allowed to take 70. We didn’t have 70 players.
We got on a plane and had some receivers that couldn’t catch. So we did empty and we put the guys over here but no one knew that. So Missouri still covered them.
And we threw the guys — because we had some good ones who could catch, Gerling and Robert Redd and those guys.
We sat there in Columbia, Missouri. I don’t want to take this whole press conference, it’s going down memory lane. It was pretty good. We sat there I looked at Shelley, what if we lose every game we play, because who knew? She said I bet you win tomorrow. I looked at her and I said we have no freaking chance of winning this game tomorrow.
Something happened in the middle of the night. I remember waking up, our staff and our players thought they’d win it, and they did.
Q. What can you say about Torrance Gibson’s situation, I guess?
COACH MEYER: It was not athletic department football and I disagree with it. But so —
Q. Let me ask this, when you’re facing a young opposing quarterback who can throw an exotic blitz, when you’re facing a young defensive line, you can run at them more, what are you doing when you’re facing want to exploit a relatively inexperienced coaching staff?
COACH MEYER: Oh, you try to do as much history as you can. We’ve gone — it’s almost silly what coaches do nowadays, we went back two years ago to find out he has a Texas Tech background. And with the defensive coordinator, we looked at his background. And you’re chasing ghosts most of the time because you have to be prepared. The first three games, we’ve witnessed that around here. Virginia Tech got us.
And so we have to expect the unexpected. And what does that mean? That means we’ve worked on odd. We’ve worked on bear, we’ve walked on four down. I’m talking about from an offensive perspective. Having a veteran quarterback helps and having a veteran center helps.
But you’re going to go back, and, look, we understand they might have some depths and concerns in positions. But really it’s all about execution for us, and making sure that you at least are covered on some of those unexpected looks.
On defense — on offense, excuse me, it’s those three different fronts that you have to be — because you look like a fool like we have, if you’re not ready for it.
Q. What can a coach do or does a coach do if you disagree with a university suspension of one of your players?
COACH MEYER: I don’t know.
Q. Is this a unique situation for you or is this something that during your tenure you’ve dealt with at times as a coach?
COACH MEYER: It’s not unique. We have dealt with it.
Q. When you were just talking about the Bowling Green days there, you just had like the look on your face looked like you love talking about that time, what’s the most fun you’ve ever had as a coach, and I would assume you’re enjoying yourself now. How does what you enjoy now compare to what you enjoyed then? I’m sure some things are the same, and some things are very different?
COACH MEYER: I think low expectations where a player — another quick story, because you’ll love this one. So I walk in the first workout, they’re in Budweiser T-shirts, stuff like that. So we had to — obviously that’s not going to make it real well with us.
So I started going berserk like I do. And we didn’t have the money to have the workout gear. Everybody’s wearing different colored shoes.
And so we had to go raise some money for some gear. And we were at adidas at the time. So I asked — I made my contacts with adidas, I said, man, they need a little help here. We can’t really do Bowling Green right now.
And this is before — because Bowling Green they’ve done very well recently. But so I worked it out a deal it was like 2500 bucks or something. And they said we’ll get you some shoes.
They came and I think they were blue and gray. Their colors are Orange and brown. But it didn’t matter. Man, the kids got blue and gray shoes to wear. That tells you the expectation level of those young people, hey, thanks for the T-shirt, Coach, I appreciate it but no one said these aren’t our colors. But they got a free T-shirt and a pair of shoes.
So that was probably the moral of the story or the point of the story is zero expectation. They want nothing other than to find somehow to finish their careers with a winning record. That was our whole mantra, finish their career with a winning record, the seniors.
Q. Can you enjoy this the same way when there’s gigantic expectations?
COACH MEYER: I think you can. It’s all about the people you’re around and all that. And at a great school, yeah, sure.
Q. I’m sorry that I’m going to continue this tour down memory lane, but Tim Tebow is having a baseball workout this week. It’s a pretty big career change. I’m wondering if you remember during the recruitment if you watched him play baseball?
COACH MEYER: Incredible. Incredible baseball player. That’s when I bought, I drank the Kool-Aid when I watched because I kept hearing this Tebow, Tebow, Tebow. You got a little tired of it. I went and watched him play in spring baseball. He’s playing outfield. I’ve never seen a guy change a game, motivate, lead and do everything. And I walked away and said that guy is one of the most unique players I’ve ever seen.
Q. Have you talked to him about this change, or do you think he can do it?
COACH MEYER: I kind of knew a while back, we chatted. He visited here earlier and this actually has been in the works. He’s been thinking about it for a while. This didn’t just happen overnight.
And I’m very biased and everybody knows that. And don’t count him out. I’m very biased.
Q. Raekwon McMillan, when you got the commitment from him, early, Vonn Bell was a pickup, was a big deal. But when you got Raekwon from the heart of the south, what did that mean to this program from the standpoint of I guess establishing the flag down in Georgia, et cetera?
COACH MEYER: That was one of the biggest ones was Vonn Bell and Raekwon were big. Those were illogical choices for them to come up here at the time. Now I think it’s more a little logical. However, Ohio State has a nice history. You had the great player with the Steelers now, Cameron Heyward. You’ve got Ryan Shazier came from down south. But those were kind of areas that were untapped. Those are two pretty big gets for us.
Q. Was Raekwon one of those guys that people would follow? Jalyn Holmes talked about that, about how much he meets the guy and he wants to play with him and stuff?
COACH MEYER: No question. We knew that right away when you went and saw his high school and watched him perform and the leadership skills he had. I think that’s where Mark Dantonio and his staff do a great job. You want to get those guys that can get on those group chats and all that other stuff. We have a bunch of them right now.
Q. You were talking about a while ago, when you’re trying to get a handle on Bowling Green, Texas Tech, what did you look most at? What did guys look at most? Did you look at what Texas Tech was the last couple of years, how did you kind of get into it, I guess?
COACH MEYER: Well, you go from where the coordinator has been. And obviously the head coach. And you go back and see what they’ve done in the past. And our whole scouting report — I just stared at it and it was obviously not Bowling Green last year. We look at their personnel.
But you look at what the coach’s history is. On defense there’s co-coordinators you find out what both those guys’ backgrounds are. And on offense it’s pretty simple. They’re going to do what he knows and that’s going to be Texas Tech.
Q. Do you expect a big change from them defensively, just scheme wise and everything?
COACH MEYER: No, not really the two coordinators they brought in, their backgrounds are somewhat similar to what they were in previous couple of years.
Q. I know you guys want to be a lot more balanced offensively than last year, you’ve talked about it what’s the ideal balance for this offense?
COACH MEYER: 50/50.
Q. Do you feel like you guys are close to achieving that?
COACH MEYER: I do. We’ll know more obviously Saturday but we have depth at receiver. We have a returning quarterback that understands what we’re trying to do. And at the end of the day it’s 250, 250 is the perfect. And we’ve had some close to that, but last year it was imbalanced and we have to be very balanced.
Q. Along those same lines, as you search for balance on offense you think back to last year, and the amount of times that J.T. ran the ball. There were games where I think you had 20-plus carries. Was it too much was that where you wanted it?
COACH MEYER: No, too much. 10/12 is the area you want to be in. Direct quarterback runs, where we call it, five to seven, eight, maybe, depends on the game. And then he’s a natural scrambler.
When things break down, I think that’s one of his strengths. He’s one of those quarterbacks that’s very rarely takes a sack. He’s always getting that plus yardage. If it’s not there he puts his foot in the ground gets plus yardage. He’s more aggressive than most quarterbacks. When you start hitting the 20, 25, that’s too many.
Q. And different topic, your kicking game, field to field kicking, Sean Nuernberger, you brought in a graduate transfer last year who kind of supplanted him a little bit. Where is he at this season? I know you have a walk-on kicker you took a black stripe off?
COACH MEYER: Durbin, I believe that’s his name. Tyler Durbin. Tremendous talent. He’ll start this week. Sean is dealing with some injury, he has a groin injury. He missed most of camp. And this other guy’s been kicking — he’s the one who hit a 62-yarder in camp. He’ll be our starting kicker, Tyler Durbin. That’s his name, right? Tyler Durbin.
Q. Kickoffs and field goals?
COACH MEYER: Kickoffs and field goals. I’d spell it for you but I’m not quite sure how to do that.
Q. You’ve had nine months really to prepare for this after that wave of players left for the NFL. How ready are you right now, do you think?
COACH MEYER: Believe it or not, I mean, I’m usually not this anxious and excited and I think we’re pretty ready. If we can get a couple guys, Marcus Baugh we’ll get him back, and Jerome Baker who’s been dinged up a little bit, he’s back today. So we have to get healthy, but our first unit, they’re pretty close to being game-ready.
Q. What are the biggest — every opener is a mystery. What’s the biggest mystery in your mind about what Saturday will bring?
COACH MEYER: How the players react to the environment of 110,000, 108,000, whatever it is. The loud, crowd, I’m sure it’s going to be hot. And how they react not Pat Elflein and J.T., but how the Austin Macks of the world and Malik Hooker is going to do respond, because they’ve done really well the last few weeks.
Q. Are all the starting positions settled right now?
COACH MEYER: No, not yet. Close.
Q. Can you elaborate on that?
COACH MEYER: The front five on offense, if it continues, will be Isaiah Prince and Jamarco at tackle. You’ll have Billy and Michael Jordan at guard, if he continues to grow. Pat at center. Mike Weber/Curtis Samuel at tailback/Dontre Wilson. At receiver that’s still in the air a little bit, but Noah Brown will be involved in that.
On defense, quarterback, Joe Burrow right now will be the number two. On defense you have Sprinkle and Mike Hill on the inside. You have Tyquan and Sam Hubbard on the outside. Inside you’ll also see Dre’Mont Jones and Davon Hamilton. And defensive end for sure Jalyn Holmes, we should slash him as a co-starter with Sam, because he’s had a really good camp.
Q. Do you feel like you’re a little bit, you feel like you’re going into 2014, when you have all these young guys, who you don’t know how they’re going to turn out by the end of the year?
COACH MEYER: Very similar. And I’m real excited about them. I’m trying to hold down the excitement because I really am. I can’t wait to watch them to play. I made a comment, a young team that’s not very talented is– but this is a talented team and good guys. This has been a good camp. Good people to work with.
Q. Can you talk about Joe Burger, a guy that has made a big impact on the field but ends up being voted a captain?
COACH MEYER: I can talk about him all day. I think he should be a college football coach. I told him that. It’s either that or med school for him or business, he’ll be fine whatever he chooses. He’s worked —
Q. Why did —
COACH MEYER: He had scholarship offers at smaller schools coming out of LaSalle, out of Cincinnati. Wonderful family and has a Ohio State background, his family does. And made a career decision. And he’s been very involved even when he wasn’t —
He’ll start on punt for us and start on kickoff return and maybe one other one. So he’ll be on the field for us. As good a guy as there is.
Q. You mentioned you feel like you’re pretty much game-ready. You had told us last week, I think, that second in unit offensive line and some other places maybe weren’t. How close are they? Do you feel like you’ve made progress in that?
COACH MEYER: I do. We’ll know more this week. And the one thing about those guys, they’ll continue to grow throughout, because some are real young.
And the same with that defensive line they’re very young continue to grow we want to stay healthy when the time is right you don’t want to be enforced because there’s an injury that’s when you get problems. Thanks, guys.