Sept. 12, 2016
COACH URBAN MEYER: Difficult, obviously a very good team. Comments about Tulsa or champions. Tulsa on defense had a ^ bundle of them, playing really, really high-level defense right now. On the defensive line, wow, we had Mike Hill, Jalyn Holmes, Sam Hubbard, Robert Landers and Tyguan Lewis. That’s five guys. Really good. Linebacker, you had two; two of the three made it, Raekwon McMillan and Worley. And the back end of our defense is playing outstanding. Gareon was nine for nine making plays, playing very high level. Denzel Ward was four out of five making plays. Hook, Malik Hooker was seven out of nine. Obviously he had a very exceptional interception and runback. And then Damon Webb was five out of six. Those guys were all champions. And then the player of the game was Marshon Lattimore, nine for nine make play, two picks, a touchdown and three tackles. Once again, playing a very high level in the back end of our defense.
On offense, Noah Brown and Parris graded out at the wide receiver position. Marcus Baugh played pretty well. Pat Elflein and Billy Price up front, and then Mike Weber got honorable mention as did Dontre. Curtis Samuel was offensive player of the game. I think he was player of the game in the first game too. Might have been. But he’s playing at a very high level.
Kicking game, you had Parris Campbell was dynamite. He had five tackles, one downed punt inside the 5-yard line, tackle inside on the 15-yard line, inside the 15-yard line. Kickoff, 34 production points, which is an exceptional effort on kicking game. He’s fallen into that category of Evan Spencer, just does everything for us, ^ exceptional player for us right now. So that’s it.
Started slow against Tulsa on offense. They were blitzing a lot, moving a lot, creating a little disruption in our offensive line. We settled down a little bit, obviously, believe it or not, after the delay and the rain. And I thought J. T. started off slow, but played very well at the end. I’ll answer any questions for you.
Q. Obviously this is the game that people have pointed toward. How ready do you think you guys are for this kind of challenge?
COACH URBAN MEYER: I’ll know more at the end of the week, but I think — I’m glad we have two under our belt for the new guys to play a little bit, and got a lot of respect for the personnel. We’re facing a very good team.
Q. And the offensive line last week Elflein was the only champion. Today it’s two. Are you concerned about where the line is going into this kind of game?
COACH URBAN MEYER: I’m concerned about everything. I have a lot of confidence we are getting better and better each day, and that’s growing pains with five guys that have to work together. So yeah, a little bit concerned, but I think we’re further ahead than I thought we would be at this point.
Q. What would you say is the hardest thing about going on the road? Everyone has their own opinion. I’m just wondering what worries you in general?
COACH URBAN MEYER: With a veteran team, nothing, other than you just gotta deal with — you know, depends on who you’re playing. If it’s a very good team — I don’t really look at it that way. I do when you’re young. There’s no way to simulate going on the road in the off season or I would have done it. Gene would have been a little bit upset if I said I need 60 grand to go take my guys to somewhere. Didn’t work out. We didn’t do that. That’s the only thing with a young team, the newness of what happens on the road as opposed to focusing on their assignments.
Q. I’m guessing you were about 8th grade when Oklahoma came here and you were an Ohio State fan. Do you remember that game at all? They said it was maybe the loudest the stadium has ever been at.
COACH URBAN MEYER: At Oklahoma or here?
Q. No. The game here.
COACH URBAN MEYER: No.
Q. You don’t remember any of that?
COACH URBAN MEYER: No. I remember Coach Bruce lecturing me about when they beat — gave me a little bit of this (indicating) not too long ago when they went down and beat was it Dupree was the tailback, when Ohio State went down there and won the game. They ran — who’s the doctor? Great tight end here. John Frank two touchdown passes. So I got a little bit of that. Put the play in.
Q. Dontre Wilson was playing very well. Seemed like he was a little banged up at the end of the game, maybe a foot. He seemed to be limping. Is he okay?
COACH URBAN MEYER: Yeah. We rested him yesterday. He had that broken foot a year ago. But he should be fine. I think he’s playing very well.
Q. How much value do you take out of — you know Houston, what they do offensively. You had that film recently. How much stock do you put in it? How useful is it for you guys to prepare for this one?
COACH URBAN MEYER: It’s very useful. Very similar offenses. Houston made their money on — it’s not like they methodically moved the ball down the field on them. They made some big plays on them, and great two or three back shoulder throws, couple isolation passing routes and little trick play the tailback swingout on the back field, but it wasn’t a methodical beating. I think it was 33 points they put on them. But they played very well.
Q. I don’t know how this really works for coaching staffs when they get into the season, but you have a relationship with Tom. I don’t know how it works maybe with the rest of the staff. Was there communication between and you Houston when you have a similar opponent like this?
COACH URBAN MEYER: Yeah. We did talk to Tom. Just got their thoughts on personnel. Because you see what you see on videotape. It was more about personnel because they have a couple of new players as well in the back end of their defense, and what’s their thoughts on the defensive line. Schematically, not as much because we get the same videotape that they have. It was more about their personnel.
Q. Do you set aside any coaching calls to ask advice, or is it just personal relationship that works in your favor for something like this?
COACH URBAN MEYER: Do we set time —
Q. Do you have these conversations with any — are they common do you think?
COACH URBAN MEYER: It is if we have like a relationship with Tom and there’s some similarity. I’ve called guys if I’ve never been to a place, what’s it like, that kind of thing. But every once in a blue moon, I’d say twice a year, three times a year maybe.
Q. I don’t know if you guys did it against Tulsa, but against Bowling Green you did a Wildcat thing where you had Dontre and Curtis together in the back field. I’m just wondering if you’ve ever done direct snaps with skilled players where you have two dynamic athletes like that or guys who are as dynamic as those two back there^ together and what do you think projections for that formation could be when you have guys like that back there?
COACH URBAN MEYER: You wish you could be able to throw it. Braxton at times, you know, it was nothing more than that. We’d throw once in a while. We did the Wildcat Saturday with J. T. in the back field and we just shifted them off at the last second. And Curtis, I think we had two or three runs that way. There’s going to be something, because you have two really dynamic guys in Curtis and Dontre, so that’s something that’s — those are those checker pieces you enjoy moving around. But we will continue to do it. The problem with if you can’t throw it, eventually everybody — and that’s what happened. If you remember Braxton early in the year because there was still a threat of throw until we found out he couldn’t throw, and you can start loading the box up there pretty good.
Q. We’ve asked you a lot over the last two years about defenses kind of changing what you see on film for your offense. And correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought you said before that maybe at Oklahoma in the BCS title game, it was the first time or one of the first times that’s happened to you. Can you maybe talk about that a little bit, what you remember about the challenges facing that?
COACH URBAN MEYER: Yeah. Traditionally Coach Stoops has been a 4-3 defensive coach with squeeze corners, a very unique style of defense. It takes a lot of work to prepare for. And I just remember the conversations what if they change. You know, you have 40 days to prepare for each other and they went to a lot of 3-4, and they’re primarily a 3-4 team now. But that’s one of the first times that — that’s one of those sick feelings on the sidelines. Use language I can’t use right here, like son of a… it’s tough.
Q. Can you talk in some more detail about the slow start offensively and adjustments you made? How concerned are you that that could happen again?
COACH URBAN MEYER: I’m glad it happened now, you know, because we were exposed a little bit. Obviously Billy Price and Pat Elflein graded out champions because they’re kind of veteran-ish but some of the other younger first-time players there was a lot of moving parts, a lot of pressures. Every time we moved the tight end, they brought the brought from the other side. So Bill Young did a very nice job defending us early on and kind of settled down in the second half and started blocking them much better. But it all starts — when we have success, J. T. gets a lot of credit and the receivers do the offensive line is playing well. When we struggle, the offensive line will struggle, and that’s what happened. And J. T. did not play great early. I thought he played outstanding as the game wore on.
Q. A few years ago we talked to you about how you tried to recruit Braxton Miller from Florida, and when you called up, you could just tell he was all Buckeye. And I went back and I looked today that while you were at Florida, you never signed an Ohio kid at all, and I would think that having been an Ohio person and what you think about this state, that you would have thought going into it put more emphasis on the state. What when you were down there was your viewpoint as a Florida coach, how can we go up there and was it just too hard?
COACH URBAN MEYER: Jim Tressel did a good job. We’re not going to take the third, fourth, fifth down the line guys. In Florida you do like Ohio State, you’re going to take the very best players. We went after a few of them. But there was just so many players in that immediate area where we were at. That’s why we — we took a swing at a few of them. But Jim Tressel and Ohio State is hard to beat to come into Ohio and beat ’em.
Q. You picked up with that same tradition, you are not letting anybody leave the state. I was just wondering —
COACH URBAN MEYER: Trying not to.
Q. You have mentioned in the past that your national recruiting has maybe left the door open for some programs to come in and recruit Ohio, but is it almost harder for another top program that might be on the same level as you at Ohio State to come in here and recruit Ohio than it would be for a program that’s going for the three-star lower-tier guys that aren’t getting Ohio State offers because they have to go directly against you?
COACH URBAN MEYER: Those are — that’s great questions, and we spend an incredible amount of time because these darn three stars, the one thing about Ohio kids, I don’t know the stats on this, but the Darron Lees, the Tyvis Powells, those guys just show up and turn out — Pat Elflein, unrecruited guy, and I’d like to say that Ohio, for whatever reason, I think because just the way football is in their blood and they maybe develop a little bit later because they don’t have spring practice, those are all things that you have to consider because these Ohio kids, they turn out, they go to these — Michigan State is well known to take these Ohio guys and all of a sudden, boom, they become great players. So I think they’re maybe a little bit behind because of the lack of spring practice. These states that have four years of spring ball, that’s like another whole year of football. And Ohio doesn’t have that. So a lot of times these kids get one year in the program, like a Darron Lee and all of a sudden they have great success. That’s a lot of time, a lot of effort spent trying to do a background on them. And that’s my biggest fear about Ohio. I think the big-time guy, we might lose one or two of them, but we’re going to be involved with them. We lost a couple of kids to Notre Dame the last couple of years from Catholic schools in the state. That’s always going to be a battle. But I spend more time worrying about this young player that for whatever reason, you just know in your heart, like Luke Fickell knows this state as well as anybody. He’s a really good recruiter about that; I think this kid’s going to turn out — give him one more year and he’s going to be a major player. I think one of the reasons is, as I mentioned before, the spring practice, the issue is that the players aren’t trained in the spring.
Q. (Indiscernible) is kind of like you were at Florida, though, because he’s from Ohio and he’s running a program that is making top 15, Top 10 like Ohio State. Is it just harder for him to come in and go against you guys, though, because like Michigan State might be able to come in and Kentucky might be able to come in —
COACH URBAN MEYER: Michigan State might take that — they did get L. J. Scott. And Wisconsin does the same thing; they come in and they get that. I think they do a great job of evaluating players. I don’t think Oklahoma comes in Ohio very much. I don’t feel them.
Q. Go against you for the guys you want.
COACH URBAN MEYER: I think that’s probably — why would you — there’s probably Texas where there’s more quantity of players. Those are questions to ask him, though, honestly.
Q. When you were here as Coach Bruce’s assistant, what did you think of Oklahoma then? They had Coach Switzer. They ran the wishbone; they had four fumbles and still scored 50 points. Just your memories of that era.
COACH URBAN MEYER: Oh, yeah. It was Nebraska, Texas. Had a lot of respect for them. I can’t really say. We didn’t play them, so I don’t know. I wasn’t here when we played Oklahoma. But I had a lot of — like everyone else in the country, they were top dogs.
Q. How happy have you been overall just in the administration of the offense? How has that gone for you?
COACH URBAN MEYER: Very good. First game I thought was outstanding. Same game we started a little slow, but I thought the adjustments made, especially at halftime, were very good. And especially the — I think Coach Mick, he’s mentioned this, but the maturity of our team at that hour-and-a-half, whatever that delay was, was outstanding. I’ve been on teams where you’d be, oh, gosh, what’s going to happen now. But they were very professional. Our staff was outstanding, and we played our best football in the second half.
Q. Offensively overall (indiscernible) other than the slow start.
COACH URBAN MEYER: You take away the first ten minutes of that game I’m fine. I didn’t think the first ten minutes was very good. Once we got going a little bit, J. T. got going, the offensive line started blocking, I was very pleased.
Q. When you look at the secondary and how important communication is in that position, in the off season were you worried at all that those guys weren’t going to mesh quickly and have you been surprised at how quickly they did?
COACH URBAN MEYER: Yes. Was I worried? I worry about everything. Yes. I was very worried. I have great confidence in our coaching staff. Did I think Malik Hooker would be playing at the level he’s at? I wouldn’t be telling you the truth at this level I thought he’d be a very good player for us and grow into that position. He’s growing real fast. Same with Damon Webb. There’s about three new starters on that back end, and they’re playing outstanding. So I was worried about it, but Greg’s a very good football coach and obviously Kerry Coombs is a very good coach and they’ve done a nice job.
Q. Next step?
COACH URBAN MEYER: Just keep getting better. Of the talented teams I think the two we’ve faced they’re both going to win games. This one’s real, real real.
Q. When you talk about Oklahoma being real, what stands out about them besides the way they align defensively? What just gets your attention?
COACH URBAN MEYER: Well, the size of the defensive line. You’re not going to run — you have to be really on your target to run the football on them. They’re big, gigantic guys inside. Very similar to Alabama defensive line. They played the odd four-I defense which is going to negate gaps and makes it very difficult to run. And obviously skilled secondaries. So I just think they’re the whole package. They have a pass rusher that’s outstanding, No. 31. So just they’re a very good team.
Q. Talk about your secondary. These guys seem to enjoy the process of getting ready. I mean from talking to them the last couple of weeks and stuff. Have you noticed that, too, that they’ve put in the work?
COACH URBAN MEYER: Yeah. They’re junkies, yeah. They’re football guys that love it. They don’t roll their eyes at work. They love work. There’s competition at the corner spot. You better play well because there’s some good ones right there with you. Got a nice rotation. First time we’ve ever had a rotation at corner. And safety spot, Erick Smith is getting a little bit of a move right now, so he’s getting a little bit of depth. But they just love to be coached. They love football, and I can’t speak on behalf of Greg and Kerry, but I know they love coming to work to deal with those guys every day.
Q. You have so many new guys that are playing. What are the conversations like with the offensive staff as maybe figuring out this is what we want to do as a scheme, this is what our principles are, maybe this guy as personnel right now can’t quite do this. How much are you trying to fit what you want to do with figuring out two games in maybe this guy needs a little help here?
COACH URBAN MEYER: That’s what we do all day long, trying to put the checkers where they belong. We’re still figuring out the receiver position because they’re so new. We don’t have the one guy that’s your go-to guy yet. I think we’re developing him. Still don’t know enough about Marcus Baugh and A. J. Alexander. You’re used to have higher men at the net. And you don’t have Zeke, but you have this other kid that’s running really hard right now. You have two pieces that we really haven’t utilized before, and that’s Dontre and Curtis. So that’s what 50-year-old men do all day. They come in early and drink a lot of coffee and stair at grease boards. Kind of weird, isn’t it?
Q. And you had said right after the Fiesta Bowl last year this season you expect to throw more, want to throw more with J. T. You just said Oklahoma is going to make it hard to run. So I guess comments about Tulsa.
COACH URBAN MEYER: We have to be balanced. You have no chance in this game if you think you’re going to go just pound the ball. Their defensive system is not to allow inside run. Their base defense that they want to install is to negate the run, and so we’re going to have to be very balanced.