May 24, 2018

Urban Meyer Press Conference March 26, 2018


Urban Meyer: He’s a little bit like J.T. Barrett, you say he’s out for a while, but he’s not going to be out for that long.

Q. Is his season in jeopardy at this point?
Urban Meyer: They tell us no.

Q. Safety, obviously, Jordan, seems like he’s penned in at that one spot. Isaiah has been running with the ones a lot. What do you see out of him that’s sticking out? Is he a guy that’s kind of in the lead for the boundaries?
Urban Meyer: Jordan Fuller is one of the starters. We don’t have one yet in the other spot. You have Isaiah and you have Brendon White, Jahsen Wint, I think those are the three that are competing for it. Josh Proctor when he gets in there, he’ll compete for it. Hook, Marcus Hooker, he’ll compete too. So that’s where we’re at right now.

Q. With Alex being installed as safeties coach, how different do you feel like you know the work of that group and the intensity and how different that position has been run in the first couple practices of the spring?
Urban Meyer: Zero difference. Coach Schiano is all over it. It’s a good thing that Coach Grinch is very much the same kind of coach, same kind of expectation level out of him as Coach Schiano.

Q. Dallas Gant was rotating with the twos a little bit. How ready is he going to be to contribute this year?
Urban Meyer: He’s probably going to play. He’s shown enough what scale, and I’m going to go to him ready to compete on special teams, because he’s one of those very mature players to come right in. He’s not where he needs to be, but he doesn’t have to be. He just needs to give us everything he’s got and he’s been doing that. Very smart player too.

Q. Justin Hilliard has had some bad injuries here. Do you see him having an elevated role?
Urban Meyer: Sure. Yeah, he’s one of our best special teams players. Was a year ago. Very accountable guy, having a good spring so far. I’m a Justin Hilliard fan. I hope he continues to grow as a defensive player.

Q. Urban, the H-back looking back last year didn’t carry the ball nearly as much as we’ve seen with Braxton, with Curtis. Is that a role that changes depending on who is in there and what the offense kind of requires from it?
Urban Meyer: Yeah, of course. You’d like to have — Parris probably could. We didn’t maybe give him enough carries because he certainly can run the ball. But the H-back you’d like to have a little more carries than he had.

Q. Do you see that being a bigger part of the offense?
Urban Meyer: I do.

Q. I know you have two running backs too?
Urban Meyer: Well, there are two running backs, two very good running backs. Antonio’s doing a nice job as well. But the H-back, K.J.’s not practicing because of his shoulder. He’ll be fine by the time summer rolls around. Parris is a known weapon. Demario is having a pretty good spring too.

Q. I know it’s not the same situation at all, but a few years removed from the 2015 quarterback battle, how do you feel you guys did as a staff in that battle? Did you learn or take anything from that battle in how you approached this year?
Urban Meyer: 2015?

Q. Yeah, the J.T.-Cardale battle?
Urban Meyer: How did we do with that?

Q. Yeah, looking back at it a few years removed, how do you evaluate the way the staff handled that?
Urban Meyer: 2015, that’s a long time ago. I think we won every game but one, right? So I think we did all right. I mean, I’m not sure what your question is.

Q. Just if you go back and look at how —
Urban Meyer: We shouldn’t have lost that game. I’d have to look at the stats and all that. But you’re saying how did the 2014-15 quarterback battle do?

Q. It’s probably the most high-profile quarterback battle in the history of the sport, and you were in the middle of it. I just didn’t know if you look back at it now how you feel your staff —
Urban Meyer: I don’t have time to look back at that, no. I know we won every game except for one, and I think Cardale Jones went undefeated as a starter. And J.T. Barrett had probably the most successful quarterback in Big Ten history. I think they probably did all right.

Q. Anything you can gain from that?
Urban Meyer: No, that’s history. Got to move on.

Q. Along those lines, when you have a quarterback battle, Cardale and J.T. are still such good friends, when these three guys that you have going through something right now, the competition day after day, is it uncommon for them to become such close friends? Is it common?
Urban Meyer: I thought Tom Herman did a heck of a job in that room. That is very uncommon. It’s hard. Those are special guys, unselfish guys. It’s not normally like that. I’d like to think it has to do with a little bit of the brotherhood of this team too.

There’s been other position battles where guys hang in there and stay very close. Running backs is one. So, yeah, I think that was a special group. That’s really uncommon for three.

Q. How do you — I don’t know — what is the vibe around those three guys now as they go through the spring and all eyes on them? How much do you have to pay attention?
Urban Meyer: It’s still too early to tell you that. I can’t say — early on it wasn’t all hugs and kisses with those three. If you remember, Cardale Jones is famous for a lot of things around here, and I love Cardale. He turned out to be one of our great players, great ambassadors. It certainly wasn’t like that the whole time. A lot of effort to keep that kind of chemistry on a team.

Q. You’ve talked a lot over the past couple years about your depth on the offensive line. When you look out there for the first part of spring practice with guys like Myers and Thayer Munford, and Wyatt Davis moving up and some of the early enrollees, do you see it coming together anymore?
Urban Meyer: Yeah, today wasn’t a great day, so I do. I don’t see us with guys that can’t play. I see guys that are all going to be swinging for an opportunity, and they’re talented enough to play. But today wasn’t a very good day to say how are they doing because it wasn’t a very good day.

Q. The first day we talked to you, you mentioned how important the center position is. How has that progressed and how do you feel about that six practices in?
Urban Meyer: I feel Brady Taylor is doing the right job. The other guy has to get better. Josh is swinging hard, and Matt. We even took a look at Alabi in there a little bit. So it’s okay. Once again, it wasn’t a great day.

Q. Six practices in, just how is your overall view of what you see? Sounds like today, not great.
Urban Meyer: Yeah, it wasn’t a great day in any phase. I’ve got to figure out why. When you see a bunch of good players on standing on the sideline, that’s not — you know, we have that saying around here, guys that have played one or two-year starters, you know — two-year starters you kind of back off of them a little bit, and we’ve done that. So it’s a little sloppy when young players are in there that aren’t ready yet.

Q. In terms of linebacker with (indiscernible) however long, is it an opportunity this spring for somebody else? Who do you look at now?
Urban Meyer: We have Hilliard and Baron Browning in the middle right now. And Pete Warner is very flexible and having an excellent spring. Malik Harrison is another guy we start talking about, because Keandre has made a good push. So you’ve got some good bodies. We’re not ready to say who is going to be in what position. It’s our job to get the best of them out there.

The good thing is there is some opportunity, like you said, for someone to step up and go. That position, once again, they’re not perfect and they don’t have to be, but they’re trying. I kind of like that position right now.

Q. Wanted to ask you about recruiting. It seems by now you usually have a quarterback in your recruiting class. You guys don’t have one for 2019. I’m just curious, having lost some guys in the last few classes you had committed, are you taking it any slower? Why is the time line what it is right now for that position?
Urban Meyer: That’s a good question. We’re not on purpose taking it slower. There’s not a lot of depth at quarterback this year in the recruiting world. So other than we’re just working as hard as we can to get them here. We’ve had a bunch visit, so now we have to find the right marriage then them and us.

Q. When you’re evaluating guys for that position, we’ve heard the list of things you look for, toughness, competitiveness, mobility, extend the play. Is arm strength, arm talent being evaluated anymore differently or closely than maybe you’ve done in the past when you’re looking at high school quarterbacks?
Urban Meyer: We’ve always looked at that. But that’s not in the top 5 criteria we’ve evaluated a quarterback. We’ve had plenty of quarterbacks, around here — or not around here, but just in history that didn’t have the strongest arm but they were a better player. It’s competitive, toughness, leadership, football IQ, and extend the play are the things we look for. Arm strength is nice, but it’s not in the top 5.

Q. It just seems like some of the guys you’re recruiting are on another level with that than some of the guys you’ve recruited.
Urban Meyer: Not on purpose.

Q. Justin Hilliard, for example, have you seen a little bit of a light come on with him too from the standpoint of actually playing linebacker?
Urban Meyer: Yeah, he’s always had someone mention, he’s had some tough, tough injuries. The biceps tears on two of them. But I can’t ask for anything more from him. He’s one of my favorite guys because he just goes as hard as he can.

Like I told you, I’m a fan. I push that a little bit. He’s a guy that’s made some mistakes on defense when he’s in there, and he’s just fighting through. The light is coming on, and he’s doing pretty good.

Q. In terms of Browning, what did you see out of him last year and what are you seeing from him in the spring?
Urban Meyer: He’s as talented a linebacker as has ever walked through these doors. He’s a big freak that can do it all, great young man. Did not play well early in the season. Just was out of his comfort zone. By the end of the season he was really contributing in a lot of areas on special teams and should have played some defense, but he just didn’t earn that yet.

But he’s got it all now. He’s got A to Z. An intelligent guy, a good person, and God has blessed him with an incredible skillset.

Q. We’ve talked to you about Ryan Day before. But how big of a — I don’t know of a get was that to get him signed to a three-year contract? What does it mean moving forward in your mind as far as having him on this staff?
Urban Meyer: An excellent coach. One of the better ones I’ve had. We can’t get into that rotating door. I’ve always asked for at least two years, then we’ll have a conversation. So I would expect him to stay because that’s what he told me he would do.

He did have some very intriguing offers, yet at the end of the day, you start doing that, start bouncing every year, it’s not really good for your career. It’s not really good for your family. He’s a smart enough guy to know that.

Q. Three years is pretty — that’s the most of anybody you’ve had on this staff.
Urban Meyer: On contract?

Q. I’m talking from a contract standpoint. Did you push for that or did he push for that?
Urban Meyer: Oh, no. He didn’t push for anything. I was the pusher, I guess, if that’s the right word.

Q. Has there been any separation in the quarterback situation? Can you address where that situation stands?
Urban Meyer: Just when you think there has and someone steps up, I would have anticipated what I’m seeing. Just when a guy starts to move, another guy catches him or maybe passes him. So I can’t say who is one and who is two.

Q. Are you happy with them overall?
Urban Meyer: Not necessarily. I think with the whole team I thought we’d be further ahead right now than where we are.

Q. Quarterbacks and the whole team?
Urban Meyer: Quarterbacks and the whole team.

Q. One question about Kevin Wilson. With Ryan’s ascension and title and salary, there is a question, okay, where does Kevin Wilson fit? What is his role? Is it the same role? Was it a different role?
Urban Meyer: They’re the same role. This has been addressed several times. The exact mechanisms that take place on game day, we’re still working through it. But as far as what we’re doing, there is zero change.

Ryan was a coordinator last year. So the whole thing was I think I took the title off of him. Co-coordinator, because I saw the way — both of them work very well together. I’ve done that many, many times. It was like when Chris Ash and Luke, and then Greg and Luke, and then at Florida I did the same thing on defense a couple times. Offensively, we’ve been in that situation. Ed Werner was very involved with the play calls, et cetera.

Q. Did you realize the, I don’t know, “confusion” may be the right word, having two guys as coordinator causes like for us or the public and stuff? They kind of still want to know who is the one in charge? I mean, who is at the top of the — well, you’re at the top of the heap, period. But you know what I’m talking about. Do you understand? Do you still have a ranking there?
Urban Meyer: A hierarchy, I guess, or something?

Q. Yeah, that’s the word, yeah.
Urban Meyer: Maybe. I don’t — that’s for me to know. Within the staff it’s very clear the people that need to know.

Q. You’ve said in the past your job is to be concerned about everything. How concerned are you about the linebackers right now?
Urban Meyer: Linebackers? I’m not concerned. Coach Davis is doing a good job, and there are some talented cats. Dallas comes in, we have K’Vaughan Pope coming in. We have Teradja Mitchell coming in. So, I mean, Tuf Borland it just breaks your heart because he’s one of the best kids I’ve been around in my life. A very good player. He’ll be back.

Q. You said you didn’t have anybody locked in; was he locked in as a starter?
Urban Meyer: Tuf? Yeah, sure.

Q. You just seem a little unhappy with where things are. You said it a couple times.
Urban Meyer: Just a tough practice today.

Q. Is this normal in spring? This happens sometimes?
Urban Meyer: Well, you’d have to pull the good players out. I saw some young guys that should be doing better than they did, but that’s part of spring. Thanks.