Oct. 28, 2017
Select a Press Conference
COACH MEYER: Thanks for being here. Wow. What the heck just happened? Special thanks — as always never want to take anything for granted, and that’s all the way from the skull session to wonderful crowd and incredible band, and that stadium helped us when we needed them the most. And that was one of the best fourth quarters I’ve ever witnessed in my coaching career.
So hats off to our fans and the 10th unit, the crowd. And just a quick comment about our quarterback. I see everyone’s throwing these sheets at me with records, this record, that.
You guys can figure out all the records. I’ll just tell you, man-to-man, this is one man talking about another man. I don’t know if I’ve ever had more respect for a human being and as a person, because you earn respect and you witness people in very dire straits at times, tough situations.
That’s why I have so much respect for the men and women who serve our military, because they get put in such tough situations. And I love to talk to them about those situations and the respect they earn for each other.
And we’re certainly not in that kind of environment, but we’re in college football, where it’s either yes or no in those situations and he was a big yes tonight.
I’ve never had a kid play perfect, but damn he was close tonight — 33 of 39. I can count four drops off the top of my head and two penalties that kept him from big completions. And he’d be the first one to tell you he’s a product of those around him, which he is — receivers and offensive line played. That’s the No. 1 defense in America, we have great respect for. And I just can’t — just how proud of J.T.
Q. You said earlier in the week teams are won by leadership. J.T., you see him behind the scenes, I think he had 16 straight completions tonight at one point. What did you see this week in him?
COACH MEYER: I think I’ve had him for five years. I’ve seen it ever since he’s been playing for us. I heard about this J.T. Barrett guy, and he came on as a redshirt freshman. And he wasn’t tall enough, wasn’t this or that. But he’s tough as a lion and he has an incredible skill to lead others.
And that’s why, he’s not by himself. That’s why I named nine captains this year, because when you start separating those nine guys, they’re different than — they deserve that opportunity to lead this team and they did that.
And you can see a bunch of those cats from that defensive line, and that’s as good defensive line play as I’ve seen.
Q. I know you got done talking about J.T. but you talked about tumultuous times, and he’s had a very up-and-down career at times with the battle he had with Cardale, and five weeks ago people thinking he should be benched. I’m wondering could you give me a little bit more perspective of what it might have been liked behind closed doors with him a month ago and then —
COACH MEYER: Getting better, with all due respect, people who had that opinion, in the Woody Hayes facility there wasn’t any opinion. There was zero conversation about that discussion. Once again, when I hear people say, oh, there’s a lot of people thought — that’s not one time I’ve walked into a staff meeting saying, what do you guys think? What do the fans and media think about J.T.?
We don’t talk about that. We talked about what do we have to do to get better, and realize that a lot of times the quarterback, deservedly so, gets far too much credit, far too much blame. Like he’s getting a lot of credit tonight, but those receivers played their tails off for him.
Q. Strong kid.
COACH MEYER: Strong? Strong as a lion.
Q. But he also reads and knows and is aware of —
COACH MEYER: I think there’s a point all of us in our lives that you’ll read something, you’ll say, what is that? But he’s a professional. He’s a college athlete. But he’s a pro.
And I’m at the point of my career, too, a lot of older guys are, like, did you read that. Did I read what? No, we’re good. We just gotta get better. We gotta get better and steady the boat. Keep the boat moving forward.
Q. You’ve won three national championships, you’re perfect against Michigan, but can you recall a game in which it seemed like you were pushing up the hill and when was — as probable as this one? Could you describe your emotions how you must have thought it’s just not meant to be?
COACH MEYER: The one fumble I kind of thought, uh-ho, and also our kickoff coverage. I’m not even going to take questions on that. We’re just going to have to make serious changes on personnel and everything else.
That was a comedy — comical. So, yeah, of all the 31 years I’ve ever been, I can’t remember one quite like this one.
Q. What did you get a sense of on the sideline with your guys when you’re down 14-0 like that so quickly?
COACH MEYER: I think I say this often that there’s really only one guy panicking and it was me. And we have a bunch of veteran players out there, veteran coaches, and Kevin Wilson, Ryan Day did a very nice job. Greg Schiano, defensive staff very nice job.
We just had to, the task at handled, get some things fixed. And special teams looked awful at times, but also made maybe the play that saved the game with the blocked punt.
And then also when we kicked off that one time got them down to the 11-yard line. So like I — I’m not proud of it — but a lot of times I’m the only one panicking out there. And I’m not proud of that. Our team was very solid, very stay-focused and keep swinging.
Q. You say you don’t want to talk about it, but you guys did make the adjustments on kickoff to try to deal with the situation. Just talk about what you had to do to sort of figure something out that could possibly work.
COACH MEYER: J.T. is a great leader and he’s a guy I love to death. (Laughter)
Q. I know you said you might have been the only one panicking, but coming off the bye week you guys seemed so confident. The way that Ohio State team played in the fourth quarter, I’m not sure that anybody could have matched up. But did you wonder who that team was in the first three quarters and what had happened to the progress that you’ve shown over the last months?
COACH MEYER: We held probably the number one tailback in America to 40 yards. So it was one phase that was really struggling. The offense was moving the ball. I kept looking at the stats and it was overwhelming. We really didn’t get stopped. Made a couple of penalties here and there. But that’s the flow, ebbs and flows of the game.
So when you say the first three quarters I can count a handful of plays that we looked like fools, and we have to get that fixed. But it wasn’t like we were getting pummeled. It was the opposite. We were playing very well against a very good team, but we had miscues that used to be uncharacteristic; now we need to make sure we get those fixed.
Q. In the fourth quarter, J.T. definitely, his performance was Heisman Trophy candidate quality. So do you think this was his best performance thus far in his football career?
COACH MEYER: I think that H word is appropriate after today’s game. And the last, what did you say?
Q. Do you think this is his best performance in his whole football career since he’s been here?
COACH MEYER: I can think of some great ones. But I’d probably put this 1A or 1B. I remember Michigan State in ’14 was one of those days like he had today. But this has to be one of the best — this is one of the best I’ve ever seen a quarterback play.
Q. This was a game where both teams were throwing haymakers, especially in the fourth quarter. What’s the play you’re going to remember the most? And number two past that, Jalyn Holmes’ sack during the last possession kind of set up the serendipity that led to the last play. What kind of came right do you think in that last possession, defensively?
COACH MEYER: Defensive line and Larry Johnson I heard, do we blitz? Do we do this? I remember over the headsets Coach Johnson saying let them go. Coach, no, you don’t need to pressure them. Let those four guys go after the quarterback. And, my gosh, they were all over the place.
Q. What play do you remember, right now what play sticks out in your mind what are you thinking when I say that?
COACH MEYER: The game-winner. I remember the call. It was 8-17, Y seam, look back. And they gave us the look that we needed. And those guys upstairs did a very nice job and executed to perfection.
Q. Was it the greatest comeback in your coaching career?
COACH MEYER: I think so.
Q. And did you ever prepare the consolation speech. You said you panicked a little bit?
COACH MEYER: Didn’t have time. Didn’t have time. Too much going on.
Q. Saquon Barkley obviously came into this game with well deserved accolades; you complemented him. Though he had the opening kickoff, you bottled him up pretty well between the tackles. Can you talk about the game plan and execution against him?
COACH MEYER: I think I’ll leave that up to Greg. Wasn’t much involved in that game planning. We talked about him. My biggest concern was not just the fact he’s a great running back, but he had 21 carries for 44 yards, if I’m reading that right. Is that right?
One was a 36-yard carry. Our defense was all over him. And one of the biggest things that makes him such a great player is the ability to catch the ball.
And I was as worried about that, because we’re a man coverage team, all of a sudden you get stuck with a linebacker playing man-to-man, like you saw against our rivals. That’s a credit. We had the bye week to prepare for them, too. But we still have incredible respect for him as a player.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
Q. Going into the fourth quarter obviously you guys were down 11, what did you say to your teammates before those last two drives? And what got you into (indiscernible)?
J.T. BARRETT: Honestly, we’ve been in those situations quite a bit, whether it be spring ball or fall camp. What was going through my head was Coach Meyer saying go win the game. He says that all the time, go win the game.
And that’s something that we’ve been in that position before. And it was a great thing for our guys to go out there and execute it, and all 11 guys did their part.
Q. It’s been kind of an interesting up and down season, and we’ve asked you a lot over the last five weeks how it’s been for you. Can you give us — now that you’re at the highest maybe you’ve been in your entire career — some insight on what it might have been like after the Oklahoma game? And do you have a special message for people maybe the loud majority who didn’t want you to be the starting quarterback of this team anymore?
J.T. BARRETT: I mean, I don’t know. I’m at a great spot right now. It’s my senior year being the quarterback at Ohio State. I love the guys in the locker room, love the brotherhood that we have. With that, that’s what I focus on. I don’t really focus on I guess the critiques that people have to say about me.
I mean, everybody has a right to their own opinion. That’s okay with that. And so that’s something that doesn’t affect me. But right now I think I just am thankful and thanking God how blessed I am to be in the position I am.
I tell you all the time I’m just a little cat from Wichita Falls, Texas. People don’t even know where it is on the map. But other than that, I’m grateful for the position God has put me in, and I can’t say how much I’m blessed.
Q. There were two moments that stuck out to me. After the fumble you were bent over on the field. Looked like you were in total disbelief. And before the fourth down play for the defense, you just sprinted out into the huddle there. Talk about what you were thinking about in the moment after the fumble and what you said to the defense there?
J.T. BARRETT: So when I had that fumble I was actually trying to hand it off. I wasn’t even trying to pull it. It’s one of those things, like, really, J.T.? Right now? That’s not the best timing. So there was a lot of game left to be played.
And when that fourth down came, in that timeout, I said the exact same thing. I said to the offense, let’s go win the game. I mean, that was going through my head the entire game was you have to go win the game.
When it came down to the critical moments where we had to go make plays, we made those plays and we came out and win the game.
Q. You often say that you’re the same guy. You don’t feel like you’re playing any differently. You look different, the fourth quarter looked different. That completion percentage against the defense, were you in a different kind of zone at the end of this game than you’ve been in before?
J.T. BARRETT: I don’t know. Because when you say like I’m different, I feel like I would have to be thinking different in order to feel different. But I don’t really feel any different because I’m thinking the same. I’m thinking about the preparation — what’s the down and distance, all these different things that go into a game.
It’s not like I’m telling myself anything new. But, no, I think that’s what we had to do to go win the game. We had to go drive the ball down field. And took a lot of passes to do that.
And so I think the “O” line did a great job of blocking them up front because those guys, they do a great job of just bull rushing up the middle and then attacking with speed on the edge. So they did a great job on that. And the guys on the opposite side made plays.
Q. You’re a Heisman Trophy candidate now. You might be the front runner. Urban said that. It’s worth talking about now. What are your thoughts on that?
J.T. BARRETT: He said the H word. I’m going to say the same thing, that H word. I don’t really focus on it. Next week we’ve got to go beat Iowa. That’s what I’ll go focus on.
Q. In the fourth quarter the offense comes alive. The defense gets key stops. Special teams gets the block there that’s key. Collectively I think that’s the effort that you guys have been looking for all season long. What prompted that? How did it all come together, because it seemed like it was bits and pieces up until that fourth quarter?
J.T. BARRETT: When it comes down to playing a Big Ten game, it’s Penn State, No. 2 in the country, at home. Somebody’s gotta step up and make plays. We talk about that it in the offseason. Who is going to make the plays?
And I think we have a lot of people on our team that have that burning desire to go make those plays. And I think that’s what you want your team, you want to have a team or people that are sharp in those moments.
So people stepped up and made those plays and had confidence in themselves. And at the end of the day that’s really what you want.
Q. On the winning touchdown pass, Marcus Baugh broke wide open in the middle. Just give me your thought as you see that happening? What are your thoughts?
J.T. BARRETT: Oh, well, what was happening, I saw the linebacker, I think it was 43, I was, like, J, just put it over the linebacker and we score. And so I was able to do that.
That was about it. He was getting depth. I think he saw me looking at him, and I was able to put it in a good spot. And Marcus made a great catch.
Q. We’ve seen the videos of you behind the scene, like a crazed dog. And yet you’re up here, calm. How do you behave during the game? What do you say to guys? They know this about you, but is that inspirational to them, would you say?
J.T. BARRETT: What is inspirational?
Q. The way you behind the scenes deal with them.
J.T. BARRETT: I don’t know. I think something interesting that I didn’t hear until Coach Wilson came, he said as a leader you have different clubs. Like in golf. Like you have different ways to go about certain situations. So you just can’t come across one way. And that kind of stuck with me.
Coach Day agreed with him. So with that, I mean, there’s some times where I’ve got to come across aggressive and intense and get our guys motivated, and other times where you need poise and let everybody know that everything is going to be all right. We just gotta stick together and it’s going to work out.
J.T. BARRETT: I was kind of the poised one, just positive energy. Coach Day said stay up and be positive. And I was able to do that.
Q. Urban called it a Y seam look back is the name of that play. How often do you guys run that? And what look do you want on that, did you see and what was the direction?
J.T. BARRETT: The last touchdown?
J.T. BARRETT: We actually put that in like Wednesday. We had, like, two weeks to prepare, or I think it was Wednesday or Tuesday. And so with that, it was — put them in a tight spot, being that they played cover six. They play cover two in the boundary. They’ve got two guys running up on him, so your guy’s gotta make a decision.
And then the play action definitely helped. But I mean, I’m looking at the safety to see which one he picks because whoever he does he’s wrong.
But at the end of the day “O” line did their part and bargained with the play action. That was a gap play-action pass and that’s a tough thing to do, especially against those guys. And they did their part, and I threw it to a wide-open person.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.