November 11, 2017

WATCH: J.T. Barrett, Urban Meyer Press Conference


Nov. 11, 2017

Urban Meyer | J.T. Barrett

Urban Meyer

COACH MEYER: Thanks for coming, I’ll answer any questions.

Q. Last week you said you weren’t quite sure what happened. Any feeling this week that this was coming — that took a turnaround?
COACH MEYER: I think the focus was pretty impressive all week. We obviously had some news mid-week about the two linebackers not being able to play. So there was a little anxiety because you had to start moving guys around at that position, and Keandre is not full speed either.

So that’s a really nice job by Worley and Malik Harrison, tough to play the way they did. But very good week of practice.

Q. Lately, we have been getting flagged for targeting and having key players ejected. Are the players not aware or have they lost some discipline —
COACH MEYER: I was very upset about that. Of course they’re aware. I’m the same way. I was irate when that happened. So just gotta keep coaching ourselves through it.

Q. You talked about the offensive line you thought was really coming on and stuff. This was against a No. 3 team in the country against the rush today. And you saw what happened with Weber and Dobbins over 100 yards. What did you see clicking?
COACH MEYER: Stud really did — our line coach really did a nice job. Him and Kevin Wilson as far as game planning. We had made mistakes in the past where you run from normal run sets — if you noticed a lot of those were spread run sets, and you just try to get it down to six people because the more people you bring into the box, they bring — there’s that extra player all the time.

And, first of all, the game planning was very good, but that secondary compared to the execution of the offensive line — and I thought the running backs ran really, really hard. Even when they got hit, it was a plus-2. So you’re in that second-and-four mentality as opposed to — and when you face a team that’s that committed to the run, you have to have that kind of physicality of running backs. I thought our two backs played fantastic.

Q. Weber hit those two home runs. What did that mean for you? He obviously kept waiting all year for those home runs from him.
COACH MEYER: Great offseason. He’s a much, much better player than he was a year ago. He was a good player a year ago and that darn injury — that hamstring was darn near surgical where that would have been the season. He rehabbed it, rehabbed it. And a lot of credit to Mike to hang in there, just keep going, keep going, keep going. And the two of them today, you talk about the 1-2 punch, that was outstanding.

Q. You guys talked about, or on Monday you talked about how you would like to see the running backs or J.K. touch it more. Both those guys got a lot of work today. Did you guys make any game-plan changes or did you feel like you approached things differently from an offensive perspective this week?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, there was a mandate to make sure those guys touch the ball. The flow of the game also dictated that we were controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides. What happened in other games is when you get behind or it just doesn’t dictate it that way. But that was a mandate for me and it was, once again mandates are easy. The execution was outstanding.

Q. I know you would single out one of the nine units but felt like what happened last week and even in the Oklahoma game earlier in the year, the linebacking group was maybe under some pressure. Were they in the spotlight for you this week? And what was the process like of sorting through those options to go play today without two starters?
COACH MEYER: That was awful. Once again, two of your better players, or two guys that are starters go down. And that was — had someone check with me on Thursday morning, that was not a good deal. But I thought Coach Davis and Coach Schiano did a great job getting those guys ready today. Worley played a brand new position today. But that’s a leader, a captain, a guy that’s been around a while. That’s what you would expect out of a guy like that.

Q. Is he better outside? Does he fit better than in the middle, move him to the perimeter there?
COACH MEYER: Those are things we’ll look at. (Indiscernible) what he played last year for us, too.

Q. You guys lost in 2015 to Michigan State, and then went up to Michigan and ran the ball and blew them out. You came off a loss this year, ran the ball and had a blowout win. Is there something about a loss that gets you guys dedicated back to the run game?
COACH MEYER: We use the term around here quite often, the laser-like focus. Those two running backs we have are two of our better players.

And that week of practice was all about controlling that line of scrimmage. And we also — if you look closely at the way we ran the ball, it was not traditional. The one hit, we haven’t run a draw all year, and it was a draw play. And we kept trying to do it as often as we can being in the spread sets.

To answer your question, the focus was there. And like we said, the mandate was there; let’s go do it.

Q. After the win, you guys now are in first place in the Big Ten East. This was for first place. What did you say to the guys, and how much do you pay attention to that?
COACH MEYER: I wish I could put them on a desert island. We talked about the Penn State — it went far too long. And now this one is over.

Now they go celebrate with their families and their friends and they come back and wait for the next mission, assignment and directive. And that’s going to be beat Illinois. And that’s it.

Q. After last week, how much did you need this psychologically, the team need this to have this kind of performance?
COACH MEYER: I think you know the answer. Of course you needed it. And college football, 18- to 22-year-olds, even more than I imagine the NFL, but it’s a game of momentum.

The browbeatings that take place and all these things, you need these kinds of things. You need a great performance.

And they had a great performance. And special teams, kickoff team was outstanding again. That’s two weeks in a row.

Punt team was outstanding. Maybe punted once or twice. But I think A-to-Z, it was what we needed and well deserved. Players deserved that. They worked hard this week.

Q. Billy Price set a record today, 51 consecutive starts. Talk about the cornerstone he’s been for you.
COACH MEYER: Yeah, I think the “cornerstone” is an appropriate word. I think as long as I’m around Ohio State, I’ll make sure that that guy is treated with legendary status because he’s done everything I’ve ever asked of him.

And that includes his off the field, his leadership when times are tough, even last week in the locker room, he was the one that took over the locker room.

You say: Coach, what did you say? I didn’t say anything. It was Billy Price. And I’m deeply indebted to Billy. Billy’s going to be a lifelong friend and he’ll be a Buckeye for the rest of his life, obviously, and I’m glad we still have him for a few more games.

Q. Damon Arnette had to leave the game —
COACH MEYER: Had a thigh bruise. Got all the x-rays back. It’s a pretty tough thigh bruise, but structurally he’s okay.

Q. Booker and Baker, when did this happen and what is the prognosis?
COACH MEYER: Baker is going to be cleared. Books not yet. But we anticipate they’ll both play next week.

J.T. Barrett

Q. J.T., can you describe what this last week has been like for this team and how necessary this kind of performance was?
J.T. BARRETT: So one of my things, intent focus, getting back to what we do fundamentally; our culture, four to six, A to B plus two, competitive excellence and power to the unit, get back to those things.

And I think just focus, make sure every little detail, cover all our bases when it comes to practice.

Q. You guys always celebrate your wins and that beating Michigan State the way you guys just did is, I’m assuming, a gratifying feeling. But is there ever a time in retrospect you think, man, what if things would have gone differently the week before, after winning a game like that and being in control in the Big Ten?
J.T. BARRETT: We can’t go back in the past, of course. We try to move on, learn from things, learn from losses. That’s what we did today. We grew from it being able to perform the way we did today.

Q. From your vantage point, what did you see the offensive line has done in front of you guys today? Can you describe their performance?
J.T. BARRETT: Offensive line, I mean, when you play like that, really makes my job a whole lot easier. I think one of the main things with them is changing the line of scrimmage. Those linebackers, they usually shoot the gap, Michigan State. So it’s hard to get double teams on those guys.

But being that they were getting so much push off the ball with the “D” linemen, it was a great thing for them. So they met the backers instead of on the line of scrimmage, they met them three yards downfield. And our running backs did a great job making that unblocked defender miss and got some big hits.

Q. Mike Weber has got some criticism that people say he doesn’t have that home run speed. To see the two that he hit today, from your vantage point, was it just a matter of him getting healthy, or did it mean more for you guys as teammates to see him hit some of those?
J.T. BARRETT: Yeah, I didn’t really hear that. We know what he could do. He’s done it in practice. Where he was at last year, then just his second year of playing, and we know he’s able to do that. So that wasn’t my thing, really.

Q. In 2015 you guys lost to Michigan State and then went up to Michigan the next week and ran the ball and won big. You ran the ball today and won big after a loss. Is there something about a loss that gets you guys rededicated to the run game and being physical?
J.T. BARRETT: I think at times — I don’t know. I feel like after a loss you want to get back to what you’re good at and establishing the run game. It definitely helps out with who we are in play-action pass and making our shots downfield. So just getting back to who you are, whether it be fundamentals or even when it comes to offensively and defensively making calls and things like that. So all of that intertwines.