Nov. 7, 2016
COACH MEYER: In the back end of the defense you had Gareon, Marshon, Denzel Ward and Webb. And Players of the Game were Co., Malik Hooker and Sam Hubbard played a very, very high level against a good offense. On offense, nine strong. Quarterback graded at champion, J. T. Barrett; Mike Weber graded at champion. We had four receivers grade out at champions. We had Terry McLaurin, Parris Campbell, Noah Brown and K.J. Hill. Tight ends, we had two, Marcus Baugh and A. J. Alexander had his first champion, played 40 plays. Offensive line, you had all five Jamarco Jones, Pat Elflein, Billy Price, Isaiah, Michael Jordan. And Player of the Game was Curtis Samuel, had 13 touches and looks like 180 yards or 178 yards. So guys played well.
Kicking game, Special Teams Player of the Week was Jordan Fuller, who is really coming on as a young freshman and playing well for us. So that one’s in the books, enjoy the victory, wait for your next mission, next assignment and get ready to go on the road. And that’s what we’re doing.
Q. Coach, you addressed this after the game a little bit. Is it pretty much open tryouts as a punt returner now and is it going to be those same three guys we saw?
COACH MEYER: Demario — well, Curtis Samuel will probably get the first, and K. J. and Demario are going to catch punts all week. They have been.
Q. So Dontre is out of the mix then?
COACH MEYER: No. Keep evaluating.
Q. Real quick on Mike Weber, you mentioned after the game shoulder. Is it a sprained AC joint?
COACH MEYER: It’s sprained. He should be fine for the game. Just no contact this week during practice.
Q. You mentioned briefly on Saturday, but the adjustments you guys made to scripting the plays, what’s different about what you guys are doing? Is it involving J. T. more?
COACH MEYER: It’s involving the whole staff. I want to have them grade the plays that throughout the week that they love, not like and why and how it fits, and I’ve always done that, not to the extent I’m doing now.
Q. I wanted to ask you about Malik Hooker, what he does when he gets the ball in his hands?
COACH MEYER: I see the same thing, man. What do I think? I think every time I watch him I’m going to flip him over on offense and pitch it to him a couple of times. But one thing I think would be a good story or someone to go watch it is the intensity that the players go get hats on hats when someone — it’s remarkable. Sam Hubbard on all the second Damon Webb and I mean just guys flying. They were taught to hit the sideline and everybody — it’s a well-coached defense that they work on that. A player who knows what to do with the ball is not by accident, and it’s the effort — the guy running obviously is a skill, but Damon Webb just ran, and the guys light their hair on fire blocking for him.
Q. You talked the last couple of weeks about wanting the wide receivers to get some separation. How is it that after those rough couple of weeks they seemed to just shoot up the way they did last week?
COACH MEYER: How is it?
Q. What did you tell them?
COACH MEYER: Told them to separate. (Laughs). Just young players and not much experience and they’re coming into their own a little bit. I thought they played fantastic. I thought they blocked well on the screen passes, and that was their best game by far. So how and why, if we had the answer, we’d wrap this up here in a couple minutes and say just go do it.
Q. Is a catch like K.J. Hill made at the end of the Northwestern game, can that be a spark in the whole week and then moving forward?
COACH MEYER: I think so. Yeah, that’s a good point. I think that was a game changer, and he’s a really good player. He’s earning more and more playing time. Very reliable guy, good blocker, always in the right place, very good hands. He’s one of those guys you can see, like Noah, reaches out and is a ball catcher and hand catcher, so to answer your question, I’ve seen that happen before. It sparks, energizes the group, and it certainly has. I think we’ve thrown for 550 yards in the last two games or something or 530 or whatever. So there’s been a little bit of a spark.
Q. Is Dante Booker a redshirt candidate at this point?
COACH MEYER: He has one. We haven’t had that lengthy discussion. I haven’t got involved with Luke. I know he’s on call. And so I don’t know much more than that.
Q. At what point do you think he could go for one or two games versus —
COACH MEYER: Beat Maryland.
Q. Urban, there’s a lot of pieces to productive offense. Play calling is one. You guys looked just much more dynamic overall, and barber shop talk is that you are more involved in the play calling now, head coach slash almost offensive coordinator. How accurate is that and how hard is it to juggle general play calling as a head coach with the other duties?
COACH MEYER: I’ve always been very involved. I like to have someone in the press box that goes back and forth. I think the guys upstairs did a great job, and that’s no different than when Tom was here or Dan Mullen are very involved and always will be.
Q. You’re not more involved in the actual play calling?
COACH MEYER: No.
Q. Two weeks after Penn State you had all five on the offensive line rated champion. Have you seen them grow up a bit the last couple weeks?
COACH MEYER: They played really well the last two weeks. Were they against Northwestern did you say?
Q. Against Nebraska.
COACH MEYER: I can’t remember. They started much improved against Northwestern as well, very good defensive front. So they had a very good week of practice, too.
Q. Is there anything you’ve done schematically to help them out?
COACH MEYER: No. It’s just you get what you emphasize and a lot of emphasis on pass pro. Their pass pro Saturday was outstanding. And so just a lot of emphasis on that right now.
Q. D. J. Durkin, he was your GA at BG?
COACH MEYER: And my special teams coordinator at Florida.
Q. Is that almost like a father-son thing the way you brought him along? (Laughs)?
COACH MEYER: I don’t know if he’d like that, but I’m very close with him and I love him to death. I love his family. He’s from Youngstown. He’s a great guy, great football coach.
Q. So when it comes to the last game, will he be your source, your mole against the other guy he worked for?
COACH MEYER: I don’t think we go there. Beat Maryland.
Q. Urban, I was just wondering, a few players after the game said that in the time since the Penn State game, that there has been kind of like a team mantra for themselves: Have you done everything that you can personally to win the game.
COACH MEYER: The players said that?
Q. Players said that, multiple players, and I think they said they got it from the coaching staff. I don’t know if they came up with it on their own. I was just wondering did you have a discussion after the Penn State game to kind of remind them of every little thing that can be done, because that’s what they said credited the big turnaround in the big game, that they had that mantra.
COACH MEYER: Of course, we do team meetings and power the unit and have those conversations. And if you’ve done everything you possibly can do to help your team win, enhance it, carry on, move forward; if not, why, get it fixed, and that was — that’s been kind of the topic. That was a Sunday topic after that game.
Q. Did you feel beforehand that maybe they weren’t?
COACH MEYER: Yeah. Not all. There’s some that absolutely. When your team struggles, what happens is — it’s no different than any team across the country. When your team struggles, it’s because there’s a unit, a player, a coach not upholding his responsibility.
Q. And you’ve mentioned in the past, different topic, that sometimes it’s a risk to have huge recruiting weekends against good teams at night because Sundays aren’t fun when you lose. Was this the best it possibly could have been?
COACH MEYER: Best it possibly could be, yeah.
Q. Like what was it like?
COACH MEYER: Taking pictures, eating food, smiling, it was great.
Q. Is that the best you ever had maybe?
COACH MEYER: I don’t know.
Q. That was one of the deepest members lists that you’ve had here Ohio State when it came to the three —
COACH MEYER: Beat Maryland. (Laughs).
Q. I’m wondering when the situation with Tommy Armstrong happened and there’s that long delay, and the energy in the stadium gets zapped out, where does your mind go? Is there any conversation with the team, I imagine in their minds to put it behind you, how do you move on when a situation like that happens?
COACH MEYER: You don’t move on until you find out that he’s A okay. And that was right by us, and I kept asking Coach Riley, how is this guy doing, is he all right, is he all right, and I saw everything moving and he’s fun. But it does take the wind out of you. It takes the wind out of everybody. And I would just go around to the players and say, hey, let’s make sure you’re loose, keep moving. That’s my basic concern is guys tighten up when you’re standing there a half hour. But that’s all that had — the most important thing obviously for everybody here is that that young guy is all right.
Q. Also, coming off a win like that where everything seems to go well and now you have this game against a team that may not be as marquis, so to speak, on the road. What’s the message going forward into a game like —
COACH MEYER: I’ll share a little bit of it with you, is a group of players made a decision to play very well, and now you can throw that one away if you don’t follow up with another good week of practice and preparation, and that’s been the message, to a degree.
Q. You may have just answered this, but last week you were very upbeat. How serious were you about your concern heading into that game? Were you really thinking this was a breaking point or a turning point?
COACH MEYER: Breaking point?
Q. Turning point.
COACH MEYER: No. I’ve done this a long time, and I’ve coached young teams, and this is a steady climb that we were climbing very good early in the season; we plateaued and you gotta somehow jump start it and get the climb started again in development of the players and development of the team. And I felt like obviously we plateaued, but I see what I see at practice and that’s the advantage I have over everybody here is I see — if I thought there was team chemistry issues and give in, then that’s — then you implode. It wasn’t that at all. It’s just coaches gotta do a better job, players gotta do a better job and they did.
Q. Was there a moment last week that reassured you?
COACH MEYER: No.
Q. And there’s so much attention — I know one week at a time, but everyone is already fast-forwarding until November 26. How do you make sure that nobody inside this place does?
COACH MEYER: There’s no chance. Keep them from talking to you. (Laughs). No. I wouldn’t do that to you.
Q. What you just said about Malik and his ability when he gets the ball in his hand, how does any coach ever maybe make a decision if you have like a great skilled defensive guy, let’s sprinkle them in on offense here or there? I’m sure there’s been times where you’re tempted, but what’s that decision like for a coach?
COACH MEYER: I did it when I was at Notre Dame. We did it with a kid named Allen Rossum, and it was just hard. How do you practice them, how do you take time from them. And we do have good skilled players that are developing on offense, so it’s not really — he’s so valuable back there right now. So we have thought about it. And I had Joe Haden at Florida, I was so tempted. I had practiced him because he was a quarterback in high school and a freak athlete. But then you look around and there’s other good ones there, too. So you’re disrupting things.
Q. And this is a little bit of a serious question. So tomorrow is the election, and is there ever a time of —
COACH MEYER: Election for?
Q. For the President of the United States. (Laughs). Focused; right?
COACH MEYER: Beat Maryland. (Laughs).
Q. Obviously in any large group there are people who think one way about something like that and people who think another way. Have you ever had a time in your life as a coach or have you ever been concerned where something like that, a big national issue that can be very divisive where people have different opinions, strong opinions could influence the team dynamic?
COACH MEYER: No. I have not. This is a little different, I think. We had a very unique week. We had Patriot Week where I wanted to educate because it’s such a big and such an important day, in all seriousness, for all of us. And so we had zero discussion about it now. Beat Maryland. I’m sure the families will have their conversations. I hope our guys vote, and we move forward. That’s why we did that, because I wanted to make sure when they go they educate themselves — not themselves. We educate them on the process, the job responsibility and how to.
Q. Because if you follow your guys on social media, some of them express strong opinions, as many people in the country do, one way or the other. You could have that opinion but in here, you’re a teammate, you’re lining up next to each other.
COACH MEYER: Yeah, this is a pretty mature team in that regard. That’s something I always watch. I have guys around this program that’s their job, to monitor. When I talk about good guys, now, I have some guys that are like family in this team that they would tell me if something is going on. And I listen and I hear, and the heartbeat of our team is very solid right now. It’s not always perfect, but it’s very solid, but that’s a great question. And am I concerned about it, you’re damn right. That’s when you start having issues, but I also have great trust in the people that I’m listening to.
Q. Couple times this year J. T. has kind of maybe dead to right said at times in the pocket he’s been able to escape, get out, make the play. Is that an instinct thing? Is that a skill he developed?
COACH MEYER: He’s really good. He did that in high school. He’s strong is what he is. He’s very strong and twitched up, and he’s amazing at some of that. He gets out of those things.
Q. Has he been doing that for years?
COACH MEYER: Since high school. Yeah, if you remember back his redshirt freshmen year, he was really good at it.
Q. What does Demario McCall need to do to play even more because it looks like when he’s out there, there is energy. It looks almost like there’s a potential for a big play every time he touches it.
COACH MEYER: Stronger, better ball security. Just physical strength, experience. He’s a little loose with the ball. But his future is nice. He’s a wonderful young man. So I see the same thing, but I also see that thing come out a little bit. And we gotta get that fixed.
Q. How intriguing is it to try to get him out there but you know there is some jeopardy involved?
COACH MEYER: How intriguing?
Q. Yeah. At this point in the season to have a guy like that coming off the bench.
COACH MEYER: Yeah. Until he learns to be secure with the ball, it’s not going to be intriguing at all; he’s not going to play. But he’s earning some rights, and he works really hard at it, and Tony Alford is an excellent coach. The good thing is he knows it. He’s a very want-to guy. He’s not defiant. So he will play. He’s earning the right to play around here.
Q. And Raekwon McMillan, of course, he had the tip that led to the first interception. How well is he playing in your mind right now as a linebacker? It’s not the classic case anymore where a linebacker gets 25 tackles a game. Just what do you see from him more than anything else?
COACH MEYER: Exceptional leader, exceptional person and a great football player. I think Luke can answer in more detail about actually how he’s, like assignment wise. I just know he grades champions most of the time. He’s a tough guy. He makes a lot of plays for us, and I love him to death, and he’s a great representative of everything we do.