Sept. 18, 2017
COACH MEYER: The guys that played well in the game last Saturday, champions on offense are quarterback J.T. Wide receivers played well — Parris, Austin Mack and K.J. Running back, obviously, J.K. Dobbins played very well with 172 all purpose yards, 172 yards, 118 after contact. Billy Price, Branden Bowen, Isaiah Prince and Michael Jordan all played well. And tight end, good to see him grade a champion, Marcus Baugh.
Co-players on the game on offense were Jamarco Jones, played very well, and Terry McLaurin who had four catches for 53 yards, however, his blocking was phenomenal downfield. On defense, you had Nick Bosa, Sam Hubbard, Dre’Mont Jones and Sprinkle on the defensive line. You had Jerome Baker at linebacker. You had Denzel Ward, Kendall Sheffield and Damon Arnette.
I told Kerry he had three corners play champions against the wishbone. Hell of a job. Erick Smith and Damon Webb grade champions. And player of the game was Tuf Borland, 41 — and 10 tackles, two assists and a tackle for loss.
On kicking, we obviously appreciate those guys that are selfless and go very hard. Denzel Ward downed a punt on the one-yard line. Amir Riep, kickoff tackle inside the 20. Jeff Okudah, kickoff tackle inside the 20. Parris Campbell, 40 yard kickoff return. Our Thursday race winner, we call it, that’s just for effort, and that’s Justin Hilliard. And the player of the game, special teams, is Keandre Jones. Played very well. So, on to the next one. Questions?
Q. Question about middle linebacker. Will Chris Worley play this week; how is he doing?
COACH MEYER: He’s questionable.
Q. Tuf Borland, you mentioned player of the game. I know it’s just one game, but after a game like that where does he fit into the equation?
COACH MEYER: You’ll have to ask the defensive coaches. Obviously he’s very important to me because he’s my middle shield on punt and very good on kickoff return.
So very valuable member and a great kid. His personality matches his name. He’s a tough guy.
Q. Is there a chance, have you guys had any conversation with the defensive coaches about moving Worley back to outside linebacker and using Tuf Borland as the middle linebacker?
COACH MEYER: You’ll have to visit with those guys. I’ll meet with them later today, and we’ll have those conversations today.
Q. When you’re preparing for a football game Sunday to Monday how much of your thought process is 100 percent on the next game? And do you ever think about making changes or doing things that you might say, hey, this will pay off in week nine?
COACH MEYER: Sure.
Q. What’s the balance there and how do you —
COACH MEYER: You’re always growing, and we did some things in this game a little differently than we have offensively — especially when it’s not working. When it’s working very well you don’t make major changes.
But obviously we are still a work in progress on offense. And so, yeah, as a matter of fact ironically this morning we had a very serious conversation about this plus down the road — how do you complement these plays have been working very well? So, yes.
Q. When you play opponents, not to disrespect your opponents in any way, but you’re playing teams that you’re expected to beat by a lot, do you ever use these weeks — about a month now of games that you’re expected to win by a lot to experiment in game? Does that ever —
COACH MEYER: We have. We’re not at that point. We’re not that experienced. So the question was more appropriate about middle linebacker because who — you have a true freshman. I know he’s playing well but he’s a true freshman right now starting at tailback. I have had those conversations. We’re certainly not having that now.
Q. Since I asked about getting Dwayne some playing time last week, I want to follow up. How do you think he did and how much value do you put — getting Dwayne out there, I know you said you wanted to do it last week, how much stock do you put in those late-game scenarios? And what did you kind of learn about him there?
COACH MEYER: I thought he played very well. I wanted to let him keep going but that was my call — I don’t want to score at the end there in that game. And Joe was about ready to come back. So we’ve got to make some decisions who is the first one in there.
Last year was very important to get Joe in the game and he did pretty well when he was in there as well. So, that is so important for backup quarterback spot.
Q. Because there’s maybe less pressure in that when you put those guys in the fourth quarter and the outcome seems decided. Do you give those more value when you evaluate it than practice reps, or what’s the evaluation process?
COACH MEYER: Much more value. Like you said, there’s not as much pressure. At some point — I’ve done that before where you put a guy in in the second quarter of a game. We’re not at that point yet. But you’d like to do that.
Q. You’re in a stretch now where you’re playing opponents that on paper look overmatched. What do you want to get out of this period of this schedule when you know what’s coming up later, but you know where you are right now as a team?
COACH MEYER: Like I said, there’s been times — I don’t know if I’d say it in here — there’s been times where in my mind and maybe a couple of key members of the staff we started having those conversations.
We are not there yet. We’ve got so many issues to fix that were exposed early in the season. And so what am I trying — we’re trying to get better and better and win games. That’s all. We’re not at that point.
Q. In your mind, what are the areas that you think are absolutely critical to get?
COACH MEYER: Pass defense and continue growth on offense. And punt return has still been nonexistent. No one’s fault. We just haven’t had very many opportunities to return a punt.
Punt team I’m very pleased with. Kickoff coverage is a mess right now. We don’t have a kicker that can kick the ball. If you notice, one almost went out up in the seats.
So there’s plenty of things that have a lot of issues that we have to get cleaned up and all our focus is on that. It’s young players that — so I’m thinking about Nuernberger being our kickoff guy. Those are the questions that — those are all the things our focus is on those.
Q. You were very complimentary of the scout team on your radio show. I wanted to specifically ask about you Tate because there are a lot of teams that have to put a walk-on or maybe put a guy from a different position at quarterback. What does it mean to have a player like Tate being the scout team quarterback?
COACH MEYER: We won the game because of that. They took a ball — you saw our rivals and other teams that play service academies. There were seven — over 700 reps that went into this — Coach Schiano was telling me — we started this in March. And they took the ball 99 yards on us in 18 plays, nine and a half-minute drive, and that’s not uncommon. It’s not uncommon to have 40 plays in a game against a team like that.
When I was at Notre Dame that happened many times. We lost to Air Force one year because of that. The amount of time and effort that went into it. Also the amount of time and effort that went into preparing — Josh Myers and Wyatt Davis were starting guards on the scout team.
And Tate Martell was playing quarterback. That was legit. And Coach Schiano had a nice visit with our team about that and no one appreciates it more than our players.
Q. In general, how has Tate handled being in that role? And when he’s out there, like do you see flashes of what he can be?
COACH MEYER: I really do. I’m really excited for his future. I saw a player in the spring, without getting too personal, that was worried about this, worried about that, was probably social media, whatever, and that happens in high school when you’re at a very successful program and you’re a very successful player.
I’ve seen a guy that’s ripped his chest open. I hope it stays that way and he’s a “I’ll do anything to help this team win a game.” Those are the guys whose careers will take off. The other stuff, I’ll transfer here, transfer, go do a research project and see how many people fail when they’re being given bad advice. He’s handled it very well.
Q. How do you think J.T. played this game, first opening game. Urban, how do you think J.T. played versus the Oklahoma game?
COACH MEYER: Played much better. I think the surrounding cast was much better. Obviously Oklahoma is one of the top couple teams in America. We didn’t play as well. He didn’t play as well, but all of us did not play as well or coach as well.
Q. You want improvement, obviously, but you know perfection is not possible. You know that. But there’s so much noise out there, that expectation. How do you find contentment, you personally, and as the program not meeting perfection even when it’s out there? J.T. can — he can go 19 for 20 and there’s noise.
COACH MEYER: That used to be a major issue with me. It really is not. To say I’m not human and I don’t hear it once in a while, I try to avoid it like I’m the first guy that — I’ll check recruiting and check some things on my iPad. When something is not going well I just avoid it like I ask our players, too.
It’s hard too at times but also we made a decision to come to Ohio State and a top 5 program. And what’s expectation, life in the big city?
It’s an easy answer. J.T. leave. We won’t let him. It’s an easy answer for me: Leave. Don’t do it anymore. So it really — anything external is far less than what’s going on internal, is the way I look at it. Come out to the practice field and watch the grind and the work so we don’t have bad things happen.
Q. You mentioned before the Indiana game that Demario McCall, that he was a little banged up and needed to do some more work. Just wondering where he stands with that and if it’s just a matter of other guys being better than him as far as him not getting on the field?
COACH MEYER: Not ready to say that yet. He certainly needs to improve. He has not been at full speed. He’s much closer than he was. I’m going to try to get him in a game and determine if he can go. He had a tough injury. For those kind of guys, that groin, abdomen injury that he had. So he’s getting better.
Q. Couple of your players thought that you would revisit the Oklahoma film yesterday. One, I wonder if you did that. And, two, in a vacuum, is the best time to coach a kid right when the sting of disappointment is greatest or when he’s a little emotionally removed from that and you’re in that move-on stage from that process you discussed last week?
COACH MEYER: That’s a great question. And first we did. Not on offense. Offense we hit it all last week, because it was similar type — some similarities on defense.
But offense — defense, I thought Greg did a good job. He had to put that away. You had to put that away. They spent all day yesterday on Oklahoma.
Graded the effort and rewarded the effort in here with me and the team, and they went to work. And they’ll continue to work on, because now we’ll see another spread offense.
And the second part of the question was, oh, that’s very good. When do you browbeat them? Do you beat them to death when you lose as opposed to — no, it depends on the player. If it’s a player that needs to be hammered because of effort.
But those players we’re fortunate to have good guys. If it was a bad guy they won’t stick around here very long. And you have to inspire, motivate. I think I said that last week, too. Our job as a coach, after a loss, is to fix it and inspire and motivate, because it’s very hard on them.
Q. Saw you get (indiscernible) screens, quick passes a lot on Saturday (indiscernible). Was that a game-specific thing. Or was that, when you look at things you need to do, get the ball to Parris Campbell more?
COACH MEYER: For example, we’re trying so hard — teams are playing pretty soft. But we tried to throw a couple and everybody was just playing so soft. So kind of the game was we have a full allotment of a game plan.
If they’re playing here you’ll see more of these. If they’re playing there, you’ll see more what you saw Saturday.
So we have that available and we’ll have more of that available and depends on how the game’s going. And if you remember how the way Army was playing, they played it smart, tried to keep everything in front of you. Don’t let anything over the top.
We knew that. And I thought J.T. and everybody managed it very well, which means it’s going to be a lot of horizontal passing.
If it’s the tighter the defense, you’ll see more vertical passing.
Q. Parris Campbell, saw him a little bit more like Curtis Samuel last year. Was that what you were envisioning?
COACH MEYER: Everybody can see it. I was so upset we had another holding call. But one thing about that, we had three holding calls and it wasn’t because of — one was very bad technique, the others were just incredible effort. You just gotta let go of the jersey.
And we had one very questionable call on our far left. But effort was great. But to answer your question, Parris has that kind of skill set.
Q. Back to Borland. Anything about his recruitment or his rise through the ranks that stands out to you?
COACH MEYER: Tuf and I are very close. His family is awesome. His dad played at Wisconsin. And I always ask him about if he’s related to the other great linebacker they had a couple of years ago. And he gave me some mishmash answer about “I think. I’m not sure, but I think.” So that’s the only thing kind of funny about that recruitment.
But he’s everything you think he would be. Great kid.
Q. Urban, J.K. Dobbins, once you hit a home run, as the old saying goes, did you notice, even with Zeke, does it change down the road the way defenses kind of —
COACH MEYER: Oh, yeah.
Q. In what way?
COACH MEYER: It’s a threat of — last year, I remember even on the field people would point out where Curtis Samuel is. The defense would come out and say, you’re defense, you have you to keep that guy in front of you. J.K. is not there yet. But J.K., everybody is starting to see what he can do.
Q. We’ve asked you this a couple weeks now, but are you surprised about what you’ve seen out of him? Obviously he didn’t play last year because of the ankle, the injury, but what has surprised you about him?
COACH MEYER: He’s from a very small town. So I don’t want to say he was an unknown, but obviously we kind of had a strong opinion of him. We wanted to have it verified as a senior. So there’s a little unknown.
I remember going down there in January or December, and great people. Great people in the town. But there’s a bit of an unknown. You wanted everything verified on senior tape. And you got nothing. He got hurt on the first play.
Spring I saw glimpses of it. Fall camp is when I saw: Watch out, this could be a really good player for us.
Q. How do you play that with him and Mike? Because there’s that thinking that a prime running back needs to get some carries to get a roll going in a game, but how do you play that down the road now?
COACH MEYER: It’s not that Mike is a lost soul around here. He’s one of the few freshmen, I want to say three freshmen to ever rush for a thousand yards as a freshman. He’s very critical for us as we continue to move forward in conference play coming up in a few weeks. So we’re going to need him at full strength. He’s still not at full strength. We have to make sure we get him full strength.
I can tell you Mike Weber, two years ago, how do I say this politically correct: It was a hard time for me to walk across the street for him. That’s not too rough, is it?
And his growth in one year, and then by the time this spring and this summer, he was one of our hardest working guys on the team. His commitment to our program is incredible right now. So he’ll be rewarded once he gets back full speed.
Q. Can you delve a little bit more into J.T., just running the offense, making decisions in that zone read? I think it’s easy at this point maybe to take that for granted with him. Why is he good at that? What makes him good at that part? We know that’s so important to this offense. And just why is he — he makes it seem so natural sometimes.
COACH MEYER: He’s a very intelligent player. He’s a guy that works extremely hard. He puts more hours in than anybody on our team. He’s very experienced. And you’re right, his grading — Braxton was a guy, that was hard for Braxton. Other things were not hard, like making three guys miss and run 60 yards. He was blessed with that.
J.T. doesn’t have that skill set, but he’s got great sense of space on the field. And we need to continue to utilize him more. And I think you’re going to see more and more of that as we move forward, even more, where decision-making, that’s J.T.’s strengths.
Q. I know you talk about the run/pass options, is that another thing that he’s —
COACH MEYER: We’ve got to get better at that. We’ve got to use that more. That’s been a directive. And we’re going to use that more.
Q. You just quickly mentioned the pass defense. Are some of the true freshmen there Okudah or Wade, are those potential guys?
COACH MEYER: Wade’s been dinged up a little bit. He didn’t practice at all. Okudah is scratching the surface of playing time. Sheffield is getting better. He had his best week of practice last week. And I know it’s his third year in college, but he’s not had a lot of experience.
And Ward’s gotta continue to get better. Those are the guys we keep moving forward. And Damon Arnette.