Sept. 25, 2017
COACH MEYER: I’ll start off like we do on Mondays, just with the guys who played well.
Champion awards and remember Champion awards are just a coach’s way of saying you give championship-level effort, which is what we expect, J.T. played very well, five touchdown passes. The five receivers played very well — K.J. Hill, Terry McLaurin, Johnnie Dixon, Bin Victor and Austin Mack. So there’s a lot of momentum in that room. And we take great pride, whether we are or not is of opinion, but we expect to be the best blocking wide receivers in America, and there’s a group right there that go really hard downfield for each other and for other skill guys with the ball.
Antonio Williams, graded out at champion, good to see him do that. Offensive line, there were three of them — Jamarco Jones, Billy Price and Michael Jordan. Tight ends, you had two, Marcus Baugh and Luke Farrell. I think that’s his first time.
And player of the game was Isaiah Prince. He had his best week of practice and played very well.
And special forces, our kickoff team was outstanding. Special teams, punt team was outstanding. And kickoff return. So we’re starting to get a little bit — still haven’t had opportunity in punt returns like we’d expect. We had that penalty, had a decent return. But it’s nowhere near we want it to be, didn’t have many opportunities.
We call Thursday races winner, which is an in-house way of saying just great effort. We have all those GPS things on players, so we know how fast they’re going, how hard they’re going. That was freshman Pete Werner.
And then other special efforts were: Parris Campbell, 82-yard kickoff return; Elijaah Goins; Malik Harrison, tackle inside the 20; Isaiah Pryor, tackle inside the 20; Jared Drake, tackle inside the 20 — 11-yard line, actually; and we downed a punt on the 8-yard line. So very good execution in kicking.
Q. After you reviewed the film, how do you feel like Dwayne Haskins played? I know he had the pick six but overall how do you feel he played?
COACH MEYER: Good. He’s a little bit, I don’t want to say reckless with the ball but he’s still very aggressive. We don’t want to take that away from him but you play within the confines of playing to win. He did not on that one play. But it’s typical. You want to get those guys in the game early in the season and let that happen and work through it, coach through it.
Q. And Mike Hill has been out the first four weeks with a suspension. Safe to say he’s only going to miss two more weeks?
COACH MEYER: I’ve been saying one week at a time. So, he won’t play this week.
Q. No maximum that he could miss, like six games total?
COACH MEYER: Tell you next week. Still to be determined.
Q. Do you remember the day or the practice or when somebody said to you, this C.J. Saunders kid can play, that he began to distinguish himself?
COACH MEYER: Yeah. I don’t remember the day. I just remember he’s a very good player. He’s just not big enough to play.
If he gets stronger, and you can’t —
Q. But he is playing?
COACH MEYER: He’s not playing when it counts. And he has the ability too. He’s just not — we’ve had that happen here with Dontre. What do you do with them? Say, oh, by the way, you don’t have to really just fall down on this play, because we are going to be a balanced team.
But we’re working on him, because he’s got the skill set. He’s got the mindset. He comes from a coach’s family. He’s a tough guy. Just gotta get stronger.
Q. So he’s lifting, eating, all of the above?
COACH MEYER: All of the above.
Q. How do you transform a guy like that, just takes time?
COACH MEYER: Takes time.
Q. Did you give Chris Ash any advice when he left here regarding — you say it was going to be a tough road to hoe or —
COACH MEYER: I got myself in trouble the other day because I didn’t mean it to become public when I said no disrespect to him, just be very complimentary to the guys before you, go as hard as you can. And a job like that is a good job because you’ve got a recruiting base. And it is a good job. Now you gotta make it a good job.
They are, they’re much better, most improved defense I’ve seen in the country this year. From last year to this year, they’re really — they changed some things how they do business, and I just got done watching four hours of them on film.
And their offense — I haven’t watched them yet — but defensively, they had Washington, I think, held to ten points in the middle of the fourth quarter. Much improved on defense.
You can see Chris Ash’s fundamentals on it and also scheme.
Q. I asked you after the game about the pass defense, specifically the pass interference issues. When you watched it on tape, I know you’re an offensive coach, but what is your philosophy in terms of how you teach that? Do you teach them to look from the ball — are they doing something they should not be doing with the interference?
COACH MEYER: Yes, they are. And I think Schiano is a good one — because I don’t want to act like I’m expert on that — I have my opinions and we share them. PIs are — kickoff return, the front line of kickoff return, we have to turn and retreat and block people. The transition of pass/rush from run to sacking the quarterback, and bump-and-run coverage are the three hardest skill sets, in my mind, that you teach.
How do you react? Do you take your eyes off and find the ball? I think that’s a great question for Coach Schiano. We have conversations about it, and when we get a PI they didn’t do it right.
Q. Who is?
COACH MEYER: Weber. Joe Burrow is cleared, but last week I wasn’t going to put him in harm’s way. Joe is such a tough guy. He thought he was ready after seven days. It’s a broken bone. So that’s why he went in later.
Worley is ready to go. I’m told he’s going to be probable. And B.B. Landers is probable. I will announce that Malik Barrow hurt his knee. He’s out. ACL. His other knee. So it’s just a tough — prayers for him. He’s such a good kid.
Q. Two of the balls that J.T. threw for touchdown, jump ball to Victor and one in the corner to Terry, seemed like well-placed, red zone throws. Where are you in your evaluation of throwing the ball when you get into the red zone?
COACH MEYER: You can see we’re working on it very hard. Obviously the game changes a lot down there and we haven’t been good the last couple of years. So we’re working our tails off at that. And having big guys like Austin Mack and Bin Victor, because a lot of those are two-balls, two-balls meaning there’s a little bit of arc on it because no one moves, everyone is within that confined area. So how comfortable am I? Better than we have but not where we need to be.
Q. I think it was 2013, you were best in the country at scoring touchdowns in the red zone. Was that you had Braxton, was it Braxton creating stuff? What were you doing then?
COACH MEYER: Different was the tempo. Tom Herman was obviously very instrumental in that. I’ve always been a guy that you’d bring in two tights, and this was simply goes as fast as you can, and snap the ball and, you remember back then, and a lot of it was Braxton, because he’s so elite with the ball in his hand.
Q. Last year there were so many conversations about the number of touches that maybe you wanted or could get to Curtis Samuel. Is it possible that Parris can get into that same category now?
COACH MEYER: Sure.
Q. With what he’s doing?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, that conversation is already started.
Q. What’s a good number? I feel like we ask that for Curtis. You have so many other guys to get involved but what would you like to see now with what Parris Campbell?
COACH MEYER: I’m not there with Parris yet. He’s kind of kickoff return. And do you put him on punt return? He’s dynamic. So we’re always in that 10 to 15 when you have elite guys that you want to touch the ball.
Q. Was that conversation really kick started — if you looked at the Oklahoma game and you saw just three times for him, did that stick out in your mind? Did you notice that at the time?
COACH MEYER: I noticed it.
Q. You talked about Isaiah having a really good week last week. What’s that do for an offense when your right tackle, that that was an issue last year, if he’s playing well and he’s getting that right, how much does that — what does that do for your offense?
COACH MEYER: We are an offensive-line driven program. We won — our first season here we went 12-0 because of Braxton and the offensive line and pretty salty, good defense, not a great defense.
But I think any coach would stand in front of you and say if your offensive line becomes best in the conference you’re probably going to win the conference. And last year we were not and we did not.
So that means that we should be in the hunt if we continue to grow as an offensive line, and Isaiah is a big part of that.
Q. What do you think of the direction overall of that group?
COACH MEYER: Very good.
Q. When you come into a season, do you have a very good handle on what your team does well and where your team struggles? Or how often during a season are there things that surprise you, that you thought I thought we’d be good at this and we’re not?
COACH MEYER: Always. I know exactly your question. And always. And a lot of it is maturity and just especially, I think, in 2015 after we won it all, you kind of had an idea. The year after you had no idea. They were all new players.
This year, because of, once again, our friends leave early for the NFL draft. You get guys in the back end of our defense that you just don’t know.
So they have to develop and grow. And I thought we’d be a little further ahead in pass defense. I thought our corner development would be a little bit further ahead, but they are making strides.
Other than obviously the biggest game we played this year I thought offensively we made great strides throughout, but other than that game.
Q. After watching the film, what did you think of the defensive back play? Were the penalties worse than you thought or not as bad as you thought?
COACH MEYER: Typical defensive coach/defensive player, the palm’s up. It wasn’t PI. Some of those were questionable. But I really don’t look at much other than I see a flag, it was PI.
It’s no different than the one game we had a couple of holdings — I think that was the week before, right — by the receivers. Those conversations, when I first got here a lot of those, well, it wasn’t holding. Okay. What was it then?
Or it wasn’t offensive pass interference. So they were pass interferences, they were wrong. We’ve got to get that fixed and move forward. And it’s technique-related. It’s not effort-related. It’s certainly not talent-related. It’s technique-related.
Q. You guys successfully recruited a very religious player and he was saying that he was really thankful for the opportunities that you guys have given him or the outlets you guys have given him to continue his faith when he gets to college. Just wondering when you’re recruiting somebody whose faith is very important to them how does that change the way you recruit them? And can you elaborate a little bit on the programs and outlets that you give to somebody who wants to continue their faith when they get here?
COACH MEYER: That’s a very important part of my life. And I’m very proud to share that with our players. Certainly there’s no obligation or mandate for any of that. But we certainly make it user-friendly around here. I don’t want to get into too much detail, because everybody is so busy.
Our players, you look at their schedules, so we want everything to be user-friendly, whether it be nutrition, whether it be real-life Wednesdays, those type of things, and also your spiritual life, so we have everything available to them. And I’m proud to say we have multi-religious players, denominational people in our program.
The big R word here is the keyword here, respect. Respect and make it available to them.
Q. In the past you have had a pretty famous player, Tim Tebow, who kind of became known for what he believes in. And I think part of his faith was to share with other people what he believes in, given the opportunity. When you have a player who might feel the same way or is going to want to come to Ohio State and use the big platform that he has to try to spread the word, as he put it, how do you balance how far they can go with that sort of thing when you have a very diverse locker room?
COACH MEYER: Wondering where you’re going with this.
Q. You don’t know?
COACH MEYER: I do. I do. I don’t always share with you guys. I think any time a player is going to throw — like, when Tim Tebow gave that speech after Ole Miss, we lost in ’08, and I remember I didn’t hear it until I was driving home. I thought, oh, my gosh, here’s a young man who is going to put his heart on the floor. And we’re in a society, really it’s always been that way, people are going to look at that and try and step on it.
I don’t agree with that. But that’s what people do. And so I just always warn — we have conversations. Obviously we get very close with our players and say just understand — and we had Josh Perry come in and speak to our team about just understand what you’re doing. And you’re certainly entitled to do and say whatever — that’s why you’re allowed to live in this great country — just be cautious, aware of what the repercussions are.
But I never say no. I think, first of all, I think that’s fantastic. If he can impact a young person the right way, I think it’s awesome.
Q. What is Athletes in Action? Can you give me your viewpoint of what that is and kind of —
COACH MEYER: It’s a campus ministry that’s been very influential in my life and it’s around the country. It’s one of the largest — fellowship of Christian athletes or just campus ministries that make themselves available for players, or student-athletes.
Q. How has it been big in your life?
COACH MEYER: Down in Florida, I got very close and very involved. I support them. We have fundraisers at my house. I love the people involved and I think they do a phenomenal job.
Q. Ever since that Virginia Tech game, you struck the importance of being ready for anything. I’m wondering if you ever get in a point in the season when you have enough film on your opponents where you feel comfortable enough to start drilling down more specifically on what you need to be ready for that week?
COACH MEYER: We’re getting to that point. Usually it’s midseason. And you always look at who they played before you. If they play overmatched opponents you kind of just throw that film away, other than personnel evaluation. But you’re reaching that point now where you’re just trying to get to the Big Ten Conference, and everybody is playing a little more difficult preseason games.
So you start getting a five or a six, you don’t really look much back at the past. Or you don’t block ghosts. But early in the season you spend a lot of wasted time, because you’re not sure what they’re going to do, especially against us.
Q. And you alluded to it earlier, do you mind me asking have you spoken to Tom Herman since that article came out?
COACH MEYER: Texted with him. And there was zero intent, that was not typical. That’s why I don’t do interviews in case you’re wondering.
Q. The rest of the season is Big Ten football. Does it change things, feel different? What’s different?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, it was interesting to see in the locker room after the game, I said, now it’s time for conference play and the players got excited. That’s why you go to work to try to get your ring. So, yeah.
Q. And also with what happened, you’ve talked to us about talking to the team about social issues and what happened with the NFL yesterday and the anthem and what the president said. It can be a divisive issue in the locker room. How do you — when something like that comes up and you say you talked to the team about social issues, how do you make sure it’s not divisive? What’s your message, I guess, to your team who come from all different places have different feelings about this?
COACH MEYER: It’s been very consistent since we’ve been here. And it’s the R word, the respect. Respect all. And I personally have very strong beliefs and thoughts about things like that. And I share them with my friends and obviously very close with my family about our thoughts.
I have, with some of our players — I didn’t even realize it all happened until today because we were so busy on a Sunday — but I visited with a few players, and I always listen to the pulse of the team. I have Ryan Stampers of the world that are part of my staff, and I just listen. And if it needs to be addressed I will. I haven’t made that decision yet because I had no idea anything happened until today.
But everything I’m hearing from our players, we’re playing Rutgers and go as hard as you can.
Q. This is another example where you’re playing against a team coached by a former assistant. I just wonder, when you have an assistant here working for you, whether it’s been here or anywhere else, is there something unique in that person that you can identify and say that person is going to be a head coach?
COACH MEYER: Sure.
Q. Can you explain what the dynamic that that person has?
COACH MEYER: Sure. I think big picture, I think if he lives in a little tunnel world, sometimes those are your best assistant coaches, but they’re not meant to be a head coach. If they’re big picture people, and I think especially in college, the recruiting aspect, they can’t be good; they have to be your best recruiter on your staff or they’re going to fail.
And so big picture and a great recruiter and then there’s other things, but those are the two. And I usually can tell right away.
Q. When Chris Ash was here, for example, what was it when you hired him? And when he was ready to leave that made you think that guy, he’s got it?
COACH MEYER: The two things I mentioned. I knew Chris was going to be — he’s one of the best we’ve had. And obviously did a great job. We went from most missed tackles in college football to the fewest.
Was ’14 his first year? Yeah. So he did okay. I give him a good solid A-minus. No, he was an impact coach for us. And you could tell right away. I think Chris is a great coach.
Q. Is there such a thing as a kicker, I mean, do you pay attention to like literally the thump of the ball when the guy’s foot’s hitting it, and do you hear that with Sean Nuernberger? What is different compared to a couple of years ago?
COACH MEYER: Maturity and in shape. Grown man. He was a little boy when he first got here and acted like a little boy and didn’t prepare like a grown man. He’s a grown man now. He’s actually coaching our freshman kickoff guy, who did much better Saturday other than the one.
So I just really, I think, his family and obviously this program has done wonders for him because he’s a grown man. He’s really handling it. And he’s hitting it now. In practice he hit a 57-yarder the other day and he’s hitting it.
Q. Do you get the sense Parris Campbell is close to a kickoff return? To the house —
COACH MEYER: Seven yards or something. (Laughter).
Q. But I mean —
COACH MEYER: Poor Coach Coombs.
Q. What is he showing you, though? When you watch the video, what is coming across?
COACH MEYER: Dynamic. And if you’re — I’ve done that special teams forever, if you get a real guy back there you block harder. Just human nature. If you get a guy that can’t do that, then why am I doing this? Because there’s not one player in this program that came here to be a right guard on kickoff return.
But the culture of the program, knowing that cat’s back there, you better block hard because this might come out. I think he’s leading the country right now.
Q. Last thing, C.J. Saunders, we’ve been hearing about him getting open, making plays in practice, all this kind of stuff. Is there such a thing as a guy having a knack for getting open?
COACH MEYER: Sure.
Q. And number two, can some of your receivers take some learning points, I guess —
COACH MEYER: They have. He’s very well respected on this team. K.J. Hill has that. K.J. is a guy that can understand spacing of the defense, and maybe not the fastest guy in the world but he usually gets open.
And C.J., I think he’s got two years left after this. He has the ability to play here if he gets stronger.
Q. Do you have a target weight for him? What is the —
COACH MEYER: Big. (Laughter).
COACH MEYER: Bigger.
Q. Something just came out about, another Big Ten head coach just made a comment that it is a league-wide problem about standard of care for the visiting team going in at these other home venues, says that their reception was not good and that the locker room —
COACH MEYER: Here?
Q. No, not Ohio State. That it’s a league-wide problem. You’ve been all around the league at this point. Have you encountered many difficulties, either the reception you’ve had, the cleanliness of the locker room?
COACH MEYER: Couple.
Q. Do you view it as an issue that the commissioner should take up?
COACH MEYER: Yes. And I’ve shared it with our athletic director and the commissioner should handle that. This is not, all due respect, this is the Big Ten Conference. The days of treating your — it’s happened.
Q. It should be the best of the best?
COACH MEYER: Absolutely. And that’s the commissioner — in my strong opinion that should not be allowed.