Oct. 2, 2017
COACH MEYER: … shallow, our thoughts and prayers are with the victims. If there’s anything we can do, we will. And it’s a tough situation. The Rutgers games, I’ll give you the awards like we normally do. Here we go.
Defense, guys who graded out champions, Nick Bosa. Jonathon Cooper, great to see him get extended action. Jalyn Holmes, we moved him into 3 technique and he played very well. Sam Hubbard. Tyquan Lewis, and Chase Young, obviously a lot of defensive linemen that got opportunity.
Player of the game was Dante Booker. It was great to see him have that opportunity and a sack and an interception.
On offense, you have Terry McLaurin graded champion. Overall receivers, I expected more out of our guys. Running backs, we had three of them — Mike Weber, great to have him back; J.K. Dobbins; and Demario McCall.
Offensive line you had two, Jamarco Jones and Billy Price. We expect that group to play better. And tight ends, Marcus Baugh, as I think is two weeks in a row. So he’s really, he’s got some momentum in his life and also on the field.
We had co-players of the game, Johnnie Dixon — obviously we all feel strong about him, the journey he’s been on — and J.T. Barrett, obviously breaking Art Schlichter’s record and had a very efficient game for us.
Kicking game was outstanding. We had a nice kickoff return, and kickoff team is getting back to the expectation level we have. We did make a change at kicker. Right now looks like Nuernberger will be doing our kickoffs. We were not good at that position.
Special efforts were Zach Turnure, tackle inside — we had all kinds of tackles, looks like we had five of them inside the 20-yard line, which is — they average 10 yards per return and we had five, even with some poor kicks. So these special efforts for tackles inside the 20 were Zach Turnure, Austin Mack, Isaiah Pryor, Pete Werner and Jeff Okudah, all very valuable members of our team.
We call it Thursday race. And that’s just extreme effort running down the field. That’s Jeff Okudah. And special teams player, can arguably say one of the most improved players on our team the last couple of weeks, and that’s Pete Werner. And buy stock in that guy for his career. He’s got some good stuff going right now.
So with that said, playing a very good Maryland team that beat Texas. And came back with their third string quarterback and really looked much improved against Minnesota. And it’s great to be back home. And I’ll answer your questions for you.
Q. The passing game has looked better to everyone, I think, but considering who you played, how much better is it? Are you seeing —
COACH MEYER: I think I made a comment, I forget how I said it but I see improvement as well in the whole team. The good thing about this team and coaching staff you’re not walking around with blinders on. We know exactly — we’re optimistic and we’re pleased with the progress, but we’re also realistic. Where are we? And to answer your question, I think we’ve improved, like anybody can see we improved.
When it comes time, this week, can we continue against good, very good competition?
Q. Mike Weber came back, looked good. Bin Victor made some nice plays. Even McCall, even though he’s not 100 percent, made some good plays. How do you feel about the development and the sprouting, I guess of playmakers right now?
COACH MEYER: Feel real good. Once again, the question was asked, we’re all so very realistic. J.K. Dobbins, I think he only had six carries. We want to get him 12 to 15. But things happened, and all of a sudden you look up at the scoreboard and say, get him out of the game because there was no other reason that we pulled him out other than that. The same, Mike Weber had three touchdowns but we didn’t get him loose.
So there’s areas of improvement. To answer your question, I feel like the normal development of playmakers is taking place.
Q. What’s the next step, who are the guys —
COACH MEYER: Going against a better team like Maryland. That’s a very good team. That’s the next step.
Q. Four players missed the Rutgers game. You touched on it briefly after the game. One by one, Dre’Mont Jones?
COACH MEYER: He’s out this week. We’re anticipating Nebraska.
Q. Chris Worley?
COACH MEYER: He’s probable this week.
Q. Antonio Williams?
COACH MEYER: Questionable this week.
Q. And then the final one, Erick Smith. What’s the latest?
COACH MEYER: He’s got to handle his business. He won’t play this week. He’s got to take care of his business.
Q. You mentioned Las Vegas. I noticed Tate and Haskell tweeted this morning. Any particular interaction with them?
COACH MEYER: They’ll come in and see me. They’re off today. As a matter of fact, I’ll probably get with them right after this.
Q. Obviously here and I’m sure at Florida, too, you guys recruited at a very high level. But before that, earlier in your career, could you explain how tough it is when you’re in a recruiting battle and you think you might have a guy and you know that guy could be an instant impact starter for your team. And he picks a program where he’s going to get buried on the depth chart, how tough is that when you’re that other program who misses out on a potential starter?
COACH MEYER: It’s awful. We’ve had guys — I remember Utah or something you’d have a kid up until the three days before signing date and USC would come in.
And I guess my coaches would get mad at me. I said don’t get mad at the kid. What would you do if you had an opportunity to go double your salary? Because Utah, back then, wasn’t in the Pac-12. Obviously I’m not ditching Utah, I’m just saying back then we were in the Mountain West Conference.
And I said don’t get mad at the player, that’s what you would do. So it’s very frustrating. But I took a much different approach. Always have the B list. Once again, when I say Utah, they’re the Pac-12, they’re on the same level now. Back then, or a Bowling Green, you have to have a B and a C list ready to go.
Q. The flip of that now would be, when you’re recruiting guys here at Ohio State, how often do you come against whoever you’re going against selling early playing times, because of the talent that you’ve accumulated, how much of a battle?
COACH MEYER: It comes up. Those are the guys that you don’t want to recruit anyways, if that comes up. Much easier way to the field than: We’ll help you make that decision, don’t come here.
Q. What does it tell you, like, Maryland, this early in the season, on their third quarterback, get a win like they did last weekend. Does that say anything to you as a coach, about their team, how they’re being coached, what jumps out at you?
COACH MEYER: Coach Durkin was my graduate assistant — I met with our staff a minute ago. He coached with me at Bowling Green. He was a GA that I was ready to make full time when he was 21 years old. I tried to hire him a couple of other times.
Then we got him at Florida. He was an impact coach. I think of all the guys I’ve had he’s one of the top two or three I’ve ever had on our staff.
And you see — I just got done watching special teams. And it’s a typical, extremely well-coached team, where the guys go as hard as they possibly can.
So I’m not surprised. But he’s one of my favorite coaches we’ve ever had and one of the best coaches.
Q. This may go back to exactly how you answered about the offensive weapons, but pass defense, are you seeing what you want to see, or is it —
COACH MEYER: I am. It’s, once again, we’re realistic. This will be a nice challenge. They did a nice job with this quarterback that — very efficient, very highly accurate. Especially on the RPO and short passing.
So this will be a better challenge. I have seen — I think it’s a lot like the pass game. We’re pleased with the progress. When you start seeing — Jordan Fuller is playing at a very high level right now. And the corners are getting better and better and better but we’re also realistic.
Q. You’ve talked several times about wanting to see the results against a better level of competition. When you go through a stretch like the last three weeks, now that it’s over, do you have to do anything as a coach to keep them focused, when on paper you should win no matter what in those three weeks, if you know what I mean? Do you have to bring more energy yourself? How do you challenge guys when those are —
COACH MEYER: You know, I think the coaching is more — it’s not grammatically correct — the coaching, it’s almost cheerleading at some point when you’re playing a noon game against a lesser team.
The good thing about last week was that our players saw what they did to Washington, since almost every time as a coach you hope to see stuff on videotape because the videotape — a bunch of smart guys in here. Smarter than coaches, because they know exactly who they’re getting ready to go play. The punt returner against Rutgers didn’t play.
We showed a 10-play highlight film of him that he’s as good as anybody we’ve ever had as a returner.
Videotape is the great motivator. And this week they went down to Austin, Texas, and then they beat Minnesota up at Minnesota.
So to answer your question, yeah, it’s unique. Sometimes we don’t even show videotape as we’re getting ready to play a team and to make it about something else other than the game.
Q. I was wondering, seemed like two weeks ago you came into the stadium, ran across the field, different high fives and hugs than normal. I wondered if that’s a conscious effort you know it’s a possibility —
COACH MEYER: If it was, I would not tell you. (Laughter).
Q. Since Maryland and Rutgers joined the Big Ten, you’ve gone to the New Jersey and Maryland and DMV area a lot more in recruiting. Now that D.J. kind of has Maryland on the right track, is it harder for you, with the money that Under Armour is putting into their program, have you guys —
COACH MEYER: Absolutely.
Q. — have you guys noticed more resistance there?
COACH MEYER: Yes. They’re a formidable challenge. They always have been. Maryland is kind of a nice place, and there’s a lot of DMV loyalty. We’ve gotten some very good players out of there. But I know the way he recruits. And there’s really good players in that area.
Q. In that area, you keep Larry Johnson staying there — as opposed to with some of the other assistants, it’s more regional or more position-based. Is that part of the approach because of the loyalty to the DMV?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, and because he’s so well respected in that area. He gets — he knows the uncles. He knows the coaches. A lot of the coaches played for him or knew him as a player. He’s deeply engrained in that area.
Q. You mentioned Jalyn Holmes moving inside for that game with Dre’Mont out. I know you guys have the rush man package and you have versatility on that line. Can a lot of guys do that? Seems like he was an end and became a tackle.
COACH MEYER: Tyquan can do that as well. We play him there in sometimes. They’ve got the body type. Bosa, you probably don’t want to get him in there. Sam Hubbard, you wouldn’t want to get in there. It’s a grown man position in there.
You can print this, say Bosa and Hubbard aren’t tough enough to get in there. Say Jerry Emig said that. (Laughter).
That’s not true, of course, but I just think — to answer your question, Jalyn and Tyquan got the strength and the body type to get in there.
Q. You have a lot of good players on that defensive line. Jalyn he’s a pretty versatile, talented guy.
COACH MEYER: He’s fantastic. An even better person and leader. He’s great.
Q. And one of his — you guys have hit this pass to Johnnie a couple times. You have the routes that cross underneath and the receiver settles behind. It’s very effective. Why does it keep working?
COACH MEYER: Ryan Day brought us that whole package to us. It’s been dynamic. It started against — the big hits we had against Indiana were the same package. So now about seven, eight different concepts off of that.
He’s made — a lot of times they get questioned about when you hire a coach, do you let them enhance your offense, Ryan Day enhanced our offense. It’s been very successful.
Q. How do you feel the linebackers are playing this year? I know Dante it was good to see him. But —
A. I thought just okay. I think the last week, when you start listing — complimented Coach Davis about the energy and about — you should have seen the meeting room yesterday. When Hilliard and Zach Turnure and Pete Werner and Baron Browning are game-changers on special teams and then your backers start playing like they did. That’s power of the units. That unit’s got momentum right now.
Q. You’ve got several players that are sort of, are they reaching up to the starters or are the starters like not distancing themselves from them?
COACH MEYER: No, the recruiting classes the last two years have been good. They’re pushing. They’re nipping — I made a comment, I know one thing Peter Werner should be somewhere, what he’s been doing last few weeks, he’s fast as you know what. Great kid. As tough as anybody.
Q. As you look at your offense right now, do you — we’ve been asking you this for a while but do you now really truly envision both running backs, I’m talking about your top two running backs on the field at the same time at some point. What does that give you from a flexibility standpoint?
COACH MEYER: That’s fantastic. He’s been cleared, and he played extended time. So we’re putting together the 20 grouping or 21 grouping. And that’s two backs, one tight end; two backs and no tight end. So it’s their best 11. I do that myself each week: Who are your best 11 players? If they’re in the best 11, which right now they are, get them on the field.
Q. Terry McLaurin had two 15-yard penalties on the same play but he was a champion. How did he resurrect his score, I guess?
COACH MEYER: It was a head coach’s decision because I like Terry. (Laughter).
Q. But on top of that —
COACH MEYER: That’s true. If I didn’t like him, he wouldn’t have graded champion.
Q. What did he bring to the table besides that?
COACH MEYER: Same thing he brings every day. We don’t condone that. And I had a little chat with him, but you guys probably know Terry. He’s everything you want. And don’t do that. But that was a cheap shot on him early in the game, bad one. A tough guy like that, it carried with him for a while.
Q. Seemed like it did. And the other thing, do you see your receivers for want of another word, playing with a little bit of — a nasty streak now that maybe they didn’t have? Do you see —
COACH MEYER: I see that.
Q. Do you see that evolving?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, disappointed early in the game we didn’t make — we had a couple of opportunities, we didn’t do it. But yeah, I see a very, one of the toughest groups we’ve ever had at that position. I’m talking 16 years. Those guys are tough guys. And it’s led by Terry and Parris.
Cultures drive — leaders drive the culture which drive the behavior, and they’re driving it.