Oct. 21, 2013
An Interview With: HEAD COACH Urban Meyer COACH ED WARRINER and COACH Mike Vrabel
COACH MEYER: Defensively the champions were Doran Grant and C.J. Barnett was the defensive player of the game. Obviously we need to do a better job on that side of the ball and have more plays.
Offensive one of our better games since we've been here, very consistent, only had three possessions in the first half. A touchdown, a field goal and stalled out and went for a 4th down. Second half is probably our best football we've played in a while. Our offensive line played exceptional. The champions were Marcus Hall, Jack Mewhort and Corey Linsley. And I'll get to Norwell. Four to five were champions, because Norwell was one of the players of the game, and Taylor Decker received honorable mention, you'll win both games if that happens.
Really, really pleased with the offensive line. Jeff played very well. 74 plays, and also involved in special teams, wide receivers continued to play well. The three champions, Evan Spencer, Devon Smith and Philly Brown. And then our running back played very well, as well, Carlos Hyde.
Offensive players of the week, Braxton Miller
played probably his best game overall, very efficient at passing 22 of 27, took care of the ball much better. Had one where he played it on the ground. We're still continuing to work on that, ran for a hundred yards. And Andrew Norwell
, it's great because I'm a big Norwell fan, as I'm sure a lot of people are, what he is as a person and a leader. Those were the players of the week, honorable mention was Taylor Decker
Kicking game champions, special teams player of the week was a guy that was not necessarily co, but got recognition, Drew Basil. And black shirt goes to Devan Bogard who did very well on kickoff. We didn't punt and we had a chance to get a block kick. Special teams were okay that game, not great, but okay.
This week's game, obviously prime time opportunity at The Shoe at night. Great opportunity to show the country once again Ohio stadium. Playing a great team, another team that had a bye week before us. We have to be prepared. Iowa did have a bye week, and 13 grouping, 3 tight ends, and we weren't ready for it. We didn't adjust well. That's something we have to be prepared for when you face a team that has a bye week and that's going to happen again this week. We have to be ready. And we will be ready.
Q. When you watch the defensive side of things, were there big problems, were there things that were more frustrating to you, player execution end be or coaching end?
COACH MEYER: I think little bit of both. I think we're all in this together, so I think the adjustments need to be made quicker when they give us something we have not seen. The first three drives were alarming. I don't think our defensive line played very well. I think what happened was you have some good emotion in that stadium and you go 13 play drive, and you let the air out of the stadium and the emotion, and that's where Christian Bryant, our great leadership, overcomes a little adversity and we didn't have that. That's got to come from our coaches and players. Very disappointed. Can it be fixed? Absolutely. We're still a good rush defense. We've got to continue to work because we've dealt with some injuries and depth issues and we've got to play better. Very, very concerned.
Q. Penn State like Iowa has very good tight ends, that was a big issue, how much are you going to work on that?
COACH MEYER: Started already. We better be ready. They're a little bit better throwing team than Iowa, and Iowa hurt us.
Q. Tommy Schutt's first week back, how is he doing?
COACH MEYER: He only played 10, 12 plays. Today is my day to watch the defense, and he actually did pretty good. I think you'll see more of him in the game. We didn't play very well up front.
Q. Michael Hill?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, he's got an injury, same high school injury that we thought would be improving and he's got a shoulder. So right now he can't play. We're trying to get him back science we can.
Q. Could you red shirt him?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, I think he only played in the first few games.
Q. Bradley Roby set such a high standard a year ago, seems like he's up and down, is had because he's being held to such a high standard he set or is he struggling this year?
COACH MEYER: I think he did set a high standard and we, when I say we, he himself, set a high standard. He's not playing at the same level he did a year ago. At times he plays fantastic. When there's a mistake on the corner position it's glaring. He works his tail off, he's got a great work ethic, attitude, he's coming back every day. He's going to finish the year strong.
Q. Last week you had conversations in the preseason about practice habits and complacency. What are those conversations like between the two of you now?
COACH MEYER: What's our conversation? There's really not much conversation, other than how to get better. Any conversation about coming back, going, all of that, that was done back in February. So it's just about his practice work ethic is pretty good. It's improved, and that's something I keep pushing real hard. But he has been pretty good in practice. I think he's getting ready to have a good game, he worked hard the week before, before he got tossed.
I will comment on that, I'm sure I'll get asked the question. I think that the NCAA and everybody is going to want to relook at that rule. We are Ohio State is very concerned about player safety. We have gone to the Nth degree with adjusting practice. Any rule for the safety of players, no question we support it.
However, that was a game changer. To take one of your better players out of the game, that impacted that game. And then you watch and we actually had an official come in and speak to our teams. And two triggers, we were told there's two ways that you get thrown out of the game, if you hit the crown of your helmet. Nothing but bad things happen when you play with your head down. And when you target someone else's head above the shoulder pads. We teach and work hard at it, as other coaches, and other coaches have called me, is that you play the game with the shoulder pads and play below the head. I agree a hundred percent. To have a guy ejected who played like that, obviously I'm concerned.
And Big 10 officials have done a great job. I had a good conversation with Bill the head of the officials and they're just looking at it. I just think on a national level that's something that needs to continue to be evaluated. Make sure we're doing the right thing for player safety, but understand the devastating impact on that game when you're out. I'm interested to see what's going to happen down the road.
Q. Did he give you an explanation of why he was tossed? Was it because if you watch the replay, he definitely makes shoulder pad to shoulder pad contact, but it looks like their helmets touch?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, and I'm not sure what's going on. I don't need to get find because of this conversation. I think my boss is in the back.
Q. We won't put it out there, don't worry.
COACH MEYER: What I was told, and Bill, our officials are fantastic. I've never had a problem. Especially communication. And I asked him, I said the instant replay it goes to replay. The guy on the field has the hardest job. After the shoulder pad hit it slid up. And is it enough to overturn it? They're evaluating, as well.
That was not the intent of the rule. That play I can say that without, I'm sure, getting in trouble. That rule was not put for that play. I guess the term defense also receiver will come up at times, too. Our job is to teach. What do you teach, boom, you're in a contact team, we teach them to get your pads down, hit with your shoulder pads.
Q. He was leading his head away from the guy, too, as he hit. (Inaudible.)
COACH MEYER: I watched the game. I think he's a real talent. He throws the ball real well, big tall, range I guy, and seems like a heads I guy. I've not watched enough of them yet, that's later in the week.
Q. (Inaudible.) Could you offer an opinion on what it must have been like for him and what he's going through?
COACH MEYER: I hate to do that because I wasn't there. And I don't want to speculate. I would say I've had some dealings with Coach O'Brien over the last year and a half. I think he's a first class guy. He represents a great school. I do know a lot about Penn State and it doesn't surprise me that Penn State is doing well. I think the circumstances, once again, I don't want to speculate, because none of us are there, but a lot of people are surprised, I don't act surprised. They've got a quality coach and it's a very quality school. And it overcomes a lot of adversity.
Q. Is your defense right now good enough for you guys to be the kind of team you want to be?
COACH MEYER: Yes. I think we need to rush defense, absolutely we are. We tightened up in the second half. Pass defense is the concern. But the answer to your question, yes. We have good enough players, we have good enough coaches, we have to play better.
Q. Talk about Hackenberg playing as a freshman. This day and age as a coach, is there any hesitation about playing a first year guy at quarterback or if guys are ready, you put them in there just like you put anybody else in there? Had that changed at all as your time as a coach?
COACH MEYER: I think it's obviously much easier to play the skilled positions. But you are see freshmen play a little bit. I'd hesitate to do that. We did with Tim Tebow a little bit, but he was a part time player. I'd be hesitant to play a freshman. You want the kid to come in and learn and then take over.
Q. If you watch the game Saturday, I know you've looked at it, Brown threw four or five huge blocks. Talk about Corey, talk about what you see of him. Is that what you were talking about after the game?
COACH MEYER: I've got to be careful. I really admire players. And my entire career I've done that, and sometimes you grab them every day and say I throw you out a lot, don't burn us. He's 180 to where he was. He's an absolute leader of this team, unchallenged, unquestionable, maybe one of the leaders. He is one of the leaders, one of the top two or three leaders on the team. If you said that a year ago, we would have gotten in an argument, because that's not who he was of the his development as a person, a player, as a student, I couldn't say enough. He handled halftime for us. It wasn't a pleasant halftime. And he took over the pregame, postgame or whatever, prehalf speech or whatever, and he addressed our team. And he grabbed me by the arm and said I need to say something. And I said, you got it. And it wasn't about throwing the ball more (laughter).
Q. Talk about a guy like that, blocking?
COACH MEYER: That's who he is now. He wasn't that before. He is all in. And I think the Carlos Hyde touchdown, when and what he said about it, when I read that it makes you feel good as a coach. This team gets it. There's no blaming, no arguments on either side of the ball. We've had multiple wins around here where the defense has won the game for us. And the offensive is very appreciative. The other times offensive carried it a little bit. And other times special teams did something. There's good chemistry on the team right now.
Q. Have you guys put together a game yet, other than maybe Florida A & M where you've been pleased with all three phases of the game and if not, are you a little surprised that you haven't done that yet?
COACH MEYER: Wisconsin I was very pleased ... you're going to find out at the end of the year who Wisconsin is. For some reason they're not ranked high, I'm not sure where they are. I've done this long enough, they're a top 20, top 15 football game. Our score was 31 10 or something at one point against that team. And then we kind of just played in our hands not played in our hands, just tried to win the game. Yeah, I think that game was pretty close to hitting on all cylinders, especially the way special teams changed the field positions. Other than that you're right, we have room for some improvement.
Q. You said Saturday that you were concerned with the slow starts. What will you do this week to address that?
COACH MEYER: No, I've been so it's still early in the week. I'm going to start to attack that here. We have so much other things to do. I'm watching for that. I do not have an explanation for that yet but I will.
Q. As the week goes on, the teams have high standards and playing for a national title, how do you address that?
COACH MEYER: Well, we had our first state of the union address on when was it yesterday. And it's the first time that I do talk about polls, because I wanted to they're going to hear it, this BCS thing came out. And my comment was that we are, indeed, in the mix, embrace it. In the mix for what? Don't worry about it. We are in the mix, though. People think very highly of you. Maybe some people don't. You just have to go out and be the best team on the field on Saturday, not in the country. I addressed it. We did talk about it. Somewhat briefly, but at least it was addressed. That was the first time I did that.
Q. From when you got into coaching to now how much harder or is playing defense harder with rule changes, not making excuses for what you see on defense, but you look at a lot of scores around the country, a lot of teams scoring a lot of points?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, I spent some time with the defense and made the comment it would be hard for me to be a defensive coach, because it seems like you're the nail, adjusting to what they're doing. As opposed on offense it's easy to keep swinging, and you punt the ball if it doesn't work. I admired I don't try to get too involved in defense, because they're a hell of a lot smarter than I am. They have a tough job. You're right, the differential the different offense that you face are mind boggling, from 13 grouping, one back, three tight ends, but you have all kind of run, fit and gap issues, and play action pass issues that you wouldn't have if it was another set. Much more difficult.
Q. You talk about defense needs to get better. Specifically is that philosophically or press, more pressure, is it just tackling, where do you see it not being on that side of the ball so much, what do you see needs to really improve?
COACH MEYER: We've gone through a little bit of evolution. First thing we've got to develop some depth and positions and create a role, where you're getting more guys on the field. I don't believe this time of year, though, tackling was a major, major flaw. I don't believe tackling is a major flaw. Certainly there's going to be missed tackles. I don't feel an urgency there. I do feel at times when people give us something new we're sit back and react and get it figured out. And it's the intelligent way of doing it or you might give up fast points. I'd much rather take a more aggressive approach when something bad is happening. Let's go try to disrupt. And we've had that conversation. I don't want to make it sound too easy because it's not. And at the end of the day that was the performance that as far as effort, as far as there's been games that maybe we give up a few points because they throw the ball down the field, but the effort was ridiculous. I didn't feel that Saturday. We've addressed that. The 4th quarter, the guy made a mistake and threw the ball over our head. The other than that we did a good job.
We're addressing it, a lot of confidence in the people we're putting out there and everything, so we'll get better.
Q. Does that happen a lot where the players say something (Philly Brown)?
COACH MEYER: No, we needed that. And he walks the walk, too. He doesn't just open his mouth up. It's nice to have a team meeting and show that to the team. Because they heard what he said. And then it's easy to pop your mouth off and go sit in the back and sulk or throw your helmet. And he didn't, he went as hard as he could. That's the sign of a really good leader.
Q. Urban talked about Taylor Decker kind of coming of age after the game, what are your impressions of him? How is he coming along this year to start?
ED WARRINER: Good. His progress has been what we hoped, getting experience, continuing to play, being around other guys in the group that are very good players, learning how to practice and he's becoming more consistent. He has great talent. He's a young kid. He could easily be a red shirt freshman, we played him a few snaps last year. He's a second year guy. His progress has been good. He's playing solid football for us and continues to get better with a big upside. He's getting to where we need him for this big 10 stretch.
Q. The seniors are obviously getting a lot of accolades. Is there a drop off between the four guys and then to him or is it a pretty good fivesome?
ED WARRINER: It's a very good fivesome.
Q. Is Chase working with you off the offensive line?
ED WARRINER: He isn't yet. We'll see where that goes with some of the injuries they've had over there he's been on the defensive line. We'll see where we go when everything is healthy over there.
Q. Coach Meyer said how well the offensive line played. Is this the best up front you've played all year?
ED WARRINER: I would say yes. Because of the consistency throughout the game, very aggressive physical approach and the grades are what they are. They graded out high, but that was because they were consistent throughout the game and executed well. So, yeah, I think collectively as a group of five guys put together there wasn't two or three guys played really well and a couple of guys played poorly or average, it was five guys played at a high level.
Q. Talk about you run the video when you see Philly Brown making blocks downfield. What does that do for the team and do you see a reaction when you see that?
ED WARRINER: I think that's one of the reasons we continue to get better is the progress we're making across the board and the job description of a wide receiver at Ohio State is not to catch passes, it's to block first and then catch passes second. That's a good thing. And not in a negative way but just that those guys blocked their butts off out there. Philly Brown, Evan Spencer, and we flex out, our tightened is obviously blocking out there, Devin, Chris Fields. If you go in the game the expectation is whatever we ask you to do you'll do it well.
And because we're becoming balanced in terms of inside run and outside run, that's making us more of a threat to people. And we've started to do a better job of that this season, perimeter run, and you can only perimeter run if your wide receivers can execute out there. And they're doing a very good job at that. That's helped our perimeter run tremendously.
Q. Can you take us back to maybe right after the Buffalo game. You talked about Taylor. He had a hard time with Mack in that opener, and that guy is a great player?
ED WARRINER: No. 3 ranked linebacker in the country on all the scouting boards.
Q. Did you think, oh, no, this is not going the way we want?
ED WARRINER: No, I've done this a long time. You have to believe in the decisions you made, you have to believe in the talent you see and you have to know if you stay the course and you do things the right way usually they work out pretty well for you. And I didn't have any doubt that at some point he would turn the corner and he did the next game and played very solid in the second game of the season and it's continued to just get better and better. And a lot of that is just confidence. When you're an offensive lineman and we see a lot of looks and people throw a lot of things at us, to try to get us out of rhythm. And now he's confident. He feels good about himself and so do we. Things are good.
Q. Do you worry about that confidence being shaken, he had such a tough matchup from the start or did you sense any disappointment?
ED WARRINER: You worry about everything when you coach a guy. But you're around him every day so it's the approach you use. And if the approach you use is that I don't have confidence in you, they don't have confidence in themselves. If the approach you use is the reason you're starting at Ohio State is because you're one of the best offensive linemen around and one of the best on our football team and you continue to preach that to them, then they've got to go out and do it obviously. And that was the approach we used with him. Not, wow, you let us down. You disappointed us. We're not happy with you. What are you doing. It was different. And if you assess the game, it wasn't 20 bad plays in the game, it was three. But three bad plays for a corner or three bad plays for a tackle, everybody knows about it. They don't know about the other 65 that were pretty decent.
Q. How would you describe Marcus Hall's play this year, and his development over the two years you've had him?
ED WARRINER: The most improved guy we have right now on the offensive line in terms of this season. I mean as a matter of fact we're watching Penn State and you watch them play Penn State last year and you go, wow, it was just very average. And you watch them play this past week and it's a whole different guy. And it's just, again, his confidence, his physical development, his understanding of the system and what we're doing. And he's in a good place right now physically and mentally. Is when people are in a good place physically and mentally, life is good and he's playing well, playing really hard and really physical.
Q. Offensive line can be one of the positions where it seems every year it's either feast or famine to coach. Is this an enjoyable season to be a line coach here because of how well you guys are playing?
ED WARRINER: So far it's enjoyable, yeah. It's very enjoyable.
Well, it's enjoyable because it takes a lot of work and a lot of cohesion and it's a slow process bringing offensive linemen along and it's step by step. When they're in rhythm and they're all in sync and they're all coordinated then when you get that, really good things can happen for you. And that takes a while.
But I thought we got into that rhythm last year, about the time we played Michigan State and I think we're starting to get into that rhythm now with that group, as well. And that's part of it, too, is it doesn't happen as quickly as maybe some other things, but, yeah, it's enjoyable, first of all, to go in there with the attitude they have and to be around them and to watch them work, and they don't go out to practice, like yesterday, they didn't go out to practice and pat themselves on the back, they worked. And it was good.
And so when you're around guys that are willing to work hard, take coaching, and have talent and they enjoy what they do. It's funny, too, because they all want to get better, still. Every one of them is talking about what do I have to do to get better. You've got to keep them motivated. We keep them on edge a little bit.
Q. Bill O'Brien came from Penn State with some tough situations. He still did well on the recruiting trail. What have you seen about the pay Penn State has been able to carry themselves, and how do you think they'll be able to be a player in the game?
ED WARRINER: Well, I just think that he's doing a good job overall, considering all the circumstances that have been presented to him. He's done a good job of preparing his team. He's doing a good job of recruiting and selling his vision for his program. And when you do those things and you're a good person, and obviously he wouldn't have gotten that job if he wasn't a good person, a good football mind. So people can relate to him, I'm sure, and people probably like him. They have a football tradition there, too.
All things put together, I think he's focusing on what positives he can sell and what they're doing well and what their future is and not focusing on the things he can't control that came before he got there. That combination I think and then their proximity to a lot of players on the east coast helps them as well. And they recruit hard. They don't just hope you come. They recruit guys. They go after them and recruit them hard. People want to be loved and liked and recruited. So they're doing that, too.
Q. We all know that this offensive line is playing well. Can you give some context in your career dealing with offensive lines how often you have a group with this experience or how often you have a group of this kind of cohesion? Does that happen a lot to you or is this kind of rare?
ED WARRINER: It happens some. I don't know that it's rare. I hope in my case to say it would be rare you know, I think it's happened the last stop it was at I know it happened. I know it happened at the stop before that. So every place I've been at some point we've had good offensive lines. And I think that's what we strive to do. I understand the importance of that. If our offensive line plays well we have a really good chance to win a game. If they don't play well there's a very slight chance that we can win a game. It's my obligation to get an offensive line to play at a high level so we have a chance to win every game. I take great pride in doing that. And if you have talent and you have players that will work hard and you have players that are coach abdominal, then you can put together a good offensive line, as long as it's based on fundamentals and effort. We talk about technique and toughness for our offensive line. Those are the two trademarks of what we want to be. Good fundamentals and tough outfit. And we practice that way. Because we practice that way every day then things happen in the game, we're prepared to be in those kind of battles and play that way. So it's fun when it does. But I've been around it enough, because I've been doing this a long time, I guess, that I've been exposed to good O line play. So that's my expectation. That when my group jogs out on the field they're going to play good, be well coached and be ready to go and help us win games. Anything less than that I'm not doing my job.
Q. Why do you think your offensive line is playing so well right now?
ED WARRINER: They're competitive, but they are not competitive in that, why did he grade higher than me, why was he this, they're not that that's slightly selfish. They're not that at all. They couldn't be happier for Andrew Norwell being champion or Jack being co champion. This guy first team, this guy second team. And when we talked about Marcus having maybe his best game of the season, probably was for sure. The first thing we did when we walked into the meeting room and I summarized the game before we watched the film, we're talking about the grades and talking about some corrections. Somebody said I think we should have three claps for Marcus. In our room when you get three claps, that's a big deal. If somebody comes in, Coach Bruce comes in to visit, it's three claps for Coach Bruce, ready, set, go, we give them three claps, and it's all in unison. When you do something really good that's how they acknowledge it. So it's really a pretty good thing. And they're proud of Taylor, too.
But it's a group that wants everybody to do well and doesn't care who gets the credit and that's the beautiful thing about offensive lines, when you can get that, that's when it's fun to coach them is when they don't care who gets the credit.
Q. Penn State is pretty good?
ED WARRINER: Yes, they are, they're very good.
Q. Could you talk about what you might have to do against them?
ED WARRINER: I think they're 17th in the country in rush defense. And I think it's a trademark of their tradition there. They've always tried to be a good run defense. They've always had good line play and good linebacker play, and that combination with a physical approach, I mean, I think that they're offensive tries to run the ball, too. So they practice against that.
But I think it's just the nature of the way they're coached. Their defensive schemes are sound. So it's hard to try to figure out schemes where you can out number them or take advantage of them. You've got to out execute them and you've got to out block them and be more physical and that's your challenge. So good fundamentals, very physical, well coached, good schemes and a lot of pride. And you put that combination together you're going to have 117 yards a game rush defense. And what are they, overall, something like 14th or something in the country? Overall defense. So they're a good defensive team that has had an extra week to get ready for us. So another team has had two weeks, Iowa had two weeks, northwestern had two weeks. Here we go again. We've got to get ready.
Q. Coach, Coach Fickell talked about how things weren't going right in the second half, hit that big play, that you sat down everybody in the sidelines and stabilized things. What did you say to the guys, I presume it was in the second half ... What were the things you said?
Mike Vrabel: I think the thing we have to understand ask that as players and coaches it doesn't always go how you draw it up. You go out and work on something all week and you prepare. And I think as a player you go out there and it's not always roses. It's not always you dominating somebody.
But then you look up and you have a chance to win a football game. At that point in time you have to clear everything and go on and find ways to make plays, like guys did late in the game. Certainly we don't want to play like that, but there's times during the course of a season or game where it's not going well. And you have to find the will to go and win a football game.
Q. Could you talk about Penn State, have you had an opportunity to see much of the freshman quarterback?
Mike Vrabel: He's shown a lot of poise there. Throws the ball well. Has a strong arm. Good skill. Good tight ends. Good backs. One physical back, two speed backs, guys that can slash and stretch and cut back. A veteran offensive line. Between last night and this morning, we're in there looking at them now and seeing how we're going to do it. They've got a bye week to prepare. You've got to put a bunch on the board and be sound in what we're doing and give our kids a chance to go out and play with some effort.
Q. You're from the NFL, with Wes Welker, but Bernie always seemed to find him. Alton Robinson seems to be that kind of player. What makes those guys stand out, why can they get the ball in certain situations?
Mike Vrabel: I think first thing it's a trust issue between a quarterback and a receiver. No different than a defensive line and a linebacker and really what we do is build around trust and gaining confidence and playing with confidence. And so I think when you talk about a quarterback and receiver, they have a lot of trust in each other that he's going to get open and catch the ball. And the quarter back does have to be perfect, if he throws the ball to them. He knows he can throw in an area and he's going to make a play.
Q. Mike, you guys have faced a lot of quarterbacks that got rid of the ball quickly. Are you pleased with the pass rush, where are you out there?
Mike Vrabel: I think it's a work in progress. I don't think you're ever satisfied. I think when we can get teams in a third long, we like our chances over the course of a ballgame or season, I think our percentages are going to be well. But when you are in third and two or third and one or third and three, you don't have a lot of opportunities to rush the passer, as we all saw on Saturday.
But when you look at the second half and you have an opportunity to be third and seven, be up ten points, you can go with four guys that can rush the passer and get the quarterback to not be able to set his feet, to get rid of the ball, to hit him, let him get ready before the guys are open. It's predicated object getting them into those situations, and having the guys out there on the field that can go win.
Q. How big of a game is this for Ohio State? Your freshman year was the first year they joined the conference. How big of a game is this for Ohio State?
Mike Vrabel: I think they're all big. When you're in Ohio State, regardless of who you play, every game is big. Ohio State hasn't lost since Coach Meyer started coaching here. Every game we play gets bigger and bigger.
Q. Is there a part of Joey Bosa's game that you think is advanced for a true freshman?
Mike Vrabel: I think he's physically more advanced where a lot of kids coming out of high school would be the first year. I think his core strength, his balance, those type of things stand out to me. And he's going to continue to work. He's going to continue to work his technique, but physically he's ail to play at this level because of his natural strength, his natural core strength, and he's got great balance.
Q. I know the policy about red shirting, you has he been ahead of schedule or surprising for you guys once you got in the season how much you could play him?
Mike Vrabel: I think you get opportunities and you start out with five opportunities, ten opportunities, 15, whatever those opportunities are. He was a player that took advantage of those opportunities. And went from 20 or 25 snaps to 50, 55, 60. And now he's a starter for us. We've got to have him in there, he's a difference maker. And he's playing well. He didn't play great Saturday, but he certainly shows up and continues to do a lot of good things for us.
Q. Iowa didn't have a lot of long run games, but they were consistent in the first half
Mike Vrabel: Right. Call what it was. Beat the shit out of us, I agree. In our minds, I think they had four that were uncontested, were around the edge, we had no edge. One was to the boundary. Two was to the field. Easy yardage. Then there was some yardage that was pushed and washed, contacted two yards and they pushed the line, throw the line over to pile, block the linebackers, just soft. And we don't do a good job of playing physical with our hands, getting off blocks, shedding off blocks, walking away from blocks. When you do this against a good offensive line, they're going to continue to push you and move the pile. We had a punch of plays that were for two or three yards. I think the five or six yard ones are bothersome. And you've got to fix the ones be that are uncontested where they hand the ball and run around the edge and we're going to do that.
Q. How hard is that to fix, is that something you're concerned about?
Mike Vrabel: To me it's about coaching better and it's about playing better. And when you talk about the defensive line you talk about me being the coach and the guys that I have in the game. So I'm going to coach better and they're going to play better and that's the technique things. Effort and toughness has to be perfect for us. The technique you're not going to make every single play, we understand that. No one is going to grade a hundred percent. But we feel you should be able to grade a hundred percent in your toughness and effort.
Q. When the offense is doing something you don't expect or they didn't show on film, when you're making those in game adjustments, and you and the other coaches are seeing what happens, do you throw everything at the players right away? How do you go about making the adjustments, not wanting to overwhelm the players?
Mike Vrabel: We understand we're not professional football players. I think the learning curve might not be as steep for them, but we've got to adjust. We've got to do it quicker. And we've got to get it to them and make them go out there and understand and play it with confidence and play at new looks with confidence. You're never going to be able to show them every single thing in practice. But you can give them confidence and fundamentals and go out and make adjustments. And that falls on us as coaches as well as we can't go out there and do it for them, but you've got to give them the confidence saying here's what they're going to do, let's do it and make them turn the page. Make them do something else that maybe we didn't prepare well enough during the week for it.
Q. You seemed to be really sprinting up the ramp at halftime?
Mike Vrabel: I was trying to get the guys up and settled, Everett and Luke and Kerry, try to handle whatever adjustments we're going to make. I just wanted to get up there and be ready for our defense when they got in there, try to talk to them and figure out what was going on and get guys to start playing with confidence, and not always understanding at five yards is the end of the world. It's a long game and you need to play and compete a little bit.
Q. The defense right now is too reactionary. You can't impose your will with young kids, can you?
Mike Vrabel: Well, I think we've got to do that a little bit with our call. I think sometimes we've got to do that. We've got to bring some pressure to allow them to do that. And then guys have to step up. Guys maybe it's Joey Bosa, who cares who it is, but the guys need to do that. This is a physical, violent sport that's competitive. And at some point in time you've got to have guys that aren't so nice and go out there and start playing football.
Q. When Penn State got the sanction, everybody said they're crippled, done. They backed off those sanctions little bit. As somebody who recruits against them, do you see them surviving this and not falling off a cliff?
Mike Vrabel: Well, I'm sure Bill O'Brien was a good friend, he was in New England when I was there. He's a good football coach. He's going to do everything he can to keep that program where it's been for the last 50 or 60 years. I don't see that changing.
I don't know what's going on, and we've got plenty to worry about here in Columbus.
Q. How tough is it to prepare in these games? You mentioned this earlier, when you've got 19 wins in a row and everyone wants to end that streak. And you have teams that have two weeks to get ready for you guys. How difficult is this stretch of games?
Mike Vrabel: I think that's life in the big city. I think you've got to understand, whether they have a bye week or not, you're going to get a whole bunch of stuff. The stuff you've had trouble with is going to continue to show up until you stop it. The things that you do well, they're going to try to have answers for. We need to do a great job as a staff and we need to do a great job of getting that from our minds to our players minds and ultimately giving them an opportunity to play fast.
Q. As someone who played the game, do you have any thoughts on trying to focus this targeting rule in the right way?
Mike Vrabel: Obviously you better stay away from the head. If you hit them with anything, but it better not be on the head. Anything that looks close, that's what they're told to call.