Nov. 11, 2013
An Interview with: COACH MEYER
COACH MEYER: Playing like one of the top teams in the country right now.
Q. Is it uncomfortable being in the situation of your vote has an influence of where you could end up?
COACH MEYER: Is it uncomfortable? No. Just at times I don't get to watch everybody, so it sometimes puts you in a hard position. This last week I did get to watch everybody. There's some very good teams in the country, and I believe we're a very good team.
Q. Can you explain this new signing deal that you're allowed to sign a guy to, it's not a letter of intent it's not a letter of intent, but you can deal with a kid on a full time basis but yet it's not binding for him. What do you get out of that, more than anything else?
COACH MEYER: I mean, that's a bizarre rule that came out of right field, and that means that a mid semester, a mid year guy, you're allowed to go meet with him. You're allowed to announce it publicly. I don't know the rationale. I don't remember voting on this. I don't remember any conversation. We might have. I'm not sure the rationale.
Q. That's what I'm saying. The benefit is only that you can be
COACH MEYER: Oh, no, there's a huge benefit. You're allowed to text them, allowed to talk to them. I saw the list. I argued with our compliance guy: I said there's no way they're allowed to do that we are. You're allowed to meet them. Unlimited contacts. So there's a ridiculous benefit.
But the way I understand it, too, they can still go somewhere else if it's in a different conference. But I don't know.
Q. Braxton, we talked to you about him a little bit last week. The last time he went to Illinois he completed one pass to Jake Stoneburner. How much further along is he in that regard. When you go into Illinois, you almost have to have two game plans based on you don't know what the wind's going to be like that day?
COACH MEYER: It's been a while since I've been there. I think many times you play in this part of the country that you have to be prepared for that. I can assure you that we're in a much different place than he was two years ago. And I can see that.
Braxton would be the first one to tell you, Braxton at this point last year we weren't real fired up at times throwing the ball.
If you remember against Wisconsin, but it's a whole different we're in a completely different mindset. I have complete confidence in both our quarterbacks and our guys behind them. Excuse me, the guys catching the passes. It's apples to oranges, completely different scenario.
Q. Before the year you talked about Jack Mewhort being one of the top leaders you've ever had. The approach you had this last two weeks, has he lived up to that billing?
COACH MEYER: Jack Mewhort has turned himself into a definite high level pro prospect. He's one of the best leaders I've been around. He's a tough guy that I like to think that people would say that Ohio State is a tough program and he's kind of the benchmark. Our strength coach has great respect for him for the way he handles his business all the way around.
And he's certainly lived up to his expectation level, maybe even a little bit more, which his expectation level is very high.
Q. Seemed like Curtis Grant and Josh Perry had minor issues leaving the Purdue game, is everything okay?
COACH MEYER: Josh Perry had surgery on a dislocated finger. Practiced full speed today, practiced all last week. He's fine. In a little bit of a splint right now.
What was the other name? Curtis Grant did not practice today. We expect him back tomorrow. His was ankle sprain and low back, but he should be ready to go by tomorrow.
Q. During preseason and even throughout this year, you pointed to the linebackers as the group that had the furthest to go to get to that Ohio standard. Is it because of the depth behind these guys or are the starters giving about what you want?
COACH MEYER: Ryan Shazier is starting to play at a very high level which we expected. Early in the season he was not. He's playing at a pretty good level right now. It's just the depth.
And I like the fact Curtis Grant has played pretty good. Still not to Ohio State standards. Banged up a little bit in his first year of playing. But he's been very adequate at that position. We need more, though, and he's going to give us more.
And Josh Perry has been developed recently. Starting the season nowhere what we expect from a Ohio State linebacker. But his last few weeks of practice and certainly in the games has played very well.
The depth is a major concern. We're nowhere where we need to be as far as the expectation level of the linebacker play here. When you think of the great linebackers that have arguably the last decade as good as a linebacker as ever in the country played at Ohio State, and we need to get back to that.
Q. What were your impressions of the games you saw, what did you think of Alabama and LSU, and did you get to see the Michigan/Nebraska game?
COACH MEYER: I did. Watched a lot of football. Like I said, I think there's some very good teams out there. I really enjoyed watching the Oregon/Stanford game. Two very good games. I saw Alabama and LSU. Excellent teams. I watched some of the Baylor/Oklahoma. So I watched as much as I could get my hands on football.
Like I said, just what's our impression, my impression is, like I said, Alabama/LSU, that was high level football and so was Oregon/Stanford. A lot of respect for those teams.
Q. How difficult is it this week to get players to concentrate on an 0 5, team that's 0 5?
COACH MEYER: No issue whatsoever. This is a very invested team. I'm watching that. I'm just telling you as of Monday, no issue whatsoever.
It will be a bomb go off if I start to see that or we all start to see that, because this is a very invested team. Invested teams don't this is all about: Tomorrow we're going to really get after it.
Q. I want to touch upon the mid year signings as well that Tim brought up. You said you're allowed to speak to on different signings, Marcelys Jones, can you speak that?
COACH MEYER: I don't want to screw that up. I'm going to pass on that because it has nothing to do with us winning this next game. I made stupid errors before. So I think that's what the rule says.
Q. Do you see this maybe as a concession to the people that have been really pushing for a second signing period?
COACH MEYER: No. To be honest with you, I have no idea who comes up with it. I have no idea.
Q. Jumping off Tim's question. I know you spent enough time scouting the upcoming opponent, but how much time in advance work do you spend on the game conditions?
COACH MEYER: Absolutely a lot. It's going to be 50 degrees. We already know the forecast on I get it every day, exactly what we're expecting weather wise for that game. That's a big part of it every week.
Q. What do you know about Illinois?
COACH MEYER: I coached at Illinois State for two years. Visited Champaign many times. I was a graduate assistant here. We played there one time. Big time stadium. I remember that.
But it's been a while. We've got to be prepared for getting Illinois's best shot. They played some pretty good football as of late. Certainly offensively, the quarterback is leading the league in throwing. They took Penn State to overtime and put on a lot of points I think 600 yards on us last game.
So very good punt returner. So I know a lot about Illinois.
Q. Can you talk about wanting an angry team? Do you feel like you have an angry team? Is it easy to have an angry time right now when you have people saying you are on the outside looking in despite the fact you're undefeated, and what's the mindset of the team right now?
COACH MEYER: I think so. We use that a little bit. I also like to use the term "invested." I couldn't say that last year because I don't know. This is a very invested team.
I know those are two little different words but very similar basically you're locked in as a team and you're focused on the next task. And that's what this team is right now.
Q. Frustrating at all or do you even let yourself
COACH MEYER: No. And I just told those guys, I've been in this situation before and you have nothing to do with nothing, other than get ready to go play, because there's so much football to be played.
Q. Just real quick, the one pass completion game two years ago, did you watch that game, the time, have you seen any film of it since?
COACH MEYER: No.
Q. What do you think the idea of the team winning the game on the pass?
COACH MEYER: I heard that, win the game however you can. I don't know the conditions. I know he had a young quarterback and a fairly young group of whiteouts. I would imagine you'd do what we did: Run the quarterback a lot. Do what you gotta do to walk out of there with a win.
Q. Last year you were undefeated. Right now you're undefeated. How do you compare your team right now to the team last year? Are you a better team?
COACH MEYER: We're a better team. We're a better functioning team. I don't want to have ever disrespect our seniors because they were such an incredible group of players. And they're really good players, too. So we're just more functional certainly on offense. On defense I'm not sure we're quite as good. Remember this time last year is when we hit the accelerator and we played excellent defense.
We are playing I understand we're top 10 in the country in defense, rushing defense, total defense and scoring defense, that's pretty good, with replacing nine starters.
So we are getting a little better on defense. Comparing the teams last year, I think that's interesting conversation, but we're just more functional certainly on offense.
We're much better on offense than we were a year ago. Defensively, so I'm not sure. And special teams, we're much better this year.
Q. (Question off microphone) you're not making mistakes.
COACH MEYER: No, if you look at our punt team, our punt team has had the same players on it every week. Last year we didn't know the guys. Guys were getting hurt and guys weren't good enough. And we're just performing at a much higher level.
Q. You talked about that leadership last year a lot. I know that was a concern coming in to this year. How has that part of it worked out knowing that it was so good last year, how does that compare?
COACH MEYER: I mean, that's a great question. That's something I've continued to evaluate. And I think we had an outside company join us, Tim Kite's crew came in, taught the leadership workshop.
A lot of time spent on it through spring, summer and then we actually did it during training camp. So I graded a very plus right now. There's some purpose driven players that are leaders and that's what you want on a team. And I see it.
Q. At this stage of the year, with BCS standings, playing for Big Ten title, is there any more emphasis on how you win games and, quote/unquote, style points, or is it still just win the football game?
COACH MEYER: It's win the game. But the message is you have to play great. We do. I mean, you're held to to be even mentioned with those other teams, be careful what you wish for. That means you have to practice and play at a certain level. So that's all I mentioned to our team.
We practiced at a very, very high level today. And I expect them to play we all expect them to play, they expect to play at a very high level, because you're in the same breath with some very, very good teams.
And to maintain that status you have to play very well. Very well.
Q. Illinois's talent level has been pretty good over the last 10 years. What's their breakdown if they're on an 0 9 Big Ten streak?
COACH MEYER: Not on offense right now. I think defensively they're still trying, they're going through some growing pains I guess would be the appropriate, this is just what I see on film.
What I see on offense is an explosive offense. 600 yards and then leading passer in Big Ten conference right now. So in special teams they're pretty good.
So I think right now they're just trying to find their way a little bit on defense.
Q. Pat Chung said he met with you last week, just to talk about a profile for his head coach. Did his profile match any guys you have on your staff?
COACH MEYER: Oh, sure.
Q. Did you ever get specific about
COACH MEYER: We did. We talked about names. And Pat's a great friend. I have a lot of respect for Pat and nothing more than I would like to see Pat Chung be successful.
He's also very respectful of this time of year for us. I think the number one thing we talked about a profile because that's a unique place. I lived in Florida and that pocket, that's a very, very unique recruiting place.
And so that's mostly what we talked about is, first of all, the profile of a coach and someone with that, to just go dive into South Florida recruiting, that's not a place you want to dive into unless you've been there before.
Q. He gave you a list?
COACH MEYER: We went through some names, sure.
Q. Taylor, any update on him?
COACH MEYER: He's good. We practiced today. Took him out of full contact. Tomorrow is full contact. Should be ready to go.
Q. You were off last week, come back weekend one step closer to where you want to be. What was the message to the team and maybe the reaction?
COACH MEYER: The good thing is the message was this. We gave them four 24 hour segments off. And they were a fine conditioned team when they left.
So the panic button with me is that we really ran them today. And to just go out and run without explaining what we're doing, especially when you have an intelligent team like this, so the whole message was let's get back to where you were a week ago Wednesday. And so that's really the whole message.
And we talked about the nation, the BCS, the state of the union that we do every week, and that's it. And then our job is to play, once again, I mentioned with the previous question, is that do we have to win with the style points, no; you have to play great, though, or you'll no longer be in the same breath with those other teams.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.