Nov. 18, 2013
An interview with: COACH MEYER
COACH MEYER: Just talk briefly about the Illinois game, obviously pleased with the opportunity to be 10 0. The champions for the offensive side were Corey Linsley and Jack Mewhort are playing really well for us. Tight end0 Jeff Heuerman playing fantastic. Evan Spencer, Philly Brown as receivers. We had co offensive players of the week. It was Carlos Hyde, the obvious with 10.2 yards per carry, six big plays, five touchdowns. Then the other guy, which is just great to see, Andrew Norwell, 88%, extremely high. Once again, played a very, very high level.
On defense you had Ryan Shazier and Noah Spence and C.J. Barnett were all three co D players of the week. Mike Bennett and Joey Bosa. Joey Bosa had a little neck injury. When he was in there, was extremely disruptive with two sacks and two pressures.
Special teams, our punter did an excellent job in the kicking game. The black shirt goes to Ron Tanner. That's special teams players of the week the four tackles on kickoff, great effort in kickoff return, very productive player.
This week is all about 18 seniors. Last two years have been on a nice run. Guys I have great admiration for. Didn't know them very well obviously for a while. Now we all know them very well.
I think Buckeye Nation is going to do a great job of sending off these guys in the last home game with a chance to do some really historic things, but most importantly just win this game.
Our effort this week is we're beat up a little bit. Right now we're just going through it. It's showing up in our coverage units a little bit. I want to say nine players are out for the season, scholarship players. Seven or eight of them are guys we were all counting on. Adam Griffin, Jamie Wood, Blake Thomas, Jayme Thompson, James Clark, Christian Bryant, Mike Hill, Underwood and Munger, those are all guys out for the entire year.
Then we have these other ones, Curtis Grant, Jordan Hall, Darron Lee, Perry, Jack Mewhort, Joey Bosa. Tommy Schutt and Adolpus Washington have been in the lineup which has really caused us certainly some issues on defense last week when you're down.
We had to put a guy at Mike linebacker. Cam Williams never played Mike linebacker, always been an outside guy. Joe Burger, second year in the program from Cincinnati, was playing for us.
Obviously, we've got to improve. That's our focus this week, getting some players back. The problem is I'm not sure how many of those guys are going to get back, and preparing some of the younger guys to either play or play a little better.
With that said, I'll certainly answer any questions for you.
Q. You mentioned doing some historic things. The streak this week, do you put emphasis on that?
COACH MEYER: We talked about it. Emphasis, no. Emphasis is on just what I spoke of. There's Warren Ball doing things, they really haven't done a lot of them in their careers. We're asking offensive players to tackle right now. You saw what happened when you ask to do that.
Our emphasis is on teaching people how to tackle. We have five offensive players on punts right now. Never had that. Punt, you go down and tackle. When guys have never tackled in their career, that's bad coaching by us.
So we're spending time. Either you try to create some defensive players, which doesn't usually work this time of year, or you just teach and get better. So our focus is on that.
Q. Last year for the BCS. Having been a coach throughout the BCS era, what do you think of it? How do you think people will look back on it? Has this been the best way to decide who plays for the national championship?
COACH MEYER: Without spending much time on it, because it's not fair for our team to do that. I will say this: I think it's a flawed system. When you logically think about it, what the BCS people have done, which obviously we're all part of it, I think it was great for a while.
I think it took an imperfect system and did the best you can without a playoff. There's going to be controversy in playoffs, too, now. There's not a 64 team playoff. You're going to have four guys. What is that fifth team going to feel like? So...
Q. What's different about Carlos Hyde this year?
COACH MEYER: Completely different. First, he's more mature. I love Carlos. He was immature a couple years ago, like very immature.
He handles his business. He's 230 as opposed to 240 and some change. Much faster. Longest run last year, someone said it was 20. I can't remember it went over 8. Just kidding (laughter).
But he's got the acceleration now. He's playing very aggressive, too. Plus, the chemistry between the offensive line and him, it's really neat to watch.
Q. Joey Bosa, confident you'll get him back?
COACH MEYER: Pretty confident. It's nothing structural. It's a sore neck. He's a tough hombre. I don't worry about Joey Bosa. Everybody is going to know that name by the time he leaves here. That's how good I think he's going to be.
Q. The wins you've gotten are impressive. How do you balance it with the team, don't take winning for granted?
COACH MEYER: That's absolutely true. We had victory meal last night. 22nd time they got to go eat victory meal.
Once again, we're going to really do a good job this week about teaching Warren Ball how to tackle, Ezekiel how to tackle, Warren Ball. We mentioned it as of now. We might have another chat about 8:00 Saturday night if we play well. Up until that point, we're all business. We have some issues we have to take care of.
Every team is dealing with those issues right now, injuries, making it right. That's our job.
We had an excellent team meeting yesterday. There was nothing other than conversation about congratulations, great job. You ran for 441. I think that No. 2 for Illinois, I just watched it Sunday night again, I think he is a great football player. He made plays with guys hitting him right in the face. So we got to get better in certain areas. But we also appreciate where we're at.
I think appreciation where we're at and move forward.
Q. With the way that both Carlos and Braxton are running the ball now, how do you see defenses playing you guys in the read portion of the run game?
COACH MEYER: That's a problem. That's a problem. The guys blocking right now, you have Evan Spencer and Heuerman blocking the perimeter as well as I can ever remember. Same with Philly Brown.
A lot of times you see a big 230 pound back hitting the second level of defense untouched, all due respect to Carlos and Braxton, the guys blocking for them are really, really good right now.
It's difficult to defend. It's enjoyable in a game plan when you have weapons and guys, you call them checkers, you like the size and speed of your checkers. Nice to draw the circles on the wall. A little uncomfortable to draw the circles when the circles are small and slow. The bigger and faster the circle, that's fun stuff (laughter).
Q. How has Braxton developed in terms of making the right reads?
COACH MEYER: Good. Last year was hit and miss. Last year, I'm being hard on him, but he was probably half half. When you guess, you're half half. When you go to the proper mechanics of the read, Carlos coming out the other end, I want to say 75% of the time he's reading the defender and he's on it. His work ethic.
He's an excellent prepare guy. He's the guy that really studies the game, is a nut about his fundamentals. As a result, every other quarterback sees that. That's really helped Braxton.
Q. There's almost this escalation of the mentality or attitude that if you don't play for the national championship, it's like a failure of the season. What do you think of that? Has that changed since you came into coaching? On the flipside, Buckeye Nation, almost moving away from that. There's a segment worried about being embarrassed in a national championship game, scar tissue there, they'd almost rather not do that. What would you say to that side of it?
COACH MEYER: Ezekiel on our punt team, I have to teach him how to tackle. Warren Ball is running down on kickoff. He's the number two guy in the boundary. When you run a boundary run, you're job is to spill the lead blocker. He hasn't done that in his high school career. We're going to work hard on that in practice.
Any other questions about Warren Ball's coverage (laughter)?
Q. The depth concern, you mentioned every team is going through this. Is this typical for teams you've had at this time? Secondly, do you have redshirt decisions even at this stage that you go through?
COACH MEYER: Probably made some errors. You have Gareon Conley, Eli Apple, Jayme Thompson got hurt. But those are the bodies you normally have. The same with Mike Mitchell, Trey Johnson hasn't played a lot, fighting injuries all fall. Those are the areas.
The defensive skill guys at the end of the day, they just weren't ready yet. We've done it. Everybody has done it. In the end of the year he plays 37 plays. Was that really worth it? If we have confidence in a lot of these young players, you just watch them, there's potential for really good careers.
Was it a tactical error? Maybe. Especially when you start dealing with some injuries like we're dealing with now. But you have however many games left. But the games left are really, really important.
The question you asked, probably a conversation comes up every two hours as we're in here working in the rooms. I'll start penciling through depth charts.
We traveled I want to say four walk ons that never played at Illinois 'cause if something happens, they're going in the game. That occupies a lot of our time right now.
At the end of the day we probably could have played a couple guys more, but that's hindsight, so you've got to move on.
Q. With the way that the schedule sets up for guys who have to declare early for the draft, are there already conversations? Do you have to address that at this point in the year?
COACH MEYER: I was going to give you the Warren Ball answer, but that's probably not fair, but that's real. With all due respect, your question is real, too.
At some point, it's after the season, between the bowl game and end of the season. I've sat in a lot of those meetings. We'll probably have a couple this year. But not yet.
Q. Not yet?
COACH MEYER: No.
Q. An Ohio team leads every division of college football. Mountain Union, Ohio Dominican. As a native of Ohio, what does that say to you? Is it coaching? Talent? Does it make you proud?
COACH MEYER: It does. I'm an Ohioan. I didn't realize that about those other schools. You live in a cubbyhole, drive to work, sit in dark rooms all day long. That's great for those two schools.
You said Ohio Dominican?
COACH MEYER: That's outstanding. I didn't know that.
Q. Are you sitting there a little bit stunned that you have a shot at breaking the school record for most wins in a row based on what you took over late in 2011? How surprised are you to be at this point with this group?
COACH MEYER: You know, I haven't really thought about it much. When I look at the names, we were doing it today getting ready for Senior Day, you look at the transitions. I look at Marcus Hall. To think that those guys have developed, I go fight for those guys, I have to be careful how you I say it because it's headlines somewhere. I would take that defensive line against anybody anywhere.
I love who they are. I love who they've become. If I was a college kid, that's who I would hang out with. They're sincere, great people that work their tails off. They love Ohio State and they love football.
I think someday you'll be able to look back and reflect. Now is not that time. We have too much work to do. I think it's an honor when you start thinking about it. We had a team meeting. I leave all this stuff up here for a reason. We could have changed this team meeting room any way you want. We talk about 1916 is the first championship, Ohio State, a lot of great football teams.
To have our name even in that breath is almost as overwhelming. If you spend too much time on it... We spent I think 30 seconds on it, moved on, started working on Warren Ball (smiling). Poor Warren.
Q. Speaking of that streak, last year you were comfortably ahead at Indiana, then it's 52 49. Looked like you you had been shot at a few times when you walked into the interview room. What do you tell your players? What's the message?
COACH MEYER: You know, the concern I had with Illinois is you're talking about also the leading passing team in the Big Ten Conference. We jump out, I want to say it was 28 zip something like that. We start throwing it around, next thing you know they return a punt. Pulled Jack Mewhort out. Probably not the right thing to do at the right time. All of a sudden you're in a storm, somewhat of a storm.
This one, I would anticipate they move the ball. Last week, I'm not sure the weather, but they just kept dropping the ball. You watch the rivalry, against their rivals, it was all over the place. I think they scored 48 points.
This team can score points in bunches. We got to control the clock, control the time. They scored a good amount of points on Michigan State, number one defense I think it might be in the country.
On a national scale, which we're not worried about that, we're going to beat this team. Wait a minute now. Very good team, very good players, well coached. We have to really focus this week on facing a very potent offense.
Q. They got back into it throwing the ball big time. When you leave Saturday, was it a pit in your stomach?
COACH MEYER: A little bit. Then I've been there before, so I made sure they enjoy it. My job is to coach these players, not worry about anyone else. I grade myself a C last week. I was worried about too many other things. I can promise you, we're going to coach better this week.
The guys need to enjoy a Division I win. That's our job. We certainly did. That doesn't mean today, tomorrow and Wednesday we're not going to go get after it, because we are. I can assure yesterday that we made sure that the staff and players enjoyed that win.
Q. Do you feel like you guys are peaking right now? Do you feel good about the trajectory of your team?
COACH MEYER: Offensively I do. We have to get the guys back, Josh Perry and Curtis Grant, we have to get them back, we have to, or we got a problem. That's our focus, getting better.
I don't feel like we did at special teams. I thought up to that point our coverage units were the best in America. The way they performed Saturday was not. Our punter, the blessing is a punter can hammer a ball. A 70 yard punt, 67 yard punt. We have fast guys on there. Gets to the second level when those are the guys that don't tackle, so we're really working on that.
I think we got to get right back at it. A lot has to do with the personnel issues we're dealing with right now.
Q. Can you address Curtis and Josh.
COACH MEYER: Josh looks probable, Curtis looks 50/50, whatever that means. We're hoping. Questionable.
Q. I know that last year there was a lot of discussion about Michigan State being a turning point game for you guys. When you look at the Indiana game, if you include that, the five BCS opponents you faced up until then were scoring 30 points a game. After that they were scoring along the lines of 20 points a game. Was the Hoosiers game last year a turning point?
COACH MEYER: That was one of the first times I've ever seen our guys have an effort problem here. That was not a comfortable Sunday when we all came back in here. People make mistakes in football all the time. As a matter of fact, you make probably more mistakes than you make great plays.
But lack of effort is something that is just not tolerated. That is the only time I can remember, Wait a minute, that guy's not trying. What's the problem here? Let's get that fixed. Fortunately we got it fixed.
Q. Haven't seen that ever since?
COACH MEYER: I mean, not as a unit. I saw this guy or that guy, but not as a group.
Thank you very much.
An interview with: COACH HERMAN
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Tom Herman.
Q. After the game, Urban said he didn't know how much the win impacted Braxton's throwing. He seemed a little wild at times. What were your observations?
COACH HERMAN: I didn't know either. After watching film, I think it certainly did. Probably coaching error on my part in terms of maybe underestimating the impact that it had.
Although it felt gusty at times on the field, I think the higher the elevation got, the higher the ball got in the air, the more it was impacted by it.
Didn't throw the ball particularly well, though, intermediately either. To blame the entire lack of production and the throw game on the wind I think would be a little bit overboard. But it certainly played a part.
Q. Did you see fundamentally anything that was different than his previous games?
COACH HERMAN: No, not terribly. I think he was a little bit off. That happens sometimes.
Q. Urban talks about Jack Mewhort. What do you think he means by talking about him, expand on his value?
COACH HERMAN: I think maybe the public perception is, I think they really get enamored with skill position players, they forget about or aren't educated on how you win football games. You win football games up front on both sides of the football.
To have a guy anchoring our offensive line that is as experienced and professional about going about his business let's not forget he's a really good player, too. You can be all those things. You can be a great leader, you can be very professional, you can be an anchor, you can do all that, but if you can't play, okay, great, you're a good kid, maybe I'll hire you someday.
Jack has all those qualities, plus he's a really, really, really good player. He's the kind of glue that keeps us together up front.
Q. Tom, what do you see with defenses now in how they're defending read plays in the run game?
COACH HERMAN: I think there's a variety of ways that teams are doing it, not just team by team dependent. But throughout the course of a game I think teams have really gotten better over the course of the year, and years, plural, of having a couple different answers.
It's like going back and playing the old triple option teams in Navy or Georgia Tech or something. You can't sit and play the dive the same way every time or they'll figure it out and rush for 500 yards on you.
The same is true for some of the stuff that we do. We just happen to do it in the shotgun and some spread formation.
Teams are switching it up. I don't know if there's one more common than the other. To say that, I probably wouldn't have researched it enough.
But we see a variety of looks on it every Saturday.
Q. How is Braxton at making those reads?
COACH HERMAN: Better. Better. No quarterback is going to be perfect at it. So we continue to try to improve it. Each snap is different. You break it down into the inches of a defensive end or a linebacker's steps, where are his eyes. We're talking about inches, shoulder turns, steps. He took one more step out here versus one more step out there.
Every time the ball is snapped is its own entity. I think he's getting better long answer to a short question but got work to do.
Q. How is your baby?
COACH HERMAN: Awesome, awesome. Glad he's not blond haired and blue eyed because I haven't been home very much (smiling).
Q. Breaking the records that the 1995 Ohio offense set. What is your reaction? You're shattering records. Thoughts on that?
COACH HERMAN: Not to sound coach speak, but I hadn't thought about it. To give you a short answer, you know, I don't know. Probably something maybe we'll look back and enjoy after the season. But I didn't even know that all those things that you said were even a possibility or hadn't been already done.
Q. Is it frustrating, as well as you are playing, that you are in the position you are in the BCS? You don't control your own destiny. I know that's a cliché.
COACH HERMAN: No, I don't think there's any frustration because I think at the end of the day, it was like last year, everybody said, Is there frustration you can't go to a bowl game? No, we knew we couldn't go to a bowl game in January. We've known about the BCS for the last 15 years. We know this is the system we play in and these are the cards that are dealt.
It really has no bearing on how we prepare, how we play. And to waste brain cells, as I call it, thinking about it, worrying about it, would be brain cells that I can use better to help the offense or help Braxton, be a better husband or better father, whatever the case may be.
But it's out of our control. So we can just go win games, play as well as we can, keep getting better every week.
Q. Coaches are never satisfied. I would imagine this has been a very fun offense to be in charge of. When you look at this offense, where it is after 10 games, what improvement do you want to see the rest of the year? Where do you think you are right now?
COACH HERMAN: I still think we can get better throwing the football. Although we're markedly better than we were in the past, I still would like to see us make the easy ones easy and every now and again make the hard ones become a reality. I'd like to see some improvement there.
You know, we're really good scoring in the first quarter. What I'd like to continue to develop is that killer instinct, the pedal to the metal, foot on their throat, whatever catch phrase you want to use. You're up 28 0 in the first quarter, so what? We had more three and outs against Illinois than probably close to the entire nine games leading up to that combined.
I think the good thing is that we've got some teaching to do. We scored 60 points, close to 600 yards of offense, and there's still a lot of teaching that can go on from that experience.
Q. Indiana obviously has struggled on defense. What challenges do they pose to you guys?
COACH HERMAN: I think the challenge is identifying what they're trying to do defensively. I think they have a little bit more of an identity maybe than Illinois. Illinois was kind of all over the place. That made some things challenging.
We've got to identify what they're trying to do. I think we've got to handle their guys inside. They've good two big D tackles that are really good players. Then they're going to try to pack the box and play what we see almost on a weekly basis, everybody trying to pack the box, but play zone coverage behind it. We saw a bunch of it last year, we just couldn't throw it over anybody's head or didn't have the confidence to do so.
I think we've got to be able to recognize when things start getting packed in that we've got to be able to make the play on the perimeter, too.
Q. At this point in the season when you look at week 10, have Braxton have an off day, is that concerning to you at all or is that something quarterbacks do regardless of the time of the season?
COACH HERMAN: I think it's concerning to the point that I wish it hadn't happened. But concerning to the point where I think it's a trend or a slippery slope? I don't see that. He had a bad day. He had a bad day in some conditions that were less than perfect. Learn from your mistakes and move on.
I think if this had been a pattern through a couple weeks or a practice even, I might be a little bit more concerned.
But, yeah, the concern is certainly there because you never want a guy to play substandardly. At the same time I don't think it's anything to worry about in the future. Not yet at least.
Q. Tom, you came from two schools where if y'all just won, it was a big day.
COACH HERMAN: Hell yeah (smiling).
Q. What is it like now to be coaching at a place where you've won 22 straight, you score 60, but have national media still thinking it can be better?
COACH HERMAN: You're saying at Iowa State if we scored 60 and had 600 yards of offense, we'd feel a little bit differently on Monday than we do at Ohio State?
Q. I think you were fired up about going to the Yankee Bowl.
COACH HERMAN: Absolutely. We threw parties and stuff, man (smiling).
I don't know. I think as you grow in the profession, you just adapt to the surroundings. But I think you adapt to where you're at. But I think the thing that can get lost at times. We had a really good season at Rice a few years back. It started to be at the end of the year, where winning felt like a relief, and it wasn't exaltation, jubilation. It was like a relief, Whew, okay, we won again.
I promised myself after that season that I'd never take a win for granted, whether you win 3 2 or 60 35 or you win 76 0. Wins are really, really hard, I mean, really hard. Winning on the road is really hard. They're going to get harder as the season progresses.
We don't ever want to take that for granted on how difficult it is, no matter who you play, no matter who you are, that winning a football game on Saturday and playing 60 minutes, at the end of the day looking up and having more points on the scoreboard than your opponent, is an incredibly hard thing to do, and should be enjoyed for the short amount of time that you can enjoy it, then start to prepare for the next week.
Q. People keep thinking they're going to see more of Dontre Wilson. Was it because of the way the plays went out? Several huge plays Saturday.
COACH HERMAN: Yeah, I think the thing that gets lost, does Dontre deserve to play more? Absolutely. Was it an error on my part not to get him a few more touches? Sure, you can put that on me.
I think you have to be smart about when and where that happens. Did we think we might need him more in the beginning of the year to just win games? Yes. So now we've got to figure out a way, because the kid deserves to play. The kid is a really good player.
I've got to do a better job as a play caller and game planner of figuring out a way to get him touches, but in the rhythm of the offense and not detract from some players that are playing really, really good football right now.
Q. The third play of the game you talked about the reads. Gives it to Carlos, guy tackles Carlos, was gone. What was the ID on that play? Is that a great read on his part?
COACH HERMAN: No, he was reading the defensive end. The thing we hadn't anticipated in, we were in our jet tempo. We were going fast. Indiana actually had a check, I guess you will. Every time early in the game, every time we jetted, they were going to bring pressure and play cover zero, try to stuff us up front.
Actually, the guy he made miss is one that we don't account for. Usually if you see coverage zero you're going to check out of the play that was called. Because we were in our jet tempo, they got lined up fast enough, that guy was standing there. He made a great read on the defensive end.
There's a guy there that's not supposed to be there, or if he's there, we would have checked out of the play. I mean, does what I've coached him to do for two years. All those drills we do on how to make people miss. I demonstrate, do all that stuff for him.
He's starting to take after his coach a little bit, which is good.
This Is Game Week: Ohio State vs. Penn State