Nov. 25, 2013
An interview with Coach Meyer
COACH MEYER: Thanks for being here. Couple comments about our Indiana game. A very emotional day for our seniors and made the comment last week that because you stay four years at a place doesn't earn you the respect of being a senior, and of course there are Senior Days and then there are the real Senior Days. And we're fortunate this year to really experience one where the majority, if not all, of the guys that jogged out of that tunnel had a significant impact on our program, and very, very good people. Proud to be their coach.
So they played well on defense. The players of the game or excuse me the grade champions were Bradley Roby playing at a very high level, Bosa, and then the co defensive player of the game where Ryan Shazier played as well as he can. I mean, he played outstanding, 54 production points and we've always done production points, and I've never to have 30 is probably the most I've ever seen, and he had 54 production points.
Mike Bennett is playing at a very, very high level. He's healthy again. He started the season very strong. Went through some injuries and then moved on, and he's getting stronger and stronger again. So he played very well. Those are our co defensive players of the game.
On offense, Andrew Norwell played excellent, Taylor Decker, once again, continued to improve his game. Tight end, Jeff Heuerman, Devin Smith, and Chris Fields, running back, Carlos Hyde, and co players of the week were our quarterback Braxton Miller who played probably his I don't know played one of his best games. He threw away 3rd down and 17, and obviously the weather conditions with a guy bearing down on him, and that is his best play at quarterback since we've been here. That is his best, and he knows it, I know it, Tom Herman knows it. So his best play as a quarterback, I'm not saying athlete that jumps around and lands on his head those kind of things, those are just gifted, very gifted young men. But his best play at college football quarterback was 3rd and 17 on the right hash in snowy conditions where he completed a bender to Jeff Heuerman with pressure bearing down on him. He didn't panic out of the pocket. He stepped, delivered the ball, and that might be worth going back and watching t fantastic play.
In our center, the apex, Corey Linsley graded out a champion. He's 100% healthy and playing like it.
Our kicking game was pretty solid. Our player of the game, who was our player of the game, Vonn Bell. Vonn Bell was our player of the game, continues to improve and make great strides. Coverage units were good. Punt we didn't give up anything, and kickoff, I think we gave up near the end a little bit with a personal foul penalty. But the game was pretty much over, and I'm pretty pleased with our kicking units.
Even though right now we have 12 guys out season ending injuries. Armani was out this game, Philly Brown was out this game. Curtis Grant was still out. We didn't feel like he was quite ready, and we've got to get him back. The positive is I think Armani's going to be fine for this week, and Josh Perry played fairly well for a guy that missed a couple weeks of practice, and I think Curtis Grant will be good to go, which we'll need him in this game.
So we're overcoming some injuries that some young guys are stepping up. Warren Ball played much better. Ezekiel Elliott is very involved in our kicking and coverage units. In big games especially like these, those are going to be critical players in this game. The good thing is there are some experience there.
So we're overcoming. Every team is dealing with injuries, but to see some young people are stepping up, I'm glad we recruited well, and I like the young players we have. So I'll answer some questions for you.
Q. Did you have appreciation for how much of a grudge match this is between Ohio State and Michigan before you were a GA here?
COACH MEYER: No, I didn't realize it because I was just like most that from the outside looking in, hey, it's a really great game. Where I grew up in the ten year war, and I learned to dislike Michigan at a very young age. But, no, you never really appreciate it until you're behind the walls here and find out how serious it is.
Q. When you were here, you were in Toledo. What was the biggest game?
COACH MEYER: The team down south, Provo. The team out west. Florida State, FSU I should say. I just think that is really, I'm a huge fan of college football. I think that's what separates it from a lot of the other I'm a fan of pro football too. But the pageantry and rivalries are unique in college football. Do we make a big deal out of this game? Absolutely. Do we make a huge deal over the top about rivalry games? Yes, we do. That's the way I was brought up. We kind of go over the top here, and we always have.
Q. You realize you did say Michigan?
COACH MEYER: Did I really?
Q. Yeah. At a very young age?
COACH MEYER: Wow. Apologize.
Q. Could you give a sense of just how different the mindset is here? How different the preparation is here for this week?
COACH MEYER: It is different. It's not just another game. It's not. Our players know that. Does that mean we put less value on Indiana or less value on the following week coming up? I didn't say that. But there is an extra pep in the step. We officially started working the game a day earlier than we normally do, and they get it. Our players get it.
That is one thing about a new coach doesn't come in here and try to stimulate that rivalry. That rivalry's been stimulated a long time ago, and we need to carry it on and make it stronger.
Q. Was there a moment when you were a GA when something happened or there was an incident where you realized how much bigger this was maybe than you thought?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, it was kind of funny. I was driving to work on a Monday morning. I was a 21 year old graduate assistant, and I look up on those twin towers by the stadium, and it says "Muck Fichigan" and sheets hanging off. I said that is really cool right there. And they did, they switched the M and the F, and someone made them take it down. So that was in 1986, so there is some old student now that is laughing their tail off saying, yeah, that was my room.
Q. I'm also curious, because that was so long ago and obviously coach was close to the ten year war. Has this lost anything over the years? Do you think it's still just as intense?
COACH MEYER: Absolutely I do. I think the ten year war, just because of the two iconic people running the programs and what Bo Schembechler did for that school when they beat them I think it was '69, yeah, '69. It was a heck of a time period for both schools.
Q. You go in and have that same appreciation that you did for this rivalry, how long does it take you to adapt to that tradition until it becomes as passionate for you as well?
COACH MEYER: Well, I'm very fortunate. At Bowling Green, that was I mean, you just ask. I would always have people come back. I think that's really great. I'm going to try to have Coach Bruce speak to our team this year. Obviously, this one I don't need to be educated on very much.
However, I did. I asked him about Coach Tressel obviously with his record was phenomenal. So I did a lot of homework on things that him and his staff did. When I went out to Utah, I had to be introduced to that, but I dove into it, made our staff learn everything about it. Made our staff take a test to figure out what the rivalry meant, because I don't want coaches to be phoney. I don't want somebody from Ohio stepping into Salt Lake City and making them act like it's a big deal, but deep down you don't believe it is. Players see right through that. So I was educated real fast. I asked and tried to learn as much as I could.
Q. You said there is an extra day of preparation this week. When you get into actually coaching, are you acting differently, does it feel different?
COACH MEYER: It does feel different. I'm not acting different, but it does feel different. I can see our staff, that is the good thing about hiring guy that's lived the rivalry, they know it, and the coaches and players appreciate it too.
Q. Braxton might have had one of his better games ever on Saturday. Do you see him playing suddenly on a different level? I mean, he took the brace off and was just kind of going in. What does that portend for your offense going forward? You have Dontre Wilson coming online a little bit more and stuff. Do you see this offense getting better in the next two or three games?
COACH MEYER: We have to. I mean, when you see we're playing a very well coached defense coming up with good players. Obviously, we see what's coming down the road, but our focus is this week. I see us playing at a pretty high level. That was a pretty impressive performance by our guys in those conditions last week. I see us if the term is peaking, I don't usually use that term, but I feel we're getting better and better each week. Braxton Miller is a different quarterback than he was.
People make the comment about he's having fun, and he's having fun because he knows what he's doing. He's confident in the personnel around him, and that was not the case last year. I wasn't here, but I can only imagine his freshman year. Because Braxton, like any I don't want to say like any athlete, but Braxton is a guy that if he's not comfortable, he's not going to act like he's having fun when it's not fun. He knows where people are. He knows the protections. He's playing quarterback. He has a skillset to be a pro quarterback, there is no doubt in my mind. I don't believe he's ready yet, but I certainly get asked that question, can Braxton Miller play an NFL quarterback, absolutely, he can. No doubt in my mind because he continues to develop.
Q. The other thing, what do you see about Michigan? Michigan clearly is going through a tough period offensively it does appear. What do you see about them? What do you tell your team about them this week and they're a four loss team?
COACH MEYER: I have not watched their offense yet. Crossover we've seen them a couple times. We're getting ready for Penn State, we saw them, and last week we saw them a little bit getting ready for Indiana, but I have not studied their offense. Obviously, Coach Fickell and Coach Withers have and they're in charge of it. And I'll visit with them on Tuesday about it.
But I think everyone knows, and I read someone's comment where it doesn't matter. In teams that care about rivalries, it doesn't matter. We'll get their best game.
Q. Was your last trip to Ann Arbor when you were working in television?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, but I mean the last one I was coaching was in 1987 and Coach Bruce's last game.
Q. What are your visions when you think of the big house? How do you explain it to the team to prepare them for what they're going into?
COACH MEYER: We don't usually spend much time. It's a big stadium and a lot of people in it. We'll do crowd noise on Wednesday, we don't do pregame walkthroughs at places. I don't want our players to we need to know where the 25 second clock is, the quarterbacks, and all that matters is the white lines and the turf. So we've never been a big team about, hey, let's go check out this stadium, because to me, stadiums are stadiums and you just take care of your business.
We know we'll be loud, fans are passionate, and this is a big game for everyone involved. We won't spend much time talking about it all, if any.
Q. The play you talked about with Braxton on the 3rd and 17 to Jeff, has he make that play this year, and how big of a step is that for a quarterback? Especially a quarterback who has some athleticism to him, not to tuck it and run on something like that.
COACH MEYER: Well, Josh Harris is a great quarterback we had at Bowling Green we had the moment where he became a quarterback. Alex Smith had a couple moments where it was like we've got one. Then same with Cris Leak and Tim Tebow and this guy. He's had a couple moments. This is the best play I think he's had as a quarterback.
That was his moment where he stood right in that pocket and that is the hardest thing you ask a quarterback to do, especially him. Not him, but that is the hardest thing you ask a quarterback to do. It was right where it's worth watching the end zone copy. If you're right over top of someone, you have to hit it right in the face and deliver a 25 yard pass and delivered a strike on the 3rd and 17.
Q. Not to diminish the rivalry at all, but can you use the '69 game as a cautionary tale this week with this group?
COACH MEYER: I might, but that's usually later in the week. I might. But it's always good to talk about the history of the rivalry. Our players know it, but we might do that.
Q. Just interested as well as things went this weekend, you were minus 3 in the turnover margin which might have had something to do with the weather. But in this game coming up, how important do you see that going up there?
COACH MEYER: It was the difference in last year's game. We were not very good up until that point. I think we missed on one or two red zone opportunities, and last year our field goal kicker Drew won the game further. Defense created turnovers and we got positive field position, but we couldn't score. We have to give them credit, but we have to be much better down there.
That was the difference in last year's game. I would anticipate big games. That and the kicking game and the edges, those are the thing that's make the difference in those kind of games.
Q. Doran Grant is he fine?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, he practiced yesterday. He's fine. It was more precautionary Saturday.
Q. This game has always been at the end of the regular season and now there is a title game after it. You've dealt with that before played a rivalry game and title game in the SEC. Especially at Ohio State you put everything into the Michigan game and then wait months for the bowl game.
COACH MEYER: I think there is. This will be our first like you said, we've done it three times I believe. I don't want to say it's awful, but you talk about blowing out your staff and our players and then throwing finals week and those type of things that our players are dealing with right now. So our focus is on this one, but we know what's coming. You have to be so disciplined in the way you practice, and I'm going to warn our coaches and warning them myself about sleep, taking care of yourself, because these next two weeks are going to be brutal.
Q. You mentioned Michael Bennett. You guys played tackle on Saturday. Bennett was getting some double teams. Just that defensive lie, how far has it come this year?
COACH MEYER: I think Mike's doing an excellent job. Those are all new guys. The front seven other than Ryan Shazier are all new players. Especially last week, I don't think we played that well against Illinois. Not to take anything away from Illinois's scheme and that quarterback.
But this past week, and I will say, Coach Fickell and Coach Withers, it might have been their best game plan. Every time there was a little bit of a chess match because they're looking over the sideline and changing our defenses. Did a very good very pleased with the performance of our defense Saturday. A big part of it is that defensive line.
Q. Want to ask about Michigan's defense. You touched on it earlier. It seems they've improved since Ryan got back in there at linebacker. Missed the first half, and Brent Clark up front looks like a pretty disruptive guy. They've held a couple of teams under 20 in loss games in the last month. What do you see with them?
COACH MEYER: You watch the film, and I think Sunday is indication when you watch film before you go home at night and you're thinking how are we going to block these guys? I think they're very well coached. Obviously, I'm very close with the D coordinator, and I think he's a great coach. They're playing very hard, they have excellent players. So whatever issues the rival has, has nothing to do with their defense. Their defense is playing at a very, very high level. We have to play our best game to move the ball against these guys.
Q. Has there been a Braxton moment with Shazier, and how many times have you guys (Inaudible)?
COACH MEYER: Has there been I'm sorry?
Q. A Braxton moment?
COACH MEYER: I don't know if you can pinpoint a play. That might be a good one to ask Coach Fickell. But the thing that he's doing, he used to always overrun plays. If you remember back he's almost like a safety playing linebacker. He's grown into that linebacker position, and now he's fallen in on plays. He's made a bunch of tackles where his instinct is on the inside zone or zone play which everybody runs, which is to go front side. That is the concept of the plays. He's cut back behind it.
He did that as well as I've seen him play and as well as I've seen a linebacker do it. Brandon Spikes used to be outstanding at that. You sit up front side, get the fullback and make that tackle. So the fundamentals of tackling are what made him the player that he is right now.
Q. Have you had a guy make 20 tackles?
COACH MEYER: I was here when Spielman had like 30 or something against the rivals. I think we probably have, I don't know. But that's a lot of tackles.
Q. How do you balance making this week special like it is and keeping the guys in the routine that's worked for them now 23 games?
COACH MEYER: Not hard to do. I think this is special. It is different than last week. It's different than the week before. It's the rivalry game, and we'll have senior tackle on Thursday. Our players have an excellent routine. I love how we do it. We practice in the morning. Local players can go home for Thanksgiving. They're back the next day.
I want our players and Coaches to work the game. The big part of it is the routine on a rivalry week. There is no issue. Our guys will be ready to go.
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