Dec. 19, 2013
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer and six players met with the media Wednesday after practice to discuss preparations for the Discover Orange Bowl game - Jan. 3 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Fla., - and other topics.
Below are comments from Meyer, junior quarterback Braxton Miller, junior linebacker Ryan Shazier and senior center Corey Linsley.
Head Coach Urban Meyer
On tweaking the defense
"Obviously we didn't play very well the last two games, and the one we are [about] to play is real. I mean, real real. Tweaks might be an appropriate word and we're still working through that."
On personnel or scheme
"All of the above. You know we hit the road hard recruiting because we were a week behind. We missed a week of recruiting. You can imagine trying to squeeze ... and then we have a one-month dead period. We pounded it real hard."
On the importance of bowl practices
"That was a big panic of mine last year. That's part of the chase. Guys had to do it on their own. But I really like where we are at. I like our attitude. I think the moment the Orange Bowl rang everybody's attitude wasn't perfect, but it was getting back to the same attitude we had before the last game."
The thought process of recruiting young high school players
On preparing young players differently in advance of a bowl game
"It's hard. So much of it is development, and what goes on and I'm not a big fan of some of that stuff. But sometimes if you know enough about the person that's when you can do something like that."
"No, no, no. We prepare to win each game we play, like it's our only game. We always spend time trying to develop players during bowl week, but that's not different playing for the national championship or the Orange Bowl."
Any "future" discussions with Braxton Miller and Ryan Shazier
"No, I try to wait until after the season."
His advice to Braxton
"That's between me and Braxton."
Any coaching staff changes
"Whenever you have the last two seasons like we've had there are hot guys. I've had a lot of phone calls about our guys and head coaching positions. Nothing's happened yet."
His take on if Texas calls
"There is no take. I'm here coaching Ohio State."
If Braxton Miller ran the ball too much
"Yeah, I think near the end maybe we did. Early in the season, we may have only had one or two quarterback runs. That's where we want to be. We have to throw the ball better, too."
On recruiting successes
"It makes the food taste better. Momentum and gains in momentum in recruiting are awesome; makes everyone feel great.
"He will play more this game. And he's doing a really good job. ... And he's earned it. He's earned it on special teams and he is a guy who we are really excited about his future."
Texas Coach Mack Brown's situation
"I really don't have one [an opinion]. We don't talk much about jobs. I'm very close with his wife, Sally. She is great friends with Shelley, so it is more about our children. I really love the guy. We'll talk in the off-season. ... I care about Mack. I don't look at him as a football coach. I look at him as a friend."
On Braxton Miller and the passing game down the stretch
"I think he did OK. It was a combination of things. We played a couple of pretty good defenses. One game, we were running the ball for a lot of yards per carry. That game dictated that. We did have one weather game and then we played against one pretty good pass defense. Braxton has to play better, but the guys around him have to as well. We just have to get better. It's not just Braxton."
Replacing the offensive line
The good thing is Taylor Decker and Pat Elflein are ready to go right now. They can play right now. And then there's some other ones we are real anxious to get in there and go. I like the development and the culture of that room. Usually when you see fast development of players it's because of the culture of the room. You push play and you see Jack Mewhort practice and Marcus Hall and Norwell. I think the development will happen rather quickly."
What stands out about this current offensive line
"They are a little bit like the Pounceys - Maurkice and Mike Pouncey. They are energy givers. They walk through that door and it changes practice. I saw that with our offensive line this year. That offensive line made Taylor Decker a very good player, because he was not. I'm not going to take anything away from Taylor Decker because he worked really hard, but he had no choice because of the pressure in that room."
Should this line be considered among the better ones at Ohio State?
"I think so. When you look at their statistics...what they've done...look at who they are...I'm hoping they all have pro careers. I'd take them. I'll always talk about this offensive line like that."
Have you turned the page on the Michigan State loss?
Talk about Clemson
"I know their coaching staff very well...have a lot of respect for them. I know Dabo really well. They have a great offense. Their defense...we're going to have to play our tails off to move the ball against them. They have some very good personnel. A couple of those games they haven't given up much yardage at all. It's going to be a war."
Are you worried about them throwing it?
"Oh yeah. You think?"
On fixing Ohio State's pass defense
"It's not one thing...it's not man coverage; it's not zone coverage. It's all of the above. And then the pass rush...and the time to call the blitzes...making sure the blitzes match the coverages. We just have to play better."
Braxton Miller, junior quarterback
On the Clemson defense
"They're very competitive and go hard every down. They never give up and they fight to the end. I like playing competitive teams because it makes me play better."
On getting a win to end the season
"Coming off the loss to Michigan State, it was a tough loss, but we'll bounce back. We'll get in the film room, take care of our business, regroup our bodies and we'll be fine."
On his relationship with Tajh Boyd and what stands out about him
"I never met him, but we've talked on the phone previous times while working with George (Whitfield). That's the only time I've talked to him. I watched a couple games this year and he can definitely run and pass at the same time. That's a little different from some of the quarterbacks in the Big Ten. Going against myself and Kenny (Guiton) in practice, I feel our defense will be ready for that."
On his NFL decision
"I'm just focused on the team right now. I'm focused on what we have to accomplish for this group and for Buckeye Nation. I'll worry about (his NFL decision) later. I'm just focused on getting better as an individual and getting the team ready. I'm not focused on that right now. I'm focused on the team and where we're at getting better from the Michigan State loss."
On how much his family plays into his NFL decision
"It's fine where we're at and won't play a big part in any decision. It's important to take care of business the next month, take care of that game, and I'll decide from there."
On what he still has to accomplish in college
"I can still learn from Coach Meyer, graduate, get better fundamentally and lead the young guys on and off the field."
On the passing game late in the season
"It was down. We have to get better on the outside. That's what we're working on right now and that's why we work so hard in practice. We're fixing the mistakes we have made in the games."
On comments made about getting hit too much
"Toward the end of the season your body starts breaking down a little bit and all of the hits add up. That's why in bowl season, you take a few weeks to regroup from all of the games throughout the season."
On his place in the Heisman Trophy voting
"It feels good. Things you do on the field pay off sometimes. I was able to bounce back from the injury I had at the beginning of the season."
On how the team played in the Michigan State game
"We played pretty well. Guys have to continue to step up and be aggressive. When watching the film, we're able to see some of the mistakes we made so we'll be fine."
Ryan Shazier, junior linebacker
On difference between bowl practices from regular season practices
"Right now the goal in bowl practices is really to work on your fundamentals and work on key things to try and develop guys. In the season you are really focusing on that team and game planning for that team. But in bowl practices you really get a lot of time to develop and to work on those fundamentals."
On pass defense preparation
"I think we lost some of the fundamentals during the season. Some games we'd show good pass defense and then some games we would show bad defense. So we just need to get back to those fundamentals and doing the key things we know how to do and we've been working on that."
On importance of having the extra bowl practices to develop young players
"I feel like it really helps out a lot and helps out the team and the younger guys and allows them to work on their fundamentals. My freshman year when we went to the Gator Bowl those extra days of practice helped me out a lot going into my sophomore year and those practices we missed out on last year kind of hurt our development."
Corey Linsley, senior center
On what they want to prove at the Orange Bowl
"The thing that we are worried about is just showing our character, showing who we are as people and working towards a win. In my mind I'd be extremely disappointed in myself and some of the leaders of this team if we don't come out and do well, just because we haven't faced real adversity like this basically since I have started and since Coach Meyer got here."
On what it is like for some of the younger guys trying to prove themselves in these bowl practices
"It's all about making the most of your reps because you may get more than you would during the season. But again we are still trying to prepare for a game. So I think there is a heightened sense of awareness that you have to make the most of every rep because you know you aren't going to get a lot."