BUCKEYES COACH URBAN MEYER TALKS FOOTBALL
August 26, 2013INDIANA SPORTS PAGE
COACH MEYER: Good to see you. Obviously game week, Ohio State style this week, relatively healthy going into it. Do we give out the depth chart yet?
THE MODERATOR: We have not yet.
COACH MEYER: We'll discuss our depth chart, even though, still a little chance for change because you still have three days.
It's a plus one day, after a bye week, our first game of the season. Normally give our players Mondays off during the year. But today is going to be Monday, full pads, and tomorrow if everybody acts appropriately, we'll go Buckeye gear on Tuesday and then Wednesday, same, cutback practice, get their legs back, and typical Thursday and best Fridays and football on Friday. So that's our week schedule.
We are going to have our captain vote tonight at 2:10 and I will let you guys know where that ends up. With that said, I'll answer any questions for you.
Q. Last year every was asking if you were a different guy than you were in Florida; wondering a year after, if you are different guy now than you were last year?
COACH MEYER: I don't think, pretty much the same guy?? we've done all right. I don't know. I don't know I just can't wait to play football. All due respect, answer questions about football.
Q. The last time you talked to us, four or five units had your attention. Are you more comfortable with those now or do you still need to see a game to truly.
COACH MEYER: No, much more comfortable, the area we still trying to solidify is linebacker. Just because there's some young guys in the depth and then also Curtis Grant has not really played a whole lot of Mike linebacker. He's catching up quick. He missed a lot of practices because he got injured during training camp but he's going real hard and trying to catch up as fast as he can. That's the only one area that we are a little bit behind.
The other positions, offensive line, feel very good about, quarterback feel good about. Receivers probably one of the most improved areas on our team. Running back feel very good about, so just kind of going through it. Kickers, interested to see how our kicker, our punter reacts. That's one unit that remains to be determined and then defense, defensive line, they are young, but Coach Vrabel has done a really nice job with them.
Secondary, I'd like to see how Armani reacts to getting his first college start. Safety is a pretty veteran group, three older players. Tyvis Powell is getting his first college start. There are some units, but the linebacker is the one area that's the most concerning.
Q. At least some stretch where Linsley and Moreau (ph) was banged up, did they get enough time together in camp?
COACH MEYER: That's a good question, not enough time, but they are a veteran group, played all 12 games together last year.
So Linsley ?? the good thing that gave us was a chance to get Pat Efflein and Jacoby Boren in there, and they will play Saturday. Both those kids have earned that right to play, so they will both play Saturday.
Q. How much of the playbook will you use this year, as opposed to last yearif you can quantify ??
COACH MEYER: Last year we were not a read offense and to be honest with you, I'm not sure how much read offense we are going to be.
I think we are going to have?? the idea that we want to do is get guys in space, but we might be doing that throwing more this year than last year so, I don't want to give away too much, but I'm not sure it's going to be?? everybody wants to equate it to maybe the 2008 offense at Florida or last year's offense, which was really not?? that was either quarterback run or hand it to a big tailback because we just were not very good at certain spots.
But those areas are much better, and so I hope that we can spread the field however we are going to do it. It might not be that read option part of it. There might be some other ways.
Q. Curious about freshmen in particular, which freshmen do you know today will be on the field Saturday, who have earned that right?
COACH MEYER: For sure Dontre Wilson and Ezekiel Elliott will play. On defense, I would imagine Joey Bosa, for sure will play; Mike Hill we are hoping to get in there and the freshman punter. I think that's?? those are the ones for sure and then the other ones, depend how they practice and get going.
Q. What's the common thread that has led to maybe so much success, what is it about year two having the foundation?
COACH MEYER: Just how fast we are going, and it's a blessing whenever you have no staff transition. This time last year was?? I don't want ?? I use that word a lot; it was terrible. It was awful.
Last year on Friday in preseason, we went to dinner at the golf course for no other reason, just to ?? because I wanted out of their system, what's next. I wanted the players concentrated on their game responsible ties and when you have the same coaching staff, a lot of the same players, certainly on offense and even the defensive players at least were here a year ago.
So usually, and it's not just our?? teams tend to have a much better year their second year, if you have the players.
Q. Just wondering if you're talking about the stage that the offense will be this year, with Braxton, a year ago, he led the team in rushing. Do you?? I don't know if you can predict things whether he will again, but do you foresee that or would you rather?
COACH MEYER: I hope that doesn't happen. He was by far our best player and when I say by far, I mean, it wasn't even the same hemisphere as far as who the next player was that could go make a play and help us win.
But I'm very comfortable with Philly Brown. Evan Spencer has had a tremendous camp. Jordan Hall looks better than he ever has. We have two tight ends that I can't wait to get them involved.
If Braxton is leading, I don't see that happening this year. If it does, that means something's not going well.
Q. When you think ahead to Saturday, what are the big questions that you have? What are you most eager to see?
COACH MEYER: The game, the reaction by Ezekiel and Dontre Wilson in the stadium. They weren't here in spring practice. The kids that came early, at least they had a chance to play in front of the big crowd for the spring game.
I don't, but I think coaches have a tendency to devalue what happens when you jog out that tunnel, especially a place like Ohio stadium. There will be a lot of deep breaths being taken and you just can't create that animal until you get that opportunity.
That's what?? I'm anxious, but I've been there a few times, so I want to see how Dontre?? he's going to return the opening kickoff of the 2013 Ohio State football team.
The thing I like about Dontre is he doesn't seem fazed, but he has not done that yet. You see me jog someone else out there, you know we are having a little hyperventilating issue (Laughter) which I've seen before. Isn't that beautiful about young players (smiling).
Q. As much as coaches have learned about the way you have to handle practices, do you know?? more than ever what you've got a as a coach?
COACH MEYER: I think the question is because you can't put so many cripples and so much contact in practice, absolutely. And we were very smart this year as far as the way we practiced.
If I had a greater?? depends how we play coming up here, but I really like the way Coach Marotti and myself spent an inordinate amount of time with our trainers and just making sure we are doing it the right way.
I feel really good about where we're at. There's a lot of truth to what you said. You can't simulate the game, the game situations, as often as maybe you did in the past. Very rarely did we have those kind of situations.
Q. No. 2 in the nation?? everybody thinks you got a lot of talent, are you at all concerned that the players are aware of that and could believe it and could alter how they perform? Think a little bit too much of themselves?
COACH MEYER: I'm always worried about that. The question is, because of high expectations, that they think they have got some of the answers.
I would be disappointed in our staff if that happened because that's what practice is for ask corrections and meeting rooms and meetings. I don't think we have that problem. I really don't. First of all, we are not that good yet. I'll tell you if I believe we are, and we're not. We have a long way to go, especially on certain areas. So I don't feel that at all.
Q. No.1, do you feel like you're coming out of preseason, you talked about this a minute ago, deeper than you thought you would be at offensive line?
COACH MEYER: Yes.
Q. What's your take there?
COACH MEYER: Much deeper. Pat Efflein is a great story, what a worker, what a tremendous kid, tremendous family. Just tough. I love that group. He's a guy that has really come on. Kyle Dodson has come on. A guy named Darryl Baldwin has come on. Those are all players that a year ago, to think you would ever let them on the field in a situation where it counts, that's not going to happen.
Darryl Baldwin, he's one of the most improved players on the team. I don't know if I've even mentioned him. What great kid, no maintenance, no nothing, other than just hard?working guy that gets great grades and is a wonderful player. Great, great representative of Ohio State. He's a guy that you could see him going to the game. I have no problem putting him, Pat Efflein, Jacoby Boren in the game and Kyle Dodson is getting close.
Q. Running back, obviously looking you would think the top two guys are not available this week, maybe Jordan is one of those top two but what's sort of going to be your plan Saturday with your running backs to accelerate like Wilson and Elliot's chances?
COACH MEYER: Jordan Hall is the best running back on our team right now. And so he'll have to lose that spot. I'm talking next week, the week after, whatever. Jordan, it all depends, he's a tailback at Ohio State, he's earned that right.
Bri'onte Dunn and Warren Ball are the next two in, and we want to get Ezekiel in to see how he responds in that kind of environment. I'm not sure how early but he certainly will be carrying a ball on Saturday and he's earned that right as well.
Same with Dontre Wilson; we'll line up with some tailback positions. It's really neat to have that many spots, have those choices.
Q. Doing a story about scheduling, and a lot of talk about you guys going to nine games in the future in the conference, I assume you collaborated with Gene Smith what you guys want to do, you have two night games this year, and I think one year down the line you are playing Cincinnati, TCU and North Carolina. That's a pretty I have stuff schedule. Talk about the philosophy in what you're doing.
COACH MEYER: You know, Gene ?? I really don't get involved that much. We have very few discussions. I have many more issues that I have to deal with about just getting this team ready to play. So I trust; we have one of the best ADs in America, I trust him, and he knows more than I do about that kind of stuff.
So we'll have a conversation, but it's not very long, and like I said, I'm back in that meeting room trying to get our team ready.
I think there is going to be a shift. I really don't understand the playoffs. I really don't?? it's really not my job to understand that. I'm trying to get ready for this game Saturday. So I do think there's a philosophical, I'm not saying shift, but awareness of what's going to be necessary down the road.
Q. Two night games, are you excited?
COACH MEYER: I'm really excited about that, because that's recruiting, and especially the night games we have. The earlier games are a hard time?? I didn't really realize that, but they were hard to get guys here because you're leaving at 6 AM, 7 AM after a Friday night football game. And a lot of times Saturday, the high school coach has a player, they have to come in and get treatments and all that and the kids can't make the games; where night games, you shouldn't have any issue.
So really excited, plus I think our atmosphere at night is magical.
Q. I guess with Jordan and the other running backs behind him, how comfortable are you with not running the ball??
COACH MEYER: Jordan is a little smaller but he is arguably one of the tougher guys pound?for?pound on our team. So I'm pretty good. Stan Drayton has done a nice job with pass protection, which that is a big part of it, and catching the ball in the backfield is a big part of it and Jordan is fantastic at that, and the other guys are, too. We are comfortable going into this the game.
Q. Braxton, the offensive line, you've talked in the past about Braxton could be a better scrambler in the pocket but with the offensive line protecting him, how do you feel about that whole situation, avoiding sacks?
COACH MEYER: Feel very good. Fundamentally he's a much different player than he was at this time a year ago. Pocket presence, which includes when it breaks down, getting plus yardage, not a very good scrambler?? most of his yards last year were on design quarterback runs and maybe a play that got screwed up. He was not a very good scrambler. He's much improved.
Q. Aside from winning, I think times last year that you were not real happy about. What does success look like for you Saturday? What puts you in a good mood?
COACH MEYER: I want us to play well. I want us to play clean. Remember, last year the first quarter, it was 7?0 after the first quarter. Should have been worse. Could have been worse. So I just didn't think, really, up until about the third or fourth game that we acted clean.
So I'm just?? I made this comment, many, many times, that fundamentally, we were 12?0 and some really great things happened, some incredible leadership, motivation and a team that got really, really close, which is probably more important than everything?? not probably; it is.
But the second most important part is just blocking, tackling and great football position and all the great things that we work so hard at. I mean, work?? we start in January on that. That's a big part of the chase.
I'm hoping that we leave that field Saturday obviously with a win, but you feel good about the fundamentals of your football team. If you do that, that's a real positive and we didn't we'll that way, it took us awhile last year.
Q. As you've studied Buffalo, what's stood out?
COACH MEYER: They have one of the best linebackers. He's No. 2 on the board as far as the NFL Draft, No. 46, tremendous player. They rush him a lot off the edge. They play a very unorthodox defense. It's called 54?I, which mean it's all ? there's 3?4 and 4?3, this is an inversion of the 3?4, and they play their defensive tackles inside our tackle which is just screws up all our blocking scheme and a really unique coverage called 2?invert which we have not seen in a couple years.
Good thing is we have been working on this for a while but it's a pain in the butt. I this think they play extremely hard and they have got good players. That staff has been together, also. It's not an unprepared team so I think that it's a good team, good players, and a unique scheme that's hard on offense.
I think they are going to probably switch up things a little bit. We are not quite sure exactly what we are going to do get. They do sometimes shifts and motions which can always cause you issues. So I think the first quarter, kind of settle down, in typical openers, they let?? not get too nuts out there and let things get settled down, find out what they are playing and then your game plan adjusts, because you're going off last year's stuff, but a lot of things change.
Thanks, have a good day.