OHIO STATE COACH URBAN MEYER
December 3, 2013INDIANA SPORTS PAGE
COACH MEYER: Thanks for coming. Championship week here at Ohio State and very good gathering yesterday, practiced yesterday. We did not do champions this week. We just jumped right into a very good team, an excellent team, Michigan State and want to do the best job we can to make sure this team is prepared.
So obviously some things we've still got to work on but I don't want to ever take away from a rivalry win, one that was a classic that, you know, this team finds a way to win and I'm most appreciative as a coach. It was a very purpose?driven team that they care about each other; if one side of the ball is not playing particularly well, the other side has picked them up over the last two years, and this will be a very stiff challenge for us. Excellent, excellent defense and a much improved offense that's scoring a lot of points.
So I'll answer any questions for you.
Q. Do you feel like this team is equipped to handle that?? why do you feel so strongly about that?
COACH MEYER: The first thing is you feel pretty strong about the leaders on our team. I didn't feel very strong about them back January, February, and I do, I feel very strong about them now. It was a very draining, emotional win. It's almost like that three?hour bus ride home or whatever it was, two and some change. It was a very good opportunity to let it all out of you and get back to work. That was on Sunday. I'm concerned about it but I trust our leaders.
Q. Now that you have a little bit of time to look at Michigan State, what are your impressions of them?
COACH MEYER: As fine a defense as there is in America. Very good players, excellent scheme, well coached. I've not studied their offense a lot. That's usually on Tuesday. I listen to our coaches and I look at statistically what the running back and quarterback have done.
And from game 1 to game 11, they are the most improved offense, certainly in the Big Ten and maybe one of the most improved in America.
Q. You played a close game with Michigan State last year. Anything learned from that?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, I learned quite a bit. Just happened to walk out of the room and they are very good. They were not very good. I'm not taking anything way from Michigan State because they are excellent.
But we're a much better offense than we were a year ago, but that was a street fight last year and certainly between the tackles, we have to be ready for that.
Q. And evaluating, again, the move from the way Ohio State played on Saturday, how much better does it have to be??
COACH MEYER: Yeah, we won't win the game. We won't win that game this time. That's just very simple. We have to play much better.
Q. What was??
COACH MEYER: Pass defense surfaced again and lack of contact on the quarterback. We just had some guys running open. It's a combination of ?? if you could say it was one thing, I would say it was one thing and I trust that we'll get it fixed, and I trust that these guys will be locked and loaded and have a good week of preparation.
Q. Obviously you want to stay in the moment and keep the focus on this game. How difficult is it to do that when they are?? there's a lot of outside politicking going on. Auburn's athletic director said it would be a disservice for Auburn not to be there. How difficult is it for you not to jump into the fray and defend your team?
COACH MEYER: For me? I'll have a comment on Sunday. We play a game. And for someone to ask about something after this game, I mean, that's cheating my football team, and there will be no conversation about what happens after this game until after the game.
We've got to go watch Michigan State's defense and see if we have any comments about anything after this game.
Q. You talked throughout the season about how you wanted the offense to be 50/50 run and pass, seems you're getting away from that?? is it a concern? Obviously you're running the ball well.
COACH MEYER: A little bit of a concern, especially when you see who's coming. We have a lot of respect for our rival's run defense. If there is some vulnerability shown on defense it was actually on pass defense.
But Tom and myself got into a little bit of a rhythm as far as some formations and some ways we were running the ball out. So we threw a touchdown pass to Jeff Heuerman. But we felt like we're getting some big yards per crack, and both Carlos and Braxton run the ball at a very high level. There was no other reason other than that.
Q. How important was it to have that complement of Carlos and what Braxton can do on the perimeter?
COACH MEYER: Carlos is pretty good on perimeter, too. And then Dontre and maybe J?Hall, Jordan Hall; that won't happen this week. We have to get some perimeter runs.
And probably, haven't done the stat yet but I will at the end of the year but half our yardage is perimeter runs, too, and not just Braxton. This will be?? what you just mentioned, what I consider balance, outside, inside run game and obviously short pass and vertical pass and this week we have to be very balanced.
Q. The 50/50 down to 25??
COACH MEYER: I want a W.
Q. Along those lines, have you gotten any word from the Big Ten about Dontre Wilson and Marcus Hall?
COACH MEYER: No. We are still in conversation with them and I know Gene is, and when I hear something, we'll hear something.
Q. Quarterbacks go about it different ways but y'all I guess seem to have similar quarterbacks. What do you see about Braxton Miller that tells you he's a championship?caliber quarterback?
COACH MEYER: Well, the first thing we look at, and I actually learned this from Jeff Tedford when I was a young coach and I wanted to hear from a quarterback coach, what is the first thing you go look for, and No.1 is competitive spirit. And that's what I see out of Braxton Miller, he's an extreme competitor right now. He's always been a very good competitor and I think he's crossed that threshold and is an extreme, extreme competitor right now.
Second thing you look at is toughness. He's a tough guy. You can't play quarterback at this level and with what we expect a quarterback to do. So without question, those are the two characteristics. I've coached a couple championship quarterbacks, and competitive spirit and toughness are the first two things you look for.
Q. On their team, No. 28, he seems to show up in a lot of??
COACH MEYER: Fast athlete.
Q. Talk about what he brings to their defense.
COACH MEYER: Well, there's a lot of key components. Their middle linebacker is a great player and you can tell he's the coach on the field. They have a quick twitch on the defensive end that is their pass rusher. And this guy, the will linebacker is an extremely talented, fast athlete that runs down plays.
Q. Players always say after the Michigan game that they laid it all out and they didn't have anything left. Are your players beat up a little bit? Are they spent from that?
COACH MEYER: I don't think so. I didn't get that feel. I got, you know, they are beat up on the defensive side. We gave up too many yards. I think it was a very physical game.
But we played I think Iowa, a team up north, and we've had some bruisers, because we've turned to that kind of style of offense, which is the kind of offense we want to be. I think they are sore and I have got to be smart this week what we do. But as far as energy and focus, and throw in the fact that it's finals week at Ohio State this week, too, we have to be really efficient with our team with these guys.
Q. Along the same lines of finals week and the other distractions, if the Big Ten were to come down with some further penalties, how big of a blow would that be?
COACH MEYER: It would be a blow. But we functioned okay. We ran for 400 yards last week and we got good players and the next guy in. Very disappointed and angry that that happened. That's not us. That's not Ohio State and it's not them. That's the thing that, you know?? we've just got to move on and what happens, happens, and we fully support the Big Ten and we are good soldiers and go, and learn from it.
Q. With all the scrutiny that's gone on here, of your past, of the off?season, do you feel it's a double standard?? case that seems to be worse than anything that happened in the off?season with Florida State??
COACH MEYER: I haven't really followed?? do I feel there's a double standard? I really don't think so.
I think people get disappointed when they hear I don't really read much and listen much and I go to work and I go home. I think when you're in a position where your team is winning games and things are happening, you've got to be very?? you know, you've got to watch how your team behaves. You've got to make sure that things are in order, and I would like to think we do.
Q. Curious, we used to always hear coaches say defense wins games, and I know a lot's changed, but did you ever think that was true and do you think it's still true?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, 12 years I've been a head coach, I want to say we've always had?? the last two years have been because we're growing, we had some personnel issues and new staff.
But yeah, you look at the Florida years that we won national championships, we were Top?5 in America in defense. At Utah we were always top teams in America on defense. And to reach the level that Ohio State expects, we need to play better on defense.
So absolutely we believe in that and we spend a lot of time devoting a lot of resources to our defense.
Q. Particularly since Michigan State has such a good defense, does that concern you?
COACH MEYER: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Q. Wondering about Michigan State defensively and Coach Dantonio, they seem to do a lot of different things and are very aggressive. How much of a mental game is this on Braxton and your offense?
COACH MEYER: You know, it's not real overcomplicated. That's where I think they do an excellent job. They make everything look alike, and they are very well?coached as far as gap control and you don't see many big plays against them. I want to say it's been?? I don't want to give you the number, because it's probably wrong, but a very minimal amount of explosive plays against them.
It's not so much the scheme. It's the toughness and the fundamentals that the kids play in that scheme. That's really like any?? someone could say, oh, the spread offense is hard to defend. No, it's not. If you have really bad players that don't play very well, it's not that hard to defend.
This style of defense, I can imagine there's been many, many people trying to copy it and that's a credit to the coaching staff and the players, because they are at a different level right now.
Q. Braxton seems to be trending up; do you think he's a Heisman?calibre quarterback? We are down to the last chance to prove it.
COACH MEYER: Yeah, I think he's got to prove it and this is a great opportunity for him. I think, you know?? I know he missed some games, seems like six years ago they hurt his knee, but I think he's Heisman?worthy. I can't compare him to the other guys because his stats probably aren't as good. I haven't even looked at that. But I think?? I've been around a Heisman Trophy quarterback and certainly Braxton is in that conversation.
COACH MEYER: I have no idea. I have not looked at anything. I'll probably do that next week.