OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY MEDIA CONFERENCE
August 12, 2014INDIANA SPORTS PAGE
COACH MEYER: Just finished, I believe it's No. 7. We had a scrimmage yesterday. Our first double was a shorts practice, came out with a scrimmage in the afternoon. Ezekiel Elliott has had wrist surgery, should be practicing later this week. He will probably not have contact until the following week but projected to play in the first game, was doing great and he's fine.
Braxton Miller was doing great, just his?? because of volume issues, we decided not to throw him yesterday. He will practice tomorrow. Jeff Heuerman, we held him out because of once again, volume on his foot, but we anticipate?? he is full speed. That was my choice to do that.
So I'll answer any questions for you.
Q. Couple of areas you were concerned about, offensive line and the defense, so I wondered if after a week of practice if you feel different about those areas?
COACH MEYER: Joel Hale, we moved him from defensive line to offensive line, and admirable attempt in the spring, but he's actually looking like an offensive linemen. He's in the battle for the spot right now. The battle for the left guard spot right now is Tony Underwood, Joel Hale and Billy Price. Billy Price has entered that, and he at times looks fantastic. I'm a little more?? I think we're a little more stabilized at that position. Right tackle is getting stabilized with Darryl Baldwin, right tackle, Pat Elflein, Jacoby Boren and Chad Lindsay, center. Left guard we just discussed, and Taylor Decker is having a good camp at left tackle.
Q. What about the defense?
COACH MEYER: Defense is doing very well, especially the areas that we were not good at, pass defense, so very pleased with where we're at, I think they continued the cycle, they started in the spring, and it's going pretty well.
Q. Are there guys that have really kind of gone from either nowhere or kind of just barely in the mix to really making a statement so far?
COACH MEYER: Guys?
Q. Are there guys?
COACH MEYER: There is a bunch. I just don't want to leave people out, but Vonn Bell and Tyvis Powell are two guys that are relatively unknowns, playing like veterans. Dontre Wilson, Jalin Marshall are in a heated battle at the H?back position. Corey Smith and Michael Thomas have started the battle for top two or three receiver spots, and there is a bunch of guys, just don't have time to go through 'em all.
Q. Since the last talk, the O'Bannon ruling came down. Do you see this as opening up the door for obviously college footballs as an arms race, but making it more so an arms race for facilities and??
COACH MEYER: I apologize, I probably should know more about the whole situation, I don't. Gene Smith and I have had minor discussions about it. I gotta get a team ready to play a very good Navy team and very good Virginia Tech team. I know I probably should be more up to speed on that but I'm not.
Q. Urban, if you started the game today who would be your starting running back and has Rod Smith jumped into the picture maybe more than y'all thought he would?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, Rod is in the battle now. In the spring I didn't feel he was; he didn't practice much. He had to concentrate on academics. We pulled him out of spring practice. He's had, whatever it is, four or five days, and Zeke Elliott is back; you got to credit him and Rod. And Bri'onte has had a great practice. Warren Ball is doing well, he comes out tomorrow to start practice, and the top three or four off the top of my head would be Zeke, Rod Smith, Curtis Samuel and Bri'onte.
Q. Quick follow?up to what Todd asked you, I would think you're getting requests from recruits and recruits' families about what's coming and stuff. What do you generally tell them about what could be down the road from the standpoint of increased stipend or??
COACH MEYER: I have no idea, Tim, and there is not a recruit that's asked that, and I've not been asked that until today. I imagine, when we get a break, let Gene and I sit and talk ?? because once again, I'm embarrassed to say, I have no idea what all that means. Really, I don't know the ruling; I heard there is a ruling.
Q. (Away from mic.)
COACH MEYER: It's Third and 6. We have to get that first, Al.
Q. Urban, that running back battle, can Curtis Samuel as a true freshman do everything you need a running back to do?
COACH MEYER: Absolutely. I gotta be careful because I do this, but I love that kid, and man, oh man, does he go hard. He is talented and he will play this year.
Q. He's a fast guy, he can run between tackles and??
COACH MEYER: To be determined, but I've done this a while. Yes, he can.
Q. Another guy, we know Donovan Munger didn't play at all last year. He was in the mix on the defensive line??
COACH MEYER: It was a tough situation. He had those blood clots in his legs, and we were really concerned, so our medical staff working with the Cleveland Clinic. He's a wonderful kid, so he's playing, and he will be in the mix. He's doing a nice job.
Q. Can you talk about what this?? you're getting the two?a?days, your road camp, what's this next week about? What did you want to find out about guys here? How difficult is this week on them?
COACH MEYER: I think there is a couple stages of what we call "Journey 14" is what we're on now, and the mat drills, off?season program, the fight or flight mentality, spring practice, and this next week is real. It's on, and they just got a little dose of what it's like, and then they're off today. It's 2?1?2?1?2. I can't add those up, but that's a lot of practices in the next five, six days, and that's when the home sickness sets in, and you start feeling real sorry for each other, and you start finding out what kind of team you have, and at the end of next week, I will know what kind of a team we have.
Everything is pretty good, but this next week is when you have to stay healthy, you gotta be smart as a coaching staff, but you also need to see how they fight when it gets tough. This will be the toughest week that they have all year.
Q. You said in Chicago that Dontre added about 10 pounds of weight and might be able to run?? (Away from mic.)
COACH MEYER: Yeah, if he holds it, he's pushing the?? let me think now. I want to say he's 180, he's almost 190, that's almost 20 pounds he's gained since he's been here. On Monday I'm going to?? I met with him yesterday and we're going to start putting him with the tail backs to work some inside zone. To have an outside guy to be able to do that, that's a big advantage.
Q. Also any thought on the kick and punt returner ?? (Away from mic.)
COACH MEYER: He's doing both now. He will be the starting kick returner. The starting punt returner we're still determining.
Q. Is Braxton pretty much on schedule? I know you guys are less than three weeks away from the opener. Is he where you hoped he would be?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, I anticipated this. I've dealt with guys with arm issues before, and we're being very cautious. He could have practiced yesterday but we're in it for the long haul, so he's right on schedule.
Q. Coach, you talked in the spring that the offense wasn't looking the same this year, losing the linemen and Carlos. Is the process to get that to where you want to go still in progress, and has Braxton hurt you not being in there and??
COACH MEYER: It's still early. If this was next week, next Saturday and he didn't go, then that's going to hinder our progress. When I say?? we relied on Carlos Hyde quite a bit, like any coach would, with an offensive line like that. We are building an offensive line; it's going to look a little different. We'll probably rely on quick passing game much more than we did. Like we have in other places, you build it around what you have, and last year you got a little comfortable with that big back, and we had a great offensive line.
Q. Coach, is the alignment of the staff where you want it to be right now, or is that something, too, that can be built a little more between now andgame week?
COACH MEYER: I think that's a great question. To me that's?? everybody's got great players, and when you hear people blame players, that's incorrect. Everybody's got great players; it's the alignment of staff and the chemistry on your team, and I'm very comfortable with where we're at. I would put it in the "great" category. I think Luke Fickell and Chris Ash have incredible chemistry in the defensive staff room. All this remains to be seen. And next week is going to be tough on the coaches, too, so I'm really watching it closely, but high?character guys that are talented at their skill, it's very strong right now.
Q. If there was a game tomorrow would you be relying on your running game a little more because you would be limiting Braxton's arm, or would he be 100% if there were a game tomorrow?
COACH MEYER: If the game was tomorrow because of where he's at, we would be very cautious with Braxton, but we have three weeks.
Q. You always seem to lean on ?? (Away from mic.) How has Nuemberger done so far?
COACH MEYER: I really like him. I actually was just with his family. He's actually a pretty good punter, too. He's our back?up punter, and Kyle Clinton and him ?? we haven't named Nuemberger the kicker yet, but he's a really talented guy.
Q. What's his range?
COACH MEYER: Oh, don't know that yet.
Q. Coach, you said you hadn't read the O'Bannon report on the lawsuit. What about the autonomy issue that was voted on Thursday? Your school and other made?for?college football teams?? (Away from mic.)
COACH MEYER: No, I really don't. I have such a great relationship with our administration, AD, and Gene and I will sit down at some point, but it's not now. We got training camp ready to go, and honestly I have no idea what all that stuff means.
Q. The idea in general of stipends to players?
COACH MEYER: Beat Navy!
Q. Idea about stipends for your players?
COACH MEYER: Navy! (Laughter.)
Q. Urban, what have you seen with Taylor Decker from this time last year to now?
COACH MEYER: He's a product of culture and the best culture on our team, and that was the offensive line. He's a leader. He's tough, he's strong, they say he came that way here, I don't know if I would say that, and he would be the first one to say that. He's the leader. And right now Jeff Heuerman ?? Coach Brown, my great friend Mack Brown is here. Mack, you want to come up here and handle this for me?
COACH BROWN: No comment!
COACH MEYER: No comment? But Mack said?? Coach Brown asked me, what's the pulse of the offense, and right now it's Jeff Heuerman, Taylor Decker and Braxton Miller, and Taylor Decker, I don't think you would have said that a couple of years ago, so he's come as far as anybody on our team.
Q. I know it's awfully early, and you guys are at the top of the preseason poll, and there is another poll coming out next week. Just wondering as you look at this team compared to the previous teams you have had??
COACH MEYER: Is this going to be a Navy question?
Q. Yeah, sort of, because if you look at Navy, they won't be ranked! (Laughter.)
COACH MEYER: Check his credentials for me!
Q. Does this team feel like it has that kind of promise?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, I think this team has?? if you had to say what's the difference between this team and last year's team, we're faster. There is a couple of areas that guys got to step up, Josh Perry has to step up and play big. He's replacing Shazier, and that offensive line has to stay healthy and get better, but it does have the feel of a very good team. Thanks, guys.