Ohio State coach Urban Meyer met with the media Monday morning to reflect on the 17-16 win at Michigan State and look ahead to Saturday’s prime time game against Nebraska (8 p.m., ABC).
You can watch the press conference above. Highlights from the press conference include:
* The entire offensive line was selected as the offensive player of the game as a result of helping the the team rush for 210 yards and running out the final 4-1/2 minutes of the game. LB Etienne Sabino was the defensive player of the game.
* Safety C.J. Barnett should return after missing the last two weeks due to an ankle injury.
* RB Jordan Hall is doubtful after suffering a torn PCL in his knee. Meyer said he will be evaluated on a week-to-week basis.
Carlos Hyde is likely to start in his place. Beyond that, Meyer said, "It's Rod Smith and Brionte (Dunn). It's time to go. You can only watch for so long, right?"
* Meyer on Braxton Miller: "I love him ... that is one tough football player and he is a competitor. Is he perfect? No, he's far from perfect and so are we."
* Meyer on Nebraska's defense showing different looks: "My head is spinning. We will have to do some things we haven't done."
* Meyer said he was at Ohio State as a graduate assistant when Nebraska coach Bo Pelini was at Ohio State as a safety in the late 1980s. He said they have a good relationship. (Pelini was recruited to OSU by Earle Bruce and was a captain for John Cooper in 1990.)
* Meyer announced that sophomore WR Ty Williams had been dismissed from the squad for the obligatory “Violation of team rules.” Meyer said there is no chance for Williams to return. He had not caught any passes so far this season. “He’s done,” Meyer said.
* Meyer says Zach Smith doing a good job as wide receivers coach. Smith also oversees the punt block team: “We finally blocked a freaking punt around here. Hopefully we smell blood in the water."
* Meyer said fullback Zach Boren was “legendary” with his leadership as the Buckeyes offense ran the out final 4-1/2 minutes.
* Meyer on Sabino: "It's hard for me to say he's not my favorite player on the team. I have conversations with him like I would a coach." Said he had been an underachiever previously.
* Meyer on video flap with MSU: "There was no intent or deception, none of that."
* Meyer on the video showing an MSU lineman poking at the eyes of Johnathan Hankins: "I believe we did turn it in" to the Big Ten office.
Archive of Meyer Press Conference
COACH MEYER: Thanks for coming. We'll open it up with a couple of comments. We played against a bunch of very good players, and we improved in all areas as a team, which was a concern after last week. Obviously, offense, defense, kicking, and most importantly in the essence of team sports, most importantly, I felt this team took a major stride in coming together as an outfit. And that sometimes I've seen that happen on the road. We eliminate a lot of the bystanders, and it was just our core group of players that went up there and found a way to win.
Players of the game and champions, on defense, John Hankins, once again is playing well for us. Graded out at 88%, which is very high for a defensive lineman, very disruptive. Did not have a lot of tackles, but was disruptive in holding a rushing team to 34 something yards. Roby played fantastic coming off a shoulder injury, 94% grade out. And on the make a play opportunities, a lot of opportunities as a corner. Make a play, he made it, 86%, which was very high. He had seven tackles, four assists, two PBUs, a hurry and 22 production points. Ryan Shazier, had one tackle for loss, and instead of running around and playing, he's starting to act like a linebacker at the right time.
John Simon, once again played very well. He's getting healthy, graded out 80%. Travis, our other corner, graded out 91%, 26 of 30, on opportunities, four tackles, a pass broken up, so he played very well. His best game and our defensive player of the game, his best game as an Ohio State Buckeye, according to our defensive coordinator, six tackles, two assists, one tackle for loss, one sack, two hurries, a pass broken up, that's a hell of a day.
He had 21 production points, Sabino was our defensive player of the week. On offense, Zach Boren graded out 93%. His leadership and on the sideline was instrumental in this ballgame. Jeff Heuerman played very well. Graded out 80%. And then our offensive player of the week, our offensive player of the week ran for 210 yards had 15 knockout downs, scored 17 points and on the last drive of the game killed 4 minutes, 30 seconds running a ball against a very good defense. So our offensive player of the game is our offensive line. Corey Linsley, Andrew Norwell, Marcus Hall, Reid Fragel and Jack Mewhort. Very proud of their effort and what they did. So it's great to have an offensive line grade out as your player of the game. You usually win that ballgame.
Q. Corey Brown, that was a tough reception game all time at Ohio State. Not like a Terry Glenn kind of breakaway guy, but talk about what he does?
COACH MEYER: He's really improved. I heard that as well, and it couldn't happen to a guy that's more committed to excellence right now. The good thing is he's not near what he can be. So very proud of him. That's an earned, whatever it is. I think he's got 30 catches already. He's earned that. He's our guy to go to right now in certain situations, so I'm very proud of him.
Q. How is Braxton Miller's health? How much of a concern remains with the 22 carries and all the hits he's taken?
COACH MEYER: Well, eight times we went through that. Eight times he shouldn't have been hit. We scrambled around, throw the ball away, find a receiver or give the ball. So we're going to go try to win a game, and Braxton's our quarterback and our best player. The guy with the ball in his hands.
That's always a big concern when any time you have your quarterback involved, he's a gifted guy. He's going to help us win. Without Braxton Miller, I don't think we're 5 0. As a matter of fact, I know we're not 5 0. So our job is to get to 6 0. He's good, he's sore. He got whacked a little bit. That was good defense.
Q. Talk about Jordan Hall, what's his update?
COACH MEYER: Jordan Hall has a PCL ligament, partial tear. It's going to be a week to week. I'm going to see more about him today. He didn't practice yesterday. I hate to see it, because he is a kid that works his tail off. So we'll evaluate that.
Q. He would not play this week?
COACH MEYER: I would say doubtful unless something happens.
COACH MEYER: Ron Smith, it's time to go and time to roll. You can only watch for so long. At some point you have to go play the game. The good thing is they've done pretty good, Ron and Bri'onte.
Q. Heard so much about the no huddle, is it difficult to change gears when you get into a four man situation and you're used to going fast the rest of the game?
COACH MEYER: We're not what we want to be. I think that's rather obvious. We're not built for that yet. So our job is to go find a way to win a game. If that means ham and egg and doing whatever we have to do, that's who we are. So we're not this high flying, high octane offense yet. We're working awfully hard to become that.
But, no, it's not. We've practiced that. It's a good issue to have when you have to go on the ball and get a couple of first downs to win. What is even better is when you do it against who we did it against.
To answer your question, it's not hard at all, especially if your offensive line plays the way they did.
Q. In practice, do you expect them to go out and do that?
COACH MEYER: Well, that's a great question. I never even thought about it. I didn't. When I saw the time on the clock, I thought we were going to have to punt that ball. That's not to disrespect our players, but I know the way the game goes and everybody watching that ballgame knew we were going to run the ball. It helps when you have the quarterback get you one of them. Almost came out the other end of it. And Carlos Hyde is still not a hundred percent, but he'll be close to a hundred percent this week. He's a very good player.
Q. Braxton, the way he talked after the game, how does he grade out in a game like that where he did so much for you yet he has three turnovers? I guess, what is your message to him?
COACH MEYER: I love you to death, take care of the football and keep going. I do. I love him. I mean, he's I know he gets a lot of recognition. I don't follow a whole lot of it, but that is one tough football player. He's a tough guy and he's a competitor.
Is he perfect? No, he's so far from perfect, and so are we. But I like to fight for him, because the good thing is when you do turn it over, I mean, that's three times inside their area. But he makes you go hard. He's only a sophomore. He's started and won every game he's started. He's getting so much better than he's been. So very pleased with him. Guy gets hit that many times, guy runs that hard, I'd rather him on the interception, he should have just dished it out in the flat. He had another one where he should have held on to it longer and he got rid of it too soon. The fumble where he jammed his knee was right in front of me. Jam your knee and hold on to the ball, we'll get you fixed after that. I'm just kidding, of course.
Q. Is his competitive nature why you mentioned he got hit a few more times than he needed to? Does that work against him?
COACH MEYER: At times. I know his high school coach very well, excellent coach. Jay, we've talked about him at great length. I went to visit his school in January, because I wanted to find out more about Braxton, who he is, what he stands for because he's hard to read. He's got a great gift of humility which is almost nonexistent in college football. He's a better athlete than most people he goes against.
I heard it could be a curse. No, that's never a curse. It's just something you have to coach through.
Q. How difficult is it from a coaching standpoint that you're coming off the first road game, and you have to get the young guys through that and play a good team, now you come back and play another really good team and they're still kind of high from what they did last week?
COACH MEYER: Well, it's better than the alternative to get your butt kicked and have to come back to regroup. Lou Holtz said that, you coach your team really hard when you win. When you lose, it's fragile. For them to come in and throw things against the wall and raising you know what when you lose a game. That's not how we coach. We coach really hard when we win. So tomorrow will be as hard a Tuesday as we've ever had. It's not a punishment, it's just I feel we can get much better, And we are a very close team right now. And close teams work really hard.
Q. Can you talk a little about Nebraska?
COACH MEYER: Sure, dynamic quarterback. Had a 92 yarder on the one I just flipped on. I didn't watch a lot of offense yet. I do that on Thursday. Very good defense, very sound. Much different defense than we've faced all year. The two gap, the defensive tackles are very active players. They have one guy that's 48, very active in the pass rush. They've had a very good pass rusher.
The combination coverages are hard to figure out. They get no drops. When I pause the film sometimes when the quarterback is in the top of his drop, they get no depth. They're looking to receivers. They're all pattern match, as opposed to zone coverage teams do this. They don't move. They just read in routes.
So the thing that's difficult about that, a lot of times their base stuff doesn't work against that. So we have to try some new things. I don't want to say immature team, but we're young. My head's kind of spinning right now because I just walked out of a meeting room that we're going to have to do some things that we haven't done. I'm not sure how we'll adapt to that. I'm glad it's home.
Q. Talk about the pressure, being more aggressive. How did you feel about the defense at this point?
COACH MEYER: Feel great. One awful play, that's the one I remember too. I got Sabino really good after that. You'll no longer see us try to strip that. We're not doing it anymore. You want to strip a ball, put your face on the ball and knock it out of there. But I loved the energy of our defense. I loved the fact that we played tighter line of scrimmage. I love the fact that we put pressure on the corners.
I think Everett Withers told me it was 26 times that they were there and no help. I think. I think. You can ask coach Withers later in the week about that. But it was many more times than we have in the past.
Here's the thing to remember about man coverage. Your corners can play well, but there are three other receivers that have to be covered by someone. That includes linebackers and safeties. So when you play manned coverage it's not, hey, let's make your corners play man. Okay. What are you going to do with the other three guys and they showed they can do it. I like the multiplicity now. I like where we are as a defense.
Q. I think you have overlapped (Indiscernible)?
COACH MEYER: Sure did.
Q. Is there anything that stood out?
COACH MEYER: He's from my home or real close. We're both northeast Ohio guys. Have a really good relationship with Bo. Lot of respect for him as a player. He was a red shirt freshman I believe when Coach Bruce was the coach here in 1912 or something like that (laughing). It was 1986, I believe, '87 was when Bo came in. But I got along with him great. We've coached each other a couple of times and he's LSU as well. I was at Florida, he was at LSU. Very good coach.
Q. Comments about him as a player?
COACH MEYER: He was a really tough guy. Just like his personality is now.
Q. Is tackling more about technique or mindset? If both isn't an option, is it more mental or physical?
COACH MEYER: I know what the guy to my far right would say, it's mental. I agree with that. But I think the fundamentals of tackling is something we teach. I get kind of defensive when people say people don't teach tackling anymore. You're damn right we do. We do a lot. Probably more than any school in the country. There was such an emphasis made last year on stripping the ball. I don't know this. We are very good here last year on creating turnovers. One way to create turnovers is to get your hand in there and strip the ball. Go put your nose on it.
I think you interview a hundred coaches. They'll give you 50 mental, 50 physical. Obviously a combination of both. And they've improved.
Q. Any further explanation on Tyrone Williams, and if you would, are you expecting the inferno going on Saturday night under the lights?
COACH MEYER: The first one, we'll give you that coach speak is a violation of team rules. Disappointed with Tyrone's dismissal.
Then the second one is we had a little fun with that last night because it's been 20 something years since I've seen that stadium as an absolute inferno. When I was here in 1987 86. So I would anticipate a night game, and one of the greatest stadiums of college football, it will be an inferno. Plus you have a 5 0 football team getting ready to face a really good team. So I would anticipate it's as electric as it's ever been.
Q. Tyrone cannot work his way back?
COACH MEYER: He's done.
Q. Coach, since you've gotten here, you talked a lot about competition and making everything competitive. And for guys that are really competitive, in the game Saturday, something like that really showed up on the road?
COACH MEYER: That is the essence of what we do, and you're darn right. Boy, what about the offense? How about winning a game? How about someone helping to make a stop and punting the ball. Then you get a group of guys led by Zach Boren. I don't want to call it legendary, but that's why we do what we do.
I can't speak for every coach, every player. But at that point when you force them to punt and look at the clock and there are 4 and a half minutes left, and I hear what I hear, and saw what I saw, that's what it's all about. I would like to think we've had something to do with that as far as creating that competitive environment around here.
Q. How important would the 12th man be on Saturday night?
COACH MEYER: Gene Smith will buy them a game ball if we find a way to win this one. No, probably can't do that. We'll have to do another fundraiser or something.
I have a great message. We appreciate what they've gone through the first four weeks. We are getting better, and I think they're going to enjoy watching their home team come back home and play hard for them.
Q. You mentioned the offensive line. Being the player of the week this week. What have you seen from the beginning of the year through this past week?
COACH MEYER: No question, toughness. I see a group of players that kind of get beat up a little bit because I like to go after offensive linemen and challenge them quite a bit. I see a coach and a group of guys that unfortunately we only got five. I can't say we have seven, eight. We don't. We have five guys right now. And Reid Fragel has become an offensive linemen. He wasn't an offensive linemen at first. Who are we kid ding? He was a tight end, trying to figure it out. His last two games he's now an Ohio State offensive line. When you say that around here, that's powerful stuff.
There have been some great offensive linemen throughout the year. Those five guys are locked and loaded. Together, well coached, and they've found a way to rush for 200 yards against a stout team that doesn't give up much rushing yardage. So that's the group right now that I'm most pleased with.
Q. Just wondering, as a guy who was once a young wide receivers coach who made a name for himself, just wondering how Zach's handled that role and coming along?
COACH MEYER: He's doing good. His guy got a touchdown pass. It's an evaluation friendly business. If he doesn't catch that ball, he's not doing good. But Zach's been with me a long time, doing an excellent job. I trust him. He's coaching them hard. We had one kid with 30 catches, another guy that's developed to be a big play threat. You have some other young guys starting to develop a little bit. That is a sign of good coaching. Like I said, it's evaluation friendly. It's either this or this, and so far it's going well.
I would like to also say Zach's runs are punt/block team. We worked really hard around here. Hope there are some sharks in the water.
Q. You were talking about you wouldn't be 5 0 without Braxton. In the Nebraska game he got hurt and things sort of fell apart. Have you seen that before where one guy goes out?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, Oregon had a chance to go play for a national championship and Dennis Dixon, he committed to us at Utah first. Great player. He finished and they lost them all. What's interesting is he went down in the first draft. Bang, Kenny Guiton goes in, and say cool, Kenny take snaps, he did. Kenny gets warmed up and he's throwing the ball, so he's right in.
And that was the same guy that I've mentioned since January probably from here to there is the biggest turn around. First is in life, his demeanor, and his representation is impeccable. If you watch practice film, every snap Braxton takes, you see a man on right behind with the helmet going on, going through the same. Only he's not under center. He's right behind him doing the same stuff, and that is Kenny Guiton.
So I don't think Kenny is as good as Braxton. If he was, he'd be playing, but I think he's a very functional quarterback. And if Braxton had to go down, how do you win? Somebody else has to pick up that slack or they're not as good.
Q. There were a couple of times last year he got bumped, and it seems like Kenny is ready for that. In the moment he's not overwhelmed.
COACH MEYER: No, he's not. And on the road against that team in that environment, it's a little different when you're up by 30 points in the third quarter against someone, and, hey, we need you to go into the game. Lot of guys can do that, and three plays are in, and he checked one of them. That tells you how he did. The other two are up tempo, no huddle. That is a game manager.
Q. My curiosity is about every day in practice your defense goes against one of the best running threat quarterbacks in America. How does that prepare them to play a guy like Taylor Martinez? Is that an easy transition?
COACH MEYER: I think both defenses will not be shocked by the speed. They've seen it in practice. You mostly do that in training camp and you do that in spring football. This time of the year it's all against scout squad. So I'll have to make a decision how we get that. Last year we put Rod Smith and Bri'onte down there to simulate a big power running game.
It was a little corny, right, coach? Well, that's what college football is. If you can put all the nonsense away and do it for a greater cause, I felt that happen on that day.
Q. For a moment, would you consider that a milestone moment?
COACH MEYER: That's strong. I like that. I like that. I'll let you know after next Saturday.
Q. You talked about the offensive line. What about the linebackers?
COACH MEYER: Much better. Shazier's healthy. Sabino, it's hard for me to say he's not my favorite player on this team. He hasn't played a lot. I didn't realize that until I went back and did a study on it. He hasn't played a lot. He's been a classic underachiever. Now he's a leader. He's a grown man. I have conversations with him like I would a coach. I listen to him. I usually don't listen a lot, and then I listen to him. He also plays his best game against a team like that. That just shows you his growth.
Q. Has there been a linebacker position?
COACH MEYER: Well, you'd have to ask Coach Fickell more about that one. I think Curtis Grant is very manageable as well, and he can get back in there. But Storm didn't grade a champion, if he did, he would grade better. He's got to play better. But it's helped.
Q. Urban, what is your take as you look back? I don't know if you double checked the video transfer thing that Michigan State complained about. What was the problem there? Have you rectified it now?
COACH MEYER: The first I heard about that was after the press conference. Guy grabbed me and said, what about the videotape? I said I have no idea. He asked my guy and said I have no idea either. So I went back on Sunday and asked again. I asked our video staff. They said there was an issue on Tuesday, it was corrected immediately, and that's all I was told. There was no intent or deception or hiding anything, nothing like that.
Q. There is a video floating around right now that shows a Michigan State player reaching in and trying to gouge Johnathan Hankins. What is the procedure there? Do you all complain about that?
COACH MEYER: I dealt with that at Florida one time. We had to sit a player down for doing that in the SEC. I really don't know. I really don't know. Every conference is different. I don't know. I think it gets turned in, and then I believe it's in the conference offices or the team's way of handling it.
Q. That will get turned in, do you think?
COACH MEYER: I believe we did turn it in.
Q. When you have those quick throws out, and they went 12 catches for 87 yards, it doesn't look that great. Is it an extension of the running game? You have to skew the numbers a little bit?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, he's allowed to make a guy miss once in a while. Get more than 8 yards. That's going to be my coaching today that you break a tackle, but that is spread offense, spread offense. There is pro style and spread. Spread, in theory, our spread is we're going to attack you vertical and horizontal. And our horizontal guy has to be able to shake loose of a couple of those, and he's not had a lot of experience with it. But we've got to recruit, get some more. I need three or four guys that can do that.
When I say we're not built to do those things, when you watch some of those other teams hit it out there. That's one on one. You can't get tackled for six yards.
Q. Is there a number that you think that play should get? You want to take it to the house as much as you can, obviously.
COACH MEYER: A positive run is four yards, so we wanted six. So that's what I do. We're an on schedule offense right now because we're not good enough to take shot after shot after shot. You want that second and four, second and five. You can't handle second and ten, second and eight, it's too hard to get back. Then you're in third and five, and that's not what you want to be in.
Q. You said the team was really close. Then later on you said they'd come together. Are you talking about the same thing?
COACH MEYER: Yes, it was a team that matured. It's been a team that's been pushed around for a while. Lot of things have happened. Lot of things I'm probably not even aware of. But I could tell that it wasn't a close team. It was a team with a lot of excuses, and it materialized over the weekend. It was really interesting to watch it happen. We pushed the envelope as a coaching staff and they bought in.
Q. When you took over, could you tell that?
COACH MEYER: No, you can't tell that, not until you get into tough situations. A lot of this stuff is easy. It's when you get to places like this. You go on the road. You're playing a team that you're better than on the road, it doesn't show up. It's when you play a team that's as good as you are, that it starts to show up. If that team wasn't together, that team loses that game. No doubt. What about the fourth down? What about? No, they lose that game because it wouldn't come down to a fourth down.
I give a lot of credit to Zach Boren. He really showed his man Hood in that game and not just the way he played, but the way he did some leadership. He really did a very good job.
Q. Urban, does every team you've coached, have they all come together at some point or do sometimes you go through a season and it never quite happens?
COACH MEYER: Absolutely. Absolutely. Very good question. I do that every year. I think in a 26 year career as an assistant head coach, I do it every year. I've probably given you too much information, but I think six teams, seven teams, that means there's a bunch of average football in there. How many great teams are there? I'm not saying we're a great team. We at least have a chance of going to do some good things together because I felt like they came together. Obviously you're a bloody lip away from falling apart. I understand that the how fragile it is, because look who you're dealing with. But to answer your question, absolutely not. Every team doesn't come together, no.
Q. The play when Carlos hit the guy in front, you looked very upset on the field?
COACH MEYER: I shouldn't do that.
Q. What was that?
COACH MEYER: I thought they called it interference with a fair catch.
Q. After taking all those hits on Saturdays, is Braxton going to be able to practice like he normally would this week, or is he going to be rested?
COACH MEYER: Well, he didn't do much yesterday. He's a little sore. You're dealing with Reid Fragel sore, kind of six guys off to the side. Braxton doesn't need a lot of conditioning. His stamina's pretty good. You just need to get him healthy. But to answer your question, he'll practice fine.
Q. I wanted to ask about the status of C.J. Barnett this week?
COACH MEYER: I think, yeah, I got a thumbs up yesterday. So I'll know more. I'd let you know more. Probable at this point.
Q. Going against that kind of offense, you said the defense was better suited for Michigan State's type offense.
COACH MEYER: I said that they're better suited?
Q. Last week you said they were.
COACH MEYER: Yeah, probably agree with that. With all the bubbles and everything, they spread the receivers way out there and throw the bubble screens. I think we're better now. But this is a tough one. This is a dynamic offense. The one thing when you make a mistake and it's an 8 yard game, this one's a mistake, and it's an 80 yard game. This is the big difference that I see with Nebraska's offense.