Speaking from the team meeting room at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, Ohio State head football coach Urban Meyer held his weekly press conference on Monday where he fielded questions from reporters and talked about _ichigan Week.
Meyer’s opening statements:
COACH MEYER: Thanks for being here. Couple comments about our Indiana game. A very emotional day for our seniors and made the comment last week that because you stay four years at a place doesn’t earn you the respect of being a senior, and of course there are Senior Days and then there are the real Senior Days. And we’re fortunate this year to really experience one where the majority, if not all, of the guys that jogged out of that tunnel had a significant impact on our program, and very, very good people.
Proud to be their coach.
So they played well on defense. The players of the game, or excuse me, the grade champions were Bradley Roby, playing at a very high level. Bosa, and then the co‑defensive player of the game were Ryan Shazier, played as well as he can. I mean, he played outstanding, 54 production points and we’ve always done production points, and I’ve never…to have 30 is probably the most I’ve ever seen, and he had 54 production points.
Mike Bennett is playing at a very, very high level. He’s healthy again. He started the season very strong. Went through some injuries and then moved on, and he’s getting stronger and stronger again. So he played very well. Those are our co‑defensive players of the game.
On offense, Andrew Norwell played excellent. Taylor Decker, once again, continued to improve his game. Tight end Jeff Heuerman, Devin Smith, and Chris Fields, running back Carlos Hyde, and co‑players of the week were our quarterback, Braxton Miller, who played probably his, I don’t know, played one of his best games. He threw away on third down and 17, and obviously the weather conditions with a guy bearing down on him, and that is his best play at quarterback since we’ve been here. That is his best, and he knows it, I know it, Tom Herman knows it. So his best play as a quarterback, I’m not saying an athlete that jumps around and lands on his head those kind of things, those are just gifted, very gifted young men. But his best play at college football quarterback was third and 17 on the right hash in snowy conditions where he completed a bender to Jeff Heuerman with pressure bearing down on him. He didn’t panic out of the pocket. He stepped, delivered the ball, and that might be worth going back and watching a fantastic play.
In our center, the apex, Corey Linsley graded out a champion. He’s 100 percent healthy and playing like it.
Our kicking game was pretty solid. Our player of the game, who was our player of the game, Vonn Bell. Vonn Bell was our player of the game, continues to improve and make great strides. Coverage units were good. Punt we didn’t give up anything, and kickoff, I think we gave up near the end a little bit with a personal foul penalty. But the game was pretty much over, and I’m pretty pleased with our kicking units.
Even though right now we have 12 guys out with season ending injuries, Armani was out this game, Philly Brown was out this game, Curtis Grant was still out. We didn’t feel like he was quite ready, and we’ve got to get him back. The positive is I think Armani’s going to be fine for this week, and Josh Perry played fairly well for a guy that missed a couple weeks of practice, and I think Curtis Grant will be good to go, which we’ll need him in this game.
So we’re overcoming some injuries that some young guys are stepping up. Warren Ball played much better. Ezekiel Elliott is very involved in our kicking and coverage units. In big games especially like these, those are going to be critical players in this game. The good thing is there are some experience there.
So we’re overcoming. Every team is dealing with injuries, but to see some young people are stepping up, I’m glad we recruited well, and I like the young players we have. So I’ll answer some questions for you.
Meyer on the Ohio State-_ichigan rivalry before he became a graduate assistant at OSU in 1987:
COACH MEYER: No, I didn’t realize it because I was just like most that from the outside looking in. Hey, it’s a really great game. Where I grew up in the ten‑year war, and I learned to dislike Michigan at a very young age. But, no, you never really appreciate it until you’re behind the walls here and find out how serious it is.
Meyer on rivalry games, starting out when he was at Bowling Green:
COACH MEYER: The team down south, Provo. The team out west. Florida State, FSU I should say. I just think that is really, I’m a huge fan of college football. I think that’s what separates it from a lot of the other‑‑ I’m a fan of pro football too. But the pageantry and rivalries are unique in college football. Do we make a big deal out of this game? Absolutely. Do we make a huge deal over the top about rivalry games? Yes, we do. That’s the way I was brought up. We kind of go over the top here, and we always have.
Meyer on the fact he just said _ichigan:
COACH MEYER: Did I really?
Yeah, at a very young age:
COACH MEYER: Wow. Apologize.
More from Meyer on the _ichigan game:
COACH MEYER: It is different. It’s not just another game. It’s not. Our players know that. Does that mean we put less value on Indiana or less value on the following week coming up? I didn’t say that. But there is an extra pep in the step. We officially started working the game a day earlier than we normally do, and they get it. Our players get it.
That is one thing about, a new coach doesn’t come in here and try to stimulate that rivalry. That rivalry’s been stimulated a long time ago, and we need to carry it on and make it stronger.
Meyer on the moment he realized how big the rivalry was between Ohio State and _ichigan:
COACH MEYER: Yeah, it was kind of funny. I was driving to work on a Monday morning. I was a 21‑year‑old graduate assistant, and I look up on those twin towers by the stadium, and it says “Muck Fichigan” and sheets hanging off. I said that is really cool right there. And they did, they switched the M and the F, and someone made them take it down. So that was in 1986, so there is some old student now that is laughing their tail off saying, yeah, that was my room.
Meyer on if the rivalry is just as intense as it was during the Woody-Bo years:
COACH MEYER: Absolutely I do. I think the ten‑year war, just because of the two iconic people running the programs and what Bo Schembechler did for that school when they beat them I think it was ’69, yeah, ’69. It was a heck of a time period for both schools.
Meyer on _ichigan Stadium:
COACH MEYER: It’s a big stadium and a lot of people in it. We’ll do crowd noise on Wednesday, we don’t do pregame walkthroughs at places. I don’t want our players to‑‑ we need to know where the 25‑second clock is, the quarterbacks, and all that matters is the white lines and the turf. So we’ve never been a big team about, hey, let’s go check out this stadium, because to me, stadiums are stadiums and you just take care of your business.
We know we’ll be loud, fans are passionate, and this is a big game for everyone involved. We won’t spend much time talking about it all, if any.
Meyer on Doran Grant:
COACH MEYER: Yeah, he practiced yesterday. He’s fine. It was more precautionary Saturday.
Meyer on _ichigan’s defense:
COACH MEYER: You watch the film, and I think Sunday is indication when you watch film before you go home at night and you’re thinking how are we going to block these guys? I think they’re very well coached. Obviously, I’m very close with the D‑coordinator, and I think he’s a great coach. They’re playing very hard, they have excellent players. So whatever issues the rival has, has nothing to do with their defense. Their defense is playing at a very, very high level. We have to play our best game to move the ball against these guys.