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 Championship Week.
Meyer’s opening statements:
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.
Meyer on his impressions of Michigan State:
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 one to game 11, they are the most improved offense, certainly in the Big Ten and maybe one of the most improved in America.
Meyer on what he learned from last year’s 17-16 win over Michigan State:
COACH MEYER: Yeah, I learned quite a bit. Just happened to walk out of the room and they are very good. We 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.
Meyer on his team’s play against Michigan and how they will fare if the Buckeyes play like that against Michigan State:
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.
Meyer on the defensive problems against Michigan:
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.
Meyer on if he’s concerned that his offense has become more run-heavy and less balanced:
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.
Meyer on how his team feels physically after the Michigan game and are they beat up, spent:
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.
Meyer on if defense wins games:
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.
Meyer on Michigan State defensively and 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.