Two-Minute Drill: Updates From the Coaches at Monday's Ohio State Media Luncheon
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — For the first time in school history, Ohio State had a Monday media availability to discuss the Big Ten Football championship game. Urban Meyer provided updates on his team and gave some thoughts on the Michigan State Spartans. Also joining him were assistants Tom Herman and Luke Fickell. Here are the highlights.
Quick notes: Finals begin at Ohio State on Thursday and continue through the following Wednesday. The team will bus to Indianapolis late Friday morning. Ohio State was given 10,000 tickets for the B1G Championship Game, and 2,500 of those tickets were allotted to students. All 10,000 tickets are now gone.
Urban Meyer Updates
* Meyer said they didn't award any champions this week because their focus is only on Michigan State at this point.
* Meyer said he feels the Buckeyes are equipped to handle the turnaround after the Michigan game because of the leaders on the team. He called the win over Michigan “draining” and “emotional”. He said he's concerned, but he trusts the leaders.
* Meyer said that Michigan State has as fine a defense as there is in America. He said the Buckeyes are a much better offense than they were a year ago. He called last year's game a street fight.
* Meyer said “we won't win the game” if they play as poorly on defense as they did a week ago.
* Meyer said the pass defense issues surfaced again and the lack of contact on the quarterback was a concern, as were guys running open.
* Asked about Auburn's AD stumping for the Tigers' BCS life, Meyer said, “I'll have a comment on Sunday.” He said he'd be cheating his football team if he talked about anything other than Michigan State this week.
* Meyer said he's a little concerned that the passing game has waned of late, but they got into a rhythm running the ball and it's difficult to go away from that when it's working.
* He said they'll need to have some perimeter runs this week because they won't be able to pound the middle repeatedly like they did against Michigan. “That won't happen this week.”
* Meyer said they are still in conversation with the Big Ten about further punishments for Dontre Wilson and Marcus Hall. He said they would go along with whatever the Big Ten said. He said losing Hall would be a blow, but they functioned okay without him last week.
* Asked if the players were spent after playing Michigan, Meyer said, “I don't think so. I didn't get that feel.”
* Meyer said that Michigan State isn't overly complicated on defense. He said it's not the scheme, it's the toughness and the skill.
* Meyer said that he believes Braxton Miller is a championship quarterback. He said championship quarterbacks have a competitive spirit and have to be tough. He said Miller is an “extreme competitor” and a “tough guy”. Asked if Miller is a Heisman candidate, Meyer said he's got an opportunity to prove it on Saturday.
* Meyer said defenses still win championships, and they still have to play better on defense.
Tom Herman Updates
* Herman said the lack of a 50/50 offensive attack of late is a product of how well they are running the ball right now. He said nothing was telling them to not run the ball against Michigan. He said it's hard not to run it with Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde. “Balance is being able to win the game dependent on what the defense is trying to take away.” He said it would have been against better judgment to stop running the ball.
* Herman said Michigan State will be the best-coached defense they've played in the last two years. He said MSU has gotten better than they were a year ago. He said they're extremely gap sound. He said they'll blitz about a third of the time on first and second down as they try to get an offense off track and behind schedule.
* Herman said Braxton Miller has the characteristics of a champion quarterback. “Absolutely. Leadership and competitiveness.”
* Herman said that they have to look at Michigan State's press quarters defense as an advantage, rather than a hindrance. They have opportunities to beat MSU one-on-one on every snap due to their style of defense, and they have to take advantage of those opportunities.
* Asked if it was fun to prepare and match up against the nation's top defense, Herman laughed and said, “It's miserable! They're really, really good!” But then admitted that “this is why you coach.” He said his competitive spirit gets going and it's absolutely fun to prepare for this game.
* Herman said that Pat Elflein graded out really well, and better than expected given the stage and limited reps. “He did a whale of a job in there.”
* Herman said he does try to get into the head of a defensive coordinator. He looks at the “what” of what they are doing, and then tries to answer the “why” of it.
* Herman was asked if there's any value in looking at last year's game against the Spartans, and he said, “We're different” than last year's offense. “We're better than we were last year.” He said Michigan State is as well. He said the MSU defense will attack them differently this year because they're different on offense.
Luke Fickell Updates
* Asked what went wrong on defense against Michigan, Fickell answered, “What do you mean? Did we win?” He said the last objective of the day on defense was to win the game, and that's what they did.
* Fickell said Michigan did some new and different things that caught them off guard, but it “still comes down to making plays”.
* Asked if it will be tough to play a game after Michigan this year, he laughed and said he wishes he could have played a game a week after playing Michigan when he was a player, given how his Michigan games tended to turn out.
* Fickell said you prepare for trick plays or good calls at certain times, but you can't wait for them because you can get passive. He said they have to remain aggressive, but it they are going to stay aggressive, then they have to make plays.
* Fickell said that ultimately the Ohio State defense only has to outplay the opposing defense by one point.
* He said Curtis Grant is not yet back to himself.
* On the two-point conversion at the end of the game, Fickell said that was the way they drew it up, but the call doesn't matter, it's the execution that is key. When he saw that they were coming out with the play they expected, Fickell said, “I thought we had a better chance to be successful.”
* Fickell said “We can't” go away from the aggressive defense that they have been playing.
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