Two-Minute Drill: Updates From Monday's Media Luncheon
by Tony Gerdeman
Urban Meyer spoke to the media on Monday to provide an update on the Buckeyes as well as their preparation for Saturday night's game at Northwestern. Joining him were assistant coaches Tom Herman and Kerry Coombs. Players Philly Brown, Michael Bennett, Jack Mewhort and Cameron Johnston also spoke with the media.
Urban Meyer Updates
* Meyer said the offensive champions of the week were Marcus Hall, Evan Spencer and Devin Smith. Joining them were co-offensive players of the game Philly Brown and Jack Mewhort.
* The defensive champions of the game were Adolphus Washington, Michael Bennett, C.J. Barnett and Ryan Shazier, who was the defensive player of the game. Meyer called it Shazier's best game of the season.
* The special teams champion was Devin Smith for his outstanding punt coverage. Punter Cameron Johnston was named Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week. Meyer said he's pleased with the punt coverage, but they need to get more out of their return game.
* Meyer was obviously still down about the loss of Christian Bryant and said not only do the Buckeyes have to replace him on the field, but they also have to replace his leadership. Somebody will need to step forward. He is hoping to be able to bring Bryant to Northwestern with them. He was asked about the possibility of a medical redshirt and Meyer said he didn't think that would be an option, but he will look into it.
* Meyer said that Pittsburgh Brown and Tyvis Powell will get a look to replace Bryant. That would then put freshman Vonn Bell in the mix more at star. (Kerry Coombs said that Pittsburgh Brown would be the likely guy if he was to get today.)
* Meyer said that he trusts Everett Withers to make the right choice. He said if this happened last year, he'd be very involved in the decision making because he wouldn't yet have that trust built up with his staff. He said he talked to Withers at 7 this morning and gave his opinion, and will talk to the staff again this afternoon to see where everybody stands on what they plan on doing at safety.
* He said against a team like Northwestern, experience may have more value than anything else, implying that Pittsburgh Brown would be the likely starter.
* Meyer said that Braxton Miller's preparation for the Wisconsin game was some of the best he's had, as was his practice. He said the deep ball was outstanding, but they went into “win the game mode” in the second half, so they didn't really attack much after halftime.
* Meyer said that Bradley Roby “didn't play up to Roby standards.” He said the defense went in with a focus on stopping the running game, and they put Roby on an island against Abbrederis, which is a lot to ask of a cornerback.
* He said again that Jordan Hall has got to be involved. They are working on getting him the ball moving forward. Asked if it was difficult to find enough touches for all of the skill players, he said, “Is it difficult? No, it's awesome.” He said difficult is when you don't have enough play makers for all of the touches.
* He said that it's hard to run the clock out against Wisconsin because they load the box and make you take shots downfield. They didn't want to do that in the second half, which is why they ran Braxton Miller, trying to loosen up and spread out the defense a bit. He said in the fourth quarter, the only way to lose that game was with turnovers. They were avoiding that.
* He said that Devin Smith was “magical” in his punt coverage against Wisconsin.
* On Philly Brown, Meyer said he has made “as big a turnaround as I can remember”. He said that Brown has a nice life ahead of him.
* He said the team can throw the deep ball this year, and they really couldn't do it last year. They spent the offseason working on it because they knew defenses would load the box on them to stop the run.
* He said that Northwester's 4-3 defense can give up some yards, but it's very hard to score on them. They don't give up big plays.
* Meyer said he would prefer to see Braxton Miller around 14-15 carries, but if he sees something while dropping back, he has the right to go and get it on the ground.
Tom Herman Updates
* Herman said that Philly Brown is the closest thing they have to a “rah rah guy” or an emotional leader on the field on offense. He said Brown has made a commitment to being a professional in every aspect of his life.
* He said he felt the offensive game plan in the second half was fine. He said that when you have a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter, the way you call a game changes. Offense, defense and special teams are all tied together. You have to consider the defense when you are preserving a lead, and you don't want to put any other facet of your team in a bad position.
* Herman said the plan was to increase Carlos Hyde's carries, but not to eliminate Jordan Hall's. He said that as a play caller, “you kind of fall back into some habits. We failed him a little bit there.”
* He said the Buckeyes had to become a better deep throwing team this year because of the run defenses they would be facing this season. They had to get the defenses to back off. He said they worked hard, and now they're effective with it, if not proficient. They still have to get better though.
* Herman said that Braxton Miller didn't trust himself enough last year to make the throws he's making this season. He wasn't always believing what he was seeing last season, and now he is.
* He said that Miller didn't grade out great because he had some mental mistakes on some reads, but he graded out better than he expected him to coming back. He said that they need him to scramble forward more, and not go east and west. He said a second and eight is much easier to deal with than a second and 14.
* He said that Kenny Guiton has handled everything perfectly. He called him “the most amazing human being I've ever been around.”
Kerry Coombs Updates
* Coombs said that it has taken punter Cameron Johnston some time to get going, but that they knew it would. He said that his development has been extraordinary and that Johnston has better days ahead. Asked about Johnston not yet booming any kicks, Coombs said “we want to cover kicks”, and that's more about hang time than distance. They don't want to outkick the coverage.
* He said that Doran Grant is grading out fine, but still needs to improve. As does everybody. He said he's excited and encouraged by his progress.
* Coombs said Pittsburgh Brown is extremely versatile and always consistent as a safety.
* On Bradley Roby's rough day and where his confidence might be, Coombs said “great corners have very limited consciences.” He said they asked him to do a lot against Wisconsin. They didn't ask him to do too much, but putting him on an island is a difficult task. He said it wasn't up to Roby's standard, but he still made plays and had 27 production points.
* On how they make up for the loss of Christian Bryant, Coombs said, “It's a team sport.” He added that Bryant will remain a vocal leader.
* He said they have to be careful about over-substituting defensive backs against Northwestern's offense because they can run the ball as well as they can throw it.
* On Roby, he said that people have to understand their defensive strategy was to stop the run, and that a well-thrown, well-timed pass is hard to defend. He said they wouldn't have done this against a team that throws the ball all over the place. The risk was worth the reward.
Michael Bennett Updates
* Bennett said that the loss of Christian Bryant is hard and that he wishes people could see the pregame speeches that Bryant gives. He added that this is Ohio State and somebody will step up.
* He said his technique and effort are better this year. He finally sees himself as a defensive tackle. He came into the offseason thinking he would end up at defensive end because Adolphus Washington was 305 pounds and he was 280 pounds. Once Mike Vrabel told him he was going to be a defensive tackle, he had to get into the proper mindset. He said he's up to 285 now.
* Bennett said that this defensive line is hard to double team because there is so much talent. Individually they are all capable of beating one-on-ones.
* He said that he is very critical of his game and is more concerned about the plays that he doesn't make, rather than the plays he does make.
* He said it's not hard at all to get up for a second big game at night. “I think it'll be a fun game.” He said it's not difficult going on the road because Ohio State fans travel so well.
* Bennett said that they need to have more of a plan on passing downs, because when they are focused on their pass-rush moves, they are able to get to the quarterback. They need to be more aware of passing situations.
* On Wisconsin, he said, “It was good to know that we could shut down their run game.” But added that it also would have been nice if they could have shut down the passing game as well.
Cameron Johnston Updates
* Johnston said that it was good to get some decent punts on Saturday. The last one really pumped him up.
* He said he loves it here. Being an Australian, he likes road games because he gets to see more of America. He said Los Angeles was very loud.
* He said he still needs to get his punts up more, which will allow even better coverage.
* He was told that he just won the Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week. His response: “That's good.”
* Johnston said that being at Ohio State has been a great experience for him already, citing Saturday night's game where he got to meet LeBron James. He said where else would that happen but Ohio State?
* Kerry Coombs recruited him and he said he liked Coombs right away.
* He said his parents like night games because they air at 10:00 a.m. their time, as opposed the noon or 3:30 games, which air in the middle of the night.
Philly Brown Updates
* Brown said that he knows people are waiting for their downfall and their streak to end. He said that when people take shots at this team, they are taking shots at his family. Sometimes he feels the need to respond on twitter. The coaches haven't said anything to him about it.
* He said that it doesn't matter how they win, only that they keep their streak going. He said that you can't get mad at a game plan when it's working.
* Brown said the improved deep passing attack is not a surprise to him given the amount of work they put into it in the offseason. He said their record pace for passing touchdowns will keep up. He said the practices are so hard that the games are easy.
* He said as a leader that he doesn't really need to say anything to Evan Spencer and Devin Smith, but sometimes with the young guys, you just have to force them to do extra work with you.
* Brown said he's never seen somebody train as hard as Spencer did this offseason.
* He said that Braxton Miller is their guy, but nobody on the team was concerned with who was starting at quarterback in last week's game.
* He said that it won't be difficult getting up for a second big night game in a row. He said that this is why they came to Ohio State.
* Brown said “Dontre Wilson is gonna be ridiculous.” He said he could potentially be one of the best to ever play at Ohio State.
Jack Mewhort Updates
* Mewhort said that Coach Marotti and Urban Meyer have a system for preparing for road games that is meticulous and very precise, and added that it works very well.
* He said that not picking up the fourth and one against Wisconsin was deflating, but after looking at it on film, the Badgers had them outschemed with two extra guys.
* He called Badger linebacker Chris Borland a “magnet to the ball”. He said he found himself just watching Borland on the game film this week. He said moving forward, they'll have to focus more on getting the linebackers blocked.
* He said that Meyer tells them “The most prepared team will win the game.”
* Mewhort said that Jordan Hall will handle not getting the ball last week just fine. He handles everything the right way and he's not expecting any issues.
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