COLUMBUS — Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer spoke with reporters Monday to preview Saturday night’s upcoming Big Ten Championship Game against the Northwestern Wildcats. Meyer provided updates on his football team and answered questions about the Buckeyes and their preparation for the game ahead. Here are the highlights.
+ Meyer reviewed the Champions from the “rivalry game.”
+ The running backs played hard. They also did well in pass protection.
+ Luke Farrell did a great job in pass blocking.
+ Sevyn Banks was awarded a “special effort award” for the gift that he received. Amir Riep also received mention for his special teams play.
+ Chris Olave is an elite player as a freshman. You have to be careful anointing a player this early. Justin Hilliard is as good a special teams player that Meyer has had. Keandre Jones was outstanding starting on three special teams unit.
+ The Maryland game was where Meyer thinks Haskins became more of a leader. “He dropped his pads and dropped some other things too.”
+ Who are the energy guys? Parris Campbell, Johnnie Dixon, Terry McLaurin, Isaiah Prince, JK Dobbins, Tuf Borland, Dre’Mont Jones at times, and Jonathon Cooper.
+ Wyatt Davis is going to get his first start as a Buckeye and there is a lot of confidence around the facility in him. Same with Chris Olave in terms of confidence.
+ Parris Campbell gave a great pregame speech. It’s a 365-day game. It’s not a one-day thing.
+ Josh Myers is “so close” to playing. Branden Bowen is back to almost what he was. Josh Alabi is playing well too.
+ Meyer thinks Dwayne Haskins has always enjoyed film study. Quarterbacks have to be students every day. There is a 20-hour rule, but if a quarterback is only spending 20 hours a week on being a quarterback, he’s probably a lousy quarterback.
+ The defense is making progress. The pass defense is bothering a lot of people. The rush defense and linebackers played very well and controlled the game.
+ The offensive line started really coming together over the second half of the season. The consistency has been there. That was their best and one of the best Meyer has seen. Michigan blitzed a high percentage of snaps and OSU held up.
+ “I’m a Tate Martell fan.” Meyer would like to keep him involved, but they will see. “I want him in the game.”
+ The 2018 freshman class is coming along very well. Josh Proctor and Teradja Mitchell are unsung heroes. “It’s called selflessness.”
+ The Michigan game was going to come down to one-on-one matchups because that’s Michigan’s man coverage. If you win the battles, you win the war, and they had enough guys winning the battles. The offensive line held up and one their matchups as well.
+ KJ Hill “is a real tough guy.” There’s no arrogance to him. He’s not the fastest guy, but he’s a student of the game who understands spacing and leverage.
+ After the season they had, is it special to get back to the Big Ten Championship Game? “It’s only special if you win it.”
+ Pat Fitzgerald is one of the best coaches in college football.
+ Northwestern’s defense keeps the ball in front of you. They are smart guys and they understand why they do things. They don’t give up a lot of big hits. They are primarily a zone coverage team.
+ Wyatt Davis has excelled in practice over the last few weeks. He was lost in the weeds last year, but once he figured things out, he has blossomed. He is a rugged guy. He’s been scratching and clawing for playing time for five or six weeks.
+ How is Meyer doing? “Good.”
+ Players must contribute on special teams to play other positions. “You will not play a down.” “That’s very clear around here. Every great player we’ve had had to start on special teams and play well.”
+ Randy Walker has had a great influence on Big Ten football. As a young coach, Meyer picked up things from coaches, what he got from Randy Walker was how he handled himself.
+ It is an advantage that Northwestern has had two weeks to evaluate potential opponents. OSU will try to catch up, but they are also focused on giving their players rest, specifically an offensive line that has had a busy last three weeks.
+ Meyer doesn’t think this is a situation where Ohio State has superior talent and he has to worry about his team staying engaged. It happens sometimes where you play down to the level of competition, but that’s not the case in this game. Northwestern is too good for OSU to think they are beneath them.
+ Will Meyer be back next year? “I plan to coach.”