Football Hits Halfway Point

By Jeff Rapp, October 13th, 2013

Well, we’ve gotten to the halfway point of the college football regular season and already the leftovers are filling the fridge.

The Ohio State Buckeyes are always a news item in these parts and SportsRappUp.com tries to be on top of the story as much as possible, but sometimes some of the noteworthy quotes still don’t make it to a story.

Think of it as the perfectly good cucumbers that stay on the store shelf for whatever reason. Well, we don’t believe in waste around here. Plus, we want to give life to the comments that deserve it.

That’s the whole idea behind Quote Me. And with so much going on in terms of OSU football coverage, it’s time to look back at the extra quotes of note and remember how we got here.

In the spring, the Buckeyes had high expectations and we’re not afraid to share them. Also, we were able to get a little closer to the program and get to know the people involved.

In the summer, head coach Urban Meyer encountered some difficulty as a couple key players – cornerback Bradley Roby and running back Carlos Hyde – were involved in bar incidents that led to police investigations and, eventually, suspensions.

On a much better note, former Buckeye Cris Carter, an Ohio native, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

As the season unfolded, more storylines emerged, perhaps none more interesting than the absolute explosion of stellar play by backup quarterback Kenny Guiton with starter Braxton Miller sidelined with an injury.

That led to Miller’s return vs. Wisconsin and a midseason run with three out of four games scheduled to be staged at night.

So with the magic of quotes that almost got away, let’s look back at the run-up to the middle of the 2013 football season.

Here goes:

Athletic director Gene Smith introducing Meyer at a Chamber of Commerce breakfast just prior to national signing day – “His great gift is motivating players, to instill that passion and competitive spirit that allows a team, like ours this past year, to

overcome significant challenges that they faced for the last 24 months and do what only five other teams have done in our history – that’s to run the table, go undefeated and kick a lot of butt.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I have been in this business for a long time. I’ve been blessed to work with some outstanding leaders as coaches for a number of different sports. Many have won championships on all levels. But I’ve never had one quite as talented as this one.”

Cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs on Meyer’s leadership of the program – “He is brutally honest and direct. If there’s a thing you could hang our program’s hat on, it’s honesty. Let’s don’t sugarcoat it. This is what this is.”

Defensive coordinator Luke Fickell when asked for his reaction to seeing former linebacker David Perkins talking Brutus in an offseason practice – “I’d like to … no I wouldn’t like to know what was going through his mind, to be honest with you. The reality is there are some guys who react and respond, and we push them to be very reactive. It was a very good form tackle and we’re going to use it on our tackling tape.”

Former Buckeye John Simon, who grew up in Youngstown, Ohio, with a family of Steelers fans, on being drafted by Baltimore – “We’re diehard Ravens fans – no longer Steelers fans. Some of the things in the house were Pittsburgh things but not anymore.”

Simon on playing for coach John Harbaugh – “Coach Harbaugh is a professional and a very passionate guy about football, and very energetic. He shows that out in practice and you can tell he loves football. As a player, that’s the kind of guy you want to play for.”

Meyer, while in Chicago for Big Ten Media Days, on the off-field trouble that his the program – “On Friday before I left for vacation, I walked up to our strength coach and as I was walking out, I said, ‘I don’t like this’ and he goes, ‘Why?’ and I said, ‘I feel too good. Something’s not right here.’ Usually I’m not a feel-good guy. But with the leadership meetings we were having … then woosh! All of a sudden a tire blows out.”

Former Buckeye Eddie George, now an analyst for FOX Sports, on his excitement over the summer that the network has rights to the OSU-Cal game – “It will be fun. Last year, I had to watch it on one of the smaller screens in the studio and screamed my head off at the television. Now we actually cover them. It’s going to be exciting.”

George’s view of the matchup as it appeared going into the season – “Everybody is going to be watching what Ohio State does this year because they’re intrigued by Urban Meyer, Braxton Miller and what he’s able to do, and if the Buckeyes can win the Big Ten. And that’s going to be a game that’s going to be interesting.

Sonny Dykes is a heck of a coach. He’s got a lot of weapons and they played Ohio State last year at Ohio State and it was really, really tight at the end. So I’m curious to see how they’re going to respond on the road, and given the situation now with Roby and Carlos Hyde how can they navigate that and go out there and pull off a victory.”

Bill Conley, Carter’s coach at Middletown (Ohio) HS and a longtime Ohio State assistant, on Carter making the Hall of Fame – “He was a great basketball player first. His brother, Butch, was a pro player, and he always kind of wanted to be a basketball player. I took the job the spring right before Cris started his junior year. We had a football camp and I could see he had some pretty good skills. We had a little serious talk and I said, ‘Cris, I know you always wanted to be a basketball player but keep all doors open.’ Of course, he became all-state and All-American in both. But the greatest thing about him is he was very confident and very competitive.”

Conley on Carter’s greatness – “I was very, very fortunate in my career. I coached three players that I can honestly say never had a bad practice and never had a bad game. Cris Carter was one of them, Chris Spielman was another one, and Mike Vrabel was the third. Those guys loved to play the game, they loved to compete, and they believed in themselves and they believed in the team.”

Wide receivers coach Zach Smith, prior to the season, on the Meyer effect – “It’s too early to tell how much success this team is capable of. I think the sky is the limit. But the good thing is Coach Meyer is so phenomenal at developing the psyche of a team and motivating the team. At Florida year after year we were successful because he is so profound at managing the team. He’s doing it again this year. You don’t go to practice and feel like, ‘We went 12-0, we’re going to do it all.’ That’s not what it feels like. You go out to practice and it’s like, ‘We’ve got a ways to go, we’ve got to work.’ ”

Wide receiver Evan Spencer on Guiton taking control during the win over San Diego State – “He prepares so hard and he’s so smart and he knows what’s going on so well that it’s hard not to trust him. If you’re ever down, he’s there to pick you up, and whenever you make a mistake, he’s there. I think having that in our offense, especially for some of the young guys, is big.”

Freshman running back Ezekiel Elliott prior to Hyde’s return in Week 4 – “He’s a great leader, he helps everyone out in practice and just that competition aspect of our room, it helps us grow as players.”

Linebacker Curtis Grant on the worthiness of the OSU defense after the unit gave up 34 points at Cal – “That’s for them to determine. All we can do is play. Like Coach says, at the end of the year people are going to form their own opinions about us. As long as we stick together and play together as a team we don’t have nothing to worry about.”

Meyer on the Guiton phenomenon – “Can you imagine how many times we’ve said ‘Kenny Guiton’ in the last three weeks? And it’s deserved. I can’t imagine a better story. Someday … maybe I’ll do it. Maybe I’ll write a book about him some day. He’s grown up and matured. If you cut him open, he’s an incredible person.”

Offensive coordinator Tom Herman when asked how many other places Guiton could start – “I would think half, at least, if not more. I think he’s that good. His velocity might hinder his ability to do that but at the same time all those intangibles are something you can’t overlook. We’re blessed to have him. I know I’ve been a lot of places throughout my career that we’d have been doing jumping jacks and cartwheels down the hallway if he was our starting quarterback.”

Offensive lineman Jack Mewhort after Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland amassed a career-high 16 tackles vs. the Buckeyes – “He’s great player. Their whole defense is a bunch of tough guys, but 44 is the leader of it and I’ve played against him it seems like forever. He’s an awesome player and good guy, too. I have a lot of respect for him.”

Coombs on how he found Australian punter Cameron Johnston – “Coach Meyer made it pretty clear. He said, ‘Go find your punter now. I don’t care where you find him or where you get him, but go find you a punter.’ We looked everywhere. I mean everywhere. We’ve got film coming in from all different avenues.”

Coombs on making sure Johnston fit the bill – “We had to try to find out if he’s got that inner character, because that’s a different deal now. I remember the first conversation we had with guys in Australia, we said, ‘You know, I’ve got to see the guy against the rush with a helmet on.’ The next thing I know he’s sending me video of him in a helmet and shoulder pads and these other jokers running at him. It’s still not the same, but at least it shows you something.”