Media Day Quotebook: Braxton, J.T., Torrance, Eli, Etc.
Ohio State Media Day is one of the most enjoyable of the year for reporters who cover a football program that always seems to be under the national microscope.
The coaches and players tend to be in a good mood after they have assembled for the annual team picture. Many of them have family members nearby and their guard is somewhat down as media members shift around and ask what are often innocuous, getting-to-know-you questions.
Quarterback Cardale Jones, for example, grinned throughout the session on Sunday and even handled some interviews with his toddling daughter, Chloe, on his lap. Young defensive end Sam Hubbard sat all the way in the corner of the configuration on the practice field at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center leaning forward on a turned-around chair and wearing a backwards ballcap.
J.T Barrett, who is in pitched battle with Jones for the starting QB spot, was so relaxed talking about his situation that he propped his feet up on the table and leaned back in his chair. At one point, freshman tight end Rashod Berry sneaked up on classmate Torrance Gibson and scared the beejeezus out of the youngster as Gibson was speaking to a few reporters.
The afternoon began with head coach Urban Meyer in typical ultra-focused mode speaking to a room full of media in the team meeting room. Further inside the WHAC, though, Media Day was a smorgasbord for those who came armed with cameras, recorders and microphones.
Some quotes of interest follow:
Meyer on the dual role of co-offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Ed Warinner – “What I can’t do is let him take away from that offensive line. Offensive line is the most critical – that has to be the best coached position on your team – and we’re fortunate what’s happened the last few years here, so we can’t lose that.
“We can’t dilute that with calling a play. I’d rather make sure those five guys are ready to rock and roll, and those plays usually work better.”
Curtis Samuel on moving from running back to H-back prior to the season – “It wasn’t a big transition for me. I understand the plays, so that definitely helped me. I wasn’t nervous making the transition because I’m a dynamic player and wherever the coaches put me at, I’m going to go out there and make plays for my team.”
Gibson on his decision to sign with Ohio State despite the current logjam at quarterback – “A lot of people thought it was weird. They thought I should go to Miami (Fla.) or somewhere else, but I knew what was going to happen. I don’t shy away from competition.”
Gibson on watching the Buckeyes win the national championship as a high schooler – “I knew they were going to win it when they beat Wisconsin. That was tremendous what they did. That just shows you what the coaching staff is like. They know how to coach their kids up, and you saw what happened.”
Braxton Miller on moving to receiver but still having some quarterback-like duties – “It’s like playing a video game. You can put anybody anywhere.”
Eli Apple on being looked at as the team’s top cover man with cornerback Doran Grant now departed – “It’s something that’s very important to me. This is the type of role I’ve been looking forward to and this is the type of role I really embrace. I don’t look at it as extra pressure or responsibility; I look at it as something that just comes with the territory and something that’s expected of me. I know I can be that guy.”
Wide receiver Noah Brown on the possibility of being a starter this season – “I’m very confident in the body of work I’ve put in this spring and summer, but now it’s up to the coaches. I think I’m doing a real good job right now.”
Freshman running back Mike Weber on when he realized he was a collegiate student-athlete – “When I was at training and saw how hard it was, it really hit me and I was saying, ‘Wow, I’m really here.’ But it’s still football. I’ve been around it my whole life and there’s nothing really that different about it.”
Barrett on the risk of not being the starter – “If it’s not me, I don’t have reason to be mad at somebody. I’m not going to point the finger. That doesn’t make sense. If I’m not playing well, I shouldn’t play. If somebody is playing better than me at quarterback, they should be playing. I think that’s my mind-set and Cardale’s is the same.”
Barrett on the idea of using a two-QB system – “I don’t think it’d be as efficient. I did that in high school with Malcolm Carter, who was one of my friends. It was kind of like this competition. I was a sophomore, he was a senior, and we switched every series. As a quarterback, it’s kind of rough to do. You don’t have a rhythm or a real vibe off the defense and how they’re trying to play us. So I don’t think that’s ideal.”
Miller on using his athleticism as a wideout – “Just having fun out there. You catch the ball and you’re already in the second or third level. All you’ve got to do is make one person miss and it’s off to the races.”
Apple on facing the elusive Miller in practice – “I’ve had a couple opportunities to get my hands on him, which feels good, because you never have too many opportunities to touch Braxton. He’s going to put so much pressure on defenses because every time you line up against him you have to be aware there could be a reverse, a reverse pass. Anytime you have a great athlete on the field like that you have to identify him.”
Right tackle Chase Farris on manscaping his thick beard – “I don’t really have to do too much work on it. My barber, he does it for me when I get my hair cut and lines it up real nice. I just comb it every morning, just to lay everything down so it’s smooth.”
Apple of facing Gibson, who also is trying his hand at receiver – “He could tell you the play I went against him on – I got an interception on him. But that man is a very talented athlete. He’s going to be a great player. He has great straight-line speed. He’s going to be a real good player, for sure.”
Gibson on battling Apple daily – “It’s very intense. We go it at every rep in practice. We don’t take a rep off. Because if I don’t go hard I feel like I’m cheating him out of his reps. He’s a tough dude.”
Meyer on how he believes the four suspended players are handling their punishment – “Everyone handles it differently, and the guys that have taken care of their business in the classroom, off the field and on the football field, and they have a blip, it’s called a blip. The guys that are struggling in the classroom and then this is just another one, those are the ones you worry about.”