Meyer Stays Calm Despite News
Urban Meyer had every reason to be agitated when he took to the podium for Big Ten Media Days in Chicago.
After all, Ohio State’s laser-focused football mentor knew his remarks were going to have to include reaction to nagging “can you repeat” questions as well as address breaking news that the team has suspended four players for the Sept. 7 season opener at Virginia Tech.
Meyer, though, showed the confidence and calm of a person who, well, has won three national championships in 13 seasons as a college football head coach.
He also, to meet with school and Big Ten policies, did not offer any details on why he’ll be without defensive end Joey Bosa and wide receivers Jalin Marshall, Dontre Wilson and Corey Smith in Week 1.
“There’s no perfect team, there’s no perfect program,” Meyer said in an even tone. “Everyone deals with stuff.
“I kind of knew about this for a bit. The university has policies and I’m 100 percent supportive of it.”
The Buckeyes went 14-1 last year and ended the campaign by destroying Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship and outpointing Alabama and Oregon in the first-ever College Football Playoff. The offseason congratulations, accolades and attaboys have been never-ending since – and the program was placed in even softer light when longtime quarterback Braxton Miller announced he’s going to give it a go at H-back.
But days later and at the tail end of July – a mere 11 days before the start of preseason camp – Meyer was left to confirm the player suspensions that cast the first doubts over the 2015 season.
“It’s part of the job,” he told WTVN Radio. “There’s things you love about the job, and that’s watching Jacoby Boren make Academic All-American. You see Curtis Grant turning into what he turned into. And then you’ve got to deal with juvenile stuff.
“Very talented players and very key players, but the thing I’m sleeping well with and moving forward on is we’ve recruited very well.”
Joining Meyer in Chicago as representatives of the team were linebacker Joshua Perry, defensive tackle Adolphus Washington and offensive tackle Taylor Decker.
The following are some comments of theirs and others that you may have missed during Big Ten Media Days:
Decker on the outlook at receiver following the suspensions – “We have Mike Thomas, Noah Brown, Curtis Samuel and Braxton now. That sounds like a pretty good lineup to me.”
Meyer after saying Miller will still play some quarterback as well as receiver – “I think everybody forgets how athletic he is. And he was always a guy who would work when I worked with him but now he’s learned how to be a self-starter. He’s off the charts.
“Day one, I will personally work with him myself. I was a receivers coach for a long time. So I’m going to work with him and see if we can get him ready. But my expectation is he’s an impact player.”
Perry on what it is like to try to tackle Braxton Miller in the open field – “Don’t blink.”
Decker on the challenge of repeating – “It’s not going to be any easier just because of what you did last year because that’s gone. It’s over with; it’s done.”
Meyer on if he will leave the starting QB appointment entirely up to new position coach Tim Beck – “He’s not making that decision. That’s not fair. He’s learning the offense. He’s got a good football mind and we’re going to make that together, and (offensive coordinator) Ed Warinner is going to be in on that decision. But I’m not jut going to put that on him. That’s not fair.”
Decker on Cardale Jones vs. J.T. Barrett in the battle for starting quarterback – “I was really surprised when Cardale took over (with) his poise in there because that’s one thing with J.T. – he’s incredibly poised. He’s the kind of personality that people just want to rally around. He’s a natural leader. And I think everyone knows Cardale is kind of a goofball. But he can come in that huddle and be 100 percent serious and kind of take control of that.”
Perry on joining others as a team leader – “We’ve embraced it a ton. We have a lot of guys who really enjoy having the pressure on and being depended upon. I think that’s a really good thing. You talk to Taylor and you talk to Adolphus, they’ve had to step into some situations that have been uncomfortable. But that’s part of growth as a leader.”
Washington on having to face Michigan State and Michigan back-to-back at the end of the regular season – “That’s a part of college football. You have to do it. It’ll definitely be easy to get up for Michigan State because that’s always a great game, and to get up for The Team Up North, you really have no other choice for that. I mean, that’s The Team Up North. That’s The Game.”
Perry on Jones “doing Cardale things” – “He really does enjoy making people’s days just by putting out funny tweets, and he’s made my day a time or two with some of the stuff he’s put out there, I’m not even going to lie.”
Washington on Miller’s switch to receiver – “Man, if you YouTube ‘Braxton Miller highlights,’ he’s a human joystick. For him to do that at the quarterback position is amazing. Just imagine what he can do with open space. I feel like he’ll be fine.”
Washington on facing Miller in practice while Miller was wearing a black jersey – “He didn’t really need one because could no one hit him anyway.”
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany on Michigan landing coach Jim Harbaugh – “It was a head-turning hire.”
Harbaugh while holding up a Mike Ditka jersey at the podium – “I’m proud to wear that.”
Minnesota coach Jerry Kill on the loss of current pros David Cobb and Maxx Williams – “I’ll give an example: Ohio State. They just lose one, bring another one in. That’s what you have to do if you’re going to have a good team.”
Maryland coach Randy Edsall on the Terrapins’ Big Ten baptism last season – “We found out it was a linemen’s league. We discovered you have to win in the trenches if you’re going to win game-in and game-out. The physicality – you’d better be able to control the line of scrimmage if you’re going to give yourself a chance to win.”
Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio on the Ohio State series – “I think it’s a rivalry because for me, because I’m from Ohio, we have so many players from Ohio on our football team. I think 27 last year. So it sort of comes with the territory at Michigan State a little bit. I have deep respect for what they’ve done down there. I was a part of that back in the early 2000s. And I respect that tradition very, very much.”
• Big Ten Network announced it will air a new three-part program, “Scarlet and Gray Days,” which will serve as an inside look at Ohio State’s preseason camp. The first episode is set to air on Aug. 19. BTN president Mark Silverman says he’s not sure if the show will have the same access as HBO’s popular “Hard Knocks,” but believes it will be similar in nature.
• Maryland is not being picked to do a whole lot of damage this fall. The Terrapins were a respectable 7-6 overall and 4-4 in their inaugural Big Ten campaign last year but return just 10 starters and lost impact players such as receiver Stefon Diggs and quarterback C.J. Brown. “Right now, the best leader that we have on our football team is Brad Craddock,” Edsall said. Craddock, by the way, is the placekicker.
• Harbaugh said he will refer to the school down south as Ohio State. His predecessor, Brady Hoke, almost always referred to UM’s chief rival as “Ohio.” Current Michigan basketball coach John Beilein has done the same for years, and even continued the phrasing after his team lost to Ohio University in the NCAA Tournament.
• Bosa and junior RB Ezekiel Elliott have been named to the preseason Big Ten Players to Watch list. A select media panel voted for the top five players each from the East and West Division, with one additional honoree this year due to a tie. Bosa is on the preseason watch lists for the Bednarik, Nagurski, Lombardi and Walter Camp awards while Elliott is a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate who is also is on the Maxwell, Doak Walker and Walter Camp preseason watch lists. Therefore, there inclusion on the Big Ten list is far from a surprise.
The complete list of Big Ten football preseason Players to Watch appears below:
Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State
Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State
Anthony Zettel, DT, Penn State
Drew Ott, DE, Iowa
Maliek Collins, DT, Nebraska
De’Mornay Pierson-El, WR, Nebraska
Justin Jackson, RB, Northwestern
Michael Caputo, S, Wisconsin
Corey Clement, RB, Wisconsin