Cal Notebook: Emotional Speech from Simon Captivates Locker Room

By Kyle Rowland on September 15, 2012 at 9:50p

He’ll be fine. That’s the message Urban Meyer received throughout the week about John Simon.

Battling a shoulder injury, Simon was a game-time decision. But keeping the senior co-captain off the field was going to be a tall task for the coaching staff. 

There's no doubt about Simon's toughness.

“He almost didn't play,” Meyer said. “I didn't know that because they told me all week he should be fine. He didn't practice much because of his sore shoulder. No ligament damage or something like that. When you say sore, for most human beings they're probably laid up in the Ohio State Medical Center, because that's how tough he is. He goes so hard.”

He may have only finished with one tackle – a sack – but Simon’s heart and leadership was more important than his on-field production in Ohio State’s 35-28 victory over California.

“For the players to trust me and go out there and for the coaches to give me that opportunity means the world,” Simon said. “Coach (Luke) Fickell called me out and really appreciated my effort, and then I said something to the team.”

Following the game, Simon took it one step further by addressing his teammates in the locker room. In a rousing speech filled with emotion, Simon had tears in his eyes.

“Boy, he just lost it in the locker room, as far as just sharing, opening up his soul for this team,” Meyer said. “If we have another child I want to name him Urban John Simon Meyer or something like that. That’s how much I love that guy. I'm not ashamed to say I love him. Love that guy. Man.”

Carpe Diem

Braxton Miller said they seized the moment. The “they” he was referring to was, who else, but wide receiver Devin Smith. And the moment was the 72-yard game-winning touchdown pass that occurred less than an hour before.

Once again, the Miller-to-Smith combination rescued Ohio State from possible misery. Last fall it came against Wisconsin on a play that will be shown for as long as football is played in Columbus.

On Saturday, the Buckeyes were tied late in the fourth quarter, but the anxiousness in Ohio Stadium told the story. Ohio State was coming off one of its worst quarters of play on both sides of the ball, so the confidence level was not overwhelming.

But when Miller needed more late-game magic, the guy he partnered with was Smith. Streaking open without a guy in the same zip code, Smith caught a perfectly thrown ball from Miller and eased his way into the end zone to provide the final score of 35-28 over California.

“You've got to have chemistry,” Miller said. “You also practice things like that throughout the week. It happened.”

Yes, it did. It also happened in the season-opening win over Miami (Ohio) when Smith made what is perhaps the catch of the year in college football. In the first quarter versus Cal, Smith had another eye-popping touchdown reception when Miller forced him to adjust to the ball in the air.

"It feels great to know that I made a play for my team and won the game for them,” Smith said. “That feels good. When you know you can rely on somebody to make a play, it feels great.”

Another Miller-to-Smith treasure.

Smith was a known quantity and performed well the first two weeks of the 2012 season, but he had some uncharacteristic drops in the first half against the Golden Bears. He made up for it in a big way with his fourth-quarter touchdown.

With Corey “Philly” Brown’s emergence as a legitimate playmaker, Smith’s added consistency could go a long way in the passing game becoming a force for Ohio State. 

“The kid has got a long way to go to be considered an elite receiver in this conference,” offensive coordinator Tom Herman said. “But he continues to get better.”


Bri’onte Dunn was listed as the starting running back at the beginning of the week. But head coach Urban Meyer cautioned people not to look into that. The decision would be made based on the production in practice, and it would be announced on Saturday.

The message was delivered loud and clear. Senior captain Jordan Hall is the starter. It’s a position he would have occupied the first two weeks had he not sustained a freak injury in June that left him with torn tendons in his foot.

In his season debut, Hall finished with 87 yards on 17 carries.

“It felt good being back out there at practice with the guys, my brothers,” Hall said. “I just want to get back to work. I had a little rust, and I just want to get back to work and get better.”

Rust or not, Meyer saw all he needed in practice and the game to settle on Hall not only as the primary running back but the only running back. Meyer said part of his reasoning was trust in Hall and the youth and inexperience of Dunn and Rod Smith.

“When you say don't have faith, they're just young and still learning the game,” Meyer said. “When that game got tight you want your dudes in there, your guys. And to say Rod Smith and Bri'onte Dunn, I don't have faith in them, that's too harsh. Because I do.”

Hall was able to take carries away from Miller, something Meyer was desperate for. After averaging 22 carries the first two games, Miller had 12 for 75 yards and a touchdown against Cal.

“I thought there were some runs that I kept my footing,” Hall said. “Had I had a little more practice, I could have come out on the other side. I practiced Wednesday and Thursday against scout team, but they’re a little bit slower. It took a while to get back up to game speed.”

With another tune-up next Saturday against Alabama-Birmingham, Hall should ready and raring to go for the conference opener in East Lansing, Mich., against the highly-ranked Michigan State Spartans.


Storm Klein thought Saturday might never happen again – him running around the Ohio Stadium turf wearing Scarlet and Gray.

In July, Klein was dismissed from the Ohio State football team after being charged with assault and domestic violence. But Meyer welcomed Klein back to the team after the charges were reduced.

On Saturday, he split time with middle linebacker Curtis Grant, finishing with two tackles.

“It was surreal coming back into the stadium,” Klein said. “I picked up where I left off, just trying to get win and help the younger guys get better.”

Klein said he continued to lift weights and workout during the time he was not a member of the football team. Because of that, he stayed in football shape and didn’t skip a beat once he returned to the practice field.

It’s realistic to assume Klein has a shot at the starting middle linebacker spot after Grant’s struggles against Cal. The sophomore won the starting job in the spring. He played sparingly the first two week due to the opposing offenses. He finally got decent playing time Saturday and did not make the most of it.


Comments Show All Comments

Dougger's picture

Yeah interesting game they came to play. But wow. I love John Simon too. I hope that his love and passion for Ohio state translates into production on the field. I was really happy to see him get that sack at that game. Go bucks 

I like football

703Buckeye's picture

Whenever Simon is done playing football, I would love to see him coach for the Bucks.

"Attack the Strong, Trample the Weak, Hurdle the Dead!"
-Former OSU S&C Coach Lichter

Buckeyeholicwompa's picture

Ditto ^  But unfortunately, someone is going to have nightmares of John Simon doing John Simon things. See pitsy pantsies comments below.

Buckeyejason's picture

Mark it down..he'll be our strength and conditioning coach after he's done wreaking havoc for the Patriots or whatever smart franchise that drafts him.


BrewstersMillions's picture

Because so many former players become an SC for their alma maters...I like the guy but come on man.

Buckeyejason's picture

I know man I wasnt being too serious.


Brutus's picture

Kyle, I resent this article which puts such a positive spin on things.  Perhaps you haven't been reading the comments in the other articles.  OSU sucks. Fickell must be fired within the next ten minutes. Urban is overrated. The defense should lose their scholarships, all of them (except for Simon of course). We did not deserve to win (because deserve has so much to do with the outcome of a game). Tressel sucks. Tressel does not suck and in fact Urban should be more like him. How dare a young team make stupid mistakes and actually come back to win.  My god, we didn't even cover the spread. We are not an entitled fan base but we do expect greatness at OSU every year.
Know your audience Kyle and stop writing anything with a semblance of a bright side.

Buckeyejason's picture

Greatest post I've ever seen. +10000000000


Kyle Rowland's picture

Uh oh, is the sky falling again? 

DetroitBuckeye's picture

We played terrible no question, but to make such daring claims after one bad game.  We are an entitled fan base, the fact is that prognosticators underestimated a feisty cal team who has many pro ready players.  The run defense is the only thing I really saw as a glaring weakness.  To say Urban is overrated after one game is just dumb.

Brutus's picture

Really? You didn't even get a hint of sarcasm out of that post?

buckeye76BHop's picture

LOL at this...

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."

"I love football. I think it is most wonderful game in world and I despise to lose."

Woody Hayes 1913 - 1987 

Buckeyeholicwompa's picture

And besides what team ISN'T gonna come into Ohio Stadium with a chip on their shoulder in hopes to beat THE Ohio State Buckeye's?? Cal played us a game today BUT we did have our issues.

andretolstoy's picture

Notre Dame's helmets look extra sparkly this evening

NoVA Buckeye's picture

It becomes more obnoxious by the game.

The offseason begins when your season ends. Even then there are no days off.

cinserious's picture

I hope I'm wrong but I dont see our defense looking nearly as good as NDs against sparty.

One day I will valiantly become a political prisoner of 11W jail.

AC1972's picture

I think the Bucks will be Ok. Sparty is one dimensional. That one dimension is good, buT if the focus is there, tOSU will stop the run (well enough).  Then, I think it comes down to turnovers, and I'm hoping that when Sparty throws, the Buckye ball hawks will be there. 

NoVA Buckeye's picture

And their trolling is news...?

The offseason begins when your season ends. Even then there are no days off.

cbusbuckeye's picture

His name is Corey brown....

AntiZmbeTskFrc's picture

I really want to hear Simon's speech after reading what Urban said about it.

"We got no food, no jobs... our PETS' HEADS ARE FALLING OFF!"

cinserious's picture

Man, I cant wait till michael Thomas starts getting on the field! All the 'easy' passes Miller zipped into Devin Smith that he dropped would have been Hoovered-up by Thomas. Imagine a possesion-type reciever like Thomas coupled with a spectacular home-run threat like Devin Smith. Then add in a dose of 'don't call me' Brown and Stoney! It could really click,click, and keep on clickin'. As the games wear on, Miller will have a better feel for when to throw or run (or do both at the same time being the magician he is).

One day I will valiantly become a political prisoner of 11W jail.

BrewstersMillions's picture

I thought this was Simon's best game of the year hands down. Realistically, I think only he, Hank, and Bryant can say they played a solid, all around game. Roby and Shazier missed too many tackles-and big ones. Both guys have the knack for the big hit but go for it too many times. If I see Shazier throw a shoulder or go in with his head down one more time, I might actually cry-seriously. I'm 29 years old and his awful form will literally make a grown man cry.
I am interested to know when Simon got hurt because I don't really think his play was better or worse in one quarter or another-he stayed pretty consistent the entire day. I counted 6 hits on the QB to go along with his sack, but I'd have to watch again to get the total. One thing he and Williams both did scared me though. At least 3 times a piece, he or Williams got a 1-1 matchup and EASILY dispatched of their opponent with an outside move but got WAY too far up the field. Both guys were unable to 'flatten out' towards the  line-basically closing the gap between them and the QB by taking the shortest line possible. They both took really wide loops to beat their guy but because of the path they took couldn't generate pressure despite being in the backfield. The defense does appear to be regressing as a whole but from a big play perspective-they were the results of missed tackles, not blown assignments. That will come. Tackling can improve quicker than being out of position. Should have an easy one against UAB, and Sparty looks more than beatable. More than anything, I'd say Nebraska is the biggest "uh-oh" on the schedule if the D can't get it together.

Squirrel Master's picture

Brew, Simon was hurt earlier this week! Urban said he was battling it all week but still looked like he was good to play. 
I agree with you about Shazier. He is uber talented and was there on every play, as opposed to Sabino and Grant when there were times we didn't even see them on the play, but he kept ducking and trying to hit low! I don't know where that is being taught. Maybe  I am wrong but I thought a proper tackle is keepin your head up and throwing your upper body into the tackle while wrapping your arms. When your arms are not even in on the tackle, you did it wrong!
I don't agree with all the fire Fickell talk but at the same time something is being missed in the coaching. Play calling is not as bad as the tackling, we both agree. Maybe there is a reason why blitzing was not done a lot during the first 2 games. The linebackers get too lost. 
I do agree with your assessment in the pass rushing lines. I think it might have to do with the emphasis on getting to the QB so much that they forgot to also stay in position. All I know is if I see Simon, Spence or Williams drop back into coverage again while Grant or Sabino comes on a delayed blitz, I will seriously break stuff! If you want to change things up, how about a stunt like we see ND doing? Get some guys working together AS A TEAM instead of just trying to take their man one on one! Delayed blitzes don't work when the opponent is already trying to pass quickly due to OSU's dline. 
Lots to be desired but still a lot better than what we are seeing across the country. I'll take ugly 3-0 seasons. not to mention I am not hating that this team can score 35 points ugly. Last year this team couldn't score 35 points and look good doing it!

I saw a UFO told me to have a goodyear!

BrewstersMillions's picture

Ahhh well then his game yesterday is that much more impressive. I'm pretty hard on Simon but as far as toughness goes, I don't think that's ever been called into question.
3-0 is 3-0. 35 points is a lot too. 5 TD's will win you most every game. I'm a firm believer that from a talent standpoint, 35 will get even a team with a struggling D a W. If the O continues to score like this, we will see a lot of wins. What I liked more-the offense scored on both the big play and sustained\multiple play drives. The ability to do both will keep OSU in every game while the D gels.

Squirrel Master's picture

exactly. Hence why the sky shouldn't fall. We all have our comments about little things here and there but we all should be pretty happy with the current results. It could be a lot worst!

I saw a UFO told me to have a goodyear!

J.Mo's picture

The offense need to capitalize on the oppoent's defense mistakes. There were so many times that the offense was set and the clock was running and the defense wasn't set (and guys running on/off the field)  - need to capitalize on those mistakes on the defense.

buckeye76BHop's picture

There is need for the defense to get doubt about that.  Bad tackling and LB not there.  Spielmen pointed that out as I was on Saturday.  Sky isn't falling for sure...but some things must be fixed.  UAB will be tough if these problems continue...or OSU crushes em and gets things figured out before MSU (who absolutely BLEW my predictions by laying an egg at home against ND and gave OSU GREAT film for how to beat them in two weeks).  A wins a win...

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."

"I love football. I think it is most wonderful game in world and I despise to lose."

Woody Hayes 1913 - 1987