Big Ten Teleconference Recap: Urban Meyer Discussed K.J. Hill's Toughness, Robert Landers' Importance and Avoiding a Letdown After a Big Win

By Colin Hass-Hill on October 2, 2018 at 1:54 pm
Urban Meyer

Just a few days after Ohio State completed a 27-26 comeback victory against Penn State, head coach Urban Meyer joined the weekly Big Ten teleconference to discuss his team's win and look ahead to the Buckeyes' game against Indiana at 4 p.m. Saturday.

Here are some notes from what Meyer discussed on Tuesday's teleconference.

Urban Meyer, Ohio State
  • Says the opponent and environment can lead to slow starts. Calls them "alarming" and says it's something the coaches have to figure out, though some of it can be attributed to good opponents.
  • Says Dwayne Haskins is a "very collected player" that the team rallies around.
  • On Robert Landers: "Sense of humor. Spark plug. A guy I love to death and a guy we need to get healthy." Says Landers didn't play well on Saturday because he was "hobbled."
  • Says he has known Ryan Day for a long time and his "performances have been very strong." Since Day arrived at Ohio State, his "big picture" has improved the most.
  • Calls Trace McSorley "one of the best we've gone against" and compares him to Peyton Ramsey, Indiana's quarterback.
  • On K.J. Hill: "He's a tough, tough guy. And tough, tough guys survive in tough situations."
  • Says Ohio State must play "field position football" which they have done a good job of for the most part.
  • "We have one of the best punters in America, and our gunners and our punting unit are elite."
  • Says it's on the staff and team's leaders to avoid a letdown after a big win.
  • Energy and being well-coached on defense stands out about Indiana. On the Hoosiers offense: "Last year, we had a heck of a time with them throwing the ball on us."
  • Does not have an update on Brian Snead's situation. He has not been with the team the past few games and Meyer has referenced a "disciplinary" action.

Here are some highlights from the other Big Ten coaches during Tuesday's teleconference.

Chris Ash, Rutgers 
  • "We are in the middle of a negative streak here that we've got to get stopped."
  • He says he doesn't see much difference between Illinois' quarterbacks, except for the difference in experience.
  • On Raheem Blackshear: "Raheem is one of our best players. He loves the game of football. He practices the way coaches want players to practice. He's a playmaker. He can make plays out in space. He can make plays between tackles."
  • He says the story of the defense this season has been inconsistency. 
  • He models his Friday preparation routine with Rutgers on what Ohio State did.
Jim Harbaugh, Michigan
  • He spends the first three minutes of the call rattling off more than a dozen names of scout team members who have contributed to the program.
  • On the significance of October: "Well, we want to win our next game. Break it down even further to that. That's our goal." 
  • On what he can draw : "I think you know your team much better after you played your first four, five games in the month of September. You know who the starters are, You know who the backups are and how they continue to improve of course in every area. The players, the participants have been set. If it was a book, you'd have an opening, you'd have a middle and then you'd have a conclusion. To use a book analogy, we're in the middle of the action. And the characters have been defined. You know who they are. The plot's been set.
  • On the scout team: "You come here to play football and there's drills, you get to go through the drills. But to go out there and play football, scout team is one of the avenues to actually go out and play football. It's a great way to improve as a football player. It's a great way to improve. It's a valuable role on he squad." Says sometimes he rewards scout team members with playing on the first-team in practice.
  • He says he played on the scout team, just like most players.
Paul Chryst, Wisconsin
  • Says he thought Wisconsin had a good week on its bye, but is excited to get back to Big Ten play against Nebraska.
  • Says there were some players who needed the bye week to get "healed up," but the bye week was mainly for looking back at the four games and making the necessary improvements without having to worry about preparing to a specific team.
  • On Nebraska: "I know what their record is, but they've got really good players and good schemes."
Scott Frost, Nebraska
  • He says he knows the coaching staff's plan works and the expectations won't change.
  • "We've been through this before. Year 1s are tough." He says he has "more confidence than ever" that the team will reach its end goal.
  • He remembers people before the season asking how many wins would be a success: "You can't measure your success based on that. Being great is being better than you were yesterday. That's greatness to me. Being better than your former self. We certainly need to be better than we've been. I think we have improved in a lot of ways. There are some things holding us back from improving even more. I just want to see the team keep improving every time we go out."
Mark Dantonio, Michigan State
  • On quarterback Clayton Thorson: "He's an excellent quarterback. He's got a great deal of experience. You've got to play tight coverage on him with all the RPOs and things that they do, things conceptually that they do. He has a great deal of experience and he'll be a challenge."
  • Says Thorson's ability to "create with his feet" and "quick decision-making are Thorson's best traits. 
  • Says in November, you're "chasing championships," which he learned from Jim Tressel and Earle Bruce. But his team has to get to November in order to chase them, so that's the part of the season they're at. In October, a team's identity becomes more of a reality, Dantonio says.
Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
  • He opens by saying Iowa had a productive bye week, which he used to get players healed and make improvements.
  • He says he talks to his players about the importance of voting, and he used a piece written by John McCain to reinforce that. He brought in a group last year to help get players involved and registered to vote that the Atlanta Falcons also used.
  • Says "all the little things matter" to winning close games.
P.J. Fleck, Minnesota
  • He says Nate Stanley is a "lot better" than last year and calls Iowa's tight ends probably the best Minnesota will face the entire season. He says the teams is well coached and tough, which is a brand of football they've played for "half a century."
  • On A.J. Epenesa: "We know him through recruiting. Our coaches know who he is. Very talented young person who can really play. They rush the passer really well."
  • Says Iowa's defensive line is probably the longest Minnesota will play this season. "They're tough. They're strong. They're very active. But they're very long."
  • On Iowa: "We've got to give a lot of credit. They're a very good defense."
  • On the strength program and how it has improved since Fleck was hired: "We're on the right track. We're not even close to where we need to be, but we are continually making improvements."
  • The importance of getting stronger, faster and better conditioned is important, especially for a young team like Minnesota. "It was hard to get our players out of the weight room, which is a great sign."
Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern
  • He says the turnover ratio has been the determining factor for wins and losses.
  • "The way we play, we very rarely beat ourselves." He says Northwestern tried not to be "too cute."
  • Says teams must make plays down the stretch in order to win, which Northwestern both has and has not done. "I'm going gray because of it, brother."
  • Says he talks to players about "every issue" that may come up in their lives, including voting. He says it's important to educate players on voting, given what people before them did to get that right. "I don't get into politics, but I do believe, if so inclined, it's in our guys' best interest to be socially engaged."
Lovie Smith, Illinois
  • In his opening statement, Smith says it always seems like bye weeks come at the right time, but the team is excited to get back on the practice field to prepare for Rutgers.
  • He does not get any questions, just four days before Illinois' clash with the Scarlet Knights.
Matt Canada, Maryland
  • Says he remembers going to the Big House in Michigan while on Indiana's staff. "It's a tremendous pace to play" and offers a great opportunity for his players to play in a great environment.
Jeff Brohm, Purdue
  • Says he will try to get the players healthy and refresh both physically and mentally during the bye week. The young players will get a lot of work this week, then begin work on Sunday for their next opponent, Illinois.
  • On the red zone: "I think we started off the year bad in that category. I think we have gotten better."
  • Says the coaches try to self-scout after every game, but they're looking even more at what to get better at this week.
James Franklin, Penn State
  • Says he is proud that an environment has been created at Penn State where both players and coaches want to take responsibility. Says ultimately he is responsible for the final play against Ohio State.
  • "We played really hard and what I'm always looking at is have we improved every single week." Says he can't imagine anyone thinks Penn State hasn't improved from Week 1 to the game against Ohio State on Saturday.
  • "Obviously this is painful and it hurts, but I think if used the right way, this can fuel us and allow us to take the next step."
  • On tackling in space in the last few drives: "We played our first-teamers at a much higher rep count that the previous games. I think that put us in the position we were in. But I also think we ran out of gas a little bit in the fourth quarter." Says Ohio State has great depth, as they have had had for a few years, and Penn State wore down while the Buckeyes didn't.
  • Says Penn State held "one of the most explosive offenses" under their yardage and point totals, but got beat in the fourth quarter.
  • Says Miles Sanders is "one of the best running backs in the country" and is evolving on the field and as a leader. Says his yards after contact jumps out.
Tom Allen, Indiana
  • On K.J. Hill: "We always look at guys and say who do they go through when they need something? That's the guy who sticks out to me." Says he has noticeable toughness, ball skills and ability after the catch.
  • Says Peyton Ramsey's patience before tucking the ball and running has improved since he got to Indiana.
  • On Ohio State's roster depth "That's the challenge. I'm not bashful about saying that." He says he says that he referenced that after last season's game, during which the Buckeyes wore them down. It comes down to recruiting, player development and roster management.
  • Says the depth is the "game-changer component." Says it's a pretty strong difference between Ohio State's depth and the rest of the conference.
  • He says Urban Meyer elevated the recruiting of the entire conference when he took over the Ohio State job.
  • On Chase Young: "He's impressive. He's just so long. I thought that he really, as I watched him throughout the season on film, just kept getting better and better." Says the depth at defensive line, even with the loss of Nick Bosa, is impressive.
  • Says he loves watching Ohio State play, unless he's playing against the Buckeyes.
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