Big Ten Teleconference Recap: Urban Meyer Discusses “Glaringly Obvious” Weaknesses, Losing Austin Mack And Fixing Problems With Coordinators

By Colin Hass-Hill on October 23, 2018 at 1:52 pm
Urban Meyer

Things didn't go quite as planned for Ohio State on Saturday. Purdue welcomed the Buckeyes to West Lafayette, Indiana, with a 49-20 upset to give them their first loss of the season. Three days after the defeat, Urban Meyer joined the weekly Big Ten coaches teleconference to discuss his team.

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

Urban Meyer, Ohio State
  • Calls Austin Mack a "big loss" and says there's "a chance" he'll be back for the bowl game. Mack had surgery yesterday.
  • Calls Mickey Marotti someone who everyone in the program counts on. 
  • "This bye week's going to give us an opportunity to evaluate some schemes." Says there are things they do well and things they don't. 
  • Says the red zone offense, run game and defense giving up big plays are "glaringly obvious" weaknesses.
  • He spent all day yesterday with the coordinators trying to fix the problems instead of them going on the road recruiting.
  • Says "in some way" coaches have to deal with players differently than they did in the past.
  • Says Ohio State has a mature team. "The one thing you want to do is never start blaming."
  • On getting the run game to work with a quarterback like Dwayne Haskins instead of J.T. Barrett: "I'd have to say we spent at least 12 hours on that yesterday." 
  • Says it's hard to have any major discussions about scheme during the year since there's minimal preparation time, but the bye week offers a chance for that to happen.
  • Says it has not been determined yet if there will be major changes.
  • He says the locker room was "strong" following the loss.
  • Most of the staff was out recruiting. I just thought it was really, not to take away from recruiting, obviously there are some thing that have to be corrected."
  • Says the team will work on the red zone for the next three days in a row.
  • Says there is "no tension" between him and Gene Smith and they talk and work together nearly every day.
  • On report of tension between coaching staff: "There are some things that need to be fixed. I wouldn't call it tension. I'd call it day-to-day going to work and working on your weaknesses and getting them fixed. So no, there is no tension. Urgency, I'd call it."
  • On whether linebackers play too close to the line: "We are looking into that."
  • Says Ohio State had a couple bad penalties and played poorly in the red zone on Saturday. 

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

Chris Ash, Rutgers 
  • "Had a tough loss here this week to Northwestern, but very proud of the fight and effort that our young men displayed in that game. We are in a bye week after eight straight weeks. It's much needed. We need to rest and recover and go back and review what we've done in the first eight weeks and develop a plan on how to get better here at the end of the season."
  • On positives taken from loss to Northwestern: "I think we did a lot of good things in the game. We're just a step or two away from doing, in my opinion, some great things. But unfortunately we're still a step or two away, or an inch away, from getting that done. The effort and the attitude of our players remains extremely high. They're continuning to come in and get coached every single day. There is improvement that continues to happen on all three phases. Defensively, I think we made some huge strides on Saturday. I think offensively, we're very close on some things. There are some plays there that we just have to finish a block here, finish a block there, look the ball in and catch it, finish the throw. So there were a lot of things that we're encouraged about, but at the end of the day, we didn't get the job done on Saturday and that's dissapointing. 
Don Brown, Michigan
  • There was no explanation as to why Jim Harbaugh was not on the teleconference.
  • Says Michigan did a great job keeping Brian Lewerke in the pocket because he can hurt teams with his feet.
  • Says Michigan was hampered with penalties in the opening game, and the team has adjusted its style to fit with how officials call the game.
  • "The approach that coach Harbaugh's had the whole staff take and our players is take care of what's in front of us." Says they're just working on improvement each week and if you get too far ahead in your mind, then "bad things happen."
  • He says that if the wheels came off at any time last year, the defense would have trouble getting back to its form. But this season, he says, Michigan has been able to bounce back from off quarters. 
  • Says they are "trying desperately" to get Rashan Gary.
  • Calls Chase Winovich a "crazy man who just plays with his hair on fire all the time."
Paul Chryst, Wisconsin
  • He does not get any questions.
Scott Frost, Nebraska
  • On finally getting a win: "It was overdue. The guys had played enough to win several." He said it was a big weight off everybody's shoulders.
  • On quarterback Adrian Martinez: "He showed signs early on that he could become a really good player." Says he impressed by how quickly he has learned. "He's playing at a level right now that I haven't seen too many 18 year olds play at." Says he's "right up there with the best ones I've coached."
  • Says the biggest improvement this year has been the culture, and the biggest advancement came after the Purdue loss. "It was almost like there was a darkness around the place until then."
Mark Dantonio, Michigan State
  • Someone begins to ask a question about the incident with Michigan and Dantonio interrupts him and says "read the notes" from the press conference.
  • Says Purdue has an outstanding quarterback that has been "extremely productive." Notes the Boilermakers have other talented receivers beyond Rondale Moore.
Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
  • Says this weekend shows how unpredictable college football can be.
  • He says Iowa has both had "really good wins" and "tough losses" at Penn State. Says they always have a team that both looks good in their uniforms and plays well.
  • Calls Trace McSorley "arguably the best quarterback in the conference, if not the country."
  • Says the first thing he congratulated the team on Saturday was being bowl eligible.
  • On the height of Iowa's defensive line: "I'm reminded of that, especially on the road or at the hotel." 
P.J. Fleck, Minnesota
  • Says he has spent more time with the defense since it has struggled more than the offense.
Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern
  • Says he has been consistent with the team's goal for a long time. Goals include consistently preparing for each game, winning the Big Ten West, winning the Big Ten championship and winning the bowl game.
Lovie Smith, Illinois
  • "After two disappointing weekends, we're excited about getting back on the practice field."
  • Says it's tough to win when losing the turnover battle.
  • Says the "once you get to football in its purest form," not much has changed since he began coaching. "Football is still football."
  • He says Maryland played good defenses the past three weeks and didn't "play their best ball." Notes Maryland has "a lot of skill" on offense.
Matt Canada, Maryland
  • Says Tre Watson has been a "very integral" part of the team and has been a "bright spot."
  • On Friday routine: Maryland has a short practice and a nice dinner before getting up Saturday to go play. 
Jeff Brohm, Purdue
  • "We're definitely looking forward to moving on to the next game which is going to be a great opponent for us." Says it can be "extremely difficult" to move on from a big game like Saturday's.
  • "It was one of those days, I believe. We did want to try to be aggressive." Says he knew if Purdue wasn't aggressive, Ohio State would have come back.
  • "I actually think they're a very talented football team, and I actually think they have very good coaches that have been there been there and done that. Sometimes you have a game, a lot of times throughout the course of the year, you're going to have at least one game where it just doesn't happen."
  • Says he feels like Ohio State has a "potent passing attack" and a "great quarterback."
  • On Ohio State's defense: "They probably need to shore up giving up some big plays, but I think they have the ability to do that. I could foresee them running the table from here on out. I know that's hard for people to say now because you suffer a loss. They did the same thing last year and they bounced back and they played very well. Really, it's about leaders on the field stepping forward, the coaches doing their part. I know they can do it. I wouldn't want to play them again."
  • On Ohio State's defense: "I just think they had a very good front four. Without question, they had talent and speed there. We couldn't hold the ball too long unless we were going to match protect or load the pocket. I thought their linebackers were good players, but they were up at the line of scrimmage quite a bit. If you could get past that first level, there was a bigger level in between them and the safeties because they play up so far."
  • Says Purdue's passing game opened up the run game later in the contest.
James Franklin, Penn State
  • Says it's "exciting" in a conference where things can change week to week, as seen by Michigan winning and Ohio State losing.
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