Big Ten Teleconference Recap: Urban Meyer Discusses Safety Competition, Wyatt Davis' Development and “Frustrated But Positive” Tate Martell

By Colin Hass-Hill and Dan Hope on November 6, 2018 at 1:48 pm
Urban Meyer

A few days after Ohio State bounced back from its loss to Purdue with a 36-31 win against Nebraska, Urban Meyer joined the weekly Big Ten coaches teleconference to discuss his team and the upcoming game against Michigan State.

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

Urban Meyer, Ohio State
  • Meyer said Brendon White and Shaun Wade will both play on Saturday but who starts will be determined in practices this week. Isaiah Pryor is expected back this week, but Meyer expects either Wade or White to start.
  • Said Michigan State has a "very good defense," particularly up front.
  • On the improvement he has seen from Ohio State's defense: "Even though we are giving up yards, we are getting better." Said he'll know more about the defense after the Buckeyes play Michigan State this week, going against a Spartans offense that is "very multiple."
  • Meyer said the play of the offensive line and running backs was the key to Ohio State's offensive success against Nebraska, but they'll face a much tougher test.
  • On Wyatt Davis: "He's going to have a fine career here. He's one of our most improved players. He's always had the talent, but now he's a finisher."
  • Meyer said Tate Martell, who has not played in any of the last five games, is "frustrated but positive" because "he wants to play." He described Martell as an "elite competitor," and says there are ongoing conversations about finding ways to get him on the field.
  • On Jeremy Ruckert: "He's much improved, and we're hoping to get him more involved, as well."
  • Meyer said he believes the Big Ten is top to bottom, one of the best conferences in America, which makes it tough every time you have to go win a game on the road. "Every stadium we walk into, you better strap it up and go."

A recap of what Mark Dantonio had to say ahead of the Spartans' game against the Buckeyes:

Mark Dantonio, Michigan State
  • On Connor Heyward: "He's just coming into his own as a tailback. he really didn't play too much of that in high school. So, he's a second-year player. He played a little bit for us last year as well. So, he's got a good foundation in terms of what to do. Thought he had a great game on Saturday. He's had a couple moments where we've looked to be the real deal. We need him to continue to perform like that."
  • On his policy with commits taking visits elsewhere: "I've always said to our guys is don't commit if you plan on going some place else to visit. That would be the general thought process as we go forward. If you are taking another visit, then you probably aren't committed, so let's just call it like it is. It's a pretty simple process, really." He says Michigan State has never hosted a prospect committed elsewhere for an official visit.
  • On if injuries have been the biggest reasons for offensive issues: "There's a lot of different reasons. We sort of use the next-man-up mentality, so over the course of time when we've lost somebody, there's opportunities for otehr players to step in and play well. I think probably as much as anything is just inconsistency at times. Some of that's due to injuries. Some of that's due to scheme. Some of that's due to execution. There's no certain thing that you're going to say, 'This is what happened and we're done.' I think that we've always found a way to succeed and that's what we're doing right now. We'll get ourselves ready to play this next game. Every game right now in November is like a full season because it has so much meaning."
  • On Ohio State vs. Michigan State: "I think that the magnitude, the meaning of the game has had so much to do with each team's season. In 2013, it was the championship game. In 2014, the team that won, it was later in the year, they went on to win the national championship and get to the championship and we lost. We still had a successful season. Then you go to 2015 and we win and win the title. 16's a down year, but even last year going in November, if we win that game, maybe we win the title because I think we won all our games after that. So, there's so much meaning to that game that it takes on even a little bit bigger game of magnitude. We've got a lot of players from Ohio. That feeds into it a little bit. I'm from Ohio. You just want to play well. You just want to do your very best. I was at Ohio State at one time, so I understand the meaning. Even going back to when I was here as an assistant, that game was an important game because even back then with Nick Saban there was an Ohio based background here in terms of our coaches and many of our players."

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

Chris Ash, Rutgers 
  • Ash says he recruited Rash Gary at Ohio State: "He's been fun to watch in his career."
  • On how it compares hosting Michigan now versus two years ago: "It's different. Back then, we had more older players in the program." Says the makeup of the team and the staff is different.
  • On what improvements he's made since 2016: "We're trying to build the roster. We lost a lot of players off of that 2016 players and there were a lot of older players in that year. Our roster's completely different. It may not look like we've made improvements, but we think we've brought in some very talented young players that we have to develop and coach and get better as we go." He says the team is better defensively than it was in 2016 "regardless of any stats."
  • He says Michigan has improved in a lot of areas, specifically at the offensive line. He says he's known Ed Warinner for a while and he's a good coach. Shea Patterson has "added a different dynamic" to the offense. 
Jim Harbaugh, Michigan
  • "Both lines have been really good." He says the offensive line is "playing very disciplined," doesn't have many penalties and has protected Shea Patterson well.
Paul Chryst, Wisconsin
  • Asked how he views this season for Wisconsin: "I think each season's interesting. I think we've had some good moments and then certainly you'd like to go through the season and be undefeated, so we're not. You just want the players to continue to improve and grow. It's been a good season for this group, and yet I think at times you feel like we're a team that's trying to find its identity a little bit. I love the way that this group's worked and prepared."
Scott Frost, Nebraska
  • On the Ohio State game: "I wouldn't say it was in our hands, but we had opportunities in the game." He said the Cornhuskers had a chance to take a two-score lead, but couldn't make that happen and came out in the second half with "a lot of punts." 
  • On Brendon White's performance: "He certainly did a good job. They're really talented. I think they're coached well. You've got to work hard and earn whatever you get. We know how good a team they've been and continue to be. I think our guys were ready to play, and even in a loss, we played probably our best game in that game."
  • He says Nebraska has grown to where he expects the team to compete in each of the three final games, and he hopes they'll pull out wins.
Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
  • Says Iowa is coming off a tough loss and the team now needs to "get back on our feet" to "play a great game."
  • Says David Blough and Trace McSorley are the best quarterbacks his team has played this season.
P.J. Fleck, Minnesota
  • Says when you make a change at coordinator like Minnesota did, you want to see the team respond and understand that "this wasn't because of them, it was for them." He says he felt like the team needed it and responded well in the situation.
Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern
  • "It's been a really unique year from starting off with a Big Ten game on the road." He says the team has dealt with multiple injuries at key positions, but the players "haven't pouted."
  • "The biggest challenge for us is us." He says he knows the team will play "great opponents" down the stretch of the season, and the challenge is just to keep getting better.
Lovie Smith, Illinois
  • Says David Blough makes great decisions and seems like a great leader. He knows exactly where to go with the football.
Matt Canada, Maryland
  • He says he doesn't have too many thoughts about returning to a school he used to coach at since he made his first return a few years ago. "This is really about our team, our players."
Jeff Brohm, Purdue
  • Brohm says there are a "couple of elite teams" in the Big Ten East "that are playing really well," and that the Big Ten West has been more competitive. Says he does not worry about whether the Boilermakers are ranked in the polls.
James Franklin, Penn State
  • Asked to characterize how Penn State's season has gone in general, Franklin said he is "disappointed" about the three losses to Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan, but said his team remains excited about playing Wisconsin this week.
  • Franklin said he does not put much stock into preseason polls.
  • On Michigan and Ohio State: "Both obviously really, really talented teams ... really good teams with history, tradition and recent success as well."
  • "What we saw on tape is what we got" in last week's 42-7 loss, and said he had to give Michigan "a lot of credit."
Tom Allen, Indiana
  • On frustration some Indiana players expressed about fans leaving the Hoosiers' last home game against Penn State early: "We have to play to a level that keeps our fans in the stands ... it's our responsibility to be able to put a team on that football field that plays for 60 minutes to a level where those fans don't want to leave, and they want to stay and watch every second of it."
  • Allen said he is focusing on his team going into this week's game against Maryland and not about what has happened off the field with the Terrapins' program.
View 138 Comments