Big Ten Championship Game Teleconference: Urban Meyer Recaps Ohio State's Performance Against Michigan and Looks Ahead to Northwestern

By Dan Hope on November 25, 2018 at 3:04 pm
Urban Meyer

With his team set to play Northwestern for a conference championship next weekend after its 62-39 win over Michigan on Saturday, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer spoke with reporters on the Big Ten Championship Game teleconference on Sunday afternoon.

As the Buckeyes begin their preparation for next weekend's game, which is set to kick off at 8 p.m. Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, here's what you need to know from Meyer's appearance on the teleconference:

  • Demetrius Knox has a Lisfranc injury in his foot and will be out for next weekend's Big Ten Championship Game. Wyatt Davis is in line to start in place of Knox at right guard. Meyer said the injury is likely season-ending for Knox, but he's not sure yet.
  • On Ryan Day's development of Dwayne Haskins: "That's one of the best development jobs I've ever seen."
  • Meyer said Haskins has studied Kobe Bryant in terms of how to handle himself as a player and team leader.
  • Wyatt Davis has improved his endurance and his knowledge of the game this year, which has put him in a position to take over as the starting right guard, Meyer said.
  • Meyer said he spent most of Sunday morning recruiting, so he hasn't had a chance to rewatch Ohio State's defense from Saturday's game, but thought the kicking game was "outstanding" and the offense played well after rewatching them on film.
  • Meyer said he is not giving any thought into whether the Buckeyes need to win impressively to make a statement to the College Football Playoff committee, but focused simply of winning the Big Ten Championship Game.
  • "The linebackers were outstanding" and Meyer thought the Buckeyes played well against the run on Saturday, but still need to play better in pass defense.
  • Joshua Alabi, Josh Myers and Branden Bowen are also candidates to play on the offensive line if needed with Knox out. "We've got a little bit of depth there."
  • On making sure the team channels its confidence after the Michigan win into momentum this week: "I'm going to be very hard on everybody," and says the Buckeyes cannot accept "anything other" than the level of effort they had against the Wolverines.
  • Meyer said the Buckeyes will continue to have discussions about whether the Tate Martell package is effective, but "to say we're going to abandon that, that's not correct."
  • Meyer named Josh Proctor and Teradja Mitchell as true freshmen who are making an impact this season on special teams. On Mitchell: "He's going to be a tremendous player here."
  • Meyer doesn't expect the College Football Playoff conversation to have any impact on his team's preparation for this week's game.
  • On Parris Campbell: "He is one of the fastest players in college football."
  • On recruiting Wyatt Davis for the class of 2017: "That was one of the most enjoyable recruiting experiences I've ever had."
  • On the offensive line play: "They've had a nice run here." Meyer is pleased with the way that unit has played specifically in the last three games against Michigan State, Maryland and Michigan.
  • On Demario McCall: "He's really worked extremely hard." 
  • Is this a team that's good enough to compete with anybody in the country? "I think certain areas of our team are, and certain areas are not."
  • On Sevyn Banks catching the punt block and returning it for a touchdown: "It came right to him. I told him about a half hour ago, he got a gift." Meyer said Banks is a guy "that's caught our eye," but coaches still want to see more from him.
  • On five pass interference penalties against Ohio State yesterday: "That's awful ... I'm very disappointed in that, and we've got to get that going."
  • Meyer has been pleased with Shaun Wade's development this season, but still wants him to become more consistent.

Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald also appeared on the teleconference after Meyer, and here's a sampling of what he had to say:

  • On Ohio State's offense: "Every one of their skill guys can score." Expects Dwayne Haskins to present a big challenge to Northwestern's defense.
  • Fitzgerald said Northwestern does not draw anything from playing Ohio State close two years ago, because the Wildcats lost that game and because the two teams are different now.
  • Since Northwestern clinched the Big Ten West championship a couple weeks, Fitzgerald says the "euphoria" has worn off. "This is going to be a huge challenge for us. We understand that."
  • Fitzgerald says the Wildcats need to have a great week of practice. "We've got to play as clean as we ever have."
  • "We're going to have our hands full. There's no doubt about that."
  • Fitzgerald on his team winning a lot of close games. "I know we haven't smeared anybody, but we just grind it out."
  • Fitzgerald said he and Urban Meyer have "gotten to know each other quite well." Fitzgerald is a trustee for the American Football Coaches' Association, and he said Meyer is "very involved" in working with him and others in trying to come up with ways to improve college football.
  • On making the Big Ten Championship Game for the first time: "It's a big deal for us to win the West. This is a step and a hurdle that we hadn't gotten over."
  • Fitzgerald said he doesn't think there's a good plan for expanding the College Football Playoff to more than four teams, because he doesn't think teams will want to relinquish conference championship games or any regular-season games.
  • What's your biggest concern about having to play Ohio State? "Everything," Fitzgerald deadpanned.
  • Fitzgerald says Ohio State tight ends Luke Farrell and Rashod Berry are "both very, very impressive."
  • Fitzgerald said he loves what Greg Schiano is doing schematically with Ohio State's linebackers.
  • Fitzgerald said the Buckeyes' depth of talent really stands out in the kicking game, with all the players Ohio State can roll out on special teams.
  • On watching film of both Michigan and Ohio State, Fitzgerald said he had the same feeling: "Man, I hope we don't have to play these guys."
  • Fitzgerald said Northwestern went with a "vanilla" game plan in its 24-16 win against Illinois on Saturday, pulled most of its starters early and sat out some players who could have played, taking a "calculated risk" because he believed his team could still beat the Illini while doing that. That allowed him to keep his team fresh and begin preparing in advance for this week's game.
  • Execution will be crucial for Northwestern this week, Fitzgerald said, and says Ohio State puts a lot of pressure on opponents to be perfect in their execution.
  • Fitzgerald said he thought Purdue and Maryland played "fantastic" on offense against Ohio State, and he was impressed with the Buckeyes responded to their struggles in those games.

Stay tuned with Eleven Warriors for more coverage today and throughout the week as Ohio State and Northwestern continue their preparation for the Big Ten Championship Game.

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