Urban Meyer spoke to the media Thursday as part of the Fiesta Bowl media day. The head coach has just over three weeks to get his staff and team prepared for their postseason rematch with Clemson, and he’s running on all cylinders. Meyer addressed Luke Fickell’s new position with the University of Cincinnati, and how his team is progressing to being ready for the College Football Playoff semifinals.
- To open the presser, Meyer was asked about the transfer rumors about Torrance Gibson. The head coach did note that Gibson came to see him to talk about his decision, but nothing is in stone. Meyer called it an “unfortunate situation” but he plans on doing what is best for the student athlete.
- The transition from Luke Fickell should be a lot easier given he’s only moving an hour and a half away. Meyer noted as long as both parties are professional, they just put together a calendar with set expectations for the rest of OSU tenure and there shouldn’t be a problem. Meyer also pointed out another good thing is the recruiting calendar is “user friendly” and that “Luke’s a pro”.
- Meyer was asked about the development of his relationship with Luke Fickell. He admitted, “I did not want to keep him when I first got here” despite being a good guy. But then their initial meeting went over the top and the head coach has immense respect for him and his family, saying now, Fickell is a “very good friend of mine”.
- The head coach was asked about the number of quarterback runs, especially on fourth down. He admitted he tends to have a “guy”, citing examples being Braxton Miller, Tim Tebow, Ezekiel Elliott and would add J.T. Barrett to the list. He continued, “I know one thing about J.T., if he has a chance he’ll get it [fourth down conversion].”
- On how Meyer and staff are preparing for the Clemson defense, which has multiple looks. He admitted it’s hard to get ready to see three different defenses from one school, but says the first two series usually gives some kind look into their approach on that day.
- Meyer and staff have not only studied Clemson’s schemes, but also noted that the team had the best social media approach to recruits a few seasons ago, which was incorporated into the way Ohio State did things. He noted, “I like to study winners, we certainly know what they do.”
- The head coach was asked his feelings about an 8-team College Football Playoff, but his concerns are mostly with what having an extra game would do for the students class schedule and practice time. He even quipped that several players were given unexcused absences the day after the national championship game against Oregon.
- Meyer was also asked if he’d rather have an 11 game season with a conference championship, or a 12 game season with no championship. The coach answered with “Clemson” before expanding that he isn’t trying to be disrespectful, but he hasn’t given that scenario any thought.
- Usually during bowl practices, young guys have a chance to step up and maybe get some notice. Meyer noted it’s different this year with so many of the young guys already in the fold.
- On Raekwon McMillan’s career as a Buckeye, Meyer didn’t hold back, “Probably one of the top 2 or 3 I’ve ever been around — he handles his business, has a great family” and even touched on his strong involvement with the OSU community. The head coach said McMillan’s reputation is “solid as gold”. He hedged a little before confidently stating the defender has exceeded expectations.
- The coaching staff had previously mentioned getting some help for freshman Isaiah Prince, by bringing in a tight end or someone else to back him up. When asked how that plan is going, Meyer said that the first priority is improving the player, but that he’s “never seen a player work harder” since the last game of the season.
- On the importance of having Billy Price and Pat Elflein on the offensive line, Meyer said he was proud these two would have their own trees in Buckeye Grove and without any hesitation said the team wouldn’t be where they are without those two. He went on to say they were the “backbone or where we are and what we do, on top of that the greatest people you will ever find”.
- When asked about improving the passing game of the quarterbacks, Meyer noted that the term “gunslinger” will never be used to describe their quarterbacks because that’s just not what they do — that’s not Ohio State’s goal on offense. But it is what makes Barrett one of the most efficient passers in the country.
- Finally, Meyer was asked what the team needed to do to recapture the Noah Brown magic from the Oklahoma game. He claimed that they need to get him more targets, Brown needs to get separation more and they need to protect Barrett better. He did note that Brown is back to full speed after his tough injury.