Urban Meyer addresses poor play-calling, offensive struggles
Urban Meyer was not happy with the effort he got from his team on Saturday. The Buckeyes fell to Michigan State on a last-second field goal from Michael Geiger, which marked the team’s first B1G regular-season loss in the Meyer era.
He talked about the play-calling down the stretch and about his team’s offensive struggles in his postgame presser.
Q. Just I think you ended up four of 15 on third downs tonight. And just could never sustain — I think you only had five first downs for the game. Maybe talk about what wasn’t working. I know it was raining, but what was not working for the offense tonight?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, we lost the line of scrimmage. And obviously you start loading up the box in those kind of situations and we were — the passing game was just, it was not there. I think we maybe had a couple of opportunities, but it just was obviously tough conditions to throw the ball. But we tried inside/outside and they beat us at the line of scrimmage and we were unable to execute in the throw game. That was a very poor performance.
Q. Can you pinpoint anything that might have caused those issues in the passing game, and seemed like early with the weather, you guys didn’t even want to take many shots?
COACH MEYER: Well, either side was tough. They hit a couple of fades, I think, on us. But for the most part it was tough sledding throwing the ball. And we tried a little bit. And I think we had Braxton, I think come clean on one. And it hasn’t been a smooth run, really, most of the year.
So we have to get some things fixed.
Q. How limited was Ezekiel Elliott with that leg problem, and was that a problem at all for him?
COACH MEYER: No. No, he was fine. That was earlier in the week. And he practiced Thursday. And he’s a warrior. Just so many people at the line of scrimmage; we couldn’t control it.
Q. What did you tell your team postgame here about —
COACH MEYER: You’ve got the rivalry coming up. It’s easy to lead when everything is going well, and you won a bunch of games in a row. That’s not how you judge a team. That’s not how you judge character. That’s not how you judge a leader. That’s how you judge a front runner. That’s how you judge when things are going well. We’ve just been hit right in the gut, and Zeek actually said a few words down there, and I love these guys and we’ll come back and do the best we can next week. We gotta get better.
Q. Any way foresee this kind of performance?
COACH MEYER: No.
Q. In terms of the conservative play calling, again, the weather was a factor, but are you content with the way the game was called — the conservative play calling?
COACH MEYER: No, I was not content.
Q. Cook doesn’t play, they go with the backups. Does it help them to run the option instead of a guy —
COACH MEYER: They just run Q run, Q run, Q run. And obviously I don’t know if they would have done that with Cook. But it’s not a throwing-type day. It would have been tough to execute the throw game even with Connor Cook. But they did it well. They ran that quarterback a lot.
Q. You said as far as the play calling you weren’t content. What can you do during the game if you’re not content with it? Was there more you could have done yourself to try to switch things up?
COACH MEYER: I call a lot of plays anyways. So finger will be pointed right here. And I have to do better. We didn’t — very conservative. Seemed like we were backed up a lot.
And I thought we had a good positioning when we downed the ball on the 3-yard line in the fourth quarter. And then they knocked it out and put us back there. And then we tried to take a shot, and then they’re second-and-10, stopped the clock, and then you try to punt with that driving wind in your face, and it was tough. And they get the ball on the 40-yard line. Obviously, you saw how the game ended. So it was kind of that game I can’t stand. Those are tough to watch now and tough to be a part of. When you start playing field position like that — been in a couple of situations in my career where you’re in a blizzard. It wasn’t a blizzard, but it was a tough situation.
Once again, I felt decent when we pinned them into the 3-yard line, played good defense and stopped them, and then you might get the ball near midfield and go try to win the game.
Q. Not being where you want to be in the throw game at this point in the season the fact that JT wasn’t the starter for the first seven games, does that set back his development as a thrower at all this season?
COACH MEYER: It could have. I’m going to try and sit and evaluate everything. It could be a lot of reasons.
Q. You guys had a couple of offside penalties, one on fourth and eight and third and long. How demoralizing was that to put them in a really — you know, a manageable situation to pick up first down?
COACH MEYER: We had three of them. It’s a tough situation, you know, fourth and eight is much different than fourth and three. And that’s — especially the situation, the weather, the conditions that we were playing in.
Q. You get two short fields off turnovers and they answer with long drives. How disheartening was that?
COACH MEYER: Disheartening and especially it was all mostly run — I guess they had a fourth and — or a third down and 15 and hit a fade on us. That was a big transitional part of the game, when you feel like you got them stopped and then they hit a ball over the top on us. But I think it was — I think disheartening is a correct word when you feel like you’re 14-7 or 7-0, you go up and you’re up 14-7 and they take it the length of the field.
Q. You obviously have seen some funny scenarios happen in college football in the times you’ve been a head coach, going back to Florida in ’08, I guess. Just where do you feel like this program is in the big picture in relation to the playoff after today?
COACH MEYER: Oh, boy, we’ve got to get a couple of first downs and start finding a way to complete a pass and beat our rival. No disrespect, but that’s certainly not any conversation — you’re right, a lot of things happen, but we’ve gotta fix some obvious problems.
Q. Nobody wins every single game. You just had a 23-game winning streak. Do you have any perspective on this at the moment that this happens to every team at some point?
COACH MEYER: Oh, you know, I’ve been down this road before, where you do good. I just love the group of guys down there. And we have to do better. Yeah, I do. I do. A lot of different perspective maybe had several years back, you lost a game, you’re pissed off, you go do the best you can, go to work tomorrow.
I did challenge the leaders, challenged our coaches that, once again, to run out of the tunnel first when you’re — what you said, 23 or 30 or whatever it is win streak — it doesn’t take a whole lot of courage to do that. It takes a lot of courage to show up Sunday ready to go beat a good team up north.