Behind enemy lines

Behind enemy lines

Football

Behind enemy lines

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Staff Reports

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman as well as offensive tackle Jack Mewhort, center Corey Linsley and running back Carlos Hyde spoke with the media Tuesday prior to practice. Here is what the Buckeyes said about playing in the Discover Orange Bowl on Friday and the Clemson defense.

Q.  Talk about the challenge of going against Vic Beasley and what kind of challenge that presents to you.

 

JACK MEWHORT:  Obviously, Vic Beasley is a tremendous player, defensive end.  He’s very quick off the edge, kind of a speed rush guy, but he can also give you a little bit of power too.  I’ve been preparing for him since the Bowls got drawn.  I think it’s going to be a great challenge for me.  I’m really looking forward to it.  I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.

I guess we’ll see on Friday night how that goes.

 

Q.  Is he similar to anyone you faced?

JACK MEWHORT:  He’s a little bit more unique than any D‑end I’ve played against in the Big Ten so far.  Like you said, it’s a little bit of a unique challenge.  I’m preparing for him just as hard or harder than anybody I’ve played against this year.

I guess I’m excited, and it’s going to be a good matchup.

 

Q.  Corey, you guys were obviously just a play or two away from going to a different Bowl game.  How long did it take you guys to get over and kind of refocus on what you have in front of you instead of what might have been?

COREY LINSLEY:  I’d say it took about a week, but we have such a close, tight‑knit bond, I guess, on this team that we were able to kind of come together and say, we’ve got to do this one last time.  Let’s make it the best that we can.

So it really stung, obviously.  I think I can speak for everybody on the team when I say it really stung, but with guys like this, with the character we have on this team, it’s not hard to ‑‑ I mean, it is hard, but it doesn’t take a long duration of time to get over something like that because we know we’re going to face bigger tests in life.

 

Q.  Jack, what makes Vic Beasley unique?  Is it the size and speed that he has?

JACK MEWHORT:  Yeah, I think it’s a combination of speed and power, which will make any player a good football player.  A defensive end, that’s a good thing to have.  He can run around you, or if he chooses to, he can take it right to you or take an inside move.  He’s got a three‑way go.  He’s got a good motor.  He’s very good with his hands.

If you’re not prepared for him, he’ll get the best of you.  So that’s what I’m working on right now, just on his inside move, right through me, and going around me.  If I can prepare for those three moves, I should be all right.

 

Q.  Corey and Jack, are you all getting a little misty now knowing you’re about to play your last game together?  What has made this offensive line, do you think, unique?

COREY LINSLEY:  Yeah, we are.  We’re taking in every moment that we can to be together and have fun and everything.

I guess the thing that’s made it unique, in my perspective, is just the bond, again.  I guess there’s no drama ‑‑ or I don’t know what you want to call it ‑‑ in our room.  We’re all really good friends.  We all came in together, but I guess it’s just the bond of friendship we’ve developed over the past four years.

 

Q.  This is for both you guys.  If you could talk a little bit about Carlos Hyde with the challenges he faced at the beginning of the year and then how he evolved into being one of the top running backs in the country.

JACK MEWHORT:  I think the challenges he faced and the way he overcame them speaks a lot to who he is.  He didn’t sulk, and any time he was around us, he was positive.  Obviously, when he came back, he ran with a lot of passion, ran hard, and made us two look good.

So we’re proud of him for the way he responded, and he’s had a tremendous year.  Obviously, we have one more game to prove that he is the best running back in the country.  I think that’s the way we both feel up here.

Very proud of him, like we said, the way he overcame those struggles.

COREY LINSLEY:  That’s about it.

 

Q.  Could you address how Marcus Hall has bounced back from what happened with Michigan, not playing against Michigan State.  How is he been in Bowl preparations?

COREY LINSLEY:  Marcus is ‑‑ you see the drive in him.  He’s always had a drive about him, but after that incident, we were all kind of waiting in the locker room ‑‑ well, we were waiting in the locker room post that game, and just to be there for him.  We knew he was going to take it to heart because that’s not Marcus.  That was in the heat of the moment Marcus.  That’s not him as a person.

So it’s definitely put a little fire underneath him.  He’s definitely improved, as much as he’s improved all season.  People call him the most improved offensive lineman in the nation.  He’s definitely improved that much more in Bowl practice.

JACK MEWHORT:  And it’s not in Marcus’ nature to stay down for long.  He’s bounced back very well.  He’s another guy that’s just always very positive and has a smile on his face.  So we love him for that.

 

Q.  Speaking of the mentions of Beasley, I think they’re either the leader or in the top group of teams in the country with tackles for loss.  So it’s not just him.  They have other guys who get in the backfield and cause some problems.  What have you seen scheme‑wise that allows them to do that?  Why are they so skilled at stopping people in the backfield?

JACK MEWHORT:  I’m sure Corey will tell you they also have very good inside players and good motors, like I mentioned earlier.  They’re very good with their hands, and they play hard.  I think that’s something that makes any D‑line effective.  They’re no different.

It doesn’t surprise me to hear that stat that they’re high up in TFL’s.  Like you said, we’ve got to be prepared to play against a good bunch of players, and I think we will be.

 

Q.  Can you guys just talk about Braxton Miller, the demeanor you see in him leading up to this game?

COREY LINSLEY:  Yeah, he’s definitely been getting on us a little bit more than he has usually.  He’s developed alongside Coach Meyer and Coach Herman.  He’s developed a sense of leadership throughout the whole season.

You definitely hear his presence more than you have in the past.  So I mean, he’s the same person off the field that he was, the cool guy that I know, easy to talk to, very humble, but on the field he’s definitely developed a voice, I guess you could say, in the huddle ‑‑ although we don’t huddle most of the time.

COACH HERMAN:  Figure of speech.

COREY LINSLEY:  Figure of speech.  Yeah, he’s definitely developed a voice on the field throughout the whole season, especially in this Bowl practice.

COACH HERMAN:  It’s been well‑documented we’ve had stomach viruses going around, and he woke up this morning not feeling too well.  So just as a precaution, we’re going to let him stay back with the trainers.  We do expect him to practice this afternoon, as it is a Wednesday for us in terms of getting ready for a Saturday game, if you will.

We just wanted to take that precaution and make sure he stayed back and get all the rest and fluids that he can get.

 

Q.  Coach, in regards to Carlos, is there anything in particular you said to him to help him get through those first few weeks after he was suspended?

COACH HERMAN:  Play hard.  Your team needs you to go down to the scout team for those three weeks and prove to them that you’re a team player and that you care about them more than you care about yourself.

I don’t know if it was me.  I think that message was relaid to him through a number of different sources.  But that certainly was probably the biggest one, go out and practice your tail off and make sure that your teammates understand that they’re more important to you than even you yourself.

 

Q.  Tom, by season’s end, did you guys evolve into the offense that you thought you’d be when the season started?  Were you able to do everything that you envisioned when you set out and saw the weapons you have when the season began?

COACH HERMAN:  I think we evolved kind of separate phases, if you will.  I think we certainly made some dramatic improvements throwing the football from where we were last year, and through the middle part of the season, I think that showed.  I think maybe we regressed a little bit as our bodies got fatigued and we started losing a little bit of numbers on the perimeter and guys were playing more snaps and playing banged up.  The competition got tougher a little bit too.

But the beauty of it is we’re not going to change who we are.  We’re not going to throw the football 50 times a game, but we did feel like after last season we needed to throw it more effectively and efficiently.  I think we started that process.

Again, I think we might have taken a step or two back, which allowed us some things to work on during Bowl prep, but we’re a downhill, inside zone, two‑back run team that just happens to do it from the shotgun and add the quarterback run as part of the element.

But we felt like last year teams were able to kind of crowd the line of scrimmage on us and make it really, really difficult to maintain that identity, and I think having at least an effective, productive passing game has allowed us to continue that mode of operation.

 

Q.  Kind of build ‑‑ just one quick followup.  Kind of building off of that with Dontre Wilson, a guy who early in the season looked like he would have a real big role, and then the last two games, he was out of the Michigan game and then in the Michigan State game minimal impact.  Just your thoughts on the way he evolved this season.

COACH HERMAN:  Probably did not evolve into the complete player that we thought that he would be.  I think kind of the term we used early in the year was more of a novelty when he was in.  So we needed him to be more of an every down player, and he was slower to progress in that area.

And then to be quite honest with you, we thought we would need him ‑‑ by need, I mean need ‑‑ need him to win more games and to score points.  At the end of the day, we got what we believe is the best offensive line in the country.  You’ve got one of the top two or three running backs in the country.  You’ve got a quarterback in Braxton Miller that ‑‑ I mean, these guys were touching the football, and really good things were happening to us offensively.  So you hate to disrupt that rhythm a little bit.

So ‑‑ and we’ve told ‑‑ we’ve talked to Dontre about that.  It’s certainly not a wasted year by any stretch of the imagination.  With his kick return yards and rush yards and receiving yards, it’s a very productive season for a true freshman, and I think he’s got 1,000 all‑purpose yards or close to it.

Another year in the weight room and off‑season training and training at kind of both positions, slot receiver and running back, will increase his value and production as we move forward in his career.

 

Q.  What’s your relationship like with Chad Morris?

COACH HERMAN:  Very good.  I like Chad.  He’s a good dude.  We go way back to when I was ‑‑ you know, I spent 11 years coaching college football in the state of Texas and recruited his schools and have known him all the way from the time he was down as the head coach at Bay City Black Cats.

So me and Chad go way back.  I wouldn’t say we’re best buddies.  We don’t go on vacation together or anything like that, but we do spend a lot of time talking football over the phone.  And as has been documented, spent some time in the off‑season in person with our staffs.  It’s been a very good ‑‑ good, productive working relationship.

 

Q.  Tom, with that in mind, I was asking Chad yesterday, what’s going to be the next step?  What do you see as the next step offensively?  Both of you guys are supposedly on the cutting edge of what’s going on.

COACH HERMAN:  Him more than me if you look at his paycheck.

 

Q.  Exactly.  It’s double, right?  Plus.  But I digress.  What do you see as the next step eventually in the way the offenses are going?  Do you see a regression more than a ‑‑ what do you see out there?

COACH HERMAN:  That’s funny you ask that.  I think that defenses are making it harder to throw the football with so many ‑‑ out of spread formations.  I think there’s so many combination coverages that teams over the last five or six years have developed ‑‑ not perfected, but gotten very good at.  To still hold up against the spread run game but also stop the spread pass game too ‑‑ or not stop, but at least attempt to.

So I think, as you see with us a little bit, even though we’re on the gun and have three wide receivers and all that, but sometimes getting them a little bit closer and moving guys around a little bit kind of helps break up some of those coverages.

I know for us it’s been challenging to try to find ‑‑ you know, you go back to last year, the Big Ten Championship Game, it’s very well‑documented their quarters coverage with press on the outside, their safeties are standing at seven yards, they’ve got nine in the box.  The ball is snapped.  So you say, okay, what’s your answer?  Well, throw it.  Okay, great.  Where are you going to throw it?  They still have nine guys within the short to intermediate passing areas.  They’re pressing your outside guys.  Are you going to try to throw it over their head 20 times a game?  I’m not sure that’s a road we want to go down.

So I think it’s important we find ways to make sure we’re still able to run ‑‑ I think, at least for us, the offense is built around the run game.  So when teams devise coverages to add hats or people to stop the run game, you have to be able to counter that by throwing the football.

I think that’s the biggest challenge for us is to kind of find those different ways, based on the coverages we’re seeing now as opposed to maybe four or five years ago, when defenses were just now getting a taste of what we were trying to do offensively.

 

Q.  Yes, could you talk a little bit about Jeff Heuerman and how he’s progressed this season.

COACH HERMAN:  He’s become a really good player this last month or two.  Thought he had improved throughout last season, and then two‑a‑days, didn’t have a great training camp.  The first few weeks of the season, we weren’t sure if he had made the progress that we thought he did.  Then I would say probably the last six, eight weeks of the season, he’s really, really come long.

It’s funny you ask me that.  He probably had his best practice in our two years here just yesterday.  I mean, just played his tail off for whatever it was, 20 periods out there in the heat and was very, very effective for us.  So we’re excited that he has continued to improve.

 

Q.  What you mentioned about Chad Morris’ paycheck, I would imagine you think that million dollar coordinators ‑‑

COACH HERMAN:  That was a joke.

 

Q.  But don’t you think it’s one of the great developments in college football history for coordinators to make that?  You must be all for that, right?

COACH HERMAN:  Just like any profession, whatever the market demands, that people should be paid what the market demands and what their value to that market is.

So I don’t think it’s unique to our profession.  It maybe actually has been a little bit behind in our profession, to be honest with you, based on other professions and their willingness to pay market value for people that are in that high of demand.

 

Q.  At this top level of college football, though, for coordinators on either side of the ball, what you were talking about of trying to design, everybody’s adjusting to everybody all the time, can you sort of put into words sort of what ‑‑ how valuable a really good coordinator can be in terms of trying to keep your team a half step ahead of the guy who’s trying to figure out how to stop you?

COACH HERMAN:  Yeah, I don’t ‑‑ it would be hard to quantify that.  I think ‑‑ you’re going to make me sound like I’m bragging about my job.

 

Q.  You guys always say ‑‑ you can preface it with good players win games.  I know coaches say that all the time, and obviously that’s true, but there is something more beyond that.

COACH HERMAN:  Yeah, I think you ‑‑ I’m a lot better coach when I’m coaching Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde and I have four senior O‑linemen than when I was at other places.  You’d have thought I forgot how to coach for a couple years there.  So it’s interesting to see the credit.

We’re kind of probably a lot like quarterbacks.  We get more credit than we deserve and probably more blame than we deserve when things go poorly.

But it is important that you have guys on both sides of the ball that, as Coach Meyer says, don’t sleep on the game because it will pass you by.  That’s the beauty of our game as opposed to maybe any other game is that it’s constantly evolving.  That’s what makes it fun.  It’s never the same every year.  It’s never the same week ten as it was week one.

As long as you’ve got a love and a passion for the game and you don’t sleep on it, go get you some really, really, really good players and some really good assistants and take care of those guys, and the adjustments will take care of themselves.

 

Q.  Coach, Urban Meyer is viewed as an enigmatic figure down here.  You’ve been with him for two years.  Can you take us behind the curtain and tell me who the Urban Meyer you’ve gotten to know on a day‑to‑day basis.

COACH HERMAN:  He’s a real guy, I can tell you that.  He’s a real human being.  I think at times we look at guys in his position, and we forget that they’re real men with real wives and real kids and real families and real hearts.  I know he’s been tremendous for me and my family and the support that he’s given me and the advice.

I’ve learned more about how to be a head coach ‑‑ and I’m not talking X’s and O’s.  I’m just talking about the management of the team and the management of personalities and the management of a staff ‑‑ in my going on two years now with him than my first 20 years of coaching.  For that, I’ll forever be grateful, and I learn different things every day.

I think the thing that he has, the gift that he has is he is able to be unbelievably intense and demanding of both his players and his staff, but yet when you walk off the field, people want to walk into his office and sit down and talk to him on a personal level and get to know him because they know that he cares about them.

So there’s always been those coaches that are demanding and they’re grinders, if you will, and they go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go.  But I think the players maybe stay a little bit separate from those kind of guys.  And then there’s the quote, unquote, players’ coaches that really get to know their players and know their team, but I think they, right, wrong, or indifferent, they have a perception that their teams maybe aren’t as physical or aren’t as intense or aren’t as tough as this other head coach who does these things.

So I think, more than any other person I’ve seen in this profession, whether it be working with or reading about or seeing or talking to friends that have worked for other guys, he walks that line better than anybody I’ve ever seen in terms of truly loving and caring for his players and his staff, but at the same time, being very demanding and intense.

 

Q.  Do you think that that gray area, the fact that we don’t see a lot of guys who maybe walk that line, leads to the misconceptions about him on our end?

COACH HERMAN:  I don’t know what the misconceptions are on your end because I don’t read ‑‑ or try to stay away from some of those things, but probably.  I think, just like with any public figure, there’s a real guy, and there’s a public guy, and the public guy is crafted, and it’s crafted by everybody in this room, and it’s crafted by public opinion of what you guys write.  A lot of times, reality does not match up with the crafted persona that is created by the media.  It comes with the territory, I guess.

 

Q.  You’re a Mensa member.  We’ve crafted you as being extremely intelligent, et cetera. That’s not crafting, that’s reality. That’s right.  Tom, would you buy a ticket to this game to watch Tajh Boyd go against Braxton Miller.  I know they’re not going against each other like tennis.

COACH HERMAN:  I got the best seat in the house to watch that sucker, man.  That’s awesome.  I get to sit up there with my hot dogs and popcorn and diet coke and get to watch this thing go down, man.  These are two of the top five or ten quarterbacks in College Football Today and have been for the last couple of years.

I think the kid they got on their side is tremendous.  Having watched the film that I’ve watched of their offense and knowing Chad and what he’s been able to do with him, with Tajh over the last few years.  Just watching him play the last couple of years has been fantastic.  I think he’s one of the best in the country.  I’m probably not the only one to say that, but, yeah, it will be fun.  It will be fun watching these two guys go up and go after the opposing defenses, not each other, obviously, but the opposing defenses all night long.

 

Q.  And the other thing, the question everybody wants to know because we keep asking Braxton ‑‑ I don’t know if you’ll even answer.  Is he ready to make that next step, or how much would he benefit from another year?

COACH HERMAN:  Probably not the right time for me to talk about that, to be honest with you, Tim.  We’ve had talks, and we’ll continue to have those talks.  It’s probably not the right time in terms of just talking about the Orange Bowl.

 

Q.  But he has made strides.  It’s just the overall grasp of the game and stuff compared to a year ago, right?  I mean, just running the show, et cetera.

COACH HERMAN:  Oh, absolutely, yeah.  Still got a long ways to go.

 

Q.  Kind of wondering, Ho would you differentiate what you guys do offensively versus like what Chad wants to do at Clemson?

COACH HERMAN:  I think they’re very similar formationally, very similar tempo‑wise, very similar in the things that you’ll see through motion and shifting and maybe using the tight end as kind of an H‑back, fullback, slot receiver.  But I think their offense may be a little bit more pass centered and probably should be, with the guys that they have on the perimeter and the quarterback that they have.  Ours is obviously a little bit more run centered with the running back and the offensive line that we have.

So similarities are in maybe general philosophies of we’re going to spread the width and length of the field and try to create space and mismatches for our guys.  We’re going to be up tempo.  I know that they’ve kind of varied their tempo a little bit, so have we.  But I think in the amount of maybe passes and runs and how they get to the passes and runs versus how we do is probably the biggest difference.

 

Q.  We haven’t talked to you since right after the Big Ten Championship game.  Looking back at that game ‑‑ obviously, when you evaluate everything, there’s always good and bad from every game.  What was your takeaway of how you guys went about trying to attack their defenses?  Or anything you liked and just missed something or anything you thought, well, we should have done this more or less.

COACH HERMAN:  I think there’s always regret when you lose.  You don’t ‑‑ I don’t think you ever walk off the field losing, saying, Yeah, we did everything that we thought we were going to do, and we did it as well as we thought we were going to do it.

So specifically, what those are ‑‑ not to be coy.  I don’t remember.  It feels like that was three years ago, trying to go recruit for a couple weeks and then trying to get ready to beat Clemson.

We didn’t execute very well.  We didn’t ‑‑ I could have done a better job.  The guy I coach could have done a better job.  The unit I coach could have done a better job.  Specifically, what those things are, we’ve got to play those guys next year too.  So I don’t want to talk too much specifically, maybe what we wish we would have done or done differently.  But at the same time, it’s honestly, you try to learn from it, take notes, and make sure that you’re ready the next time you see them.

But at the end of the day, we didn’t ‑‑ I didn’t prepare them well enough to execute.

 

Q.  You had mentioned sort of with the passing game that, obviously, you guys did make progress this year, but maybe the last month, competition and other things, maybe you did not do quite as well.  Was there anything with Braxton’s fundamentals or reads or anything that drastically changed at all from the middle of the year or anything?

COACH HERMAN:  No, no.  I think he needs to continue improving.  I mean, he’s certainly not perfect and wasn’t perfect in the middle of the season, but I think maybe some of the flaws, the mistakes were able to be masked by some of the simpler things that we did and that defenses allowed us to do.

So as you move towards later in the season, obviously, defenses say, here’s what they’re doing.  We’ve got to stop this.  So when you stop that, what’s your counter?  So now it, again, becomes an adjustment kind of chess match.  Okay, we do this well, the other defense says we’ve got to stop this.  So when the defense says we’ve got to stop this, now we’ve got to start doing this well.  I don’t know that we ever made that push into the next phase of the adjustment in the throw game, but we will.

He’s gotten better these last three weeks, absolutely.  So we will.  Just like we did this off‑season as well.

 

Q.  Following up on the tempo question a few minutes ago, Chad has a set number of plays that he’d like to snap every game.  Do you have one in place?

COACH HERMAN:  Absolutely not.  I think we vary a little bit, really haven’t ‑‑ as much time as we’ve spent together talking football, I don’t know that we’ve talked a whole lot about that.

But for us, offense, defense, special teams, they’re not mutually exclusive.  We’re all intertwined into winning the football game.  So we’re going to do whatever it takes offensively tempo‑wise to win the game.  If we’ve got to run 95 plays, that means we’ve got to run 95 plays.  If it means we’ve got to hold the football and control the clock and keep our defense off the field, then we’re prepared to run 62, 65 plays a game.

So there’s never ‑‑ we don’t have really any number goals, especially when it comes to plays.  We don’t set goals that we want to rush for 200 yards a game, we want to throw for 200 yards a game.  We want to win the turnover battle, and we want to win the explosive play battle.  Studies have shown, if you win those two things in the course of a football game, you’ve got a 98 percent chance of winning the game.  So those are the two things we want to win coming out of every game.

And, again, those are ‑‑ your defense is also a part of that, winning the turnover battle and winning the explosive play battle, having more explosive plays than your opponent.

And we want to be ‑‑ there’s a certain percentage that we want to be on our third down.  There’s a certain percentage we want to be efficient on first down, making four yards or more, and there’s a certain percentage that we want to score points and/or touchdowns in the red zone.  Those are really the five things that we focus on, and the amount of plays to get that done is really dependent on the flow of the game and really what it takes to win that specific game.

 

Q.  Tom, you guys, you said how much you learned from Urban in these two years about what it takes to be a head coach and obviously aspire to be that someday.  What did you learn from him on how he handled this loss and how he kept this team?  You’ve been riding these guys pretty hard.  Have you gotten them to respond the way you wanted?  What have you learned from him on how to handle a loss?

COACH HERMAN:  I think the biggest thing I learned was that ‑‑ maybe not learned, but reaffirmed, is as a coach, make sure that you’re accountable and take responsibility, but that you teach young men to be the same.  Not one position group, not one play, not one drive wins or loses a football game.

Obviously, everybody that was involved in that game on our side needs to take some accountability and responsibility for coming up short, and I think that was probably the biggest thing that, if you want to be a grown man, this is part of being a grown man.  Take responsibility, take accountability for the deficiencies that you and/or your unit had in that game and then make sure that you take the necessary steps to make sure that that doesn’t happen again.

 

Q.  Is that something that sometimes you do need, that actual loss to snap guys back and maybe get rid of some bad habits?  It’s a little easier to put it on the chalk board and have it sink in when that’s the case?

COACH HERMAN:  I mean, the answer to the question is certainly, yeah, it’s a lot easier to teach that when you have physical and emotional evidence of that.  Would I prefer to teach it the other way?  Absolutely.  I don’t prefer to say, Hey, we need to lose one here so we can teach these guys how to be accountable.  That would be foolish, obviously.

So, no, we ‑‑ it does make it easier when you do have that pain inside of you to teach young guys how to handle that, but at the end of the day, we want to win them all.

Carlos Hyde, Senior, Running Back

On how it feels to play with his “brothers” one last time:

“I am pretty excited. It hasn’t sunk in yet and I am pretty sure after the game it will. I’m looking forward to it. It’s my last game; last one in Florida. I played high school ball in Florida. It’s a pretty cool way to go out.”

On what Carlos’ perfect ending to Friday’s game would be:

“A perfect ending for me would be beating 226; that’s the most rushing yards in an Orange Bowl. That would be the perfect way to go out. And a win!”

On Jack Mewhort and Corey Linsley, and them calling him the best running back in America:

“They’re the best offensive line in the country. A lot of my success has to do with them and the tight ends and the receivers. In the games where we are blocking, the tight ends and the receivers are clicking, are on the same page, and I’m clicking and on the same page, the offense is fun to play on. Every game I give those guys credit when I do good. It’s only right though, because without those guys up front it wouldn’t be able to happen.”

On how different he is since leaving high school football in Florida for Ohio State four years ago:

“I’m a lot different. I grew up. I only played two years of high school football and it was just the beginning of my career. So once I got to Ohio State, got rolling there, started maturing and started growing up, [I started] becoming the man I am today.”

Jack Mewhort, Senior, Offensive Tackle

On Clemson’s defense:

“They have great motors, they play well with their hands and they are fast and athletic. It is going to be a challenge preparing for them but I think we are going to be alright.”

On playing an out-of-conference team:

“There is kind of a responsibility and you feel that you want to represent your conference well, and obviously playing in the Big Ten people sometimes have been down on it the last couple of years. That lights a little bit of a fire under you to go out and represent well so I think that would be great for us and the Big Ten. And far as playing a team that we normally wouldn’t play, I think that is a really cool opportunity.”

On the importance of this (the 2014 Discover Orange Bowl) being his last game:

“I think it is very important to go up on top, especially for us seniors, to bounce back from a tough Michigan State game. Overall, in a career, just to finish our careers on top. With coach (Jim) Tressel, we were there and my freshman year we won a Rose Bowl and then a Sugar Bowl and it kind of went down for a year, but to show that we pulled ourselves back out of it and got out on top it would be really important to us older guys.”

On the mindset coming into this week after losing to Michigan State:

“I don’t think it is in our nature as a team, as competitors, to be sulking or held down by something that has happened. Obviously it was tough for us but we got over it and, with each other, we moved passed it. Like I said we are competitors and we are looking at the next one. It is going to be a great challenge and we are looking forward to Friday night.”

Corey Brown, Senior, Wide Receiver

On injury:

“It’s been tough, but Coach Meyer has been doing a good job watching over me and making sure I don’t do too much on it. He’s making sure I do just enough to be ready for the game. I feel really good as of late. As long as we keep taking care of it I’ll be good.”

On injury during Michigan State game:

“At one point of the game it was bad, but I was trying to win so I wasn’t really trying to think about it too much. I was really trying to go. But we had a nice little break so far so it’s getting a lot better.”

On Ohio State’s passing game:

“It’s been good. It’s what we thought it would be so far. Braxton has grown as a passer and the guys around me have grown tremendously as complete receivers. Coach (Tom) Herman has more trust in us. Coach (Urban) Meyer has more trust in us so I think in this game we should really be able to come out and do what we do, especially since it’s the last game of the year. We really shouldn’t hold anything back now so hopefully we come out and give everybody the show that they want.”

On what Ohio State needs to improve:

“Execution [could have been better] on a lot of other plays. We leave a lot of points on the field, we have a lot missed assignments. It’s just little mistakes that we can fix. That’s what we’ve been doing this whole break; just focusing on the little mistakes.”

Corey Linsley, Senior, Offensive Lineman

On Coach Meyer:

“He’s a really, really tough guy who has an intestinal fortitude that I’ve never seen before. That’s one thing that gets overlooked. Nobody really talks about the tough attitude he coaches with.”

On being underappreciated:

“We are a little bit underappreciated, but that’s the nature of the beast with this university. People will want to, for lack of a better word, ‘hate’ on us, but in terms of losing [against Michigan State] we’re carrying on the tradition that this university has over 100 years. I think that’s what kind of makes us upset. 13-1 is great for a number for other universities, but for us it’s just another season and so when we get dissed in the media for losing to Michigan State, it’s a great conference, great program, great history, great players, what’s the deal?”

On feeling slighted by other programs:

“We lose two national championships, and all of a sudden we didn’t deserve to get there. Coach (Urban) Meyer ended up doing very well against us. But in ’07 it was a close game when I watched it and people were saying we got smacked. It’s just been that pattern since those two national championships because a number of other schools felt like they deserved to be in there. And when they see us lose bad or if we lose then they feel like ‘oh we should’ve been in there.’ That’s just the system, the BCS system just projects that.”

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