ATHENS, Ohio - Ohio Football head coach Frank Solich met with the press on Monday to discuss the Bobcats' season opener against Hampton on Sept. 2 at Peden Stadium. Here is the complete transcript.
Head Coach Frank Solich
Weekly Press Conference Quotes
Aug. 28, 2017 – Hampton Week
"We are looking forward to the season getting underway. The extra week in camp was beneficial for us. That last week can drag out, at the end of this last week they were ready to be done with fall camp. I think it was a productive fall camp, I like a lot of what we got done. We have an opportunity to have very good quarterback play. Quinton [Maxwell] had a very good fall camp, Nathan [Rourke] also had a good fall camp. I think both of them are capable of playing football for us and winning football games for us. That position seems to be in pretty good shape. The thing we can do to help it is run the football and put less pressure on the quarterback to make big plays to put points on the board. Allow him to be part of the offense, not the defense. That is the goal, I like where we are with the offensive line. I think we have a chance to be very good up front. We are going to have to stay healthy, we are developing depth. It is going to take a little bit of time for that depth to be developed. There may be a freshman or two that may be a part of the offensive line. Tight ends are a good group. Troy starting for us now, being healthy, is anticipated to have a great year. We think the tight end position is very solid for us. I think we have more really good young receivers than we've had in the program for a long time, which can be good. We had a disappointment in Elijah Ball. He had an injury in camp that is going to take him out of the season so that was difficult. We have had some other injuries along the way in camp where guys are going to miss the season now. A few starters, but also some back-ups so that was a tough ordeal in camp on that end. We have a lot of good football players though and we think we will be able to field a very good team, just how good remains to be seen."
"I really like our running backs. A.J. [Ouellette] is back went through fall camp without any problems. He will start and we expect him to have an excellent year. Dorian Brown, who is more than a proven player for us, will get a lot of playing time. Him and A.J. will split a majority of playing time. As far as the defense is concerned. You don't lose three guys to the pros and not have some effect on your team. So we will see how much of an effect it has as we get into things. Our linebackers, despite losing Blair Brown, I think are very good. Quentin and Chad [Moore] have proven to be great football players for us. Not only on defense, but also special teams. Their attitude and demeanor and drive is about as good as it gets. I am very proud of what those guys are all about. On to the defensive line. Will we be a defensive line where we can substitute like we did last year? That was a big factor for us, we were two deep at ends and nose and tackle. That remains to be seen. Our secondary has three of the four starters coming back. Kylan [Nelson] at safety has been hurt on and off, but he is at full speed right now. Bradd [Ellis] at corner and Javon[Hagen] at safety are proven players for us. The other corner position has a lot of guys battling for that position. Some of them are very young guys, but Jalen Fox has a little bit of an advantage on that. We have all of our kickers coming back and our long snapper coming back which is huge. I think we have a lot of talent in terms of covering punts, kickoffs, returns. We have ability in those areas, we just have to do better than last year. We are excited about the season, but it is going to be a tough schedule. The MAC is getting tougher year after year and that will be a true challenge. Opening up with Hampton will be a challenge, they are better than what most people understand. We also play a Big 12 and a Big 10 team and then travel to UMass. The non-conference schedule is difficult too. I like the attitude of our team though and the leadership, hopefully we can just hold up healthy wise."
Availability of hurt players
"Durrell [Wood] will not play in this ball game, Kevin [Robbins] has a chance to play obviously even though he has missed a great deal of conditioning. Jalen Fox should be healthy by game-time and ready to go."
On the Wide Receivers after Elijah Ball injury:
"[Brendon] Cope should be an excellent receiver for us this year. He has missed playing time throughout his career and I don't believe his true talent shows. He is probably the fastest player on the team and then Papi [White]. We can put those two guys on the field that can really run and be able to challenge deep when we want to. That is always a good start to have speed there. [Andrew] Meyer has come on strong and I think he will be a player that will show strongly for us. However, he is being held out of this game for disciplinary reasons, but his talent is there and he is playing with a lot of energy so he will have a chance to be a good receiver for us."
Number of quarterback snaps:
"There is no set number of snaps for the position. Quinton will be the starter. We want to get Nathan some snaps though. We will just play it from there."
On getting to see A.J. Ouellette step onto the field again:
"He was developing into a very special back and he was doing that early in his career. That was a big loss to us. Much more of a loss than maybe what a lot of people would know. He's coming back from an injury that very few players have ever been able to come back from. In fact, it seemed that there was no surgery that seemed to be the answer to that injury. They have gotten better in terms of what they are able to do with that injury now. I was worried about him going into fall camp because he was running and cutting very well this summer, but he was not getting into collisions this summer. It's one thing to run, but it's another to run when someone else is running into you, so we think he is healthy and ready to go. He's excited about playing. He's a very instinctive guy. He'll block, he'll catch passes, but he's so instinctive in his running ability and finds the right creases to hit mixed with his timing and acceleration coming through those holes is really pretty special."
On if A.J. Ouellette or Dorian Brown are on any snap limits against Hampton:
"We're going to play them both a lot. We aren't going to say that after so many snaps we're going to take them out of the ball game. They've both been cleared to play so we'll just play it by ear."
On opening with an FCS opponent:
"I don't like opening up with a conference game, I generally like them to be later in the season. We do have Eastern Michigan a game early this year, so we're getting into conference play early. It's difficult to have all the pieces of the puzzle fit together. You hope that your bye week is positioned so that it's not too early in the year and it's not the second-to-last game."
On Coach Dave Johnson's new role as Co-Offensive Coordinator
"Dave is excellent with the running game. It just made sense to put him in charge of the running game since he is working with the offensive line. He designs what we run in practice so he has a lot to say in terms of what we're doing offensively. We share the same philosophy when it comes to not wanting a complex offense or a complex running game. What we want to do, we want to be able to do it really well. It's the formula that Western Michigan used last year. It's the formula we've used in the past."
On ensuring the team doesn't have a similar loss to Hampton as it did Texas State in 2016
"I'm not saying we underestimated Texas State. There are a lot of things that went wrong with that game. We respect every team that we play. We understand that there are a lot of good football players around the country, and they're not all in Division I. There are enough football players spread around to beat you if you don't play your best game. I know they expect to be a really good defensive football team. I know they've had a couple of transfers come in, including a linebacker from Oklahoma and a running back from Virginia Tech. All it takes is a few guys to put an exclamation point behind the kind of team that you are. We have a lot of respect for their coach. He's a proven winner. They'll be ready to go and we just have to make sure that we're ready to go."
On Ohio possibly being in contention for the Group of Five Bowl slot
"I'm not a big fan of predictions. As we get two-thirds of the way through the season I could give you a little better answer, but the MAC is going to be a crowded conference of good football teams. It's going to be a break here and there, it's going to be who takes care of the ball, and who establishes the best field position. All those things are going to come into play. There are three units to the game. If you get all three units playing well you're probably going to be a championship team. If you get two of the three playing well, you're really going to be good. If you get one of the three playing well, it won't be so good. If none of the three are playing well, you're in trouble. Where are we going to be? I guess we'll find out."