ATHENS, Ohio - Ohio Football head coach Frank Solich met with the press on Monday to discuss the Bahamas Bowl against UAB on Dec. 22. Kickoff is set for 12:30 p.m. at Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium in Nassau, Bahamas and broadcast live on ESPN. Here is the complete transcript.
Head Coach Frank Solich
Weekly Press Conference Quotes
Dec. 4, 2017 – Bahamas Bowl Press Conference
"We're excited about going down to the Bahamas. The players are really looking forward to it. When you get ready for a bowl game there's a lot of excitement and enthusiasm that takes place. You want to make sure that you are going down there to win a ball game, and I think that's the makeup of our team. That's what we've been all about. Unfortunately, in the tail end of the season we did not play as well as we are capable of playing, and we didn't coach as well as we're capable of coaching. We let a couple of games get away from us. We want to go down there and make sure we play our very best football game and it's not a situation where we have any regrets when we walk off the field. I was very pleased with our All-MAC selections. I would have liked to have a few more guys on the First-Team, but overall I think we tied for the lead in terms of All-MAC selections with Western Michigan; 12 total players. I think that's very representative of what we've been all about this year athletically, so congratulations to those guys for the great job they did throughout the course of the year. Just a little bit about UAB, they're a team that has gone through a lot, obviously with the disbanding of football for a year and just really getting back and getting going again. I think this is their first year after that. It's remarkable they've been able to accomplish what they did. It should be a great matchup. We'll practice today and go Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday of this week. Finals are the following week, so we're probably only going to get two practices in during the week. That'll be a Tuesday and a Friday practice and then we'll end up making sure we get one in over the weekend, which will take us into the week we travel down there on Monday. We get down there on the 18th and we will not practice on that day, but we will have three practices to polish up."
On using Walter Fieldhouse in the plans to adjust to the temperature difference:
"We have to make sure the doors are closed. We have underground heating there. I'm not sure you can crank that up, but you can certainly get that activated and get it stuffy in there. We're going to try and make it as stuffy in there as we can and simulate how we can best. We'll be conditioned really well. We'll be hydrated very well, which will help. Sometimes we'll open our season down south and play in really high humidity, high heat, and we've generally held up pretty well, so I think we'll condition properly so that we'll be able to get it done right and play at the level we need to play."
On how UAB's offense is structured:
"They have a quarterback that is a very good runner, so they utilize him well, as well as a big-time running back. The ground game is something that they employ very well and they'll obviously try to beat you up and wear you down throughout the game and in the fourth quarter. That's something we know all about and we'll probably try to do a little bit of that as well. They do have an excellent running game. Their quarterback is a very capable thrower and they have really good receivers. In order to have a good running game you need to have good offensive linemen, so they're really balanced in that regard on the offensive side of the ball. They have really good players at every position. It'll be a chore to stop them. We have to stop the running game first, and then we'll move on from there.
On playing a team like UAB that is just getting back in to the swing of things:
"I can't recall coaching against a situation like that. There are some things they had going for them even though they had to eliminate football from their program for a couple of years. They ended up in the recruiting process being able to recruit some junior college kids and I think were able to do it in a manner that they, NCAA-wise were able to do some things most schools couldn't. I think they were able to put together a team very quickly, once they were able to get back into the sport of football, that has very good athletes. I think it's very clear that in playing together you can see their team get better and better as the season went on. Obviously, that's a tough way to start off the season and not have previous playing experience with that group. To play as well as they did early on and to not let that season slide down hill; be competitive and finish the way they have speaks highly of their coaching staff and their athletes."
On what 12 All-MAC selections means for the Ohio program:
"We have some really good players in the system. I think the last two to three recruiting classes have been some of the best since we've been here. I thought this year's team was special in a lot of ways; great leadership as well as athleticism. We have guys who study the game that really wanted to take the program to another level. We had our opportunity to do that after the Toledo game. We had opportunities to continue to win and be in the driver's seat to win the MAC Championship game. We lost two very close football games. We lost the turnover ratio in both of those games and we lost the field position (battle) in those games. There were some things that weren't representative of our football team, in terms of how we played, in those two games. We let things slip away a little bit, but we're closer and closer to being the kind of football team that can break into the top 25 and that can win MAC Championships. That's the next step for our program. There was no talk this year about becoming bowl eligible. Not one word from a coach, not one word from a player. I think our guys expected to be a bowl eligible football team. We've been very consistent in that, in our program. What we want to do is take the step to get to the MAC Championship with regularity and win it with regularity. Those are the things we're looking to get done with this program."
On how to continue the culture of MAC Championship appearances and bowl eligibility:
"We need to continue to recruit hard. We need to be able to attract top-notch players and students here at Ohio University. I think we're able to do that. Our facilities are continuing to get better. We have an indoor facility that we didn't have three or four years ago. We have a new academic center that will be in our end zone. The construction has already started on that. We're going to re-do our weight room, which is needed. We have the size down there, but we need to get that to a level where players are anxious to get in there. Now, if you're a really good player you're anxious to get in there, period. Our guys make great progress in there, but we have a lot of athletes coming from better weight rooms in high school. Our guys are deserving of more than that. There hasn't been anything done to it since I've been here, and that's 13 years. We're in the process of getting that taken care of. The facilities are getting better, and I think our staff has been together a long time so we have some continuity there. We know what we're doing and what we want to do. We talk to our players in a manner that we think continues to build a culture here as far as being able to see down the road. We've painted a picture as far as what we want to get done and what we want to accomplish. Now it's a matter of going out and doing it.
On the new early signing period coming up on December 20th:
"It's a little different. We were out last week recruiting and I was a little nervous about that. I wanted to get started on this next game. I want these guys to end the season on a high note. They're deserving of it, so I want to make sure we're as ready as possible to play a great football game. We went out though, but we're not going out this week. A lot of schools are going to be out this week recruiting. We're right at our numbers in terms of signing players, and the players that have committed to us know that we're preparing for a bowl game and we just can't get to everybody because the signing date is on the 20th when we're at the bowl game. It'll be more e-mail than fax. That should work well, but the timing is not the best but it's workable.
On updates on Nathan Rourke and A.J. Ouellette:
"Nathan was a little banged up going into the Buffalo game, then he sustained an injury he could play with. He wasn't in the full strength but now he has enough time to get himself in good shape for the Bahamas game. For A.J., it will be close as to whether or not he will be in the game, we are not sure yet."
On mentioning previously that the team didn't play as well or coach as well as they should have in the Buffalo game:
"It's our responsibility as coaches to have our team line up and play at the highest level it can play at, and we didn't do that. It's not just the team's fault; it comes back to the coaches to. Our guys also feel they didn't play at the level they needed to play at to get it done, and it is the coaches responsibility to get them in the position to do that."
On team activities in the Bahamas leading up to the game other than practice:
"There are some activities lined up for us by those coordinating the bowl. There will be a welcome dinner the first night we are there and a few other things lined up; but when you're that close to the game you want to watch film, have light practices and have your mindset involved with the game. But, they also need to have a little bit of fun and free time, which they will get immediately when we get down there. Can you win a bowl game and have fun at a bowl site? Absolutely. If you try to be all business when you go down there it doesn't work. There needs to be a mix for your players and we as coaches understand that."
On the facilities and accommodations at the bowl:
"The accommodations would be tough to beat. I don't have to drum up things for them to have fun down there. It's a great place to go as far as a bowl, and they will enjoy it. The hotel is amazing and the grounds are spread out quite a bit. One thing you have to be careful about and we will have to stress is not being late for meetings. Other than that, there will be plenty for them to do. They will be in heat a lot of the time, so the players have to make sure they are not panting when kickoff is starting. We will have to save their legs a little bit as we get closer to the game, so we will let them run around a little bit at first then go from there."
On Quentin Polling's final game and the type of player he has been over the years:
"He has been tremendous at being a leader and a player. He is a bright guy and loves the game, and both of those show during practice and in the game. He is very attentive in meetings, he took our defense and organized some meetings for them during game weeks to watch film on their own. He is as good as it gets in that area. When you have an athlete as good as he is and as bright as he is, good things are going to happen. You have to have a guy who is interested in the team moving forward rather than just himself, and he is that kind of guy. He has let me have fun in the game as well. He will not let me coach while he's here and not have any fun, so he's been good for me. It will be tough to see him go."
On the coaching carousal and his opinion on being at Ohio:
"I have loved my time at Ohio. I wouldn't be here if I didn't feel I was getting support from the president, athletic director, and so on. I have always felt comfortable at Ohio. I am not a guy that moves and searches for something else out there. I almost didn't get out of high school coaching because I loved high school football that much. If I like what I am doing and feel I have contributed something, I enjoy it. It has been a special time for me coaching here at Ohio."
On having an early signing period of December 20th:
"There are players that are ready to sign right now, there's no question about it. Almost all of our guys we have committed right now are going to be signing on the 20th. In that regard, it seems to be working out well for us. There's an opportunity for players to sign on two different dates; one is the original date, the first Wednesday in February, and this one. The worry about waiting until February to have guys sign won't be there for us. In saying that, you look at it from the standpoint of having scholarships open up right before the last singing date, or for a guy who is going to grad school and wants one final year here. You have to be careful with the early signing date in. We want the majority of the class signed, but want a scholarship or two open beyond that first date."
On having a blueprint of how many scholarships should be filled by the first signing date:
"We didn't want to feel pressured into signing guys that wouldn't help us win a championship. You have to be careful that you don't hurry into signing the wrong guys. We have been recruiting hard and had a lot of visits early. Moving the whole calendar up with players coming in the summer taking unofficial visits, so it's a much busier summer than normal. Then we have the official visits during the course of this season. It has made recruiting much busier for coaches, but it is a plus for us."
On handling a player say he is committed but does not wish to sign on December 20th:
"We don't necessarily move on from that player, but we do let him know we are going to keep recruiting; and if there's another player that comes along, there's a chance that scholarship may not be there. You don't want to be tough on the kid but you can't have yourself get caught short on having guys accept scholarships. If a guy is holding off on signing, we will still recruit him but continue to recruit other guys in that position as well. Nothing is guaranteed on either end."