ATHENS, Ohio – Fourteenth-year Ohio football head coach Frank Solich met with the media today to discuss the Bobcats' (1-2) Parents Weekend game against UMass (2-3) on Saturday (Sept. 29) at Peden Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. Click here for ticket information or call 1-800-575-CATS (2287).
Saturday's contest between the Bobcats and the Minutemen will be broadcast live on ESPN3. Michael Reghi and JeRod Cherry will be on the call. The game can also be heard on the Ohio IMG Sports Network. Russ Eisenstein returns for his 11th season as the "Voice of the Bobcats." Ohio alum Rob Cornelius, who has been a part of the broadcasts for close to two decades, is back in the booth. The 12-station network has an over-the-air coverage area that hits three states. In addition, the broadcasts are available online through OhioBobcats.com and TuneIn.com/OhioBobcats.com. They are also free on the TuneIn app.
Head Coach Frank Solich
Weekly Press Conference Quotes
Sept. 24 - Week 5 vs. UMass
"We solved the issue of the slow start. We still have the other issues as we all know to get to be what we want to be. But I do like the way the players battled in that football game. Obviously, the first half was a great first half for us. Third quarter, they completed a long pass right away that changed the momentum very quickly, from that it became a ballgame. The last drive that we had, I'm proud of our players being able to mount that drive and put themselves in position to win the game. We should have won it. You don't get on the one-foot line very often with downs to go and don't make it work. I took a lot of that upon myself. I felt I could have helped our team a little better in that situation than what I did. Overall, the guys I thought played well. We got some things we need to get better at, but I think the good thing about this football team is that they go to work at those things."
On what could have been changed:
"We get down there very close, it's goal-to-go. You could have called just the QB's name and try to wedge it in. Obviously, we called a play where you pull a lineman and that's not a good thing to do in that situation necessarily. I could have ran the option very easily, but that means the ball is probably going to be in the air for a period of time. You're a little concerned about that even though we execute the option, generally, pretty well. Some things could have been called a little bit differently that would have given us a better chance."
On play calling:
"I can override it at any time, no question. I do sometimes on both sides of the ball, but the majority of the plays are called by our coordinators."
On adjustments after a close loss:
"Normally, when you talk to your players about moving on, it's a simple talk. You have to put it in the past, and we have a lot ahead of us in terms of needing to play good football to win games to have the kind of season we want to have. If you're unable to push forward and move on from good or bad then this becomes a very tough game. Understanding that as a staff and as players is needed in any program to be able to move on."
On the running game compared to last year:
"I thought, offensively, in terms of running the ball we were on the same page with all of our guys. That always helps when you're trying to execute. It's a matter of technique and execution if you're going to move the ball if you have the quality of players that we have on the offensive line. I think that started to show more this game than it did in the last two games. I think they played well as a unit. There was a lot of excellent individual plays that occurred up front and in our backs. We have some pretty experiences backs in terms of finding the right holes and doing the right things. If we get that all on the same page, then we have a chance to be a very good running football team again, which is what needs to be done to be a good football team for us."
On what the defense needs to do to give the team chances to win games:
"Some of that comes down to if you look at football teams and programs now, everyone has skill people. Almost everybody has the ability to score points. I don't know where we're at in terms of scoring offense, I'll check that, but we're probably somewhere in the 60's or 70's out of around 130 teams. We're scoring 30-some points a game, so everybody has an offensive fire power, to put points on the board. You know it's going to be difficult to shut down people, you just have to make sure you win the turnover ratio and that you're able to establish drives and not giving them the easy points. You have to make sure they earn their points. If you do that then you have a chance to win games."
On Cincinnati's touchdown in the third quarter:
"It wasn't a breakdown in terms of assignment. We just could have played better technique on the receiver. It was just a deep drive where he beat us. You figure if you stop him on the possession versus getting a quick score and you get the ball and take some time off the clock, you're talking about having the kind of lead we had. You're sitting in pretty good shape if you take care of the ball, make good decisions and get some first downs and don't give explosive plays up. So, we let them get back into the ball game, let them get some momentum. They utilized that well, and it became a ball game again at the end where both teams were battling for the game, and we didn't quite get it done."
On what goes on during timeouts:
"We have coaches talking on the headsets in terms of play call. You need to tell your players, '(Junior quarterback) Nathan (Rourke), take care of the ball on this one,' or do this or do that, or you need to talk to your backs about covering up and making sure that you stay low and get all the extra yards you can get. So, it's just the little things you talk to players about a good share of that time. Most of the time is the coaches discussing the strategy."
On Ohio being better than its record shows:
"I think their belief all along was that this team is going to get better and better as the season went along. I still feel that way about this team. We didn't play very well in the first ball game. We played better in the second and showed signs of being a good football team. In this game, the team we improved again. So if we continue to improve, we'll have a chance at being the type of football team that we hope to be. If you look at it, between the second and third ballgame is where you improve the most. In saying that, we really didn't get a chance right away to go to a second ball game. I'm not saying that it's a factor that causes us not to play well or puts us where we're at, it's just the way it is. I expect we will continue to see improvement. I think we saw a lot of improvement in a lot of areas this past game. We have to get better on both sides of the ball on third down. You look at it statistically, and you don't win football games by being where we are. That improvement has got to come and in a hurry."
On Rourke's leadership ability:
"I've seen Nathan as he is through his whole time here. I didn't notice this game that he has more energy or was more fiery than in the past. He's a very composed guy, very smart football player. He's an excellent leader, and the players recognize his ability and his leadership. He has some plays that were spectacular that you don't see very often. He had two plays that should have been in ESPN Top 10. You just don't see those plays very often. He, to me, has always been the same kind of player. He's composed, has energy, displays that energy with his players. I think he's an emotional player but keeps it more to himself. I didn't see a particular change in him."
On if playing UMass in back-to-back years makes it easier to prepare for them:
"I don't think so. If you're talking about a two-game series, it's not to me. I've been here fourteen years for home-and-home with UMass, so it doesn't lead to it being a different scenario for me. You don't pick up things from one game like that when you're studying film on your opponent and you're breaking it down. Every year is a little bit different, though they have almost everybody coming back on the offensive side of the ball. You change up some things year-to-year, so it's not always the same football team that comes in or you can get a handle on a team that quickly. Teams change from year to year, except for maybe Alabama and those kinds of teams."
On Rourke's consistency:
"You call those wild plays. I call them great plays. He has an ability -- and I know what you're getting at -- but that's been a little bit about our whole season. We have not been a consistent. That's something that we're continuing to work on. We're talking to the guys about it. They're going out, working and trying to get in a rhythm and developing a consistency. I think we're getting better, so I think as we get better the consistency should come. So, that's what we're working towards."
On redshirt senior running back A.J. Oullette and other running backs in comparison to last season:
"No, their split and carry is pretty much [the same], so neither back has a considerable amount of reps to where you can start to put a finger on things. I think he's the same runner. He's not trying to run through things at times when maybe it's not best to run through them, maybe it's best to go ahead, fake and cut. There's been a few things that have changed in that regard. Now, he will go in on the contact whenever its necessary to pick up a first, to score, to get extra yards when they're needed. But he's also trying to utilize his quickness and bursts to break tackles. Some of that is going to play out well for him as the season plays on."
On consistency with third down attempts:
"If you look at third-and-short, medium, long, we've got to improve in all three of those categories, and we've got to do it on both sides of the ball. We are not doing a very good job in third down situations. So that comes back to us as coaches, and it comes back to the players a little bit. I've found that if what you're doing is tried and true in terms of improvement, it's just a matter of getting back, getting in stride again and having confidence in yourself and your teammates, coaches and players and just moving down the road. Again, I hope that some of those issues will start to get solved. and they're going to have to if we want to be the kind of team we want to be."
On Oullette and redshirt senior running back Maleek Irons splitting carries:
"It's been a situation where every so many series the other back goes in. So, sometimes that depends on the length of the series so the stats aren't always going to be equal as you get towards the end of the game. I want to use them both. If one guy is hot, then we're going to use that guy a little bit more. Both A.J. and Maleek are proven football players, and you win with those kind of players. So, they're both going to be getting a considerable amount of reps."
On Rourke's completion percentage:
"Sometimes, it depends upon the style of passes you're throwing. If you're throwing long balls, your percentage generally isn't going to be as high. We haven't been throwing as many hitches or as many slants to where it's going to build up your percentage a little bit. We've been getting a fair amount of big and explosive plays by the process that we're using. I think if our running game gets better, the RPOs and play action passes will start to get better and come into play a little bit more effectively."
On last year's game against UMass:
"Well, you better score a lot of points. They're scoring points on everybody they play, so they've got an offense that's designed well, and they've got the players to fit it. A lot of the things that we've been talking about are things that will occur against those guys. You want to try to get them in long yardage situations as much as possible, and then you've to play good long yardage defense. The turnover battle will be extremely important in the game when both teams are capable of scoring points. You start turning the ball over two or three times and give the other team the extra series or extra downs, and you're putting yourself in a huge bind. You're probably going to be playing catch-up football. You need to play smart football and not put ourselves in a position where, penalty wise, we're hurting our team in terms of field position. You look at smart football and breakdowns and execution -- all of that turns into smart football. All of those things have to come into play when you play a team that has the potential to put a lot of points on the board. If they're going to throw a lot, we need to get more sacks and put pressure on the quarterback. It's difficult for any quarterback to be at his best when someone is in his face all the time and he's getting hit after throws, sacks or if he's running for his life all the time. A lot of those things will come into play as to how well both teams do offensively."
On preparing for multiple UMass quarterbacks:
They've got a system and their quarterbacks are fit to that system. They're all mobile guys who are all capable of running, scrambling, making plays on the run. You can design a run for them, if you want. It really makes no difference which quarterback is in there in terms of system of offense that we utilize.
On play of redshirt sophomore wide receiver Cameron Odom:
"I think he showed what he's capable of and, obviously, if you get the ball his way enough times, he's going to make catches. He got over 100 yards. If you get over 100 yards as a receiver, you're probably feeling pretty good about your day. He's progressed, and I'm glad to see his abilities show. The ability has been there, but sometimes there hasn't been enough opportunity for it to show. Sometimes, it doesn't show quite as well when he's had the opportunity, but I'm glad to see him play the way he did. It adds to the quality of the receivers that we have."
On potentially continuing the Cincinnati series:
"I think a lot of the things you're saying are good statements in terms of how it could work down the road scheduling wise, but you schedule so far down the road that it wouldn't be a real quick home-and-home again kind of series. I'm for it. You don't have to travel that far on the bus. It's not a series where you have to get on a plane to get there. It's an in-state program so, obviously, there's some building rivalries. We've got a lot of players from Ohio and the Cincinnati area that adds to that. Same thing for them. We recruited some of the guys that are in their program. All of that adds to the game. I think that the chance for fans from both teams to get to the game is there. It's all good."