ATHENS, Ohio–Fourteenth-year Ohio football head coach Frank Solich met with the media today to discuss the Bobcats' (8-4) upcoming DXL Frisco Bowl matchup against Mountain West Conference foe San Diego State (7-5). The game will be played on Wednesday, Dec. 19, at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.
Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET, and the contest will be nationally televised on ESPN. The game can also be heard on the radio on the Ohio IMG Sports Network, with "Voice of the Bobcats" Russ Eisenstein and Rob Cornelius on the call.
"We're excited about going to the Frisco Bowl. We've not had a player or coach that's been there, so it's all new for us. We're getting an opportunity to play a very, very good football team. They're from the west coast, which we don't get the chance to match up with teams of that nature very often. It'll be a great football game and I think it'll be in a good atmosphere."
On San Diego State:
"They're very complex. The defensive unit that they place on the field, they'll have three down linemen, but it's more like defensive ends that are placed sometimes where defensive tackles are, so they'll operate out of that front with a lot of linebackers and a lot of safeties in the game. They've got a lot of speed on the football field; they use that speed very well in terms of blitzing and running different stunts with their line— the combination of their blitzes and stunts causes you and awful lot of problems because they do a lot of it. They're very good at it; it's a system where they've been running for so long that it's complex but to them it's not complex. It's very easy for them to get in the defenses that they're in, utilize those stunts and not have breakdowns. The problem we have is that they have extra time before this game, so they'll probably come up with a few more stunts for us."
On previous encounters with San Diego State's coaching staff:
"We really don't have any kind of on-going relationship. We've been limited to really no communication between us; I've got a lot of respect for him [head coach Rocky Long], what he's done, how long he's been in the business, how well he's operated and his ability to put together staffs and mold football teams to be very, very successful. It'll be great to get to know him a little better and visit with him some."
On keeping the offense strong:
"There's a little concern about that. I think there needs to be a balance. Obviously you can overwork a team going into a bowl game; you can also underwork a team where you're not really sharp or prepared to play a physical football game. Over the years we've tried to reach that happy medium and when you do, you give your team your best chance. So we'll be practicing hard this week; today will be a full-padded day and tomorrow we'll most likely have pads on again and see how it goes for Thursday and Friday. We're still piecing that together; we have finals the following week and we need to see where our guys' finals line up—we've already done that. So we're piecing together the days we'll practice next week, which will probably be no more than three days. We'll have most of our team, at least the starters and back-up players and most of those guys, at our practices it looks like next week. We will miss a few guys because of finals. That's always a balance that you need to find; you've got to have some practice going that week. You can't do too much: they've got to get ready for their finals. Most guys start earlier than that, but they need to be somewhat fresh going into their finals. They're not necessarily fresh coming out of their finals, so that's always a little bit of a challenge also."
On All-MAC awards:
"I appreciate the fact that we had a fair number of guys on the All-MAC team, as we should've. Are there a few guys that you feel as a coach that got overlooked? I think the answer to that is yes. Maybe most coaches do in the conferences, but in saying that, we've got players we wouldn't trade. I'm sure every team has some of those. I thought Nathan [Rourke] and A.J. [Ouellette] had special seasons; it's always difficult to pick the top players in the MAC. You don't play every team in the MAC, so that comes into play some, but statistically those two had a special year. They got recognized for it in terms of First Team for A.J. on the All-MAC team and Second Team for Nathan. Again, I would not trade Nathan. I wouldn't trade anybody that was making our team on the All-MAC."
On Nathan Rourke's motivation:
"I've talked to him; he's a very down-to-earth guy. He believes in himself. We keep telling him how good of a player he is and what a great year he's had and to keep playing like he's been playing. So he's not a guy that will show his emotions on that end of it. He just keeps plugging away, keeps working hard and keeps applying leadership to our football team. When you had the kind of season he's had, sure, you have some feelings about not getting the awards."
On San Diego State's style:
"Well, I've got a lot of experience with Nebraska in terms of lining up in 21 personnel/22 personnel, where you've got a fullback in the game and everyone is coming down the hill, running at you and being a very physical, very powerful football team. That's what they are. Most teams that line up in those formations with that personnel play physical football. Not all get it accomplished, but they do. They're a very, very physical football team throughout the course of it—their linemen, fullbacks, running backs—they've all got the ability to play downhill on you. There can be a wear-down effect if you're not careful; we need to make sure we're smart in what we're doing, substitute the way we have been all year long and we've been able to do that to keep the guys somewhat fresh on the field. When you play a physical football team, guess what you've got to do. You better play physical football back."
On San Diego State's defense:
"Northern Illinois is a really, really good defensive football team. There's no question about that. These guys I see as very similar, as to being a really, really good defensive football team. After you play a team like this, you find out what it's all about and what they're all about. After going in and watching film, I have no doubt that they're a physical football team that will attack you and try to beat you up and wear you down."
On both teams' regular season records:
"I'm not paying too much attention to games played and how they played out. You watch enough film on a team at the end of the year like this that's a bowl football team that you know number one, they're a bowl football team so they're going to be really good. Number two, you just watch from film and when you've been in for a while you can get a good feel for what a football team is all about. They play with excitement, they play with energy, they're fast, they're tough and so, we'll get their best shot and we'll give them our best shot. It should be a heck of a ball game."
On signing day:
"It should not be a problem for us. We had a big recruiting weekend last weekend; most of the guys that are signing were in on that weekend, so we've got a lot of things confirmed on what's going to happen. Obviously, you're allowed to go over with them how signing works, show them the signing papers, so I think there's been organization early on that's going on that will this play out well for us on signing day."
On bowl appearances:
"I just appreciate every one that comes along. They're not easy to get to and you've got to have good coaches who are good on the field and good recruiters to get done what we've got done. You've got to have players that grow in your system and really understand what it takes to be a good football player over the course of time at a university. I think we've got that in our program. I think there's enough history now to have our players understand that when they come in, they are a part of an organization that's going develop them, that we're going to develop them as a team and that we're going to play good football."
On athletes who can't participate in the bowl game:
"There are guys who are out because of surgery. Other than that, everybody will play as I understand it. There's nothing hidden there or going to pop up, that I foresee will be a problem."
On Bill Snyder's retirement:
"I know Bill well; we've got a friendship. He's been a great coach and a great person. He's a highly organized guy; he leaves no stone unturned in the preparation and development of his players. It's no surprise that he's been able to accomplish what he's accomplished knowing what he's all about in terms of his coaching, his knowledge off football and his ability to relate to coaches and players. It's great that he's had the career that he's had. I wish him only the best. It's hard for me to see him go because I think he's iconic in this business. He's a guy that's accomplished so much and has been so good for the game that you'd like to see a guy like that keep going on."
"I really try not to think about it, unless someone brings it up. I really give no thought to it. Everybody has a day that will eventually will cause it to be their last game, their last year, but I'm still going. Mine's down the road, but so is everybody' else's career down the road. We'll just see; I feel very good, I like what I'm doing and I really enjoy things here at Ohio University. I've got a great staff—there's a ton of people out there who would like this job and would like to be a part of what's going to be happening here in the future. I just keep taking it one day at a time, one game at a time and one year at a time."
On appreciating his job:
"Well, you get to know these guys personally when you're coaching in the league. That's the case no matter what league you're in, I think. You get to know the guys you're coaching against and you draw an appreciation for many of them and what they're all about. When a guy gets let go, it's difficult—especially if you know if the guy is a really good coach and a really good player. Sometimes expectations are what they are and not necessarily realistic, but Terry [Bowden] has done a great job at Akron. They played in the conference championship last year. It's a business that's tough; some people make it tougher.