Aug. 8, 2014
ATHENS, Ohio -
Ohio University Football head coach Frank Solich
met with the press on Friday at the Bobcats' Annual Media Day to discuss the 2014 season. Check out the complete transcript.
In addition to Solich's media appearance, Ohio defensive coordinator Jimmy Burrow and offensive coordinator Tim Albin spoke to reporters.
Ohio Football Media Day Quotes
Head Coach Frank Solich
"I'm excited about this year. Last year 7-6 was not what we had hoped for, anticipated or worked for, but it was what it turned out to be. Obviously we took a hard look at last season and felt that there were some changes that we could make and some development in certain areas that could help our players develop that would be able to move us forward. Posting a 7-6 record and going to a bowl game is not a ridiculous year, there are a lot of programs that can have success continually for a period of time and then suddenly it can go back to a losing season."
"We've been able to avoid that this past year, but that's certainly not what we want to be about. It is an exciting time for us because I like our player's attitudes. I like what we did from the moment the season ended - with a lot of the leaders on that football team that were coming back came to me with some ideas. They wanted to get things done at a very high level. Therefore we started structuring things around some of the things that they had talked about and some of the things that we had talked about being coaches."
"We brought some people in to talk to our coaches on leadership and developing leadership. As many of you know we did bring the Navy Seals in to work with our players along with a Green Beret member to talk to our players. I thought that was really valuable because this group is a very attentive group, they listen and they want to be great."
"They want to be on top of their game, so they are looking for advantages to be that way which is always a good place to start. The energy in winter conditioning was great - it was about as good as you could hope for. We did not have access to the indoor facility at that time, so we spent the early mornings working out in the Convo where we were able to get some things accomplished."
"Spring ball became an important time for us, the energy level stayed very high and we were able to use the indoor facility at that point in time and I think that really helped with the energy. Players always love something that has been added to their program that is going to give them an opportunity to become better and give the program an opportunity to become better, so we are excited about using the facility.
"This summer the energy level remained high and that doesn't always happen. To go from winter conditioning to spring ball to summer there are sometimes ups and downs when it comes to player workouts and what they're all about. There was no down period for these guys. The strength staff has spoken very highly about what these guys have accomplished in the offseason, so I think all signs are good in terms of what we are going to be all about, as far as desire goes and as far as being great goes."
"This isn't done without leadership within the program; I think this year's team has a lot of leaders on it that have stepped forward to help lead this football team. We are going to be a little bit of a work in progress on the offensive side of it. The really good thing about it is we are talented. We are going to be playing with young players across the board."
"We have one quarterback that has some playing experience in Derrius Vick and the other quarterbacks have had zero in experience. Running backs, most of those guys will be without experience, but I will say that the group of backs is - in terms of numbers and quality - as good as it has ever been here under my power."
"Across the line we've got the first unit of guys that have played, some started, some back-up and some playing off an injury. We will be able to have a line on the field that has some experience. At the receivers and tight end positions, it is the same thing with getting experience. We are a young team offensively, but I think we are a team that is going to have a chance to continue to get better week-by-week."
"Defensively we have a very experienced football team and I think we are a faster team since we have been here. That goes across the board, but also as you look at our freshman class that came in it was probably the fastest class we've been able to put together with just out right speed and athleticism. We are really pleased with that group of athletes. Last year's class was fast too - so we are going to be able to build off of that.
"On special teams I feel like we have a chance when you have a lot of players on your team with a lot of speed but along with speed you got to have a lot of toughness and I like our group of athletes. We are going to have some coverage teams that are going to be able to get some things done in terms of creating havoc. We have more return guys in our camp right now than we've ever had before so that's promising to us. We have guys with the ability to actually field punts and kickoffs, which have breakaway speed. Josiah Yazdani is coming back for us as the kicker. He is great with the way he can angle his kicks and power them down the field. Mitch Bonnstetter will be the new punter for us. He was an All-American coming out of junior college, so he has excellent ability. He is also timed at about 4.6 electronically so he has got excellent speed. He is also our holder with field goals and extra points, which will gives us a dimension to do some fakes if we want to. He was also the backup quarterback at junior college, so just an all-around athlete.
On the number of freshman that will play this year
"I think it is a little early to decide that with them just hitting full pads today. They're still learning what they're all about on the offensive and defensive end along with the special teams. I can say that as a group, we will have more freshman play for us than ever before."
On the speed of practices
"It is my belief that with speed you need to play with energy and you need to coach with energy and the coaches have done a great job. In the years that I have coached and reflect back, one year we won four games, but won our last two. I was more excited at that point in time than I've been in a long time just in what that team showed with the ability to come back from adversity, to continue to fight to win and play hard. All those kind of things are what you look for in your players. Somehow we lost a bit of that last year and we are making sure we get all of that back."
On starting the season healthy and ready to play
"You always hope to come out of camp 100 percent healthy and a lot of times that doesn't happen with 25 practices. Guys are going full-go at their positions. This makes it hard to keep a guy from getting banged up; you just hope it isn't a rash of injuries especially at one position. We may get a few guys banged up as we go through it, most teams probably will, but on the other side of it in terms of being ready to open up against Kent State and play on the road. No matter when your road games are, if you want to be a great team, you have to be a great road team."
On the schedule
"After Kent State we play Kentucky who has had some great recruiting classes as of late, so they have a big influx of athletes in their program. They'll be a talented football team and obviously they are working to make sure they continue to improve in their program. Then we go to Marshall, which with 10 wins and a bowl win last year, will be very excited about us coming down there to play them. Eastern Illinois is one of the toughest FCS schools around. So non-conference play will definitely be challenging. Idaho, I do not know a great deal about them at this point, but we have watched a lot of film and we just expect that we will have to play a great football game week-after-week. We have learned here that if you don't play good football in a given week you can lose to anybody."
On the quarterback battle
"I'm not necessarily one that says it has to be decided by this day or that day. Obviously as it gets closer to the start of the season the more that you have a guy in place that the team can really build around generally the better off you are. When they are very very close generally you let it (the quarterback battle) go on a little longer. You want the guy that starts to be the one, who has earned that position and we've got excellent competition."
On the offensive expectations
"Number one, we always want to be physical. We are pounding that into our guys about the physicality of the game. I don't care how talented you are, if you don't have physical football players, you're not going to be in a winning system. In my mind, you always start with physical football - that's what the game's all about. The fact that we have really good team speed will allow us to do a lot of things. I think our quarterbacks can run and throw, I think we have physical running backs with excellent quickness and speed. Our offensive line has to continue to grow, but we want to run the ball certainly much better than what we did last year. I think you've got to show the ability to run the ball. If you don't, you're probably not playing physical football. If you're not running the football with any kind of strength, any kind of threat to the opposing team, then you don't have an offense. We always want to be a team that's able to run."
On the power five situation and its impact on the sport
"I've not given the kind of thought that certainly a lot of athletic director's around the country have and some football coaches. Obviously, there's been discussion on the board of trustees and we have discussion about it, but I think its wait and see. I think if the idea is to help players during their time in college, there's certain ways to help players and that's probably really good for college football. Where it all leads I think remains to be seen. What all comes about, if the scholarship limits of 85 remain the same across the board, we'll be recruiting very much the same quality of player that we're recruiting. You hope that that doesn't change, but there are so many things I believe that are popping up on the surface, that no one really has the answers to yet."
Defensive Coordinator Jimmy Burrow
"We have a very experienced group coming back, especially at the D-line. We broke up the teams into a green team and a white team, in the first four practices. On the green team it was Kurt Laseak, Cameron McLeod, Antwan Crutcher, Kendric Smith. On the second one, it was Tarell Basham, Brandon Purdum, Tony Davis, Troy Watson and Casey Sayles. My point is, if anybody in here can tell me which of those two is the first team or the second team, than you can help us out there. It's just an illustration of how deep we are at the defensive line. We got a lot of guys that have played and a lot of guys that have played well."
"At linebacker, you start out with out three experienced guys, Jovon Johnson, Ben Russell and Blair Brown there and those three guys have played a lot of football. Then you got young guys backing those guys up, so they're very talented. We got three or four redshirt freshmen that are going to help us and establish depth."
At Safety, again we have experience; you have Nathan Carpenter as a nickel and a safety, Josh Kristoff and Thad Ingol. All three of those guys are considered starters and have played a lot of football in the last three years. Got some good young guys backing those guys up and they are all competing for playing time. (Blake) Scipio, (Aaron) Macer, (Toran) Davis, (Corey) Quallen and (Leon) Alexander, all those guys that you've probably heard of as far as special teams players, and then there's a lot of those guys that we would feel good about right now putting them in a game.
"Devin Bass and Ian Wells are the corners that would be out there with the first unit. We wouldn't trade those guys for anybody in the MAC. They've done a great job and will continue to do that for us. Then, you start looking at younger guys to back those guys up after Devin Jones, whose played safety, he's played nickel, he's played corner and then we got about four freshmen that are all competing for playing time. It's a good mix of veterans and young guys. We're looking for a lot of improvement from last year, when we looked at the things we didn't do very well."
"We just thought we needed to be a better tackling team, a better technique team, more fundamentally sound, so we've really got back to the basics when we're trying to get better at those things. I will say that anything we ask of this team, not only just the defense, but the team, these guys have bought into and they want to improve, they want to get better, they want to play well and they want to win championships. Anytime you've got a group that's willing to do whatever it takes, then you got a great head start on the season."
On Tarell Basham
"Tarell Basham has got a lot of ability. When you're looking for a defensive end, he's got the size, the length (which is always important) and the speed. As a pass rusher, he's just got tons of potential and he's already established himself as one of the better pass rushers in the MAC. We're just looking for great things from him and we can move him around, maybe like Buffalo did to Khalil Mack and get a lot of mileage out of different positions with him. Matchups are always key and I think that's a guy that you would try to match up on certain guys on offense that you think maybe aren't as strong as others. He's got a high motor, he hustles, but he needs to be a little more consistent. We're working on that and he has been in practice."
On what group is not penciled in with regards to playing time
"Probably the safeties. There are a lot of guys there that are talented, like today, we had one practice, it's kind of hard to get the reps for all the guys that deserve reps. If you just told me whose second team right now as a safety, I'd name two or three guys. Those are the guys that are all competing for that specific spot. Then corner, Devin and Ian Wells have played a lot of football there and those guys are clearly number one and then it's a host of guys competing for those backup spots."
On the quality of players returning to the team
"As long as we can keep them all happy, then it's a great problem to have, to have depth. The more people you can play and the more people that are good enough to play, then the better off we are going to be. We've had injuries in the past couple years that have hurt us, so we think that now on defense there is enough depth to be able to push through that and the level of play not drop off quite as drastically as maybe it has in the past. Depth is a good thing."
On Nathan Carpenter and his development since high school
"Nathan (Carpenter) is a very athletic guy. He did a lot of things in high school for those who saw him play. He's very smart, comes from a football family, so he's grown up with it. The toughness, again that goes back to playing running back and both sides of the ball, so he established a level of toughness, not only from that, but his dad's the coach. I've been my son's coach before in high school, and you're tougher on your son than anybody else. Just that whole thing of the family and his experience now is huge. Every year he has gained a lot of experience and yes, he's made a lot of big plays to help us win a lot of football games, and we expect even more from him this year."
Offensive Coordinator Tim Albin
"Coach made the decision going into camp that we would split the squad up and go twice a day, basically with the staff, and it's been great. I know just from an offensive standpoint, I know he mentioned to you about the youth that we have, so we thought the reps would be a great idea. I think it's been awesome."
"From a numbers stand point, as far as those young guys getting reps, we keep track of it and reps per day, and we are exactly 100 reps farther along right now than we were a year ago. The more reps you get, the better you're going to be offensively. But, offensively, we got hit hard in graduation. We had some great players, who won a lot of games and did a lot of great things. They had their legacy."
"This team, they're very hungry. We have had some great leadership. We had a phenomenal offseason. This football team wants to have their legacy and they're off to a great start. This will be my 25th year coaching, 15 years with Coach Solich and so I've been very fortunate. The chemistry with what we have with this bunch is special. It's going to be a lot of fun. We are very young up front, that's where it all starts."
"We have got to do a good job up front to have a running game. That's the most important thing as an offense, plays are a lot easier to call when the running game is established."
"I know that Coach talked about the quarterback position. You all know everything goes through the quarterback. We've got a great battle going on. Derrius has the most experience. Tyler (Tettleton) missed a game a couple years ago, but Derrius came up against Norfolk State. They gave him three zero blitzes and a man-free blitz. He got us in the right place, and was 78 percent with four touchdowns. On all four of those blitzes, he threw touchdown passes. He played last year, so he's got some experience. I think we're in a good spot there. You don't lose someone like Tyler and say you're going to be better, but I'm excited about the position."
"Up front, I mentioned the five guys, they started last year. Mike McQueen started at every position, except center. Lucas Powell was solid in the middle. He sustained an injury in preseason camp, but come midseason, was back to full speed and took every snap at center. Durrell Wood started for us as a true freshman and then Mike Lucas started basically every game and played center, both guards and right tackle. Those five guys have a lot of experience. They've had a great offseason, their bodies look better in the tight white uniforms that they wear, and they're hungry. So, everything goes through those guys."
"The running back position, which I oversee, I got six guys in there now, got another gentleman joining the squad. This will be the best group we've had, and I think we've had some good running backs here. I think the top three all-time leading rushers are in our time here. This group can be special. I really think right now, Daz' Patterson would start for us at tailback. I think it's going to be a breakout year for him. He's kind of the guy that sits back and doesn't say a whole lot, but he's had a great offseason and a great fall camp. He's going to be a difference maker for us come game time. Top to bottom in my room, I'm very excited and I'm really enjoying coaching these guys. They're looking at you with eyes wide open and buying into everything that you're talking about coaching them."
The last two positions, the receiver group, there's a lot of names. Chase Cochran comes to mind, Landon Smith, those two guys have the most reps, the most game time experience. Chase has got great speed, can stretch the field vertically. Landon's played for four years for us, just like Chase has. We have four returning seniors on offense. Those four guys have done a great job, along with Tim, with leading the offense. The receivers are young, but talented. I really believe that. Speed wise, without question our fastest group we've had offensively. There will be a lot of guys that are going to catch balls for us, and we've got to keep coming as a perimeter, as far as on blocking on the running game, but they're eager.
"Than the last position, tight ends. Troy Mangen is really the only guy in the room with game experience. He played as a true freshman, played the last half of the season, started the last four games, had his first touchdown catch against Akron. He's had a great offseason and has had a really good offseason camp through four days. The tight end spot is important to us with what we do offensively and Coach (Brian) Haines has done a great job. I have to mention the staff offensively. I got a great group in my room. We lost a couple guys in the offense. But Coach (Solich) did a great job in the offseason. Those guys have done a great job. I've thoroughly enjoyed working with them - it's been a lot of fun."
"The guys are hungry, and I'm very excited. I feel like it's my second year of coaching, I really do. There will be some growing pains early, but I really believe this is going to be a lot of fun for Bobcat Nation."