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Solich Meets With the Media on Penn State Gameweek

Frank Solich

Aug. 28, 2012

ATHENS, Ohio - Ohio football head coach Frank Solich held his weekly press conference on Monday afternoon to preview the Bobcats' season-opener against Penn State.

Opening statement

“We’re obviously in the game week and we’re excited about that, we’ve had a good fall camp, I think our guys are showing that they want to be a good football team, they work very hard in terms of their practices and are getting better. I’ve been real pleased in particular with the last two or three practices. Players have stepped it up in certain positions so that we can be the kind of football team that we want to be.”

On the departure of Penn State running back Silas Redd to USC

“Well although he left, the player that’s starting for them, Bill Belton, is a guy that averaged 5.0 yards per carry, Silas averaged 5.1 yards per carry, so there’s really not much difference in terms of productivity. Now, Silas had a lot more carries, but I think that shows that they’re going to be very talented at the running back spot. Bill Belton was a former receiver, so they’ll be trying to utilize him in a lot of different ways from flipping out of the backfield, to screens, so we’ll have to stop the running game and also be alert to what the tailback is all about in the passing game.”

On quarterback Matt McGloin

“Their quarterback, Matt (McGloin), has started the last five games for them, so I consider him a returning starter at the quarterback position. He played in 11 ball games, had 54 percent completion rate, which is not bad for a young quarterback, he’s shown great improvement this spring and this fall.”

On the Penn State offense

“They’ll be a team that will show us a lot of different formations, a lot of different shifts, a lot of different motions, try to get us out of place on the defensive side of it, and then take advantage of that. I think they can have a very productive running game this year and they can have a very productive throwing game. Usually we go into ball games making sure we try to stop the run, and I don’t see this as being any different. They’re talking about throwing the ball a lot this year, but it’s clear that they can put together a very good running game and if they do that against us then they have everything going for them. So we’ll try to stop the run, obviously want to make sure that we don’t give up any big plays either on the ground or through the air.”

On preparing for Penn State

“We’re guessing a little bit obviously. We’ve studied a lot of film on them, we started early. Before the coaches took any break at all this past summer we had all four opponents broken down, and then as we came back to get started for fall camp, we zeroed in on Penn State. So we’ve done all the homework we can do, but you’re piecing it together because their staff is a new staff so they’ve come from different college programs, their head coach is out of the pros, a new special teams coach, so you’re just looking at a lot of different film from a lot of different schools hoping that they don’t change too much and that you’re not surprised too much. But really in a first ball game, there’s going to be surprises for both teams and that’s just the way a first ball game is. So we’ll hopefully be able to adjust on the run to whatever they surprise us with and if we play good and sound, we should be fine.”

On the crowd at Penn State

“It’ll be loud, there’s no question about that, you put 108,000 people in a stadium and it’s gonna be loud. Their stadium can verberate sound to where it even makes it a little bit louder but we’ve been practicing on that and we’ve been making sure that the real key in our mind is just how we handle everything. Obviously Penn State’s a quality football program with a lot of talented athletes so that’s a tremendous challenge for us. We’ve faced challenges before, we’ve responded well before, we’ve played well on the road, and so that’s all got to come together for us. We’ve got to accept the challenges of playing a football team on the road opening up on national TV, and accepting all those challenges will give you a chance to hopefully play well.”

On the offense dealing with the noise in the stadium

“We don’t generally give a cadence right at the line of scrimmage anyway, because now we’re back in the shotgun so it’s a movement of the quarterback’s leg and linemen are used to the ball being snapped without really a cadence involved. We’ll see here in a short period of time, but we’ve got an experienced line coming back, we’ve got an experienced quarterback coming back, so if anyone should be able to handle that, it should be our group.”

On head coach Bill O’Brien’s coaching philosophy

“Well it’ll be hard-nosed football, and that’s, I’m sure, Bill’s style and that was Joe Paterno’s style and so I don’t expect that to change. If you take a tough team anywhere or you play at home with a tough team, you like your chances with all things being equal. So I’m sure that that’s part of his philosophy. Now he has made changes there, and some of those changes to a lot of people seem insignificant, to others they seem significant, but he’s made changes. They are moving forward with what Bill O’Brien is all about, and I give him credit for that. It’s never easy to step in and follow a coaching legend like Joe Paterno was in terms of wins and losses, because you get second guessed on everything. As I view it, he’s his own guy, he’s doing what he thinks is best for Penn State and not doing what other people believe that he should be doing. I certainly give him a great deal of credit.”

On whether Ohio’s players have a chip on their shoulders because they weren’t recruited by Penn State

“I don’t think that really enters into it all, you can’t have yourself trying to come up with little things here and there to get yourself ready to play football. The way we get ourselves ready to play football is we practice really well, we practice hard, we work on execution, we work on toughness, and then we just expect that to carry over. All the other things that you try to bring into it sometimes can just plain backfire on you. We’ve played historic programs, we’ve played Ohio State twice, we’ve played Pittsburgh, we’ve played Illinois, we’ve played Tennessee, we’ve played Rutgers, we’ve played a lot of great programs and it’s just a matter of the kind of confidence level you have in yourself and your teammates. Up to this point we’ve always stepped on the field with the ability that we can win, and that should never change.

On Penn State’s defensive line

“It was an exceptional unit, they were fifth in the country last year on points scored against them, so they didn’t allow a lot of points, and that’s a great place to start if you wanna win football games. They’re a senior-dominated defensive football team, they have got only one sophomore from the starting line-up that we have seen that’s playing defense, and so it’s a veteran defensive football team that we’ll be up against. I’m sure they’re counting on controlling the football game until everything comes along as an offensive unit, and that’s what most teams try to do early in the year and then you hope for a little bit special teams help along the way.”

On the Ohio punting battle

“(Grant Venham and Matt Ringle) They’re locked into a battle for the starting punting position and I think both have performed very well at times and both have been a little inconsistent at times. So, I do like the fact that as of late they have shown more consistency. I don’t care who your punter is, you’re going to get a bad one off now and then, you just got to have confidence in yourself and the technique that you have been operating for 1,000 kicks that you’ve kicked leading up to this point, knowing that you’ve prepared well, and that you’ve got a good long snapper that’s going to get the ball back to you. We’re going to protect well, we’ve got excellent ability to cover, out of 50-some or whatever punts we had last year there were only eight punts returned against us last year. That’s a combination of a lot of things, that’s a combination of guys running down the field covering the punts, that comes back to your long snapper, that comes back to your punter being able to get height on the punts. So he’s going to be surrounded by a good group of guys. He’s just got to take a couple steps and punt the ball.”