ATHENS, Ohio - Ohio University football head coach Frank Solich held his weekly press conference on Monday afternoon to preview the Bobcats' Homecoming matchup against Akron this Saturday at Peden Stadium in Athens, Ohio.
On Akron's offensive attack
"They're ranked eighth in the country in terms of their passing offense, and I think they build around that. They throw to set up the running game, you can't forget about the running game, (Dalton Williams) he's a guy that's going to drop back, that's going to throw. He's not a guy that they designed running plays off of necessarily, but they do have a running attack that's dangerous in the MAC. In the two games they've played Jowan (Chisholm) has averaged, I think, 6.9 yards a carry, their starting running back is somewhere around 120 yards a game in the two MAC games they've played, so even though they're getting all these yards and putting points on the board and scoring touchdowns through the air, the running game will also be a crucial part for us to stop. They're very good at what they do, they know what they want to do, and they go about it very efficiently."
On comparing Akron to Ohio
"I don't know about Akron's background in terms of what they've been all about over the last 40 years, but I think anytime you take over a program and they're not winning at that point in time, obviously there's similarities to other guys taking over programs that haven't been winning. Yet, on the side of where they're at right now, I think they've got good players in their system and they've got great facilities. When we took over at Ohio it was a matter of getting some facilities upgraded and some facilities built, and they have what they need in place and that's a great way to start. They're around a ton of people in the Akron/Cleveland area, and down here we're not, so there are also some differences. But taking a program that was not successful prior to you taking over always requires building and requires time."
On comparing Marshall and Akron's offense
"There's some similarities, if you look at (Rakeem) Cato, he has the ability to roll out and do a lot of things on that end of it, so they utilize his running skills at times as well as his throwing skill. Akron has excellent receivers, very similar to what Marshall has. The quarterback is able to put the ball right where it needs to be put, so there's a similarity there between the two schools. Obviously the style of offense is similar in terms of spreading you out, a lot of receivers that you have to defend on every given down."
On Terry Bowden's offensive scheme
"Obviously he has more opportunities to throw the ball, it is a different scheme, he's approaching things differently, he's got a good group of receivers, and so it all kind of adds up, it's the direction they want to go, offensively. They're very settled on their approach and knowing what they want to be about, and I think that helps a great deal."
On Ryan Boykin's playing time
"Ryan will share time with Beau, they are our two top running backs coming out of spring ball, they were our two top running backs in fall camp, and Beau obviously won the starting roll, and will start and get plenty of playing time. Ryan also deserves playing time, and so he will also get his opportunities. If you look around the country, you don't see too many teams with just one guy, most teams seem to have two or three guys that are getting some things done for them. We feel good about our depth at running back and what those guys are going to be able to accomplish, so there's plenty of room for two guys and maybe a third, we'll see."
On rankings in the AP Poll
"If there's been talk, I haven't heard it. Obviously our players are bright guys, they're not going to talk like that around me anyway, but our focus has never been that and we understand what it's going to take for us to be successful. We don't want to be a flash in the pan, we want to be able to do things consistently, and in order to do that you can't be looking that far down the road. You've just got to take it one game at a time, and I doubt that this game will put is in the Top 25 should we win it. We're just trying to put together a game plan that's going to be successful against Akron knowing that they're going to play really hard, really well, and it's going to be a good football game."
On depth with Jordan Thompson's injury
"Well it will be important throughout the rest of the season. We can't keep getting the types of injuries we're getting, and feel that any amount of depth is going to suffice. Things have a tendency to even out, so we're ready for a stretch of no injuries, and hopefully that occurs. But I have to give our players credit, and those guys that have filled in with not a lot of playing experience have done remarkably well. I've got to complement our coaches in terms of and how they've recruited to get our program where it's at with depth."
On Tyler Tettleton's leadership
"The leadership role can't be overstated because he's been so great at his leadership. He's not a loud individual, you don't hear him out there yelling and screaming and the players appreciate that. They know he's a business-like guy, and that's what's been able to help him produce the kind of statistics that he's produced. He just goes onto the next play and that's something we've tried to work very hard to get everyone in our program to do, so he's a great example of that to the team, and his toughness is appreciated. He's got the whole package, and he's got the ability to run, he's got the ability to throw, he's got great leadership ability and great natural skills. He's what you look for. You never see him out of control, there are times when maybe he's a little disappointed or a little elated, but he's always managed that very well and kept that under control and I think that's what most pros try to do. I think the best thing for a guy in terms of long-range is how he plays, and it's certainly the best way for your players to build around your quarterback, to have someone in place like him."
On the unity council
"We did put together a unity council this year, so there's 16 to 18 guys on that council and those guys are supplying great leadership for us. One thing that always wasn't done since we've been here is encourage leadership in all classes. You don't have to be a junior or a senior to be a leader, you can be an underclassman and be a leader. Jordan Thompson, for example, was a freshman and was a leader in how he did things and what he was all about. We have several guys like that on the team, they're young guys, and by being elected to the unity council gives you the idea that those guys that are on that council are also great leaders. Guys that are on the unity council are expected to do all the right things, and if not, then you shouldn't be on the unity council. So there are expectations that go along with that leadership."
On Jordan Thompson's injury
"It was a knee injury. We've been playing three other tight ends, (Troy) Hill's gotten a lot of playing time, Tyler Knight has gotten a lot of playing time and so has Derek Roback, who was obviously an experienced player from last year and this year. We've got guys that will have to take more snaps now that Jordan is out, but they're capable guys. But Jordan's not easily replaced, he's just a tremendous blocker and has developed into a receiver that not only was a short throwing guy on crossing routes, but also is a guy that could go deep and catch the over-the-should-catch. All of that put together is missed. If we would lose another tight end, that would drop us down a little bit, but with three tight ends I think we can pretty much operate as we've been operating."
On the number of plays Buffalo had last week
"When the other team controls the ball as well as they did and converted third downs as much as they did, you're just not going to have the ball as much as they did. First downs were 30 to 16, so you just don't have as many opportunities. I was pleased with the number of snaps that we had, our third down conversion rate on the offensive side of things was pretty good, so we were keeping ourselves on the field. We did get a couple turnovers, and those were crucial in the game. We had great field position; some of our scores came quickly on some of those drives, not counting the kickoff return. That gives the ball right back to them, so it's okay to have 67 snaps if within those 67 snaps you're getting done what you want to get done, and we were doing that for the most part."
On Daz' Patterson
"He's a very confident player, he's got skill, he's got excellent quickness, he's got good hands, and he's got good toughness. All of that comes back to him having a chance to be a really good back as he continues to develop in the system. His height and size doesn't seem to be a detriment to him, I think at times it may help him hitting up inside and getting though areas that maybe bigger guys aren't quite as effective getting though. Sometimes you do lose sight of him back there, and I think that's very helpful. You see a lot of backs that are that size in this league and around the country, and you see a few in pro ball. So for a running back, size really doesn't matter, they come in all different shapes and sizes, but he's got the skill that you look for and he's got the toughness that you look for."
On Ohio's defense
"Josh (Kristoff) has gotten a lot of reps so that's not a problem. Thad (Ingol) is a young player and I thought he performed well for the limited number of snaps he's had, coming off on an injury himself in the previous game. I didn't think that there were a lot of communication problems out there. Maybe there were some alignment issues, but not an over amount of them. There's different areas that we've got to get better at from the defensive end of it, and I think everyone knows that and I think the guys will work on that pretty hard."