Oct. 14, 2013
ATHENS, Ohio - Ohio University Football head coach Frank Solich met with the media on Monday to discuss the Bobcats' conference matchup with Eastern Michigan. Check out the complete transcript.
"It was a tough loss for the team and for the program. There are always lessons to be learned and then you move on. It's clear and it's been clear for some time that you've got to show up and play four quarters of football. You can't play two quarters and expect to get by. That's kind of what happened to us this past Saturday. I certainly give Central Michigan credit. I thought they showed up and played very good football on the road. They were physical and played throughout the whole ball game, so they deserve a lot of credit. We had a chance to win the game, but we didn't get it done. A lot of things led up to that that could've made a difference, but didn't. We move on with the understanding that every game is going to be a battle.
On the Central Michigan game
"There's a lot of history with our team with trying to win games at the end. Our guys are experienced at most positions: our quarterbacks, receivers and secondary. There's a high expectation to finish games. We need to work on how we start games and not let things come down to the end. If we have better control of it, we can prevent those things from happening. I think we have the ability to come up with crucial drives. If you look at Donte and what he did - he had some spectacular catches and almost went up and made another that would've gotten us in field goal position for a shot at winning it. We have that ability, but we also have the ability to take control of a game if we play for four quarters as do most teams in the MAC. It usually comes down to hardcore battles. Turnovers played a huge part in the game. We lost the turnover battle four to one, and that's something that we've worked hard at and usually works in our favor, but in this game it didn't. The thing that we take away from this is that we can't be a team that has one unit play great and the other two play so-so. In the early part of the game, I didn't see any unit play great so that we could win the game. It got better as the game went on, but certainly we're the type of team that expects all three units to play well."
On getting off to a good start in games
"It wasn't again just the offense. All phases early didn't play well enough. It's very difficult to play through your schedule and to be on top of your game every time that you line up. You're going to have games where things aren't working well and you're just not as sharp early on. You have to be good enough and sharp enough to find a way to win those kind of games at the end. I think we're finding that we are now in a position to win those games at the end, but we just have to get it done. We're not satisfied with getting it done 90 percent of the time. Everybody wants it done 100 percent of the time. That's what the expectation is. It's a tough game along those lines. I think players learn lessons and the coaches can learn lessons year after year no matter how long you're in this game on being careful every single football game and preparing yourself mentally, physical and emotionally. Trying to get yourself to do that can be very tough, which is why you see some of the scores you see. When there is a mismatch it's somewhat of an anomaly in our conference and sometimes in college football. There are as many upsets in this game as there is in every sport because of how tough it is to line up and play 12 regular season games, 13 if you make the conference championship, 14 if you go to a bowl, to be on top of your game every single time. What you have to do is understand how all of that works and find ways to get it done."
On controlling their own destiny through the rest of the season
"I think our team is hurt. They are bothered by this football game, but our program is built around moving on. That's going to happen, but we've got to win and we've got to win with a lot of consistency going down the stretch. If we win them all, in our case, we control our destiny. Northern Illinois had a season that was unbelievable last year and there are still undefeated teams in the MAC, so we're behind in that category. We still have that goal out there. It's still achievable and we will keep trying to get to that goal one game at a time."
On the defensive struggles during the game
"It's attributable to some missed tackles and some blitzes that we had ran all year that we didn't run well. The thing about blitzes is that there's a chance for big plays for either team. If you really blitz well and everyone is on point, you have a chance for a big play on the defensive end. If you're off on the blitz, a bit late or you have two guys hitting the same gap, there's a chance for a big play for the offense. They were a big physical offensive line and their running back was good, but we have faced those things before and played better. I think it was a failure of having everybody where they needed to be on the defensive end. That's always a thing you try to guard against. We lost the big and explosive play battle 11-5 and that's huge. To be able to have a chance to win the game when losing the big play battle 11-5 and having four turnovers, that says something. I'm still trying to figure out what it says, but it says something."
On bouncing back from setbacks
"Not every team can do it. Our team has the ability to bounce back from a loss in terms of its mental makeup. That's what you strive for as coaches - to have your players in that kind of frame of mentality to be able to comeback no matter what happens. Whether it's a bad play, we'll come back the next play. If it's a bad quarter, we will come back the next quarter, if it's a bad half we have to come back or even a bad game. You just have to be ready to comeback off of everything and we have an opportunity to show that this game, so that's what we will do."
On the health status of John Prior
"The leg was not broken. It still could be a long-term recovery, but we are not quite sure how long and where all that fits yet. He is still getting looked at and is being treated. We should know more here shortly." On the health status of Xavier Hughes "He probably will not go today, but I expect that he should be back sometime this week and ready to play."
On the play of defensive lineman Ty Branz and Terrell Basham
"I think it's showing statistically and I think it shows when you turn on the film that were getting the best rush out of our four man group than we've ever gotten here. They are both very, very explosive, if you really look at the game when we got them in third and long they were in trouble. We got to the quarterback sometimes without blitzing. In fact many times without blitzing, so the problem was in this game that we probably didn't get them in third and long enough. But, those two guys have been special and obviously we have some young players that are really playing well on the defensive line as well as the offensive line. I think that that speaks to the future of Ohio football."
On the turnovers
"Generally we've beaten teams by us taking care of the ball and forcing the turnover. That's a big part if you go back through the history and look through the turnover margin at each game that we've played. Generally we've been ahead or have been tied to where it has not been a factor and in this game it was a factor - there is no question about it. That's tough on everybody it's tough on the guys that are playing, it's tough on the guy that missed the turnover and you just need to respond. I think we did despite the fact that we had four turnovers. We're 4-1 in the ratio and we could have and in my mind should have won that football game."
On whether or not Travis Carrie will still be returning punts
"He's made so many plays for us and he's got so many more to make. No question, he is going to be right where he has always been."
On Eastern Michigan
"I think that they are a physical bunch. If you look at their offensive line and they are all 300 pound guys and are very similar to what Central Michigan was in size. Their coach is a tough football coach. His demeanor is tough and what he expects out of his players is toughness and so that's the kind of football team you face. If I had to start anywhere with a football team it would be with that (toughness). You give our staff a bunch of good tough guys and you are going to have chances in football games and they've got that. They've got that toughness, so they will always have a chance when they line up. They've got a good running back, they are better at quarterback. We're going to have to be on top of our game. We are going to have to utilize all that pass rush that we have potential. We have got to stand up and stop the run. I've said that so many times in front of you people and that's what hurt us this past game."
On why the team lost at Central Michigan
"We gave up too many big plays and we had some poor tackling.
On the addition of two new bowls
"I think it's great of our commissioner and our conference leaders to put together bowls in great locations for our teams in our league to get to on a year-to-year basis. The league has positioned us well for the future."