ATHENS, Ohio - Ohio University football head coach Frank Solich held his weekly press conference Monday afternoon to discuss the Bobcats' upcoming road matchup at Miami.
On the bye week
"In terms of getting guys back that have been injured, a good share of them had season-ending injuries, so that does not affect them. Gerald Moore will start running around this week and we'll see how it goes. Overall, a lot of guys had bumps and bruises and we took enough time for those to heal up. It seems like when we were back on the field last Thursday and Friday the attitude was good, they seemed rejuvenated. I think today's practice ought to be good, they'll wear pads today, and then we'll see the rest of the week goes. We've got to be careful in terms of preparation not only for this game, but also in the following game because there are only five days in between. The following game after that is on the sixth day, so we have less than a week in preparation for the next two games after Miami. So you factor that into the equation, in terms of how you practice."
On external rankings and expectations (BCS)
"Players around the country are well-versed on what college football's all about, where they stand, how they're doing, how their team is doing and how their conference is doing, so our guys are well aware of all the things that have happened positively for us. They're bright guys, they know what got us to this point, so I've got no concern about them somehow not preparing well or overlooking anything. I think they know that it's got to be a daily preparation for us, and that we've got to get better day after day. There are a lot of things that we need to do and get better at in order to finish off this season the way we want to, and that starts right now with Miami. There are things that we've got to sure-up. With all those concerns and the Miami game ahead of us, I don't think they'll look any farther than today's practice."
On the Miami rivalry
"The rivalry exists and it's a long time rivalry. It's important to Miami, it's important to Ohio and it's important to the fans. When you look at the football game, every game is important, regardless of who you are and how well you're doing. So you can't go beyond the next game. All of our games with Miami have been really hard-fought, physical contests. We had to hang on at the end to win it last year and we had to make a play right on the final play of the game. So, we know that Miami is a good football team and that they're a physical football team. They showed us, defensively, a lot of blitzes and a lot of movement, so we'll get tested offensively with what they're about defensively. We haven't stopped teams the way we have in the past; we've had more defensive injuries than on the other side of the ball, and I think that as we work our way through the schedule that has showed some. Now that guys have stepped in, they've got to show continued improvement. They've got to get better, we've got to get better as a defensive football team, we've got to continue to take great care of the ball, we've got to produce more turnovers, and we've got to get a few more interceptions than what we're getting. Our special teams are coming along in some areas, but they're going to have to come along a lot faster if we want to continue to get things done. So, there are a lot of things to look at, a lot of things to get better at and if we're going to win football games these things need to improve."
On Beau Blankenship's health
"I wouldn't doubt that Beau will be out there today, I have not talked to John Bowman or Beau directly, but we'll visit with him before practice. We certainly don't want to set him back by having him do anything, so we'll wait and see how he feels right before practice. I think coming off of last week he felt like he should be ready to go."
On Miami quarterback Zac Dysert
"Pro scouts are definitely paying a lot of attention to him, evaluating him and looking at him. If you look at his size, arm strength, accuracy and decision-making, all of those lead you to being an excellent NFL prospect and I'm sure he's considered to be that. He's throwing to some very good receivers and they protect him very well and the whole combination of that makes it hard to slow him down."
On Ohio's third down defense
"I think doing a better job on first and second downs will help us. I think there have been too many third-and-shorts, too many third-and-ones, -twos, -threes, where if a team has those they're probably going to have a fair percentage of third down conversions. We've got to get them in more difficult situations: third-and-six, third-and-seven kind of situations. We're just giving up too much on first and second downs and it has allowed teams to have easier conversions on third downs."
On the Mid-American Conference
"I think there have been signs for a while now that the MAC is a very strong conference, and it's not just one or two teams, there are a number of teams right now in the conference that have the capability of stepping on the field and winning football games, regardless of whether they're a MAC school or a BCS school, so that makes for a really challenging, exciting conference, and I think that's what we have right now. There are a lot of teams that could still win this conference race; they're positioned well to get in the championship game. We're one of those teams, but that's it, we're just one of those teams and I think that the MAC is filled with really good football teams."
On Jim Schaus' five-year contract extension
"If you have confidence and feel good about your AD and he has confidence in you and your staff, then that is the mesh you're looking for and it enables everybody to move forward in a positive direction. I've always felt very comfortable with Jim since he's taken the job. I think he's great at getting the big picture and understanding what it takes to have a successful department. I think he makes good decisions and he makes tough decisions. He's able to relate to boosters and he can relate to the administration, which is a huge part of what an AD's job is about. He's been great for our program and for this University. I'm glad to see he's going to stay."
On former Bobcat LaVon Brazill's play in the NFL
"I haven't talked to him for some time. Once we get into the season and they get into season there's not a lot of communication that goes on. But he's always been great at getting to somebody within our program and he has kept in touch. We've kept in touch with him in one way or another. We try to do that with a lot of graduates that have gone in different directions, many of them have come back for Homecoming, which is really great to see. I'm really happy about what he's accomplishing and it sounds like he's contributing, and that's great for a guy in his rookie year."