ATHENS, Ohio - Ohio University football head coach Frank Solich held his weekly press conference Monday afternoon to discuss the Bobcats' upcoming midweek matchup against Eastern Michigan.
On team attitude after Miami
"The attitude was good, they've got a good understanding of what transpired during the game and that there's a lot of us that could've done things a lot better to force a different outcome. We're identifying all those places and we're going to work at it. The attitude has been good and I think they're going to be very good at being able to respond."
On third down conversions
"We need to make them, but in saying that, we need to make a higher percentage than what we're making. We've been able to produce a lot of big plays, if you go back through the course of what we're all about, we're a big-play football team. I think if you could add third down conversions at a good rate and continue to make big plays, then you have what you want. Getting ourselves in third and longs don't help, and we had a couple of penalties in the game that were pretty dramatic that really set us back. I think Miami was penalized five yards for a false start. That's the nature of the game, and if it goes that way you're not going to have a great third down conversion rate. We need to get better at it, and that means doing better on first and second downs, but on first and second downs we've been having our big plays. So that first down long pass gets us to another first down. So just getting it done right is what we're after. Hopefully we can have a better mind set on third down conversions."
On the pass protection at Miami
"We had a couple breakdowns and four legitimate sacks that we can contribute to the line. We scrambled a time or two when we didn't have to, which can lead to behind the line of scrimmage the play. We have identified where those came from and how it all worked. Sometimes you're ready to jump at your linemen for sacks and half of the time you're right on that, but in this case it's kind of a combination of things. But it was the biggest breakdown in terms of giving sacks."
On the running game
"Ryan Boykin is now getting a fair share of snaps, and that's cutting into Beau's (Blankenship) snaps. I think both of them are good running backs. What we need to do is to get another dimension going for us offensively, in terms of carrying the football, and when you're running a one-back then that other dimension has to be the quarterback. So we've got to get more production in terms of running more read-type of plays or more quarterback-design kind of runs, because right now they're zeroing in on our running back pretty well. If you look at Beau's average per carry, it's in the fours. You'd like it to be in the fives, and if everything is going right then in the sixes. So we've got to help him and Ryan (Boykin) out a bit, getting some wide stuff going for us. We're horrible at running the option right now and that's got to improve. And all of those things will help the running game some."
On read option plays at Miami
"We probably call more than what you might see from sitting in the stands. Some of those reads were okay, and some of them were not. So we've just got to continue to get better at that phase of it, and that will be important in us becoming a better football team."
On the importance of the running game
"We'll see, I'm big on statistics, but I know what those statistics mean when that ball is kicked off - usually absolutely nothing. So, ideally, we'd like to run the ball against them. The weather is going to be a factor in the game, and I don't know what the conditions are going to be like in terms of throwing the ball, so both teams are going to need to produce a running game. Both teams understand that and that's what's going to happen. Usually when you know a team is going to run, you start loading the box. When that happens, you're forced to do some other things, and it's a matter of how well you do those other things to get it to start balancing out."
On Matt Weller's potential 56-yard field goal at Miami
"It was a 56-yard field goal, and that's a hefty boot for anybody, with the wind or without the wind. He has the leg to do it if he's not kicking into the wind, but any margin of error on the kick, where it slides left or right, you give the opposing team great field position. We weren't willing to risk it at that time because it was a tight ball game and I felt field position was going to play into it heavily. They moved the ball well in the first half, so that comes into play a little bit. If you have some foresight and you know that you're going to shut them down much better in the second half, then all of that comes into play with whether or not you're going to give it a shot."
On whether the loss to Miami was one of the toughest loss Solich has ever suffered
"It's up there very high, that was tough. We had a couple ways to win it, and it didn't work. Not being able to get it done when we were in position to get it done is very tough, knowing that we've done that on more than one occasion this year. Getting it done in that game didn't play out. It was a different scenario, and I would've never guessed what happened would happen."
On Tyler Tettleton
"Tyler's (Tettleton) fine, we've visited and he's fine, he's ready to go. We've all identified things that we could've done better in that game, so we're ready - excited actually, to move forward. I think the team is excited and they want to get back to winning."
On midweek football
"We've been here a couple times before where we've had to play three games in 12 days, and that is not easy on your football team. So, the only thing that we can do is prepare and understand what those challenges are. Physically, that's challenging to do. We've got to be somewhat smart about how we practice, but we've got to go into the game with a mental attitude of being able to play physical football if you're going to get it done. Last time we did this, two out of the three games we played very physical. We didn't play very physical in the third game and we lost that, so there is a concern there. We know the challenges, we're attempting to address them and hopefully we'll have our team ready to go through this stretch."
On Tremayne Scott and Gerald Moore
"I was hoping that Gerald (Moore) would be a little healthier than what he showed on Saturday, but in saying that, the hopes are back up there that he'll be further ahead in this game and farther ahead in the next game unless he gets it re-injured. So we hope to see him play more and more as we go through the next few games. Tremayne Scott's health depends on what the x-rays show in terms of the healing process, and he'll have it x-rayed again this week. But he's certainly not ready in the immediate future to play."
On the loss to Miami
"The loss itself is always meaningful and tough, and it does hit you. But this is a game where you're going to get hit, and you've just got to be able to respond and bounce back from it, that is really the key. We've been in this position before, in terms of challenging for the conference race, so it's not new ground for us. We know it can be done, but we know that in order to get it done we've got to address things one at a time."
On pass coverage at Miami
"The broken coverage came early, and they got an easy touchdown off of it, and that's always tough. But looking at the film, I thought in a lot of ways we covered people better than we've covered in a while. So I think improvement has shown in that part of the game. Now, obviously you're facing a truly great quarterback in the MAC (Zac Dysert), and he's got some talented receivers, so it was not an easy task, but I felt good about how we controlled the game in the second half. The thing that hurt us in the second half was that we had two busted technique plays. One was a long run that put them in field goal position. But I thought, defensively, for the most part, we controlled the game at about what you would like to do against a talented offensive team."
On Eastern Michigan's quarterback Tyler Benz
"He's now started five games for them, and that means is they've got two quarterbacks that are capable of throwing. I don't know if ones a little better passer than the other, or if ones a better runner than the other, they seem to be the same type of quarterback in some aspect. They both have a good size and they don't run their quarterback a lot. They have a running game and they try to build off of that with some throws, and that's their style of offense and their style of quarterback that they've got right now."
On Eastern Michigan tight end Garrett Hoskins
"I believe he's All-MAC, and there's a reason for that. They utilize him as a wideout in terms of how much they throw to him and his ability to catch the ball. He's a great receiver as well as a thick kid who can block, so they've got the complete player there."
On Eastern Michigan's running back
"He's a very good running back, and they like to run the ball. If you don't control that some, then he's going to have very good statistics. We've got to slow him down and control the running game, try to force him into the throwing game, and how well we do that will determine how well we slow them down."
On the Mid-American Conference
"If you look back, you can see the progress the MAC has made, in terms of being an overall competitive conference. There are a bunch of teams in the MAC right now that you could line up against almost anybody and win a football game. This conference has not seen that with any kind of regularity, but it's showing this year."