ATHENS, Ohio - Ohio University football head coach Frank Solich held his weekly press conference Monday afternoon to discuss the Bobcats' upcoming matchup on Friday against nationally-ranked Kent State.
On the team's morale after the loss to Ball State
"I think they're responding well. We've given them three days off from practice, but they had one conditioning day where they lifted and did some running. That allowed them to try and re-energize again, and that was probably a good decision. They had a good practice yesterday, it was their first day back and we were in full pads working very hard. So, I think they're getting some energy back. They had three games in 12 days, four in 19 days, and I think it had an effect that showed in the second half. We played fairly well in the first half, but just didn't have enough to keep going. So we're hoping that the rest will do us good and that we'll have the energy to play four quarters. It's going to have to be that way, because Kent State is a very good football team."
On the team's bowl game eligibility
"I've not tracked anything in terms of the bowls. What we're after is to finish our regular season with a win, and that would make us feel fairly good. We went through a stretch where we weren't feeling good about what got done, but ending with a win would be big for us. Where we are, as far as the bowls are concerned, I don't know, and we'll let them figure that out. Bowl games are something unique. You have time off and then you gather them back up to prepare for the bowl, depending on where it is. Generally there is excitement surrounding going to a bowl, but I don't see that being something that is necessary for us to just play a perfect game, to have momentum to want to play another game. Momentum is always good, but we've always broken it down one game at a time, regardless of what's transpired and tried to figure out ways to win the game at hand, and we'll continue to do that."
On Ohio's injuries
"It catches up to you in a lot of different ways. If you've got a team that has depth, when you have injuries that depth kicks in, but if you have an extensive number of injuries and you're requiring guys to get more playing time than they normally would, that puts a strain on everybody. That's the way it is, football injuries can come in streaks, and we've had our fair share this year. We're gaining experience with young guys that we normally wouldn't be able to gain as much experience with. If you look at us now, as to who's starting on our offense and you see a lot of guys coming back, and the same is true on the defensive side of it. And that's the way it works. You better be a really good football team to win games, and you better have a little luck on the way. We were a really good football team that didn't have a lot of luck. We'll finish off very well. I like the attitude of our team, and they'll be ready to play."
On Kent State's Dri Archer
"We've had some really good playmakers in the MAC, but I think he's something special. I think that you could place him in any conference in the country and he would be special. He's not big, he's got great speed and he's very fluid in his running style. You can use him a lot of different ways, and Kent State does a great job with that. Bowling Green is statistically the best team in the conference, and there were some runs there that maybe it wouldn't have mattered defensively. If you let him get started, he's got a shot at things. You've got to control him some, he's going to have some big plays, you just hope that everyone that's built around him offensively doesn't also have big plays. They've got a really good combination with their running back, a very physical, 250-lb running back. So they have what they want in terms of a ground game, I believe they're 11th in the country for rushing yards right now, and they've had a number of returning linemen up front. Their quarterback doesn't makes mistakes, he handles the game very well. On the defensive side of it, they're a very aggressive unit, they'll put a lot of pressure on you and they're first in the conference in interceptions. That's because they have good defensive backs and they are able to put pressure on you with their front four. They're really quick, really strong and very physical, so they get you to do things that are out of the ordinary, in terms of batting down balls and forcing to scramble, things that cause interceptions. They're first in the country for turnovers gained, which is not just a good job from the passing game defending it, but they've done a great job of creating turnovers in terms of fumbles. That's a huge combination going in the right direction for them."
On Carl Jones and Neal Huynh
"One of them will be definitely out, the other may have a shot. It will be a game day decision."
On Kent State's rankings
"It dictates to you the challenge that's ahead, and obviously those are all things that are there, in front of you. A win, in that fashion, dictates the kind of game you had to play to win it, so if you get it, it's very satisfying for a lot of reasons. We always feel good about MAC schools breaking into the Top 25, that's great for the conference, and there've been four now. I don't know if that's been done in the MAC before, but it hasn't since I've been here. It's a great accomplishment for the conference and for the schools."
On Beau Blankenship
"He's great at being physical in his running style. He's delivered a lot of hits, he's taken a lot of hits. He's able to play banged up, he's got excellent speed, quickness and toughness, and with that combination, you've always got a chance. If you get some help around you, then that helps, too. We are a threat in terms of throwing the ball, as well, and that's always a help. I'm very proud of the year he's had and what he's accomplished and the toughness that he did it with."
On the team's academics
"The sport is very demanding on itself, and that can be reflected in a lot of ways. In this past game we had a lot of guys that collected up to do a lot of studying and got a lot of things done, academically during the day leading up to the game. Everyone understands the importance of an education and trying to stay on top of your school work, so we put that as a priority. There are always some challenges with guys, but I think they're trying to make an effort to do the right things."