ATHENS, Ohio – Fourteenth-year Ohio football head coach Frank Solich met with the media today to discuss the Bobcats' (1-0) game at Virginia (1-1) on Saturday (Sept. 15) at Scott Stadium in Charlottesville, Va. Kickoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. EST.
Saturday's contest will be broadcast live on ACC Network Extra, with Joel Meyers and Forrest Conoly on the call. The game can also be heard on the Ohio IMG Sports Network. Russ Eisenstein returns for his 11th season as the "Voice of the Bobcats." Ohio alum Rob Cornelius, who has been a part of the broadcasts for close to two decades, is back in the booth. The 12-station network has an over-the-air coverage area that hits three states. In addition, the broadcasts are available online through OhioBobcats.com and TuneIn.com/OhioBobcats.com. They are also free on the TuneIn app.
Head Coach Frank Solich
Weekly Press Conference Quotes
Sept. 10 - Week 3 at Virginia
"The open week was used by us in a manner that allowed our players to have some time off. I think that was beneficial in some ways, and I know, certainly, those guys that are banged up felt good about the rest they were able to get. We identified a fair number of areas we need to improve in terms of being a better football team coming off of that first game. This gives us a little added time to correct some of those things and work on them and we're moving forward."
On the potential impact of weather on Saturday:
"That's one reason we do like to make sure we have a fairly good running game. You take into account the weather, and you never know wind factors or rain. Later in the year, it could even be snow. You know those factors aren't ideal in terms of throwing the ball, but if you have a solid or strong running game, you still have a chance to move the football in some way. That doesn't mean necessarily that you don't throw but that you have to pick your time and moments if the weather is ridiculous. We'll just see how it turns out. Hopefully it's decent, but the forecast doesn't look good."
On previous experiences with inclement weather:
"We'll obviously be talking a lot to our players. I'll start off talking to them today about the type of weather conditions we can face there and that we'll be playing on grass. All of the things you don't want your players surprised at all the sudden when the game rolls around. In terms of contact by the universities, two universities that are playing, generally that comes through the athletic director's office and I haven't heard anything from Jim (Schaus, Ohio Director of Athletics), and I don't know if they've contacted him at all. As you go through the week and get closer to the game and if the forecast worsens or if it's a bad forecast for a game, there will be discussions by both administrations, and we'll go from there."
On challenges Virginia presents:
"They are a complicated football team to get ready to play on really both sides of the ball. If you look at them offensively, they're able to run an approach where they spread some guys out, and they're a typical offense you see in this day and age with the ball. They give you a heavy dose of the option game, and it can be with three backs, it can be with motion, causing you to adjust to try to stop the option game. They have an excellent quarterback. He's 6-3, 215, really can run, and it presents a lot of problem. They use him as a runner coming off a traditional running style that you see quarterbacks coming off of now in terms of an offense. Then, they use him a lot in the option game, and he'll carry a ball around there. He can throw, which causes an extra problem in terms of that dimension. They'll have the availability to do that, weather permitting, of course. It's a huge challenge in that regard with multiple offensive schemes. Defensively, the same way, they have a lot of movement. They'll blitz a lot. Sometimes, they'll race outside and do some different things and inside to cover for that. It's tough to prepare for this football team because they do things on both sides of the ball, which takes some time to get ready for."
On Virginia being prepared for the weather conditions:
"They've played with a wet ball. They know what that's all about. The rain was coming down very hard (at Indiana last Saturday), but it didn't seem to distract either team. I didn't notice them playing poorly, either team, because of the weather conditions. This probably won't impact them. I like to think it won't impact us in terms of our mindset and being prepared to play in harsh weather. We've done that before, certainly, in my career. Did it here in Ohio, once or so at Nebraska where we had delayed games, and that presents a whole different set of things for you. In terms of getting your players in the locker room for who knows how long before getting them back on the field and warmed up again, making sure their minds are where they should be to get that kickoff and start the game again after the delay."
On redshirt junior safety Javon Hagan's status for Saturday:
"He should be in full practice today and be able to play in this game."
On communication with players about the rain:
"I'll talk to the whole team about it today and then, obviously, we'll keep reminding them of the possibilities that are in store for when we travel there and play the game. You want as few surprises as possible for your team. You try to be very open and cover as many bases as you can."
On the game being played on a grass field:
"I think they've had quite a bit of moisture in that part of the country, as we have, too. The area is probably pretty drenched at this point in time, and they've got an excellent grass field, most schools down there do. I'm sure they have a drainage system for it, just how much rain comes and how the field will hold up, we'll see. But it'll be the same for both teams, so that's something we do know."
On adjustments from the season-opening 38-32 victory over Howard on Sept. 1:
"One thing is, it's important not to be surprised by trick plays. We showed them a number of trick plays and talked about a number of trick plays. I'll be darned if they didn't open the game with a couple of trick plays. We got some big yardage off of those explosive plays. We will continue to practice that, and our guys have seen it for real on the football field, so that should have some impact on them. Hopefully, we'll be a little harder to trick as we go into this one and the remaining games. There are things on both sides of the ball that we have to do much better and are capable of doing much better. Offensively, we didn't run the ball the way we want to be able to run the football. We need to get that done. Defensively, way too many explosive plays, too many yards, too many points given up. But there are always, well, usually, some good things with all the bad. We're number one in turnover ratio in the country, if you look at it by games. We'll take it. We want to be number one in the conference, but we'll take number one in the country. Once you're number one in anything you want to fight to keep that. That's something we've emphasized hard coming into the start of the season and will continue to emphasize that. It's another thing I'll be talking to about them today."
On Hagan's return to the lineup:
"He's a talented player that has a great deal of experience for us. He's seen about everything on the football field, so he's a great communicator out there, and he'll help in that regard, too, reminding players of those kinds of responsibilities. So, his presence should be very strong for us, both physically and mentally on the field."
On defense looking to strip the ball and force turnovers:
"It is something that we've worked on. We had drills where we did it. We did a bit more of that, where we weren't actually tackling but we were grabbing the ball. Sometimes we were spinning the running back around, which, in the past, we're a little leery about spinning running backs when they're running and doing those kinds of things in terms of injuries. The turnover ratio is so important in a lot of football games. We've looked at even more emphasis -- not that we didn't emphasize it in the past -- but we even did it more. So far, it's one game, but it's paid off. You need to see it happen time and time again. If you see that, you think maybe you've accomplished something. So we'll see as we go through the season how it plays out. It could be good for us, because if you just look at the MAC last year and how that all worked in terms of the turnover ratio and who played in the championship games. I think I've said this before, but Akron was a plus ten, maybe, led the conference, and that was a big part of them getting to the championship. And that's not unusual."
On offensive mentality:
"There's a lot of ways to score points. We were at the top of the MAC last year in terms of points per game, and a lot of that came off of the running game. You've got to prove yourself every year, so the number of returning guys you have on your team -- we've got a lot of offensive linemen returning, running backs, quarterbacks, receivers that all have game experience and were all a part of that last year. They've got to be a part of it again this year, so we've got some things to get done. A lot of coaches would like to be able to run the ball, establish the run, build off of that. We're not far from that. We've got to have that as part of what we do. I want to be a better throwing team. We have talented receivers, and they are guys that can make big and special plays, so we want to continue to get the ball to those guys. You can't put them all in the backfield and hand it off to them. So, you've got to develop a passing game, and if we can do both, obviously, that's huge and will be our advantage. That's what we're going to try to accomplish this year. But, if we're a strong running team, an average passing team, we could go into conference play and the middle of the season and ride that pretty good. Right now, we're working to complete an offense."
On playing games against Power Five conference schools at home:
I think that's good, if you can do it. You certainly don't want to do that all the time if it's costing you money. Usually those contracts can be written up in ways that are beneficial, so I think it's good for the fans. The thing that we try to do is make sure that our team is ready to go into any kind of environment. I kind of like the challenge of playing power conference schools at their place. It's a little bit more of a challenge, and I love presenting those challenges to our team. Getting them here is great. Obviously, they attract people into the stands. We do a pretty good job of putting people in the stands and appreciate all of the support that we do get. I think they're deserving of trying to get a power conference team here in Athens, and we've been able to do that to some degree. That will probably continue.
"I don't think you can count on a team being beaten up because the opposing team ran the ball a ton against them. Just like we come out of games, it's not necessarily the banging and hard hitting that causes your guys to be banged up or miss games. I don't count on them being sore or banged up or not ready to go. I think they'll be fine. I don't know yet of guys that are out for their team, so that'll somewhat unfold as the week goes on. I don't think you plan around that too much. I've seen guys that were supposed to be out but weren't out and then if you plan on a guy not being there, you've got a problem. We'll see as the week goes on how banged up they are and we are and get ready to go."
On his evaluation of the defensive front seven's performance against Howard:
"I thought our defensive ends held up pretty well. We feel like we've got a fair number of defensive ends that we can put in there and interchange things a fair amount in there and not lose quality of players on the field. I was pleased with how that showed, and, if it keeps getting better, we'll have what we wanted. Interiorly, those guys held up well. We're not the biggest that we've been, interiorly, but they're smart football players, they're quick football players they're tough football players. I thought they held up pretty well. We've got a fair number of hurries from the quarterback and hits on the quarterback, which is always good. We've got to get an extra step coming from here or there to get more sacks. I think that's something, as much as teams have thrown against us these last so many games, we've just got to get more sacks. In terms of individuals and effort and playing relentless, I think that we did a good job."
On the depth of the defensive line:
"Well, we're hoping that that's going to be the case. Again, on the defensive line, I think we do have the depth that we can give the line to get rotation we need. Interiorly, we've got guys there that have been in the program, maybe not gotten a ton of snaps, like (redshirt junior defensive lineman) Brian Arp, for instance. He played well in the first game. He's got to continue to come and continue to play well. He can get better as he gets more and more experiences. Some of the younger guys, we're talking about the same thing. That's a process. We'll see how it develops as we go through the year. I believe we have the athleticism and the right edge there in terms of what they're all about inside as far as toughness goes, we have what we want."