ATHENS, Ohio – Fourteenth-year Ohio football head coach Frank Solich met with the media today to discuss the Bobcats' (1-1) game at in-state foe Cincinnati (3-0) on Saturday (Sept. 22) at Nippert Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for noon EST.
Saturday's contest between the Bobcats and the Bearcats will be broadcast live on ESPNU, with Mike Corey and Rene Ingoglia 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. 17 - Week 4 at Cincinnati
"As far as the game is concerned, it was the second game in a row that we've started off very slow. We had to get into a catch-up mode. Obviously, when you're playing good football teams, that's never a good recipe for success. So, we're going to have to look at that and find ways to get off to a quicker start and play four quarters of football. I like the fact that our guys never quit. Got down early and got down by a fair amount. We had a chance in the second half to turn it into a ballgame and make it anyone's ballgame at the end. We didn't quite get that done. But they did a lot of things along the way to make that a possibility as the game went on. I feel good about a lot of things. Some things we have to get taken care of real quick. We have to run the football better, that's one of the things from the offensive side of it. Number two, we have to stop the pass from being so effective against us and accumulating so many yards and first downs. Those issues have to be addressed on both sides of the ball. We had some young kids step up, played well. Special teams, we did some good things. Our kickoffs, there wasn't a kickoff return out of seven of them, so that's a good stat for us. Punts, (redshirt junior) Michael (Farkas) did a great job with the punting. Sometimes, he outkicked the coverage a little bit. Some of those, we'd like to see a little more hang time and take a little distance off of it. He's got a great leg, and he's very good at it. We returned kickoffs fairly well. We're averaging out past the 25 yard line when we do return kickoffs, which is a good stat. That's that in a nut shell."
On making adjustments after a slow start against Virginia:
"I think you look at a lot of things. You look at the way you warm up, but we're warming up the same way we've warmed up for 14 years, and years in the past at my other job. But that's probably not the issue. This was a road game, the other was a home game, so it's hard to pin something down there. We just have to talk to our team about it and identify what is happened in the first two games and try to gather some energy, excitement and confidence to get off to a great start. That's the plan that I think is probably what we're going to try and see how that goes."
On establishing the running game when you're trailing:
"When you're down two touchdowns early, that might be a reason for you to run the ball a little better. They could be playing the pass a little more there. So, I don't go down that road, I think every time you carry the ball is an opportunity to get in the fours or fives in terms of the yards per carry. You take away the 70-yard run by (junior quarterback) Nathan (Rourke) and you look at just back carries, you talk about 3.1 average yard carries. That's not us. That's not what the program has been built on. It's now how we operate. So, we will continue to press to do a better job of that."
On play of the defense:
"We've had some discussions, obviously, on that, as a staff from the defensive end of it. First thing we're going to do is get to be a better technique. Some of the things happening are just bad technique. Then, making sure that we're assignment oriented and not having a guy bust here or there that causes a big and explosive gain when nine or ten guys are playing really well and one guy is not. It's getting everyone on the same page and making sure that every time the ball snaps we're confident in what we're doing. I think that way our talent will show a lot more."
"They have a really good football team. As you look at them, they're 3-0, they've dominated in the games they've played. They've got a great quarterback so, obviously, that's huge and they've established an offense. I think they've held those three opponents to eight points a game, which is a little scary. You need to put points on the board to win a game, and they don't allow you to do that. Something's gotta give here. They are very physical, very strong, and they play with a lot of energy. It'll be a really good football team we face."
On getting the running game going:
"It comes back to number one, that we're getting things done up front. They're the same backs, and we've got the same linemen for the most part. (Sophomore offensive lineman)Brett (Kitrell) has done a great job at center for us. It's a little bit of a mystery. We've got to tie it together a little better. I think the fact that we're throwing the ball pretty well will try to get it started. We can see where that goes. We're not an overly complicated offense. We're not winning so many plays when we're running, we're not executing well. So, I think with both sides of the ball, it comes to eleven men executing."
On team's capability to bounce back from a loss:
"Yes, this team has that capability. There's talent on the team. They play with a lot of spirit. Love what they're all about in terms of their approach to games. They're doing all the right things. They just need to be getting better in terms of on field stuff that we're doing."
On quality of play against Virginia:
"We've definitely got to play better. I'm not taking anything away from Virginia. They earned that win. But we showed that we're capable of playing really good football in that game. If you look at it as we got more into the series and more into the game, we were doing pretty well. But the early running play, it went the distance. The early pass, which was a flat route that went the distance, a missed tackle here or there, then you're down 14-0 away from home, trying to get everything straightened out and get back in the game. I think to a degree we did that and played better on both sides of the ball. Special teams, I thought was pretty good. We gave up a 42-yard return, there was a penalty on it that ended up making it an 11-yard return. The coverage was good. We had two we covered pretty well. We had the penalty on the punt for fair catch interference. Those were all costly, but I think the officials let both teams play, and so there were not a lot of penalties played in the ballgame, which is what you look for a little bit. At least it wasn't 10 penalties on one team, 15 penalties the other team, some things were ticky tacky in terms of what was called. Those guys let both teams play."
On opponents scoring quickly after a change of possession:
"I don't see that as a major problem for us. We've been scored on without sudden change. It comes back to just being better and playing better. That's what we're setting out to do."
On what changed from the first half to the second half of the Virginia game:
"I think we played more like we're capable of playing in the second half. When you don't have technique breakdowns and you've got good personnel, it's going to show. Regardless of whether we have good personnel and you do have technique breakdowns, you're in trouble. And that's what happened to us early on in that game, and then later on in the game we seemed to get that straightened out a little bit. It was no magic thing done at halftime in terms of a talk or in terms of major adjustments. They just started playing better."
On pass protection:
"It's a big emphasis every week. We got sacked three times. They got sacked three times. If you look at most ballgames, you're going to see that there's a fair amount of pressure on the quarterback and hits on the quarterback -- legitimate hits on the quarterback. It's all part of the game. Nathan's five carries all were on scrambles, but we expect that from Nathan. When he sees an opening, he's got the green light to take it. It was not a designed run. All of Nathan's were on non-designed runs in that ballgame. There were one or two that, maybe, on the reads, maybe we had a chance to keep it, but when you're in the shoes of the quarterback and you're out there, there are a lot of things he's trying to do well, and he usually makes some really good decisions. And I'm not saying he made bad decisions because I can see where it could have gone either way."
On senior longsnapper Jake Hale and redshirt junior longsnapper Devin King:
Jake was a little inconsistent as he came through fall camp and as we came into the season a little bit. That was the whole thing about the change. King was great. He's been able to fire them back. He had one in the game that was a little high, but Mike was able to pull it down and get it off without a problem. He's got pretty good speed to cover. He needs to make sure when he's covering that he's getting where he needs to get and getting there with speed and finishing it off. He's a former wrestler, you know. You don't have to wrestle everyone on your way down. So, I think he'll improve in that area."
On putting more emphasis on preparing for Cincinnati because they are an in-state opponent
"We don't put more emphasis on this game than the other games. They're all important to us. We recruit nationwide. That (the Virginia game) was on ESPN2, so you're seen around the country, so you want to play well because of recruiting, obviously. There's a lot of things ahead of recruiting that you want to play well for, but, in playing well, that's generally a plus in recruiting. As far as battling for the title of the best team in the state, we just want to be the best football team we can be. We'll see how everything plays out when we're able to do that."
On how redshirt junior safety Javon Hagan has looked since his return from injury:
"Pretty good. He will play better, but I thought he had a good game. He supported on the run really very well, tackled pretty well. You know, he wasn't perfect in the game but from missing a lot of practice time and missing the first game, I thought he did pretty well."
On new linebacker alignment:
"As the game went on, guys went back to their original positions. So, I'll never say never on that, but (redshirt sophomore linebacker Jared) Dorsa had a pretty good game. That will mean something to us. His first game, there was not a lot of involvement by him, and he got much more aggressive in this game and was around the ball a lot. If he continues to play like that he should be on the field."
On status of freshman quarterback Naylan Yates:
"No, not really. We're waiting to see how it all plays out."
On other receivers stepping up
"(Redshirt senior wide receiver) Andrew Meyer's a threat, (redshirt sophomore wide receiver) Cameron's (Odom) a threat and (freshman wide receiver) Jerome Buckner's a threat with speed and quickness. You want to go to (redshirt senior wide receiver) Papi (White) at times. Obviously, you can't just throw to Papi every play. When you look at it, he has the ability one-on-one to get free, and, when he's in that position, you want the ball to go to him. But in saying that, we've really got a good group of receivers, and I think it's going to be the best group that we've had since we've been here when it's all said and done. We've got a couple freshmen playing in the mix, and I really like the receiving crew."
On winning the turnover battle:
"We've done a pretty good job in producing turnovers and taking care of the ball. Any time you're plus-five after two games, you've got to be jumping up and down. We'll continue to emphasize turnovers, not making them and then getting turnovers. With that, generally, those teams that are successful as the year plays out are those teams that are winning the turnover margin. The ones that are really successful are winning it quite a bit. We hope that that is going to be a real added plus for us going through the year."