ATHENS, Ohio -- The Ohio football team (1-1) faces another road test in week three of the 2019 season, paying a visit to Huntington, W. Va., to renew its "Battle for the Bell" rivalry with Marshall (1-1). The Bobcats and the Thundering Herd will square off on Saturday (Sept. 14), in a 6:30 p.m. ET matchup at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.
Saturday's contest will be broadcast live on Stadium Facebook, with Noah Coslov, Ike Ndukwe and Amina Smith on the call. The game can also be heard on the Ohio Sports Network from Learfield IMG College. Russ Eisenstein returns for his 12th season as the "Voice of the Bobcats." Ohio Alum Rob Cornelius has been a part of the broadcasts for two decades. WXTQ (Power 105) in Athens returns as the 11-station network's flagship.The broadcasts are also available online through TuneIn.com/OhioBobcats and on the TuneIn app.
On Ohio's offense:
"First of all, Pitt is a very good football team. Defensively, I think they're especially strong. They're very physical. They've got defensive answers to a lot of what you're trying to do offensively. They adjust very well. Credit obviously to their coaching staff and their players with the ability to adjust as quickly as they do. Just not being able to get the ground game going the way you like, not a run over 10 yards – I can't believe that's ever happened to me in coaching. So, we've got to look at that a little bit but in saying that, it's a game to learn from. You don't want many games you have to learn from, but I think this one was. I think our players' attitude is great, and I think they're going to be able to bounce back and really play very good football, and they'll stay together. It's a loss, and when you have a loss, you've got to have the ability to put it behind you, but you have to learn from it. I think our players will do both of those things."
On reacting to a slow start on offense:
"It's a little difficult to go through all the different possible scenarios you might face in that regard. It's one thing if they just out man you up front. It's another thing if they just lock your receivers down and they can't get into their routes. It's something if they're dominating at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. There's a lot of different scenarios that can pop up, so I think what happened here is that they had some really good blitzes and their blitzing game obviously payed a price on us. They had actually six sacks, they gave them credit for five, I think, but they actually had six sacks, and I think they had 10 tackles for loss. I mean, that's a lot of negative yardage. And then you add on top of that, we did not have explosive plays at all. No big or explosive runs, no explosive passes I don't believe. There may have been one or two mixed in there, but it seemed like no explosive passes. So, that always is a bad recipe. I think what can you do – certainly make sure you have enough short passing game and quick passing game that you're ready to go to when you're faced with a lot of blitzes. But when you disguise blitzes well, that becomes a little bit of a problem also. But we can do that, and we will do that. We'll make sure that if we're getting heavy, heavy blitzing that our passing game will be ready to adjust and designed to take advantage of the blitzes."
On traveling to Huntington to play Marshall:
"Well, this will be a little different ball game in terms of travel. It'll be an evening game, and it'll probably be a full house. That's always a tough atmosphere to play in, so we have to make sure we're ready to face that, which we will be. This game (Pitt) played early morning with the first game getting started in college football on Saturday. We thought we looked at that and handled that fairly well. I don't think it was a matter of not being ready to play football when the kickoff came, so we'll be ready to go down there. We know we've got a tough opponent, obviously. The game against Boise (State) that Marshall had was telling that they're a very good football team. Boise is a very difficult team to move the ball against. That was going to be one of their strong suits this year, so it wasn't like anybody is just going to run up and down the field on those guys. The physicalness of the game by both teams showed, so it'll be a tough atmosphere to go down and play in, but that's what college football is all about. You've got to be ready to go for those kind of games if you're going to be a good football team."
On dealing with the crowd at Marshall:
"It'll be a big crowd, and it'll be loud. It'll be louder than what it was in Pittsburgh, so that obviously will be our first time in terms of crowd noise that will be the way it is down there. We'll have to be ready for that, and we have ways to get ready for that, but you just cannot let fans take you out of a ballgame. You've got to go down there believing in one another, ready to step on the field and play four quarters of tough football and just move on from there with the game, and, if you play well enough, you have a shot at winning."
On being confident in senior quarterback Nathan Rourke bouncing back:
"I have all the confidence in the world in him [Nathan Rourke]. If you look at the game, it wasn't all his fault. You have six sacks and 10 tackles for losses, you're talking about not an ideal game for a quarterback, period. He was doing all he could. Obviously there are some things he would like to get a chance to do over again, but he's a great competitor, he's a very smart player, and he learns from those kind of experiences. He hadn't had many of those, so he'll bounce back with no problem."
On Marshall's defensive gameplan:
"Usually, you have to prove that you can defeat something before teams don't do that against you. We'll expect some of that will be happening down there. They're a fast defensive football team, so that'll fit into their scheme well. They are a team that does have well designed blitzes, and they're able to execute them pretty well."
On what stood out in Marshall's game against Boise State:
"They're not big upfront, but they are especially quick. They've got good strength for being 260, 265, those kind of guys up front, 270, so we'll be needing to be prepared for a lot of slants, blitzes, quickness-type stuff. They're strong enough, though, to stand in there on base stuff and cause you problems, too, so they've got what you look for with athletes in terms of what they're all about on the defensive side of it. Offensive line, we haven't talked much there, but they are big and a lot of guys come back."
On the rivalry with Marshall:
"It's a natural rivalry, I think it's good for the fans from both schools, so I think it all fits. You're always struggling for non-conference games and sometimes you're forced to go 1,000 miles to play a game in non-conference, and it doesn't necessarily all add up financially the way you'd want it to. This kind of a game where it's a short trip down there, play the game, even though it's an evening game we won't get back ridiculously late. So there's a lot of advantages with the two schools continuing with the rivalry."
On the Marshall program:
"They've got a well-established program and they're able to attract really good athletes. We think our program is well-based with a lot of good athletes, so it should continue to be outstanding football games between the two schools."
On the short trip to Marshall:
"That helps everything. It helps players not have to sit on a bus for five hours, or get to an airport, drive to Columbus and then get on a plane and fly. That all feeds into it to be an easy game in terms of logistics and getting down there and getting back."
On the development of the Ohio linebackers:
"Well, they're somewhat of an experienced group. We have young guys behind the experienced and obviously we want to keep trying to bring those young guys along. The experienced players have been playing, [Jared] Dorsa, Dylan Conner, Eric [Popp]. You look at those guys, and they have a lot of snaps under their belt. We expect that to be a really strong unit for us and be real productive for us. In the first two ballgames, they've been exactly that."
On the front four getting pressure:
"Well, I think that Pitt traditionally is strong upfront. That's what they base themselves off of, having really strong powerful linemen, establishing a running game and coming off of that. They have a quarterback that was back and has a tremendously strong arm, so he's able to deliver a lot of throws that some quarterbacks just don't make, so that became a real challenge for us. I thought especially early we did a great job of stopping the run and really holding them to 20 points is an accomplishment. We missed tackles, though, and enough tackles to where that's a little concerning. That can't continue to go on. We only had 50-something snaps in the game offensively. You can't have 50-something snaps and continue to put your defensive team on the field and expect them to hold up for the game. That doesn't fit, so we're going to have to be able to sustain drives much better than what we did in that game. Obviously, the quality of the opponent dictates that a little bit, but your offense has got to be varied enough that you're able to move the football one way or another and stay on the field, and then get some explosive plays out of it, which we were not getting done in that game, neither in passing game nor the running game. When that's happening to you, that's a bad combination of keeping your offense on the field."
On what the receivers making adjustments:
"We may help them out with some of the routes we're running against what we were facing against Pitt, so we're looking at that. As coaches, we can be of help in that area, and it's the second game of the year. You face that, and, again, you learn from it or you don't. I like to think we're going to learn from it, but we're going to still face defenses that are very multiple and that have great speed and strength. It's not easy for any offensive football team to move the ball against that, but I think we're skilled enough and our first unit in the offensive line is good enough that we can have a system that lets us be able to move the ball and find a way to put points on the board in any game."
On the status of redshirt freshman running back O'Shaan Allison and redshirt sophomore running back Julian Ross:
"Julian [Ross] will not be available this week, O'Shaan [Allison], we believe will be ready."
On having confidence in redshirt freshman O'Shaan Allison and junior De'Montre Tuggle to handle the running back load:
"Well, that gives you two backs right there that have gotten playing time this year, considerable playing time, really. They have gotten good results, basically. I like both those backs. De'Montre [Tuggle] is a great feet, breakaway kind of back but still has toughness. O'Shaan [Allison], for a powerful guy that can get extra yards, he's got good feet and is able to make people miss. There's a good combination there. I think we can help O'Shaan out by making sure that he doesn't try to run over everybody on the football field at times. I love his toughness and what he's all about in that, but he's got really good quickness. He'll start piecing that together when to use that quickness and when to use the power.
On pass protection from the running backs:
"I think that's a good point. Those guys knew our offense so well, A.J. (Ouellette) and Maleek (Irons), that they were positioned well to execute the block. We probably did get there late a few times with the back and you get a backer that's running 100 miles an hour at you, should we be cutting more? That's something we're talking about. Those guys don't have to stand up and take that on. Especially if you're getting there a little late, you just don't have the forward momentum, and you get a backer that has an eight-yard run at you and is bigger than you, who can't run through a guy if you have a 10-yard start? We've got to help them out and get them in position, they'll get in position quicker. That was a great learning game for them, and we'll be able to help them with some small things as coaches to make it even better."