ATHENS, Ohio -- The Ohio football team (1-2) returns home in week four of the 2019 season to take on Louisiana (1-2). The Bobcats and the Ragin' Cajuns will square off on Saturday (Sept. 21) at 2 p.m. at Peden Stadium.
Saturday's contest will be broadcast live on ESPN+, with Jim Barbar and John Gregory 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 rushing defense:
"For two games in a row now, we have not tackled particularly well. I don't think it's because of effort, and it's certainly not because of toughness. It has to do with more getting in control, breaking down and getting clean hits on guys. So, tackling and allowing them to get yards by not tackling very well was certainly a problem in the game."
On Ohio's attempts to force turnovers:
"I don't think it was a case of guys just going for the ball versus trying to make tackles. Usually, it's the second guy that comes in and gets the hit or gets the strip that gets you a lot of turnovers. We're not getting that. We're getting a lot of hustle, and we're getting guys to the ball. We had three guys get split on one occasion, which is discouraging. It's just a matter of knowing where your teammates are and using your teammates to help pin guys in. We had a couple occasions where we actually had our guy knock a tackler off. That is just because of hustle and extra effort. You never want to damper that, but you always want to make sure that you're making contact on the right guy."
On working on tackling at practice:
"You keep working on form tackling. You keep working on being able to tamper down to make sure you're not overrunning tackles and make sure you're not allowing the cutback angles that backs and receivers could take at times. You work on drills that simulate all that stuff, and we'll continue to do that. It's not that we haven't been doing it. We'll continue to do it. We have smart kids, and they can see the things that we need to get better at. They will work hard at getting better at that phase of it. That leads to stuff like the opponent being able to maintain possession of the ball. If you look at time of possession, that's something that has never, that I can recall, been a problem with us but here in the last two games that has become a problem. Not getting turnovers certainly causes that to be a negative versus a positive. If we can force a few turnovers and get a couple more possessions, then we have more opportunities to move the ball. In this past game, we were something like seven-point-something per play offensively, the opponent was six-point-something. Every statistic matches up for us, except we had 57 plays. The previous week we had 56 plays. It's tough to score more than what we're scoring with that limited number of plays, so we've got to get more possessions. That comes from turnovers, that comes from three-and-outs, those type of things. If we can get more possessions, we can put more points on the board. The last quarter was ten-something to four-something in terms of time of possession, and that was a killer for us in that regard."
On if he will address the turnover issue:
"No, we always address the things we need to do better at, so forcing turnovers is an issue. We're talking to our guys all the time about it, drilling it and making a big deal out of it. But sometimes you have lulls, and that's what I'm hoping this is and that we snap out of it and start creating turnovers."
On if he congratulated senior quarterback Nathan Rourke on breaking the touchdowns responsible for record at Ohio:
"I have not congratulated him on that yet. We give them Sunday completely off. We don't see them on Sunday so today [Monday] when he comes in we'll congratulate him. He had a great ballgame, and he's got more football to play, so accomplishing that record as he did in this point in time in his last season is remarkable."
On if senior quarterback Nathan Rourke and former Ohio quarterback Tyler Tettleton are similar or different:
"They're not polar opposite. They're guys that think alike and they play alike. They're both bright guys, they both studied the game and they both had great leadership skills. They're both tremendous athletes that finished plays out and got the respect of their players and coaches for how they handled things. They both are great under pressure, so there are a ton of similarities in what they do on the field and how they handle themselves off the field."
On if he has a template when looking for the next Ohio quarterback:
"Yeah, we certainly do. Those guys have set an example that we hope to be able to have players follow."
On the performance of the offensive line:
"Getting back to the Pitt game, there were two or three reasons why we didn't play as well as we maybe could have. We didn't play as well in the offensive line, but they had a really great defensive line. They have a really good football team. I think that showed why the Penn State game was what it was about, and they had a chance to win it at the end. You just don't march up and down the field on Pitt. You just don't feel like you come out of the game thinking that our line played poorly. Did we play well enough to win? No. Were we within five or six plays of maybe making that a game right at the very end? Yes, so we're getting better. We have a couple young guys in the offensive line and other guys with really good experience. I think they're helping the young guys coming along. I think Coach [Allen] Rudolph has done an excellent job, so we expect that the line, just like at a number of our positions, will get better and better at that position."
On assessing the tight ends:
"We're getting good tight end play, and it'll keep getting better as they get more experience. I think the development in the weight room of the Luehrman twins [Ryan and Adam] this past season was really good. Will they continue to have development in the weight room as they go through their years? No question. As they gather experience and just get their frame to where they've got a good frame to potentially where they can have a great frame, I think you'll just see it continue to go in a positive manner for those guys. We're obviously not afraid to throw them the football. I think that's been shown, and they have excellent hands. The tight ends that are behind them, Alec [Burton] and the rest of those guys, it's a talented group and it's going to take some time for all of them to get to where you want them to get. It's going to be a very strong group with excellent depth."
On how the young players on offense played on the road:
"You never know how your team is going to react, and that includes veterans to a certain degree, but, obviously, for the young guys that have never been in that type of environment, it was good to see them handle it the way that they did. The environment did not take us out of the game. That's a positive thing. I expected them to react the way that they did, to still make plays, to still battle for four quarters, and not let a crowd take them out of a game. A lot of good signs there."
On moving on from a 1-2 start:
"Well, you just stated what coaches across the country are telling their teams that are in this situation. It is true, though. You look at the positives, and there are a lot of positives from these first three games. You look at the things that you need to do better and you address that with them, and you know they're anxious to get those things corrected and move on. The spirit of this football team will not be broken, I do know that. It's going to be a lot of fun to coach this team. It already has been, but it'll continue to be, and they're give you everything they've got. They've got quite a bit, so we'll just see how it plays out. The schedule was tough. Three of the non-conference teams were bowl teams last year. Those three places have established programs that are used to winning, so they're a lot like us. We knew going in that those games were going to be really highly contested games. The opening game, which we never take lightly because we understand how that can all work, it's proven every year that those guys have athletes, so you have to get ready for that too. I've been pleased at how our players have responded up to this point and I see no signs of not responding well as we go through the rest of the year."
On Louisiana's run game:
"Their quarterback is a big part of that. He's a guy that's an excellent runner as well as thrower. He's got a strong arm. He's not very tall, about 5'10" they say, but there are some Heisman trophy winners that probably aren't much taller and playing pro ball right now. He's got the ability to make the big plays both in the air and on the ground. They've got really good running backs, and they can keep subbing them in. They've got an experienced offensive line and big offensive line. Those guys up front are huge. They'll try to wear you down. Obviously, you've got 300-plus pounds, and then if they double you, that's 600-plus pounds weighing in on you. That can cause some trouble with your endurance as the game goes on. We understand all that, and we use that kind of philosophy ourselves sometimes. They've got an excellent running game, their quarterback being a good piece of that."
On if the running game will decide the outcome on Saturday:
"Well, I don't see them as being one-dimensional, but, obviously if we can't stop the run, that'll be a tough deal for us. I think the same is true for them if our running game gets going the way it's capable of getting going, and we've shown flashes of that at times this season. I think you'll find that it'll be two teams that have the ability to run and going to be playing hard to keep the other team from taking control of the game that way, but we'll see."
On if the game will end in under three hours:
"Not likely. We might fill the air with balls."
On the status of redshirt junior wide receiver Cameron Odom, redshirt junior wide receiver Tyler Tupa, redshirt freshman running back O'Shaan Allison and redshirt senior center Steven Hayes:
"Well, two of the four are definitely out, two of the four have a chance. I'm still confused by what people are asking to give in terms of the injury reports anymore."
On if redshirt freshman wide receiver Shane Hooks took a step forward this week:
"I think what you saw is what Shane can supply you, but he's got to do it with consistency. He's a young player in our system, things are new. He's still learning the system to a certain degree, but it's showing now that he has that kind of potential and just needs to display that play after play. He has that ability to do that, and I think as he plays more and goes through the season, you'll see him continue to take leaps and bounds in terms of showing his ability."