ATHENS, Ohio -- Ohio Football head coach Frank Solich met with the press on Friday (Aug. 4) at Ohio's annual media day. The press conference took place on the second floor of Peden Stadium, where select coaches and players also had a chance to talk with the media. Here is the complete transcript of Solich's press conference.
Head Coach Frank Solich
Ohio Media Day Conference Quotes
"We're excited about camp getting started. We like the group of athletes that we have, we think they're high energy guys. I like the leadership that's on our football team and I think that's one thing that's been continually developed in our program. Coaches around the country look at ways to develop leadership within their program and just like you develop everything else in your program, leadership is something that is pretty critical and it can be developed and our guys have done a great job at helping our players develop that leadership. We're anxious obviously for the season to start, we've got a ways to go to get through our fall camp. You know the NCAA has allowed teams to come in a week early, which means really five weeks of preparation for fall camp if that's the direction that you go, it is the direction that we decided to go and I think there was good reasoning behind that for us and I think if you prepare your team properly and make sure you don't drive them into the ground, that extra week can be a benefit and not a hindrance. So we hope to have it be that way. We will have what we call "Bobcat Bonding" every Wednesday. We'll take our team to do different things. We'll take them to a movie one time, we'll just do different things with them that will allow them to do some things together outside of the realm of football and I think that is a way of developing leadership."
"There's a lot of communication that gets done whenever you go off away from your building, your practices with your team, a lot of communication gets done amongst one another, you get to know one another, coaches get to know players from other positions better, players get to know one another better and I think it all adds up. We'll try to not overwork them in that five-week period but we will have them ready. The weather's been good, I'm not one of those coaches who feels that you've got to work your team out in 100 degree heat every day in order to have them ready for the first ball game. Obviously heat can be a factor, but if you're conditioned well — and they conditioned great during the summer— the extra week will allow us to continue without very good conditioning. We'll have enough scrimmaging that our players will get used to contact and playing through contact which is all a part of conditioning so we'll have them ready to go for the first game."
"We had two injuries so far in this camp, Wyatt Shallman and Amir Miller both had injuries that will require MRIs, so we'll see what the extent of those are. Hopefully they're not injuries that will require surgery but we will find out. Other than that, so far the camp has been pretty much injury free except for your normal sore muscles and those type of things."
"We've made some changes in terms of what our staff is all about title wise. Jimmy Borrow has been given the title of Associate Head Coach, Ron Collins has been given the title of Co-defensive Coordinator, Tim Albin will be our Passing-game Coordinator and Dave Johnson will be our Running-game Coordinator. Brian Haines will continue to be the special teams coordinator along with being our recruiting coordinator."
On how the freshmen are looking after week one:
"We think it's a very good recruiting class to be honest with you. There will be guys who we think can contribute. We'll obviously have to get them more practices, get them in some scrimmages, see what they're all about when things are live and how quickly they learn but athletically, I really like the makeup of the class. We're having a young team in teamwork at the end of practice to makes sure those guys are continuing to get reps every day as we go through practice with hopes of having some quick development happening there to where we'll be able to use some of those guys. Our feeling is that we want to prepare everybody to play. If you're a freshmen and you're going to be a guy that can start, going to be a guy that can be a backup player, a guy who can really contribute, who can be special on special teams, we want you on the field so we're looking for ways to prepare our young guys and get them ready to play."
On the where he stands in regard to the starting QB role:
"There's still challenges that occur, Quinton [Maxwell] has, going into fall camp, put himself into number one and the reason for that is he's has game experience and he's played well at times. But we're going to have to do things a lot better on the offensive side of the ball if we're going to get things done. The quarterback spot is a key spot obviously but we believe that we have talent there and with that talent we expect that we'll play well. We'll have to take better care of the football in general on the offensive side of it but obviously that entails quarterback play, taking great care of the ball and making good decisions; that's got to be better. We have to put more points on the board and that's a definite and we're looking at ways to do that. I think I can contribute to that a little bit. We kicked more field goals than anybody in our conference last year. I don't particularly want to lead the conference in that. We've got a great field goal kicker, we rely on him. We had a really good defense last year and so that played into it, but you know I believe we have to take a few more chances and go on fourth down in terms of when we get into position when that makes some sense instead of just settle for three points. Nine games were decided by one score last year for us. We lost four, won five of them. If we would have won our fair share of those, we would've had an excellent season. If we would've had more than our fair share of those we would've had a great season. We didn't win our fair share of them, we had an okay season. We did get to the championship game, we did get to a bowl game, all those things are good but that's not where we want to stop."
On other ways the team can tilt the game in their favor:
"Obviously it's the ability to create turnovers and to eliminate turnovers. Special teams play a big role, field position is critical if you look at how that works out. The team that wins the field position is generally going to win the football game and that comes back to offense and defense special teams. We've got to be able to pick up more first downs, we got to keep possession of the ball and march down field. We got a great punter, we don't want to have to utilize our punter as much as what we did last year. Defensively, we got to get more three and outs. We have to establish field position by not letting them get first down, first down, first down and then bringing them up short of getting points on the board or settling for them getting three points in those areas. Getting better in the red zone both offensively and defensively. Getting better on third down, all those things play into it."
On whose idea Bobcat Bonding was and how the team hopes to expand on it:
"Chris [Rodgers] and I were going through the schedule prior to giving it to our coaches. They go through the schedule and then I take a final look at it and then the schedule is made. It was pretty clear to me that five weeks of fall camp can be too many weeks and too much time for our players preparing for their first game and obviously if it's not done right that time is not going to be a positive for you, it's going to be a negative. So we wanted to find ways to break it up. If you look at game week during the season, you're going a couple days pretty hard but then that's it, you're not in pads anymore. After those two days in game week your practice get shorter and so we wanted to make sure that we weren't going week after week of just practice after practice with our normal practices where they're running and they're more vulnerable to hamstrings and pulled muscles to all types of injuries and that the game doesn't get stale for them. As coaches, we always want more reps for our guys but it can get stale after a while so you've got find ways to break that up. If you go too hard two days, three days at the most, I think you should have a break going into fall camp and that's where Bobcat Bonding came in. We felt that with that giving them a break, it could also help in developing camaraderie, our guys pulling together a little more. Teamwork, leadership, all that we think can come into that."
On whether any Bobcat Bonding session have happened yet:
"We have, this past Wednesday D'Angelo [Smith] brought in spike ball. He and Chris organized that with our players and that's what we did Friday afternoon. For some of them, that really didn't give them too much of a break because if you look at those offensive linemen and their t-shirts were wet from running to try and get the ball and bounce it off the net. But they had fun and it was a way to get coaches around to different positions then what they coach so you want the coaches involved. I want a linebacker coach to be around our running backs some and to have all that happen over the course of fall camp with all these different things. Just get to know the players better, get the players to know the players better, get the players to know the coaches better, that's what it's all about. Because if you're going to be battling with one another and fighting for one another, the more you know about one another the better it's going to be."
On how similar Bobcat Bonding is to bowl-week events:
"Yeah, bowl week gets broken up because they have so many events for you to do that that's kind of built into what we're trying to do now."
On what the next bonding session is:
"I haven't finalized that with Chris, but I'm leaning toward thinking them to a movie. We can go bowling, paintballing, go-karting. We're isolated down here a little bit so you get to where you are somewhat limited to what all you can do. We're not in a major metropolitan area where there's a lot of options for us but I'll tell you this, our players have great imaginations and they're already wanting to suggest things to do on that time—but no white-water rafting."
On player suggestions for bonding:
"They haven't yet. Some of them said they had ideas and I said just bring them to me and obviously that's what our unity council's for. The unity council is broken up in a manner that every position has a representative so if the tight ends say 'hey, I'd like to get something done here about our program' or 'we can start doing something a little bit better' and they want to take it to the players or coaches, it can start in the position room and then to the unity council and then the unity council will get be cornered. Chris is in charge of the unity council, I never go in to meet with them as a coach so they can say whatever they want in the unity council meetings and that's just anything they want. That's time for them to figure things out if they think there's something that can be done that's better to help our program and I want to bring it to coach, that's up to them to get that done."
On where the team stands with receivers and who may be the top receiver so far:
"I really like the makeup of our guys, I always hate to name guys because inevitably you always leave some out but I'll talk to you about a few guys. Papi White is a returner, I think he led our team last year with nine TDs. We're going to utilize him, utilize his talents. Brendan Cope has played excellent football for us at times. He's been injured so obviously his career has been broken up here. We're hoping for a healthy season for Cope. If you look at his speed, he has good size, jumping ability—was a great high school basketball player—you have guys like him and Papi on the field and you look at Elijah Ball and the list can go on. I'm excited about Cameron [Odom], I'm excited about the potential with our offensive receivers. I think that we can have an excellent crew, we're working on backup depth right now. If we can get that backup depth right now that'll play a huge factor for us as we go through the year and I think we have the athletes to maybe make that happen."
On how he feels about the guys filling open slots from last year:
"I like it, I like that group. You look at Joe Lowry, you look at Darrell [Wood]. Joe played hurt all season and he's finally completely healthy and I'll expect he'll have a great season. You look at Jake [Pruehs] at center, I don't know how many snaps he missed last year but it wasn't many. I mean he was just a warrior, he's on two or three watch lists. I expect us to have an outstanding offensive line. I expect us to be able to run the football. We have good receivers and good throwers, we want to utilize those guys, but I want to be able to run the football so that's going to be a mindset that we're going to establish and when you establish a mindset about running the football you start with your offensive line. I like the makeup of that group. I like the attitude of that group and then you fit in your running backs. A.J. [Ouellette] coming back, Dorian [Brown] coming off of surgery, those guys are proven players for us. We got some young guys that we think can always help and we're looking forward to continuing development with some of those young guys to try and give us certainly depth at the position."
On A.J. Ouellette returning of this first week of camp:
"I think Tim would agree with me that I don't think that he's shown signs of being injured, I think he's over the injury. Now he hasn't had contact yet so that's really the next step, the final step in determining we got him back. We're anxious for that to occur, I think A.J. is positive, he feels great and he'll be a big, big contributor to us if he can get through this next season and we're all pulling for that."
On whether the focus this season is hurry up or possession football:
"I like possession football. So much of the game has turned into hurry up offense and we're capable of having hurry up offense. You can only get so many snaps in a game and sometimes what you do with those snaps becomes very, very important. You want to make sure you're not counting on your defense to have to win the game for you, that you're getting some things done offensively. If you're not getting things done offensively then you'll probably do want to slow the game down and you want to be able to control it and establish field position and get first down after first down. What we'll be as an offense is yet to be determined. We'll be a great deep throwing team, we have great receivers that can get deep, we have speed. We'll be a great control throwing team, we'll be a great play-action team. We have both play-action and RPOs in our offense. We kind of like to do everything and so if we get really good at it, take really good care of the ball, we'll have the ability to put more points on the board and that in turn will help our defense. Our defense did a great job last year stopping the run but we have to get better defensively in the passing game and we have to get better on third downs and in the red zone. So there's areas to improve every year on your football team and we as coaches have identified those."