ATHENS, Ohio– Fourteenth-year Ohio football head coach Frank Solich met with the media today to discuss the Bobcats' (3-3, 1-1 MAC) Mid-American Conference game against Bowling Green (1-6, 0-3 MAC) on Saturday (Oct. 20) at Peden Stadium in Athens. Kickoff for the 2018 Homecoming game is scheduled for 2 p.m.
Saturday's contest between the Bobcats and the Falcons will be broadcast live on ESPN3. 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.
"It was a hard fought football game. I believe the best defensive team that we've played so far this year. We weren't able to get the running game going, which is obviously something we take a lot of pride in. We were able then to get some things done through the air. The good thing about is that if we can't get it done running, we have a shot producing some points through the air. We need to resolve that and get back to a very good running game. We had three turnovers, if you're minus three in the turnover category you typically won't win a ball game, especially against a good football team. It was 3-0, we got none and gave up three. That was a lot of the story of the game."
On what Northern Illinois did and Ohio failed to do:
"Sometimes your coverages will dictate that your quarterback has a better chance to run the ball. At times it's scrambling or designed runs, which they did both of. They used a lot of power and schemes in terms of running the ball and they just scrambled at times. A lot of times we will run some in there. which will confuse the lanes a little bit for a quarterback, but we were doing a lot of slanting and sometimes that can open up a gap. We were trying to make sure we mixed things up enough that we don't become a team that's a base defense with base coverage because as you go through the conference, that's not going to work. We don't want to be just one dimensional on the defensive side of it, so we're mixing it up. We didn't do a very good job of stopping the quarterback in the running game. They averaged something like 5.5 yards per carry which a lot of that was from the quarterback."
On progress for the defensive throughout the season:
"I think we are getting better as a football team, especially on the defensive side of it. We've had some consistency with some things we've done offensively throughout the year, but it was a little disheartening for the running game not to be better than it was. They had a lot to say about that in terms of how they operate. They've got a great front with linebackers and just aren't going to run up the field on them, we have to mix it up. But we weren't able to establish the runs enough to mix things up the way we would have liked to."
On Carl Pelini stepping in as head coach for Bowling Green:
"Carl and I go back a ways, obviously he did a really good job for us when he was here. He was their defensive coordinator and now their head coach, so I don't expect they'll change much defensively. I'm sure Carl was able to run the defense the way he wanted it to be run. I don't see any real hard change along those lines. Offensively, you're pretty much what you are at this point in time. They have a returning quarterback and I think all but one offensive lineman came back. Their backs are really good running backs, they put points on the board. Who knows what it might do. Obviously this gives them kind of a fresh start and they will emphasize that and build off of that. They're starting new and will get it going. I'm sure they'll have a great amount of energy when they come in here and it puts a little different angle on it with some aspects. It is what it is. You always face opponents and we will deal with this."
On expectations from Carl Pelini:
"He knows exactly what he wants to get done. I think he'll take charge. It won't be a deal where he steps in softly, he'll make changes where he feels they need to be made to improve the program. He's always been able to energize players and I am sure that will have an impact. The timing of it is what it is. You scratch your head sometimes at some decisions, but those are decisions made by other people."
On facing a team making adjustments:
"They're starting new. They're starting all over fresh. Its 0-0 for them in terms of record. They're going to try to be a completely different team. That's what it is, it can be an advantage for a team, but it could also be a disadvantage. We will see how it all plays out."
On A.J. Ouellette's playing status for Saturday:
"We'll see…that's a very short answer"
On addressing pass interference calls:
"It's just the opposite. How many pass interference calls did they have called in that game? If you look at it, and go back at it game by game, we have been a very disciplined football team and a smart football team in terms of penalties and how they have all worked. I like what I see there. We are very disciplined. There's going to be some calls that will be made that have nothing to do with discipline, it has to do with eyesight of the officials. It's just what it is. I'm not saying those were bad calls, but one or two happen in ball games. that's just the nature of it. You're never going to play a totally clean game. No one will let you do that."
On running the ball outside
"No, not necessarily—not from the schemes they were using defensively. It became a situation where we weren't maintaining blocks. It was one of our poorer games; maybe the poorest game we've had so far in maintaining blocks. It had a lot to do with them, but we're more talented than what that showed in terms of running the football and the offensive line."
On deep balls:
"I agree with you. You're susceptible; I don't care who you are, unless you just get in deep zones all the time to deep balls being thrown against you. But if you mix it up, and your corners are isolated out there, every now and again you're going to have a great receiver run by them. But, we have made huge progress in that regard. We're able to run zones and play man-for-man in the secondary and give the quarterback some problems in that way. I really like what I see out in the secondary right now. "
On NIU's Sutton Smith and his play on Saturday
"He's a great player; he's a relentless player. He never gives up—it makes no difference if he's on the front side of a play or the backside of the play, he's going to play that thing out. He's got excellent speed, excellent quickness and toughness. He's not a guy that has great size, but he's very strong, very muscular. So he's got the right combination in terms of being everything you can handle as a blocker. They've got good players around him. It's not just him that makes the defense good; it's his really good speed and excellent quickness across the front seven there. They've got good makeup. "
On Isiah Cox:
"Well we're expecting a lot out of Isiah, not only does he know the wide-out assignments but also he knows the slot assignments. He's able to go and give relief as either a slot or a split. That's huge. To have a young player that can comprehend all of that and get the routes down, assignments down and formations down; so he's really ahead of the game in that area. Then he's got excellent quickness and really has good hands. He's smooth as a receiver. He's got the right makeup for a guy who plays early and a guy who gets things done for you."
On concerns about trouble blocking:
"I don't see it as a concern going forward. That just happened to be our poorest game against the best defense we played. It's a combination of that that probably made it be what it was in terms of our running game. We've got a good offensive line: they're smart, they're talented, they've got a lot of athleticism and they've got good strength. They'll take a look at that and they'll not be satisfied with it and they'll be better from it."
On defending the run against BGSU:
"Defending the run is always an emphasis in our practices. That's where we start our defensive game plan. Obviously, it's a concern if you're not getting that done. Generally, we've been good at defending the run. Now, they've got great quickness in their running backs; they can make you look silly at times. We'll see how that goes—they've scored points this year; it's not that they've not been able to score points. They've been able to score points and they've been able to establish a running game against a lot of people that they've played. It'll be a real test for our defense."
On thinking ahead through the rest of the season:
"There's a long way to go in this conference race. Last year, how did that turn out? If we took care of business we'd have won it. If we don't get there, someone else gets there. It's too early to play any kind of guessing game on the direction things might go. A lot of scenarios might happen. We need to play great football to get where we want to get—we know that and so does every other team. There's going to be a lot of games that become crucial as you go through the season. We end up playing three games in 13 days, which isn't ideal. When you get into the MAC and November and end of October games, who knows where you're going to be health wise and energy wise. A lot of things will happen."
On preparing three games in 13 days:
"What's ahead of us prior to this? You cannot wait until that comes up and say, 'Okay, now we've got a game. There's only four days off from one game to the next game; what are we going to do to help our team?' That's too late. You need to start earlier than that. We're thinking, we're planning to make the right moves and the right calls. How we practice, how long we practice, when we wear pads and when we do not wear pads: all of those things go into it."
On handling a tough schedule:
"I think the first four out of six on the road, which is not ideal. Having your break after your first game isn't ideal. There have been some challenges. I think our team has accepted those very well. We could have won a couple of these games here; that would have made things record-wise different. And that would have made your questions different. But all in all, I like our team's attitude, I like where they're at. They're working hard to get it all done. They've not given up for a moment. They want to reach their goals and so they're doing everything they can to make that work. As coaches we're working on it. I like our group."
On the benefits of mid-week football games:
"Well, TV coverage. We're the only game on in the middle of the week. There's a lot of viewers out there that love the game and will turn it on no matter when they're played and so we get viewership across the country. That's huge in recruiting. That's huge in promoting Ohio's name, whether it's for Ohio University or the Ohio football program or athletics at Ohio. It's all huge and there's money that comes with it. That's always an important issue. So, that's kind of where it's at. That's what drives it all. Every team I'd like to play every Saturday at the same breaks going through, but that's not the way it works and it's for the reasons I mentioned."