ATHENS, Ohio - Ohio Football head coach Frank Solich met with the press on Monday to discuss the Bobcats' first road game of the season on Friday, Sept. 8 when they head to Purdue for an 8 p.m. kickoff inside Ross-Ade Stadium. Here is the complete transcript.
Head Coach Frank Solich
Weekly Press Conference Quotes
Sept. 4, 2017 – Purdue Week
"First of all, congratulations to Nathan [Rourke] on winning MAC East Player of the Week. He came in and did a great job, so right now we have two quarterbacks prepared to play and will continue to do that for a while. We need to make sure both have as much experience as possible by the time conference play comes around. The game was good for us. I thought our guys played with a lot of speed and toughness. Athleticism was there, so it's about what you ask for for your first game. It's not about who you play, it's a matter of who you are and how you show up and play. I was pleased with our play. Looking at some of the goals that we go over with the players before and after the game, field position is huge. In 2016 we were 7-0 when we won the field position. Going back four years, we were 21-3 in winning the field position. Basically, we look at field position because it makes up a lot of things. It speaks about turnovers which we won. We won the sack battle, the big and explosive play battle, the third down conversion rate battle and the red zone battle. We were in the red zone seven times and scored seven touchdowns. Across the board, we accomplished the goals we set out to accomplish. That doesn't happen very often that you accomplish everything, but in doing that it accounted for the 59-0 score. Our depth showed over their depth."
"I thought they played hard early, but wore down as the game went on. I thought our guys continued to play strong and that was a major factor. Offense, defense, special teams, all of it amounted to us establishing field position. It was 51 to 19 in terms of field position. However, things are going to get tougher as we go through our schedule. This one will be a challenge for us. You look at the Louisville game and Purdue played well. They have strong, physical football players. They have depth and a lot of things it takes to be successful. I'm sure they are coming off of the game disappointed, but with encouragement because they did have a chance to win that game. It'll be a bit of a challenge for us on a road trip. It's a game that will be played on grass which will be different for us. So far though, our team has done well in meeting challenges and I like their attitude and the make-up of this football team right now."
On Purdue's Offense
"Offensively, they have balance. They snapped the ball 55 times in this past game so they are capable of beating you with the running game or the throwing game. There is a lot of imagination in the offense, Jeff has done a great job and will continue to do a great job. He is a great football coach. They are playing two quarterbacks right now, but one of the challenges are that Jeff recruited very well. The athletes on the field are great, they have a diversified offense that can hurt you in multiple ways and they are big and physical on defense. I'm sure that is always his goal in recruiting and he has taken over a great team there in Purdue. It should be an interesting game and I am looking forward to it. We will see what happens."
On Preparing Defense
"We are on a short week which doesn't help us. We paid a little bit of attention to that prior to this week so it's not like we are starting fresh in analyzing them. It is going to be a challenge though, but we are going to continue doing the same things that we have been doing. We are going to practice against their plays and defenses, but in saying that you are never sure what you are going to get. They used a lot of man coverage at Western and then right now they have used a fair amount of zone in this past ball game. I think the basis of what they are all about is the same though. I looked at their game against Miami last year and they had a reverse on the kickoff return, they had a fake reverse on the kickoff return, so you are going to get some things that you haven't prepared for. They are very good at that and it's just a matter on how well you handle it and how well you are versed on doing the right techniques."
On Playmakers at Purdue
"You have to be smart on how you handle him. He is out of the slot a lot and you are looking at a guy that has quickness, hands, and runs great routes. You have to mix things up and not only because of him, but because of the quarterbacks and the system. You just give them one thing and they'll be able to zero-in on you pretty easily. You have to do a few things that maybe will help with the complexity of what we are doing to give us a chance."
Playing on Grass
"We have to practice on grass, however the shorter week doesn't help us much. Right now, we are probably better served practicing on turf than grass to prepare for this. We are not used to grass and it is going to be different grass there than what we have here. So you're opening yourself up to a can of worms and possible injuries if we jump on our grass right now. We have been on grass before, Penn State was grass and other non-conference schools were on grass. We seem to have adjusted very well on jumping from turf to grass, so I don't think it is going to be too much of a problem."
Atmosphere at the Stadium
"The atmosphere will be tremendous there. They are all encouraged with Jeff leading their program and they have fans that are hungry for success. I think the fans will turnout in mass and with it being a night game and having new lights, it'll all add up to being a wild football game."
On an Opportunity Being on the Big Stage
"We get on television quite a bit and national exposure has really helped our program. Getting on TV like we have been doing is something our players and coached look forward to. It helps in recruiting, but you have to play well obviously when you're on national television, you can't stumble around. Generally, we have played pretty well though. It'll be a great atmosphere and I think it is great exposure for our football team, program and Ohio University as a whole."
On Forcing Turnovers
"Obviously we are going to need to find ways to slow them up and stop them and turnovers would be ideal. One week doesn't necessarily lead to another week however in being the same and I'm sure they got a lot of the bugs fixed on turnovers. I'm sure they are putting more emphasis on taking care of the ball. Turnovers will play a huge part of the game however, whether it is for them or for us."
On Purdue Changing Game Planning from Louisville to Ohio
"They'll base their game plan more so on what we do. Louisville obviously does things differently than we do, especially with having a Heisman quarterback. When you do have that situation, you prepare differently when going up against that caliber of a quarterback. I expect them to be physical and move well. Their DB's are playing well. Coming out of fall camp, coach said the defense was ahead of the offense. Maybe you saw that a little bit in the first game. I do think the offense will catch up quick though and the defense will remain strong. It is going to come down to a lot of things, especially special teams. I was very pleased with how our special teams played against Hampton so we need that same level in this game."
On QB Situation
"There is no real solid plan on to when we will put Nathan Rourke in. He will go in sometime in the first half and get snaps. Most likely they will both play in the second half, but we will see. Quinton [Maxwell] is our starting quarterback and I thought he played well. You look at his passing percentage and it was in the seventies. That one interception, I don't put on Quinton. The receiver got bumped and thrown off stride, so he wasn't there to fight for the ball, or break it up or make the catch. Quinton had a good football game and was pleased with the start of both guys."
On Julian Ross and Cameron Odom Continuing to Play Well
"I liked the way both of them handled their first games. That showed me that they are capable of handing the next level stage. I don't have any questions on using Julian or Cameron, they are both going to play."
"I don't think there is anything that is going to keep our players out of the game. Sam had a knee that bothered him at the pregame and he wasn't able to play. He will be a question mark, but other than that we have a swollen ankle and a strained knee and that's the extent of it."
On the Success of the Running Game
"You are going to do what you can do each time you step on the field. The ideal way to do it is to run first and then set up the passing game, but if they are stopping the run we have the ability to throw. We are not going to run against a stonewall all four quarters. If we need to throw it to open up the running game, we will do it. We want to be diverse and be able to do both and somehow one will lead to helping the other. Whether it is throwing to run or running to throw."
On Purdue's Linebackers
"Their upfront guys protect their linebackers. They will give you an odd front as well as an even front. They are doing stemming to help with confusion on the offensive side of it. That is all done to protect the linebackers because they are excellent football players. So you have to get past that first wave and you have to be good on combo blocks. You have to be able to get the guy to the linebacker and with timing. Coach Johnson has done a great job with that this fall. I was real pleased with how our offensive line played in this first game. This will be a test for our guys, but I have been pleased with them thus far.
On Joe Lowry
"Joe was amazing last year in playing in games. His injury was painful, but there was no permanent damage with him playing. He fought through that the whole season. I can't pat him on the back enough for what he did, staying on the field and showing the toughness he has. He had surgery in the off season and now he is playing without that pain. He is an excellent athlete, he has the size, frame and height that you look for. He has the movement that you look for and he is delighted to be playing without pain so football is fun for him again. I think his make-up helps him. He is a team captain and even though he is not a guy that gets in people's faces, what he is all about is respected by his teammates. He is pretty reserved and a quiet guy, but a fierce competitor."