ATHENS, Ohio - Ohio Football head coach Frank Solich met with the press on Monday to discuss the Bobcats' home game against Kent State on Saturday, Oct. 21. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. at Peden Stadium and can be seen on ESPN3. Here is the complete transcript.
Head Coach Frank Solich
Weekly Press Conference Quotes
Oct. 16, 2017 – Kent State Week
"It was a good win for us. Any win in the MAC is a good win. You're up against good competition and good athletes. There are really good athletes in the MAC, and obviously that produces good football teams. We've learned to not look at the overall record when preparing for games. I expect that every MAC game will be a close one that is decided by a few plays here or there. You have to get ready for those kinds of games, and I think our team has prepared well in that manner. We did so this week, and it was a good bounce back win for us."
On the running game that continues to get better:
"We've always felt that running the football is vital to having an offense that thrives on consistency. We didn't have many passes; we didn't complete that many passes. When those games come along, you have to find a way to put points on the board. Against a lot of teams you want to be able to control the ball, and running is a good way to do that. We had 65 reps in the game, they had 90. That's a huge disparity, especially to win by the score that we did. It's what you do with the downs that you have is what's important. I think we averaged around eight yards-per-play. When you do that, you're able to put yourself in position to put points on the board. Another vital thing we did was win the turnover battle. With all of those carries we didn't fumble the ball. That was huge. We went into the season wanting to simplify our offense, making sure we get rep-after-rep-after rep with the plays we knew we needed to have to run our basic offense. I think we ran well over 20 bellies, maybe closer to 30, but it was a bunch of the same play. You may make a small adjustment on the play, like what you do with your tight end and those kinds of things, but it's basically the same play. We ran out of the same formation a good share of the time. Two tight ends and two receivers, and that helped us in a lot of ways."
On how other teams prepare for Ohio after Nathan Rourke exposed his running ability:
"You have to be prepared to play good pass defense, as well as good run defense. He gives you that extra running back in the backfield. A lot of times you're dealing with a one-back set, but really, we have two running backs with him there. He has the ability to make an explosive play. He's a very good cut-back runner. He gets a lot out of cutting against the grain and setting blocks up. He has the speed necessary to be effective and make the really long runs."
On dealing with Kent State's run offense:
"They can still score through the air. They may not throw a lot, but at times they can be productive with a throw, so you still have to honor the throw. We'll go into this game like we do every game, which is to stop the run first. That's going to take a lot because they run the ball very well. If you let them get that rolling, off of that comes the play action passes, and that's where you're going to get really hurt. You have to pay attention to what your responsibilities are and make sure you're ready to stop the run. Obviously, when the coverage dictates that when you're in coverage or you're playing man-to-man you have to take care of your responsibility. It's going to take a disciplined defensive unit to keep them from gaining yards and putting points on the board."
On Nathan Rourke maintaining the starting position while working through some kinks:
"A quarterback will have some stretches where they'll play really well, and then they won't play well for a little bit. He's proving that he can get himself out of that. Even if our receivers are dropping balls or he's not on target with his throws, he has the ability to take over a game with his other dimension [running]. If we aren't running the ball well then he has the ability to throw. You don't want to be too quick to take your starting quarterback out. We were going with two starting quarterbacks for a while. [Nathan] has been starting and has earned that. I will say this about Quinton; he's practicing well, he's practicing hard, he's been a great team guy, and obviously you need that to continue because you never know how things are going to work out down the road."
On Chad Moore and Papi White's injuries:
"Papi is able to start practice today and he will be available. Chad is a bit of a question mark. He didn't finish the game. He's a tough guy; I've learned to never rule Chad out. We'll see where he is health wise and then go from there."
On what hurt the Ohio passing game against Bowling Green:
"Part of it is we've been facing very good defensive secondaries. We'll face another good one this week. You're just not having guys run free. You take a guy like Papi out of it, and that's a big loss. That being said, we went into the season knowing we had really good depth and really good players at receiver. What's happening is, they're playing at less than 100 percent. For example, [Brendan] Cope is playing with limited practice time the last two weeks. It's difficult to play at the top of your game when you're not at practice on a regular basis. We're finding that's hitting us a little bit. Some guys are practicing that aren't 100 percent and they're making it to the games not 100 percent. We're going to try and get some guys healthier, and getting Papi back will be a plus.
On getting some of the defensive ends back from injury:
"We reached the point where it was really becoming a bad situation, in terms of the health of our guys. Some of those guys were not able to practice very much, but were okay to play in games, but the production just isn't the same if you aren't able to get good practices in. We're happy to get healthy there, and we'll see how that goes this week with how much practice times those guys are able to get. Hopefully it's enough to get them going."
On how Andrew Payne has contributed at defensive tackle:
"He's done a great job for us. We're able to rely on him being a factor in there. He's got excellent quickness, he's got excellent strength, and he's not the biggest guy when you put him amongst 300 plus pound offensive lineman, but as I mentioned he has excellent strength and excellent quickness. He loves the game, he plays hard, and he has athleticism."
On splitting reps between multiple cornerbacks:
"We started that the previous game, they all got some reps. What we are finding out is it's not unusual for a team to get 90 reps. If just your two corners are out there for all those reps it gets tough on them. A lot of teams go deep during the game, so they are running. Those two freshmen kept improving and are very athletic guys, so it made sense to get them in the mix. They came back in off their red shirt year where there are at least six games to play, seven with the MAC Championship, and eight with a bowl game. All of that experience they get this year will make them better football players next year."
On preparing for a three game home stretch:
"We feel good about it, but in saying that, we have been playing good on the road. Obviously we have to get something started at home. We have to become a more dominant football team at home. We have good crowds, so it comes back to us to be ready to go and play our best football. With the understanding that the home field needs to be an advantage, and that comes back to us doing better. But we are glad to be on a home stretch."
On special teams performance the last couple weeks:
"Three penalties on special teams this week are not what you're after. We have aggressive, talented guys on those special teams, and I think they are playing hard. Sometimes playing hard can relate to an error hear or there, in terms of penalties. But if you look at us, we are second in the conference in penalties against us as a football team. That's a great stat and it's not where we have always been, so I think our guys have been showing discipline. The three penalties this week is not what we're after, and certainly the targeting fouls are not what we are after. We're not coaching any differently than we were before the targeting rule came into effect. We are using the hawk tackling that a lot of teams are incorporating, but we just have aggressive guys. Sometimes in the targeting situation, you get caught. It's a moving target; it can become difficult to not have the kind of contact that may be flagged in those situations. Overall, our number of penalties is down."
On Rourke being able to adapt under pressure and being Solich's best rushing quarterback statistically:
"He just has a knack. He is able to escape tough situations, keep the ball alive, seize people running down the field, can throw across his body if he has to, but he has excellent ability to make people miss, which is huge. He is like a running back in that manor. He can make the first guy miss and set up blocks, he has enough speed to be a factor in getting long runs. Some quarterbacks have it and some do not, and he does."
On Rourke being similar to Tyler Tettleton:
"I have not given it a lot of thought but there are some similarities in that Tyler could throw and run well. Tyler was a smart quarterback with good leadership. I think all of that is true with Nathan as well."
On balancing when Rourke runs the ball:
"We are selective on when we run an option, because the down the line option is a phase of it, and the other is not truly an option. You don't have an option back but he is reading at the line of scrimmage just like an option quarterback does. He is either handing it, or he is running. He's getting plenty of opportunities that way. He scrambles some, and makes plays that way, so we don't want to go about devising more and more runs for him. We have good running backs; we have a good offensive line so we need to make sure they get their carries. If you don't have a good line, and your quarterback has to be your main runner, it won't last you through the season. I think we have the right approach for when the ball is in his hands."
On how Kent State will keep Rourke and A.J. Ouellette contained:
"I don't know what their thoughts are right now. I believe they feel they are a talented defensive unit and can run. When you have talent and guys that can run, you don't want to do too much different than what you have been doing. I don't expect them to deviate too much from what they have shown, because what they have shown they are doing well at. I don't expect them to have to build around our running game with Nathan."
On defensive benefits against Kent State, which runs similar plays they see in practice:
"You go through spring running against your own plays, so what we will be doing they will have seen a lot. It wont be anything that will catch them off guard. Their preparation doesn't have to change a lot to what were doing. We are somewhat of a run oriented team that throws off of the run, which is what they also are."
On Brett Kittrell getting reps and having more than one true freshman on the field at once:
"He is a guy that showed promise right away. He's one of our strongest guys in the weight room, he's going to get a little bit bigger but he has good size and great strength. He has athleticism so it was pretty clear to me and Coach Johnson that he was going to get playing time this year. He is getting more and more reps as the season goes on. Coach and I agree he is a really good run blocker, he's learning our system, probably needs to get a little bit better on pass techniques and pass protection, but that is coming. I expect that will come as he gets more playing time. Right now we have five freshman playing, the two corners, two offensive lineman, and Julian Ross."
On having two first year guys contributing to one of the best running teams:
"It's very rare; the offensive line is a unique position. You need to have ability, size, strength, and not everybody comes with the exact size and strength that they need to be at right out of high school. It is also a complicated position to learn, like the quarterback spot, there are so many things that it is difficult for a first year player to get done at a high level. Those guys have done it to their credit; they are tough, smart and athletic."