ATHENS, Ohio - Ohio Football head coach Frank Solich met with the press on Thursday to discuss the Bobcats' final home game of the season against Toledo on Wednesday, Nov. 8. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Peden Stadium and can be seen on ESPN2. Here is the complete transcript.
Head Coach Frank Solich
Weekly Press Conference Quotes
Nov. 2, 2017 – Toledo Week
"It was a great win for our program, for our team. You know Miami coming into this season has eight and nine returning starters on each of the sides of the ball, and [a] very experienced football team. They were hit by injuries a little bit last year, and again this year a little bit, but in saying that they're still a very good football team, so it was an excellent win for us, and put us, I won't say in the driver's seat of the East Division, but it gives us a chance to work a little bit at controlling our own destiny and continue to win. It was a very important football game for a lot of reasons. Proud of our guys, the energy that they had in the game, they played fast. I thought our legs seemed fresh, we seemed to get some bumps and bruises healed up in the extra days we had for that game. I thought we went into it with a great frame of mind, and they played good football. We're on to the next one now."
On Tonight's Toledo-NIU game:
"I probably won't see the beginning of the game. It will be a struggle for me see the beginning of the game, we'll be working. But we'll tape it and obviously, we're watching a lot of what Toledo does now on tape, so yesterday we gave the players off and today we gave the players off, except they're coming in for meetings today, and after the meetings they'll have off, so they'll be able to rest up again for a couple of days and then take the same approach we took last week. Start off with tomorrow with what would be a Monday for us, and that type of a practice and just go through the regular work week that way."
On Toledo QB Logan Woodside:
"Well there hasn't been much slowing him down up to this point, in fact if you look at a lot of their scores, and you look at what all is happening with their football team. They're a pretty rested football team going into this game, because they've played their second-team backup guys quite a bit as they've gone through the season with the huge wins that they've had. You know, and you look at the number of throws that they've— as good of a passing team they are— they haven't thrown the ball a ton. But again, that's because probably they haven't had to throw the ball in the first half, they've been so far ahead, so those stats are kind of lopsided there a little bit in regards to what they really mean. We know from just his career in the MAC that he's a great quarterback, very poised in the pocket, can hurt you running the ball, has got the kind of arm that can make every throw that you need to make in the game of football. He's a legitimate big-time threat, he has excellent receivers. They've got big lineman that are experienced; they've got themselves an excellent football team."
On Slowing Down Toledo's Offense:
"Well, I think again, they have very good running backs, and they have a big strong offensive line that can move people around, so they'll run the football, and they run it very well. I think you've still got to start with that, they're going to throw, they're going to complete some throws, you just can let them get to where they're two-dimensional, and just destroy that way. We'll keep our same approach to stopping people, but we're going to have to play really well in the secondary and with our linebackers, and there's no question about it to stop the passing game. We're going to have to be able to get some pressure on them, get some sacks, he handles pressure very well, he's not one of those guys that when he sees pressure coming or has all the buzz around him from pressure, that just gets rid of the ball. I mean he will sit in there [until] the last second and he will make the throw and take the hit if he has to. And he hasn't had to take many hits so far, but they've got a complete offense there. Trying to stop them totally, I don't know if anybody has done that, so you're just going to have to play well and stop the run, and then look at ways to not allow them to make the big and explosive play on you in the passing or running game, actually."
On taking on Toledo this season:
"We've had success with our offense in terms of putting points on the board. I think that's going to have to continue to be the case this week. To think that you're just going to shut them out or slow them down is not probably very realistic. We're going to have to take advantage of every drive, we're going to have to establish field position that's going to have to be critical. We can't stall ourselves out on drives, we're going to have to try to make some explosive plays along the way to try to get some quick scores. We're going to have to have a game where we're just not counting on something special happening. We're going to have to get first downs after first downs after first downs, control the ball some, and not put our defense back on the field immediately. We're going to have to really play well on special teams, I like our special teams. I think we can play anybody, in terms of our special teams units, and so that's going to have to show in this game. It's going to have to be a plus for us."
On starting early, and scoring early, as Ohio did in the Miami game:
"We can take that you've got to play four quarters. They came back and as a coach, I knew that, and was marching up and down the sidelines telling our guys "hey its 14-0, two quick scores, this is going to be a game. And they're going to mount drives, they're going to get some things done, so hang in there, just keep playing football and don't be patting yourself on the back too much for getting a 14-0 lead." Although that's what you're after, you know that there's a lot of football to be played after you get that kind of lead early."
On opening up the playbook in the Miami game and using some trickery:
"We like those special kind of plays, we don't always use them in a game, but we always have the availability of using them. Depending upon, a little bit on how the game's going, and getting yourself in good position to give yourself the best chance at success with a play like that. Sometimes it comes down and distant, sometimes it comes into field play position, as whether it's a good time or not to call the play. So you may not run to the right situation in order to use it, this game just so happened that there was a lot of opportunities to use them as far as down and distance and field position. We have plays like that obviously for every game. I like them, I think that they're a huge part of the game. If you can pick up a first-down that way, if you can get a touch-down that way, if you can get an explosive play that way— that's huge in momentum, they can cause momentum swings and shifts if you're able to execute them well. There's a place and time for them, and we try to pick that place and time but we do have them for every game."
On how to prepare for this week's game:
"You've got to prepare to win every single ball game, that's always been our approach. If you don't approach it that way as a coach, that soon becomes apparent to your players and if that ever becomes apparent to your players, then you're on your way to losing them. In terms of coaching, if you ever approach a game, and don't play it to win and play your very best and be prepared, then it's probably time to get out of coaching. I don't think there are many coaches out there that have 12 to 13 to 14 opportunities, you don't want to waste those opportunities. And we let our football players know that and understand that. You only get a chance to be on the playing field, in a game situation, twelve times. If you do well enough in our league you do it 13 times, and that usually means that if you're on it 13 times, that you're on it 14 times in a bowl game. You don't want to let any of those slide by. They're all important, you've got to prepare to play every one of them. That's the toughest thing to do in sports, I believe, is to get yourself and a team ready to play 14 games, as easy as it sounds. In 14 games they're so many things that go into playing well and winning football games and certainly part of it is having yourself ready to play the game, mentally and emotionally 14 times. It's very difficult to do, to keep yourself at that high level that you need to keep yourself at to play great football.
On having a couple of days prep:
"If you go back and look at what has happened to teams that have had bye-weeks, and extra time versus teams that have had short weeks. Sometimes it doesn't play out that you think that it will. Sometimes it's just good to line it up again and play fairly quickly, unless you're a team that needs the extra days to get healthy and get your team shaped up that way. In saying that, if you have your choice, you probably want the extra days to the short week. Everybody in the MAC, at some point gets short weeks so you've got to just understand how to handle them, and don't let that defeat you mentally, and if you don't let that defeat you mentally, you're probably going to be okay and can play good football either way."
On using Dorian Brown more:
"Well he had a great game against them obviously. But our running back are all capable of having great games, and so we'll kind of keep our rotation going. It's kept them, to this point, healthy for the most part, rotating the way we have been. Obviously if one guy is really hot, and really playing well, then we'll go with that guy, and break the rotation some. I expect that both backs will play a lot. Last year's success doesn't equate necessarily to this year being successful in the running game like that. So far, if you look at their stats, it shows that it's going to be tough for any back to have that type of a day. In saying that, I like our offensive line, I like our running backs. We're throwing the ball pretty well right now, we're catching the ball pretty well right now. I think we have a complete offense, we're not going to rely on just one phase of the game to win it for us. We're going to obviously try and run the football but we're going to mix it up and see where that leads us."
On the importance of home-field advantage:
"It's important and especially if you have fans turn out and it becomes a great atmosphere. This last ballgame, it was great, appreciate all of the people of Athens and the Athens area that showed, and I'm sure we had a few from the Columbus area and the surrounding areas, even though it was as late of a start as it was, and eight o'clock start which made it difficult to attract people from out of the area, but in saying that, I thought there was a good crowd. I appreciate what they're all about, we're hoping that same atmosphere is existing for this game. I thought our student body was exceptional in terms of their turn out for the game. I don't know that I've probably seen it before, maybe early on, but it seemed like two-thirds of the stands over there were filled with students, and that's a tremendous turnout, especially during the week— a midweek game. I want them to know, that we as a coaching staff, the players really appreciated the support that everyone showed last week, and we're hoping that stays with us."
On what good passing attack means for the offense:
"Miami, number one, showed that they were going to work at stopping the running game, and they supported the safety's pretty quick, out of a lot of formations. That leads you to using your receivers, who I think are good explosive receivers. I like to get them in one-on-one matchups, and it gives you a chance and so our receivers have got really good speed. We're not six-four, six-five, but we do have great quickness, we do have excellent speed. The six-four, six-five guy that maybe doesn't have quite as much speed as a real threat down in the red-zone, they're real threats on back shoulder throws out on the field, but a lot of times the six-five guy isn't going to run by you. If he does, then he probably ought to skip his senior year and go to the pros. Our receivers, in lacking the height, have great speed, great quickness, and we're capable of getting deep on things. That's when you're one-on-one with the wide guys, that's when you have your opportunities in the passing game. In saying that, I still thought that Nathan had a very good game both running and throwing. I think we had one drop in the game, had another one that we had it in both hands but it was broken up as soon as he did catch it, so you could call it two drops if you want. What did we throw the ball? 33 times? You'd like to get through the game without many drops, one drop is probably one too many in a coaches' mind, but in saying that we made a lot of excellent catches and a lot of good throws. Having the ability to do both, run and throw, is critical. Sometimes, obviously, doing one really well helps the other, and I think us running the ball for as long as we have been running it, as well as we have, that is starting to show that it's helping our passing game right now."
On having Brendan Cope back:
"He's been playing hurt, Cameron has been playing hurt some, obviously Papi missed some games. Jarrid Marhefka has been out for quite a while, came back and contributed in this last game, so I think we're certainly a lot closer to full speed at the receiver position, and that we're hoping will be of help to us."
On Dropped passes:
"Whenever you talk to your team about something, or position about something, and you see it come into play like it did this past game, as well as really the number of drops, that's what you look for, your players respond. It doesn't always happen that way, but these guys have that kind of mindset, when they identify things they're not doing well, we really work on improving, and that's a sign of a good team. The other area, the turnovers, we were on the negative side of it, negative one on the turnovers, going into this last game, the two games we lost, the turnovers were huge, in both of those, and we had a mindset of winning the turnover battle. We've been able to do that, as of late, and that's helped us get on a little bit of a winning streak here, we have now worked our way up into the "plus" category, I think I mentioned last week to you guys, we were the only team with a winning record that had a negative turnover margin in the MAC last week, and now we're out of that. We're on the plus side of the margin for the year, and Toledo actually happens to lead the MAC right now, with a plus four I believe it is, and guess what? Northern Illinois, who's playing them for the divisional title is plus three, they're next in line. And guess what? Akron's behind them, who's right with us in the lead on the east division. Turnovers are so huge, and so [we] pay a lot of attention to that, and work on that to get better for us, and start to show some progress there."
On not committing a lot of turnovers this game:
"Both sides of it have got to play out well for us. It's probably not going to work if we get three turnovers and they get five. You want to be a plus two in the turnover ratio, as a minimum, in the ball game, and that's what you shoot for. We'd like it to be 2-0. If it's 1-3 and it's in our favor, we'll live with it, it's acceptable. You play a team like Toledo, you have to get to where you're not giving up much because they're not giving out much and so it's not going to be a deal where you say "hey many if we give up three turnovers, we'll give up four" it's probably not going to work that way. You have to go in with the idea of taking great care of the ball, and not giving up any turnovers, and trying to find a way to get a few from them whether it's in the air or on the ground."
On Nathan Rourke's playmaking ability:
"I think that how your offensive line plays, determines how much you're going to scramble, and what kind of scramble it's going to be. We did not have a sack in this last ball game against us, and that's huge, that means there probably wasn't a lot of buzz around us. The thing I like about Nathan is that he can sit in the pocket with a lot of activity around him, even with blitzing going on and he knows the schemes in terms of, are we a man short on this? Or we have a guy for everybody, and if everybody does their job I'm going to have a few moments here to get the ball off, and so he's really very good at knowing that and now letting any of that around him bother him. In saying that, he's instinctive, to where if all of a sudden he has a feeling of, "this ain't working" he will improvise, and I am fine with him improvising. I don't think, at this point, anything that he's done has indicated to us to talk to him and say "hey you need to do something different." I think he has good instincts, he scrambles well, he scrambles when he should scramble. When he needs to stay in the pocket, and deliver the ball, he'll do it."
On defensive concerns:
"You'd like that, but you look at the stats overall, we didn't pick up some first downs when I'd like our offense to pick up some first downs, so it goes both ways, and it usually goes both ways in all games. You're not going to pick up every third-down and in fact if you are forty percent or higher, you're doing a good job at picking up, and if you hold them below forty percent on the defensive end of it, you're doing a pretty good job. It's going to happen in games, you're just not going to be able to every drive, pick up first downs, and every time an opponent has the ball keep them from picking up first downs. It's going to happen, you just want to make sure that if they're picking up first down after first down after first down, then eventually don't convert that by getting into the red-zone. I think if you look, we've done a pretty good job at not allowing guys in the red-zone too much, we've beaten guys in terms of number of times we're in the red-zone during the game versus the number of times the opponent's in our red-zone during the game. If you can win that battle— getting into the red-zone more than your opponent, especially if that's substantial, in doing that you can convert scores into touchdowns and not field goals, or you get some points on the board, then you're winning, you're going to win.:
On Logan Woodside's Career:
"We've picked up that he's really good. He is really good, when you're really good at the quarterback position, and you have people surrounding you that are really good, you're going to be 25-7, you're going to be able to have that kind of career. He's really talented; he's really smart, he knows their offense, you can tell, he's gone to the right receivers all the time, he's got quality receivers he's thrown to. You're faced with a quarterback that special, but the thing that we feel a little bit good about is at that same position, we're playing pretty well now too. That's going to help us in trying to get things done, and gets points on the board. Will they put points on the board, yeah, that's what they do."
On Mayne Williams helping out with the secondary:
"He's doing a great job, he's got a lot of respect from the players and the coaches, so his help out there is really appreciated. I think that if he decides to go into the coaching profession he'll be good at it. It was a tough loss this year because of injury, he would have been a great player, he's a special athlete, size, speed, toughness, smart. You don't like to have too many of those guys not stay with you one way or another, in terms of playing. We like what he's all about, he's really well respected, so he's a plus for us."