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Ohio Football vs. UMass | Postgame Quotes

Head Coach Frank Solich

Opening Statement:
"That was a tough ball game, getting down 14-0 so early. I thought our guys did a great job of coming back. It started to get clearer as the game unfolded that we would be able to move the ball with consistency and get points on the board. Then it became a question if it was going to be enough points on the board because they were moving the ball equally as well. Being down 14-0 and coming back showed a lot. I'm proud of guys for what they got accomplished on that end of it. Defensively, we weren't playing very well. We started applying pressure in the second half, and particularly the fourth quarter, which made a big difference in the outcome of the game. Once we didn't allow the quarterback to just sit back there, it helped us and caused them some problems. We got a 15 yard penalty out of a blitz, interception out of a blitz, sack on fourth down out of a blitz. We have a pretty fast football team on the defensive side of it. I think moving people like that seemed to be a good thing for us."

On working through the slow start:
"We knew that they were very capable of scoring and scoring a lot. It wasn't a surprise that they were able to get some things done early in the game. It was a bit of a surprise that we got down 14-0 as quick as we did. The fact that we were able to move the ball as well, and at times better, gave us some encouragement. We didn't have a punt in the first half, only one punt in the whole game. When that is occurring, it means we're moving the ball. We have a good combination of being able to explode on runs and passes to where we can get the explosive plays and put points on the board. We can grind it out and drive the ball down the field with intermediate passes and runs. It's a good combination that we have going for ourselves right now. There are going to be a lot of challenges ahead with really good MAC defenses that we will be facing. We just have to take a breath and get going again."

On if Ohio played a complete game today:
"I think for the most part, offensively, we did. Defensively, I don't think we played a complete game. As we unleashed them in the second half, they played much better. Our special teams, we can cover kickoffs better than what we have. Kickoff returns were okay. For returning punts, the first one we tried to block and didn't get anything done there. Papi (White, WR) had maybe one return, for seven or so yards. We didn't get a chance to measure that as to if we played a good game in the special teams department or not in terms of overall. There were some things that we need to get better at."

On Nathan (Rourke, QB) making adjustments after the start:
"He's a very confident player, very bright player. He's not the kind that repeats mistakes and you feel comfortable, even when something like that goes wrong, he'll find a way to come back. He can hurt you in so many ways. In the first half he did a great job on some runs that gave us big and explosive plays and kept those drives going. Which enabled us to get points on the board to get back in the ballgame after we were down 14-0." 

On the offensive groove after scoring six-straight touchdowns:
"Overall I was happy about a lot of things. If we get shutdown on a run and you become one dimensional, you have problems. We work very hard at running the football and try to be sure we give our passing game a chance. If you have both going for you, you have your best chance."

On stopping the offense when Rourke is on a roll:
"You look at Maleek (Irons, RB) and A.J. (Ouellette, RB), they had some really exciting things happen when the ball was in their hands. Nathan just has a way of escaping when it seems like they have him surrounded. He has enough speed to make the really long runs, the quickness to make people miss. If you include him in the running game, which we do a fair amount, that gives you your best chance of having a good running offense when he's a part of it. We expected to be pretty good on the offensive side of it. We have most of our offensive linemen returning. We have the best group of receivers we've probably had here when you go across the starters and look at the young people starting to come forth here. So it should be an offensive football team that is able to get something done in most cases."

On finding a leader in the defensive unit:
"I think that's a good question. I think we have great leadership on this team overall. Whether there is just one guy stepping up trying to take over or a guy that just encourages everyone to get things done at a high level and brings everybody along with him, I don't know. I think we'll see that unfold a little better as we get into the conference race. We got a lot of guys on the practice field that encourage one another. There's a great relationship built there, great comradery between our players. Whether it's just one guy on the defensive side of it, I'm not so sure."

On pass/rush plays for the defense: 
"Well, we needed that. We need to get pressure on the quarterback and we need to get some sacs. We need to not just be in our four-man-front defense and be a base defensive football team. I don't know that just being like that fits us. We've got good team speed; I think that by moving people, slanting people and blitzing people it gives you your best chance to utilize your talent sometimes. You can't just do it all the time because obviously they'll just start throwing bombs on you and releasing it, but I think we have to have a really good mixture of that in our defensive teams." 

On improving defensive rushing: 
"I think we're getting better every game. That has been through the first four ball games. I think we can continue to improve in maybe leaps and bounds in some areas to where we can be the football team that we want to be as we try to head through the MAC. I think the MAC's a really strong conference right now in terms of everybody's capable to win. We're going to have to play really well. We're going to have to stay away from getting too banged up as we go through the season, but all I know is next week we'll be in for a tough, physical football game. That's what it is when you're in the MAC and then as you get into shorter weeks, your games come, that makes things even more difficult. A lot of challenges, but I like the way this team accepts challenges." 

On where he expected the team to be at this point in the season: 
"Yeah, to some degree, I think that's an accurate statement. I knew we would be a team that got better and better as it went along. I knew we were going to be somewhat young defensively. We lost two starters at the nose and tackle; we lost two inside linebackers that were great linebackers. You don't lose that combination there without it affecting you some. You have to have time for the younger guys to grow into their roles and the backup guys to get to where they can contribute and help you. I didn't know that they would be playing at the level I wanted them to play at early in the year. I wanted them to be exactly what we are: a team that seems to be getting better and better every game." 

On goal line issues:
"We've allowed too much penetration on some of the inside running game, which tells you that you better start running outside a bit. We'll look at that. I think that in this game, the fumble was something we can work on and not have it be a problem. Some of the other stuff will come down to us as coaches, getting things worked out a little bit to make sure that we're giving our players their best chance when they get down there to put the ball in the end zone. 

On why he's still coaching: 
"Well, a couple things I guess. I love the game, always have. Once I got into coaching, I always loved coaching. I don't know that I can do anything else, so that kind of keeps me going in the coaching ranks. Being around these guys kind of keeps you young a bit—they won't let you grow old, peacefully. They will not let it happen. So that's good for me. I enjoy being around them. They're all kind of challenges, though, and sometimes you kind of shake your head and wonder, 'what in the world are you doing?' But it's been great; I've been around great kids and I've been around great coaches. When you can tie in being around some great administrative people, then you give yourself a chance to stay in the profession and enjoy it the way I do. You don't want to many games like this or last week's game—don't want any more like that. Those are really tough on you. It was tough to let go of that one last week. There are just two games that I have had memories about on the last drive in my career and that was one of them last week. I'm moving on, I'm not talking about that anymore. I'm done." 

On trusting the defense: 
"They've got to be a unit that keeps playing hard. If they do that, we've got enough talent that if we keep playing hard and play smart, we're going to be okay. I trust that we'll keep getting better. We can score points. So if we keep getting better defensively, we score points and have a good special teams unit, that's how you win football games." 

On Joe Lowery
"No, that was a shame. He should get on his offensive lineman for not blocking on the screen. I've seen that a thousand times: an offensive lineman running down the field on draws and screens and just running down the field. It was set up pretty good, actually." 


Ohio Player Quotes 

Quarterback Nathan Rourke

On the interception in the first quarter:
"It was definitely not the way we wanted to start the game, but it wasn't like a total lack of execution on myself or Cam's part, we just had a miscommunication. There's an argument to be made for what he saw, there's an argument to be made for what I saw, and we just realized, "hey that happens" and all we can do is move on. We were very successful at moving the ball up until that point and we're a resilient bunch, so I had confidence that we could get it going after that." 

On the running game:
"Their ends— their outside, whatever they want to call it, their ends on the line of scrimmage were very aggressive. They were doing some things where they were exchanging gaps and our line did a great job of adjusting to what they were doing and we had a good game playing. I think the coaches did a good job."

On if the offense felt like 2017:
"I felt like at some points we were in a little bit of a lull. It's a really good situation when we feel like, even if we're settling for field goals, that we feel like we're not doing our best. We kind of had that kind of feeling, but I think at some points we were even better than previous years. Honestly, I thought that we could do a lot of things with whatever looks they gave us and that just gives us a lot of confidence moving forward."

On specific improvements:
"We had a couple of attempts where we were right inside the 10-yard line that we  would to capitalize on. We put a touchdown in there, you know, the game's really out of reach a lot sooner than it was. So, our defense did a really good job of kind of saving us, in a way, because we would really like to get in at that point. We'll make corrections, we'll move on from that. I think there's quite a lot of good things to take away from this game, so we'll enjoy it why we can and focus on Kent State."

On I f there was any doubt about getting into the end zone:
"Our level of confidence the entire day was pretty high. We knew that we could move the ball away from the first series, it was just a matter today of finishing the drives and we did that on most of them, but there's still room for improvement." 

On his rhythm: 
"I think the completion percentage was up this game, right? Which is important to me and I think important to this offense: that we're balanced that we see when we got the offensive line that we have and then we have these two running the way that we do. We can involve guys like Cam and Papi and Andrew and we can use our tight ends and in the passing game we're going to be really tough to stop. If we can do that efficiently on a regular basis, we're going to be producing like we are today. We just have to go out there and execute every day." 

On lead changes: 
"We don't really focus on that too much. We don't want to take away from what UMass is; they're a really talented team, they have a great coaching staff, they are very good offensively. We trust our defense to make some really good plays at the end of the game there and we just knew that if we kept on, if we kept the gas pedal down and kept going and taking care of what we needed to control then things would take care of themselves and we trust our defense we know that they're going to get things done. We we're really focusing on that." 

On the throwback pass:
We caught it from the sideline, I think everyone was pretty excited in their minds, but it would have been very hectic if we had executed that properly. 

Running back A.J. Ouellette: 

On A.J. and Maleek on running for 394 yards:
"To start the game off they were giving us some funny looks, but we have an experienced group up front and they came to the sideline, gave the coaches information. They got it fixed and after that it was just a wall of people with a huge gap, the gap could be anywhere— mainly it was backside. I learned that watching Maleek his first couple series in there, I mean, he's hit huge holes backside."

On open ground: 
"It was nice, a couple of my runs, I know the touchdown run— they brought everyone in the box in and you know when there's one little crease there's nobody there. The safety was about five yards away from the line of scrimmage, not in the right spot then there's no way for him to get hands on me. He read it wrong and opened up big gaps for us." 

A.J. on Maleek:
"When I come out and he goes in, I know he's going to wear out the safety's and the linebackers. If you look at his legs, I mean, I wouldn't want to tackle that dude. It's a good change of pace, we're pretty similar in running styles, so he's just going to wear out the defense just like I'm going to except in the fourth quarter we're both going to be fresh, so I think the Bobcats have the upper hand there." 

On if the team played with urgency:
"I think we came out to prove a point, and I think— someone said the offense broke some kind of record (in the locker room) so the offense came out just ticked off, ready to play some football." 

Running back Maleek Irons

On running 394 yards: 
"I would say the same thing. At the beginning of the game, they were kind of throwing some stuff at us that we couldn't see. We have a veteran group that can pick things up easily, it's just a quick communication and then they started slanting really hard at their ends, so their cutback was just there all the time."

On the open grass:
"It's just what we need, it feels good. Nothing's better than a big run."

On if he's "back to himself":
"I'd say it's definitely a lot more comfortable, more in the stride than it was, but I feel good. I'm excited for what this season holds." 

On the early game on offense and when they're up:
"We try to focus on just doing our thing, moving the ball, getting touchdowns, getting points on the board, let defense do their thing, let us do our thing." 


UMass Head Coach Mark Whipple 

On the second half and result of the game: 
"Our guys played hard; they have a good team. MAC got their revenge on us, officiating-wise—that's the worst I've ever been a part of. I've been in the SEC, I've been in the NFL and I've never seen anything so bad: six holds against none until the end. At least when I got a 15-yarder the guy finally threw a flag. I thought our guys fought hard at the end there. We couldn't make enough plays. They have a good team and they were home, and I thought our guys were certainly ready to play because we went up 14-nothing. We just have to get ready for next week. We didn't make enough plays to beat a team like that. "

On the non-pass interference: 
"It's the same guy that called two holds on us. I mean we all saw it down that way and we got a little momentum, but it's hard enough to win on the road. Like I said, I understand if it's the SEC, but we've had that crew before. It is what it is. As I said to the guys, we've got to move forward and they fought. The young guys got better, especially the two young receivers that played and stepped up. But it was kind of the way it was going to be and they didn't let the kids decide it. I credit Ohio; Frank and their guys did a good job. Rourke is a really good player; everybody knows that. We picked them early, but two good running backs and we just couldn't outscore them." 

On the quarterbacks Ross Comis and Andrew Ford: 
"Ross missed a throw there at the end there, but in the series he did a nice job. He went down and hit Izzy on the post and then made a couple runs. They've got a little bit of a blitz thing. Andrew had the interception, but again, he's throwing to Izzy and he gets mugged. Other than that they made some good plays. They just didn't get any takeaways; they didn't get any splash plays on defense. We needed to make one there at the end and that was the difference; we couldn't do it. They did; they got the interception and picked up the flag."