ATHENS, Ohio– Fourteenth-year Ohio football head coach Frank Solich met with the media today to discuss the Bobcats' (6-4, 4-2 MAC) upcoming matchup against Mid-American Conference East Division leader Buffalo (9-1, 6-0 MAC). Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. on Wednesday (Nov. 14) at Peden Stadium in Athens, Ohio. The contest will be nationally televised on ESPN2.It will be Faculty & Staff Night, with Ohio University faculty and staff members receiving free admission to the game. Click here for ticket information or call 1-800-575-CATS (2287).
The Bobcats will be showcased on national television for the fourth week in a row and will appear on ESPN2 for the second time this season. Lowell Galindo, Tom Luginbill and Paul Carcaterra will have the call. Wednesday's 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.
"Wasn't a great ballgame by us. I thought our players played hard. I really liked the way they came back. I think as coaches we could have adjusted a little bit better over the course of the game to help us out a little bit. You keep learning I guess in this business. We just did not play as well as we are capable of playing. A lot of credit to Miami. I think they played well. They were obviously ready to go for this ballgame. It ended up being a very good ballgame because of our guys coming back toward the end, certainty in the second half. That's where we're at, and we're moving forward."
On motivation heading into matchup with Buffalo:
"We've had a couple of really good days of practice. The attitude of our players and our coaches is very good. We want to win this ballgame. Obviously, we're excited about the opportunity to play it. They're (Buffalo) are riding pretty high right now. They've done a great job. They're ranked in the top 25 (receiving votes). They're certainty still leading our side of the conference with the best chance of getting into the MAC Championship Game. It'll be an excellent football team that shows up. A team that's got talent and a lot of motivation. I think we have motivation, too. I think we've gotten to where we've been able to bring ourselves to a point where we play at our best in terms of effort, and that'll be there again. Now, it's going to have to be talent showing on the field by us. We're going to have to make some big plays. We're going to have to establish the running game. We're going to have to keep them from running. We're going to have to keep the quarterback from scrambling and making deep throws. A lot of things are going to have to happen, but those all can happen. That's what we're going to be all about.
On Buffalo's offensive line:
"They've got an experienced offensive line. They're really very good in the running game. They've got some young running backs that have come on strong and played well for them. They've got the right combination to move the football on the ground. Obviously, their quarterback's got a great throwing arm, is tall, can see a lot of things, has the ability to scramble. He's a lot faster than what you think he is. You have to take better angles than what you do sometimes when you're trying to cut him off from scrambling. Our players are going to have to say in their coverage. They're not going to be able to come out of their coverage once he starts scrambling around back there. A lot of things that they've got as weapons. We've been playing well defensively for the most part. Hopefully, we'll be able to slow them down a little bit and get things going offensively. Special teams will play a role, a big role. They're really good at punt return and kickoff return. They've got some excellent return men, good coverage guys, good punters and kickers. That will play a role in this game."
On performance of special teams playing a role in the loss at Miami:
"I think that's accurate. We knew they had a good special teams unit going in to the Miami game. We did not play as well as we're capable of playing in the special teams end of it. That played a role in the game. Most of the time, we've won the special teams battle, or at least it has played out where it's not been heavy against us. That's going to have to be the case again this week. We're going to have to win the special teams battle. We're capable of doing that. If we do it, that's going to give us our best chance."
On Miami's defensive strategy:
"You know what, they dropped people off, and they were not going to give up the deep throw. When that happens, you try to run more draws. You try to hit the check downs. You try to have your quarterback scramble some. You keep running the football. All those things, I think, could have helped us. We could've done a better job probably of getting those things done."
On facing Buffalo junior quarterback Tyree Jackson:
"Well, the thing about him is, he will scramble up the middle and pick up a lot of key first downs. He has the speed to go the distance. He's deceiving because he's such a long strider, but he can run now. He's so tall that when you go to tackle him, if you're trying to just tackle his legs and reach out to tackle him, you're not going to get it done. You're going to have to play up through the guy on tackles to make it work. You've got to be a good tackling team against their running backs as well as their quarterback. And then, if he scrambles up the middle, he's going to try and take a few of those. But he also does a good job of breaking the cup and sprinting up around the rush ends or the corners, linebackers, whoever it may be who might be blitzing. When he's on the run outside like that, he is looking deep. His receivers do a great job of adjusting their routes and turning them into scramble routes. It's obvious that they work on that a fair amount. That's something that's really very dangerous in terms of them being able to get yards on the ground in terms of the quarterback, both scrambling up the middle and him breaking containment."
On potential for a high-scoring matchup against Buffalo:
"Here's how I see it: both teams have really good receivers, both teams have a really good quarterback, both teams have really good running backs, both teams have a really good offensive line. Whoever is going to make the most plays is going to win the ballgame. Whoever is going to be able to establish the run is going to have the edge in terms of being able to control the ball coming off of that with passes. Both teams are talented in all those areas. It should be quite a ballgame."
On coaching adjustments:
"We just need to have the ability to hit the check downs a little more than what we've been hitting them maybe. We may have to take advantage of the quarterback running a little bit more. We had the running game going against a pretty good run defense. Probably needed to keep it going, especially because they were taking the deep ball away, so you make those adjustments. I'm not saying we didn't make any of those adjustments, but that was a little bit different than what the game plan was when we went in. It's just the way it goes. You don't put the blame on your players unless they just did not play well and just folded. That's not been the case with our guys, ever. That's the way it is. We could've done better as coaches. They could've done a little bit better as players. If we would have done that, we would've won the game."
On the defense's second-half performance at Miami:
"If you look at what they have been doing throughout the course of the season, they've put a lot of points on the board. To hold them to virtually no points by your defense, as you mentioned, two points that were given up by the offense there, I thought was quite a half of football for us. That comes back to playing four quarters of football again. When we've played four quarters of football, we've been something. When we haven't, they've been close games."
On decision to go for an onside kick at the end of the game at Miami:
"With the time left on the clock, it just made sense to try to get the ball. If you don't recover the onside kick, and they don't pick it up and run it back on you, and they're just down right there and you have three-and-out, you've got a shot. At that point in time, that's all you hope for, is a shot. Kicking it deep, they did have skilled returners. As you noticed, they were returning the ball fairly well against us. So, I'm not sure how that would've played out. So, we decided to go with the onside kick. Now, the onside kick is a low percentage kick, but you do have a chance."
On Buffalo's defense:
"Nine out of the starters are seniors. So they're an experienced football team. They've spent virtually four years in their program lifting and getting bigger and stronger. And so, that's the kind of defensive time that they have. It's a very physical defensive football team across the board, and a very experienced defensive football team. So, they generally get the ball back for their offense. They've done a good job at that throughout the course of the season. We'll expect that it will be a hard-fought defensive battle by both teams. Both teams have offensive power. We'll see how that plays out. It should be a really interesting matchup in that regard."
On plan to defend Buffalo's passing game:
"Usually, you're not sitting in one defense. You're not sitting in one coverage. To say that you're just going to move a guy around or you're going to double cover him all the time, those things don't happen. If you look at it, they have more than once receiver that's catching passes. They're doing a good job of spreading the ball around on their offense."
On matching up against Buffalo head coach Lance Leipold:
"To me, it's no different than against another coach. You prepare your team the same way. You call plays the same way. I have a lot of respect for Lance. He's done a great job everywhere he's been. He's a very talented coach. I think he prepares his team really, really well. He's got an excellent staff. I appreciate what they're all about. As far as going against Lance or our program against theirs, we want to win football games. This is the next one up."
On team's motivation to beat Buffalo after losing to them last year:
"I think players do think back on the previous season, do think back on the previous games. It probably means something to them, I don't think there's any question about that. But, that's not going to be the deciding factor in this game. It's going to be a hard-fought football game. The home team has generally won since 2008. We want to get back on that track of keeping the win here this year and then getting the win there next year."