ATHENS, Ohio -- Fifteenth-year Ohio football head coach Frank Solich met with the media today as the Bobcats (4-4, 3-1 MAC) begin midweek MACtion on Wednesday, Nov. 6, when they welcomes Mid-American Conference East Division archrival Miami (4-4, 3-1 MAC) to Peden Stadium for a nationally televised showdown on ESPN2. Kickoff for the 'Battle of the Bricks' is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET. The game can also be heard on the Ohio Sports Network from Learfield IMG College and online through TuneIn.com/OhioBobcats and on the TuneIn app.
Ohio will be joining the MAC, the NCAA and ESPN in celebrating the 150th anniversary of college football in 2019, as the contest against the RedHawks is being played on the 150th anniversary of the first-ever college football game. Ohio will look to make history that day with a call to students and fans to create the first-ever sellout of a MAC midweek game. The celebration will include one enrolled Ohio University student in attendance winning free tuition for the spring 2020 semester as well as a pregame student tailgate inside Walter Fieldhouse. Click here for details on Ohio's plans for the celebration.
On prepping for midweek games:
"The idea, especially if you have a little bit of a break like we've got, is to make sure you don't overwork your players. We come across midweek games after we're about halfway into the season, and your guys are probably a little tired, a little beat down to some degree in terms of contact week after week after week. You want to make sure that they're fairly fresh as they go into the midweek games because you're going to generally have a game or two that's going to be under the seven-day regular game rotation that you have leading up to MAC games in the middle of the week. If you're not going in somewhat healthy, the chance of getting yourself healthy and fresh, really, the chances are gone. You want to take those chances when you've got them. We have a chance right now. A total of three days off in the 10 days, a couple Friday-type practices, a Monday-type practice. It's not a hard-driven thing, but we'll have a couple days of padded practice where they're getting things accomplished."
On the progress of the offensive line:
"You've got a group of players that if you have some young guys mixed in, there's a little continuity there that has to develop and continue. I think getting adjusted to a new coach, his techniques, that always enters into it, too. They're certainly bought into Coach Allen [Rudolph] and what he's all about, and I think that's starting to show at a fairly high level right now."
On how the success of the running backs opens things up for senior quarterback Nathan Rourke to run the ball himself:
"Some of our base offense is designed around an inside game to the running back. Sometimes those holes are going to be there and they're going to get good yards, sometimes they're not and they're going to get banged around a little bit, but they all kind of set up what your quarterback is able to do on an outside keep kind of play. Certainly, I like our group of backs. We've got a number of really good backs, which we've had to use them all, basically, except for Jake, who came off an injury and hasn't gotten reps in there yet. But, basically, all of our running backs have played and played well, and we needed them. That's a hard game that they play as a running back. When you're a running football teams as much as we are, and you're getting the ball as much as they get, you're running up inside, a lot of contact occurs game after game. Those guys have to get yards inside, and that generally opens up a little bit of an outside game, regardless of whether you're talking about an option or you're talking about the quarterback reading off of those inside runs and keeping the ball and getting good yards."
On improvement of the defense:
"I think they're just maturing together somewhat. The coaching changes, some of that takes time to get things the way you want to get them as defensive coaches and what you're asking your players to do. I think it's come along well. We've got to keep coming. We've got to keep getting better. We're not where we're at defensively to accomplish all of the goals we want to accomplish, but we're moving forward. That was true of the offense. The offense was not hitting on all cylinders as well as I thought it was going to earlier in the season. They've come along and really played well in terms of executing and putting points on the board. They're going to have to continue to do that. The defense is going to need to continue to improve. Our special teams has got to continue playing at the high level that, for the most part, they play at, but they allow a play here or there that you scratch your head at. We've got to eliminate those."
On the offensive line asserting itself and the opposition acknowledging it in the win over Ball State:
"It's what you look for. We would like to be a balanced football team in terms of runs and throws, but in the weather that we had this past week, that virtually was not what you were going to get done, so you better have a running game that's able to get things done for you. A group of guys that are able to come off the ball, running backs that are able to get yards after contact, receivers that are willing to block downfield. All of that has got to come into play if you're going to move the ball on the ground and be recognized as a very good running football team. That's good to hear. That's certainly what they're after. They're not dropping back in pass pro 50 times a game. They're coming off the ball, and if you're going 50-50, they want to run it more. It's just the nature of how offensive linemen think. We've got a good group."
On what the teams takes away from evaluating film of last year's loss at Miami:
"You've got to look at last year's game and see what went well, what didn't go well, get reminded of those things and make improvements in areas that you need to make improvements in, make sure that plays that hurt you last year don't hurt you this year, what plays went well for you, can you build off of that with anything. Watching last year's film is really an important thing to do and learn from. But then, you've got to mix in all the plays and games that have been played up to this point this season and then construct your game plan, and that's what I think most coaches probably do as they work toward developing the game plan."
On implications on race for the MAC East Division title adding to the rivalry game against Miami:
"Certainly, the team that wins this game will take a big step forward. The fact that it's a rivalry game between the two schools is great. That certainly adds to it. I think both teams understand the importance of this game. The thing about it is, you've got to play four more games after this. You can't just put all of your eggs in one basket. In saying that, this is a huge game."
On the game being the center of the College Football 150th Anniversary celebration:
"It's going to be great for college football. It's certainly great for both Miami and Ohio to be viewed on that day and the only game that's telecast. And so, there's going to be a lot of eyes on you. With that, that's good for not only your football team and your football program, but also for your university. We're excited about being a part of it and look forward to it."
On what he sees from Miami when he turns on the film:
"I look at it from MAC games. If you look at it from MAC games, you get a good idea as to what you're going to be coming up against. If you look at them, they've played three teams that we've played. They played Western Michigan, we played Ball State. Two very good football teams there. Our schedule so far has been pretty much the same in terms of quality of football teams that we've played. When you look at that, their defense is really rated, not at the top, but very close to the top in a lot of categories. They're obviously in the upper echelon on the defensive end of it. They traditionally have a great defense. They've got a young quarterback, a freshman, but the good things for him is he's having a really good season, but he's getting help because he's surrounded by good offensive linemen and receivers. They've got tall receivers. Four of their five offensive linemen return from last year, so they're experienced there. That's a huge plus when you have a young quarterback. Defensively, they're very strong, one of the best defensive teams in the conference. They've got good team speed, which means they've got good special teams. It's going to be a great game. There's going to be a lot of really good football players on the field."
On the Battle of the Bricks not having a trophy:
"I really haven't given it a great deal of thought. It's a rivalry game. There's a great tradition attached to it as far as the football programs are concerned, the universities are concerned, the communities are concerned. That's a lot of incentive to play really, really good football. But, I can see where Coach (Chuck Martin) is coming from. Most schools that have a rivalry that exists have something they're trading off with, with wins. But, other than that, that's about all I'm going to say."
On how he's seen the rivalry evolve over his 15 years as head coach at Ohio:
"From the moment I got here, it was made clear to me that Miami was a rivalry. I knew about rivalries having been at Nebraska. I know the importance of the game to, again, everybody that's associated with both programs. I think rivalries are really good for college football. We also have a rivalry with Marshall. They're important to fans. They can be really important to your program, obviously, so you've got to make sure you that accept the fact that it is a rivalry and you get ready to play your best football."
On his first exposure to college football:
"I think as a kid, watching TV, seeing Notre Dame on TV. I actually ended up taking a trip to Notre Dame my senior year in high school. That was probably the first school I associated with in terms of college football. But then, as I got a little older, started watching it a little more and became a big, big fan of it. My first exposure was probably watching Notre Dame play."
On if he went to a Catholic high school:
"Catholic grade school, Catholic high school."
On if he was exposed to high school football before his family moved to Cleveland:
"Not really exposed to it in the small mining town that I lived in. We played touch football on top of boney dumps, but that was it."
On playing on national television:
"That has no effect on me. It'll be another football game that we want to play and play really well. I think your players have got to feel that way, too. They can't all of a sudden get big eyed and start to feel a little bit different because you're going to get viewed maybe by more people in the business. You get ready to play football, and you play football."
On if Notre Dame recruited Frank Solich:
"It was an official visit, but I don't think I was their top prospect, let's put it that way."
On controlling emotions heading into the Miami game:
"We don't wait for a game like this to come along to know what we're getting into and what college football is all about. We talk to our players all the time about the importance of every game, and it doesn't have to be a game that's highlighted for us to get excited about to play our best football. We better get ready to play every game. And so, that's the attitude we take. When big games like this come along, they're here, and it's time to play big ball."
On what makes the rivalry with Miami unique:
"I just bought into it from the moment I got here. We're so close. The universities are really great academic universities. The campuses are really neat campuses. There are so many similarities, it seems like it was easy to become a rivalry game between the two schools. I'm sure that's what transpired early on when this rivalry really started to exist. To me, rivalries are rivalries and games are games, and it's here."