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Ohio Football vs. Western Michigan Postgame Quotes - Nov. 12, 2019

Ohio Head Coach Frank Solich 

On offensive play in the first half:
"That (disinterested) is a bad way of putting it. This team has always been interested in what's going on. They've always given a great effort. We weren't able to get a few first downs early and not being able get them meant we weren't able to go on any continued drives, so the first half looked pretty shallow. I agree with you it's not been great football, but that's been part of our problem as we've gone through the year. We've played well at times. We've shown flashes, but the consistency is not there. We played two quarters of really good football and two quarters of so-so football and that usually doesn't get it done." 

On being as aggressive with play calling as needed in overtime:
"I don't know what you call aggressive but in terms of running the ball, if you look at the total yardage we gained running the ball after a bleak first half, it called for giving it a shot. We did, right at the end of the game, obviously throw the ball and have some really nice completions. Some great throws by Nathan [Rourke], some great catches which got us down in position to throw the pass to [Tyler] Tupa, which set it into the overtime. In overtime, there weren't that many downs for us. Could we have thrown all three and had all three incompletions and maybe be thinking why didn't we try some runs? We ran the ball really well in the second half. It's just a guessing game. It's kind of like the two-point play. If you go for the two-point play and you don't make it, why didn't you kick the extra point and continue to go with the game instead of ending up in overtime? Those are sometimes just guesses. But you try to weigh some things into those guesses and that's what we did."

On the frustration of syncing the offense and defense:
"It has been frustrating for the coaches and also the players. They are very frustrated and obviously we expected more out of this season. We've got two games to go and we plan on winning those two games. We can't take back any of the other games. I wish I could for those guys because they're as great a group I've had in a ton of years in terms of how they've responded to things, how hard they've practiced, and how hard they prepared in the off-season. I just felt like I wish I could've done more. They deserved more than what they've got accomplished this season so far. It's what it is, and we just have to pick up from where we left off now and find a way to win our final two games."

On the defensive problems in the second half:
"You have offenses that are really pretty good around the country. If you look at football scores, they're not 7-0 or 14-10 games. Most of them are high scoring games because there are so many skilled people, so many excellent quarterbacks, so many fast running backs and big ol' lineman. The combination is there to have success offensively but in saying that. We needed to find a way to bring about some stops during the second half. We did not do that."

On how tough it is to move on from this loss compared to others:
"They're all the same to me. Losses are tough to get over, but I've learned in this business that if you don't get over your losses or you don't get over your wins, there's trouble down the road. We have two games left, we plan on winning those two games and trying to do the best we can to salvage the season and make it to 6-6. That's the opportunity we have in front of us right now and that's what we plan on doing." 

On the four losses at home this season:
"I think the league is more balanced than it has been for a while. If you look at scores around the conference, there are some funny scores out there so that's part of it. Why all of a sudden home—which has been good to us—is suddenly not good to us in terms of winning percentage? I don't know. Our preparation is the same. I've looked back on that to make sure we're doing the same things we've done in the past and not asking our players to do something totally different than what we've done before in terms of our preparation of the games. We're preparing the same. We have good athletes and we've played good football teams at home too. But you expect to play good football teams when you go through the year." 

On talking to seniors after the game:
"I talked to the whole team after the game and I'll spend time with those seniors here next week. I found after the game that you can go around, pat them on the butt and tell them how much you appreciate them, but we did that beforehand up here in the room to all of our seniors. I will spend time with each senior as we go through next week. I just didn't feel like that was the right time to go in depth about what they've been for us."

On needing to win the final two games to be bowl eligible:
"I've never felt that going into the season. We knew we had to have some things happen and some players develop. Generally, that always does happen as you start to go through the year. Some guys come along and play well. I think that did happen this year. Some of the things that you need to have happen fell into place. In saying that, we just did not put it all together team wise. Special teams for most of the year were pretty good, but we had some problems in special teams which we never dreamt was going to be the case. Defensively, we knew we had some changes on the staff and that would maybe take a little bit of time. Those guys are all really good coaches and are great guys, so I have no answer there on that. Offensively, we can score but sometimes not enough and that's kind of been our season." 

Senior Quarterback Nathan Rourke

On the offensive difficulties in the first half:
"We couldn't get a first down. It's tough to put it into words because we weren't executing. I missed a throw, they made a play, and they did a really good job. We only had fifteen plays. They were doing a good job moving the ball, and offensively, we weren't giving our defense a chance to catch their breath at all. I think that really held us back from really exploding in the second half."

On the intensified play in the second half:
"Our mentality in the first half was 'It's cold out here, we want to beat these guys and get out' and that's not the right mentality to have, especially when we play someone with the caliber of Western Michigan. In the second half, we went out and said 'we're playing in the same weather, let's take that off the table, and start going back to what we're capable of.' That's the mentality we should've had in the first half. I think that falls on our shoulders offensively. I think our defense played their tails off. That goal line stand was awesome, but offensively, we couldn't do the job." 

On what he said to junior defensive lineman Cole Baker after the game:
"I told Cole that it's been a pleasure playing with him. I know what it's like to come to a place like Ohio, from junior college. The mentality in junior college is to think for yourself and get out of there. Obviously, I understand Cole's work ethic and I relate a lot to his story. He's come in here and has done nothing but work, and he has set a great example to young guys. He's one of those guys in the locker room that you want to root for and who you want to play for because you know he's giving his all on the opposite side of the ball. I just wanted to let him know that. Even though the result wasn't what we wanted, I wanted to make sure he knew that. 

On the difficulties of losing four out of six home games:
"I don't think there is just one thing to blame. I think that we have shown flashes each game of what we're capable of. And like Cole said, we just haven't been able to play all four quarters. That's been holding us back from playing our brand of football that we know we're capable of playing. Last year, we did a really good job of finishing games and playing four quarters, but this year we've had a hard time doing that."

On losing several very close games this season:
"They are definitely harder to swallow sometimes when you know that you're right there, but I felt that way after every game this year—even the Buffalo game. We walked away from the Buffalo game saying 'Hey, we won,' but it was closer than it should have been. But the rest of the games we were in, I thought we've been in every single game we've played, and we just have to put our best foot forward. I think that trickles down to me. We've shown flashes of the team that we can be in every game, and that's what's hard to swallow. 

On how this loss compares to others this season:
"The last game was pretty tough to take."

On the play calling in the overtime:
"I'm not going to mess with talking about play calling. My job is to execute the play that is given to me, so I'm not going to mess with that."

On battling adversity this season:
"Sometimes the ball is bouncing our way, but a lot of the time it falls on us the entire season. It's just us executing, it's us beating ourselves. That's not a matter of the ball not bouncing towards us."

Senior Defensive Tackle Cole Baker

On the team not being able to play a complete game:
"We have to put together four quarters. The first half, even though we had 10 scored against us at half, we had a goal line stop, they missed a field goal, and I think the defense really stepped up in the first half. In the second half, it just seemed like we didn't finish plays, and I think that's been a recurring theme. We need to finish plays in games and throughout the rest of the season."

On the defense not being able to finish plays:
"We have to make tackles. We just weren't doing things in the second half that we were doing in the first half. That's all it comes down to."

On what he said to Nathan Rourke after the game:
"It was kind of just an embracing moment. We told each other that we loved each other. We have similar backgrounds, and I respect the heck out of Nate for coming in here and filling a role and becoming such a well-respected leader so quickly. Just seeing that unravel throughout the past couple of years is just an awesome experience to see. He just sets the standard for what this program should be all about."  

On the defense shutting down Western Michigan's rushing game:
"The main part is gap integrity and doing your job. You have to fill in the right gaps, stay solid on double teams, and fly around the football. If we can get all 11 giving their best effort then we shouldn't have a team run on us."

On playing his last game at Peden Stadium:
"The past few years we have had a solid support system in our community and fan base. First of all, I'd like to thank everyone that has come out and supported us, even through this season. In my background, I've played Division II ball and junior college ball, and this is the biggest stadium I have played in to this point. Being able to come out and play on Saturdays and big games in front of a crowd is just an amazing feeling, and I just want to thank the community."

Western Michigan Head Coach Tim Lester

Opening statement:
"I am proud of the team for fighting. All three phases contributed, the special teams had a missed field goal and a big turnover. Defense played unbelievable first half but struggled a little bit in the second half. Offense could not push it through in the first half and came back in the second half. It was a great football game. It was their senior night, which is tough against a good quarterback. We knew they were going to come out second half to play well. We believed longer than they did. We made a couple more plays and they did a good job of loading the box and slowing bells down, which is hard to do. And that gave Skyy, Gio and John a chance to throw the ball a little bit. It has been a while since they have been able to do that which was fun. I am just proud of this group to get a win, to get a bye week for the first time in eleven weeks. They are excited to have time off and get their bodies back and then get back to work." 

On the performance of Western Michigan's defense:
"I mean against that guy, to stop them as much as we did in the first half was huge. We should have been able to get a bigger lead, but offensively we did not do a very good job by the goal line. They just kept answering the bell. They gave up a couple touch downs but kept fighting and fighting. They had a big stop at the end that unfortunately we didn't get a first down or that would have won it but instead, their stop is what won it. They got a field goal and three plays giving our offense a chance to go in there and win the game."

On the versatility of freshman wide receiver Skyy Moore and senior tight end Giovanni Ricci:
"We have been working on Skyy being a quarter back for a long time. It was nice to finally use him. We got him for more than one play, but it says a lot about the talent of our team and the ability of Jon Wassink to throw the ball, read coverage, use his legs and throw the ball away. They also were keeping some on him and not letting him run the ball much, so it just makes it tough. That's what I said when I took over the offense two years ago, the biggest thing is that we have to have balance. My first year here, we ran the ball well but we could not throw the ball. We really focused on being balanced because you never know what it is going to take. On a day like this, I'm sure we thought we were just going to line up and run it, and we had to throw it. Skyy came through bid, and mixon came through big, and Gio came through big, and it was a team victory. It truly was great. Everyone played great and everyone helped each other when we faced struggles. I am so proud of them and now we have to get healthy and get ready for one more game

On the importance of Western Michigan's upcoming bye week:
"It's huge. To go right through training camp then into eleven weeks straight of playing college football games, it's very difficult. I always credit our players. I credit our training staff, and our strength staff for doing everything they can to make sure these guys make it through 60 minutes and an over time. Now they get fourteen days to get ready for another big game. They need it. They need a little rest. We got a long bus ride home today, but it will be more fun with the ending that we had. We are excited for one more chance, but we are excited to get a little "R & R,"—mentally, physically—It'll help our team be better next time we take the field."

#BleedGreen