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Ohio Football vs. Rhode Island Postgame Quotes - Aug. 31, 2019

Ohio Head Coach Frank Solich 

Opening Statement
"We won the ballgame. I think that's great. I think we played a pretty good football team, a fairly talented football team, and fought. It was a little disconcerting at first when they were able to get the running game going as early as they did, and get things done that they got done. We had something like three possessions only in the first half, which I think if we get the ball, we're pretty good at getting points on the board and putting points up on the board, but three possessions in a half isn't going to get it down the road. We're obviously going to have to do things better, really, on both sides of the ball and in special teams also. We have a lot of improvement to do. I'm proud of the guys for getting it done today, and even though we seem to get off to a slow start, I thought as the game went on, we did things much better." 

On the young talent on the offensive side of the ball:
"It's very encouraging. We knew that we lost a couple really quality running backs, obviously. Today showed very well that all three of them did very well. They are a group that you can highlight those guys in different ways, so they give us a lot of flexibility and what they're about as running backs. But Nathan at quarterback kind of settles everybody down. So, the young guys have some experienced guys right there in the huddle with them. That helps them out a great deal. We're somewhat experienced and somewhat young when it comes to our offensive line, and, at times, I think it shows that a little bit. I think we'll continue to improve in that area. So, overall offensively, I think we did a pretty good job today. A lot of young guys on the defensive side of it, too, so the experience they gained today will be very valuable as we go through the season. The only problem is, we play Pitt next week, so we have to get rolling real quick."  

On frustration with the defense:
"There were frustrating times as far as that was concerned. But again, as the game went on, they settled down and played better. Then, we got to a point where we started substituting in the second half, and all bets are off when the substitutions are going on. We had a few moments there where we didn't look all that great, but overall, I think it was an okay first game. It wasn't great. We have a lot of areas to improve in, but we have the kind of players that will get back to work to get that done."  

On what kind of potential junior running back De'Montre Tuggle has
"He has a great deal of potential, in terms of his ability to see things, make quick cuts, then accelerate, I think that's what can separate him from being just another running back. So, he gives us kind of a home run threat there. He seems to find his way through things very well, then explodes on the final burst and has the capability of running 50 or 60 yards, as you've seen him do a couple times."  

On seeing redshirt junior wide receiver Tyler Tupa overcome several obstacles:
"It's great to have him stay healthy and perform well. Coming out of high school, we had him in a camp, and his potential really showed then. We felt all along that he was going to be a great receiver. But he's had injury after injury that has really slowed down his progress, so it's time for him to have a good stretch here where he stays healthy and can show what he's all about. We talk about a 50/50 guy, when the ball's up in the air and the defensive back, he's really good. He has great hands. He's a smart receiver. He will block. He's a name that a lot of people don't know, but I think you're going to see him contributing a lot every game."  

On how this home opener differs from last seasons:
"I think you just never know the first game as to how it's going to go. It's always a little bit of a guessing game to prepare your team. You want to make sure they're ready for the physicalness of the game, but you also don't want to start the season banged up. So, a lot of times, the first game doesn't really show what you're all about. It takes two-to-three games before you start to figure out what your team is all about, and I think it's going to be the same way with this team." 

Ohio Senior Quarterback Nathan Rourke

On being 7-of-7 on scoring drives while he was in the game:
"That's our expectation. Our expectation is to end every drive with a kick and take care of the ball and do what we did today. We know what we're capable of and the bar that we set for ourselves is high, so we came out and did what we expected to do." 

On the performance of the running backs:
"First of all, it starts with our line. There was a couple of drives there that we had that we were running the ball down their throats and moving the ball through them well, and we were just kind of running whatever we wanted scheme-wise. And so, it's good knowing that whosevers in we're very talented in our backfield in terms of all the guys that we can play, and we've been doing that in the past years since I've been here using multiple running backs. So, having that flexibility and knowing that we can always be fresh at that position is great, but it starts with a great foundation upfront."

On different between this year's season opener and last season's:
"Obviously we wanted to go off on a positive note, I think that this year we are focusing on taking it one game at a time. That's kind of been our thing. Obviously last year we were able to play extremely well at a very high level late in the season, so that's obviously our goal now. But right now, we're going to watch the film, learn from it and get ready for Pitt." 

Redshirt Junior Wide Receiver Tyler Tupa

On his breakout performance:
"I mean, it's been a long time I've been waiting. I can't say anything. It just felt amazing to back out there, preforming competing with my teammates. They believed in me these past couple of years, and it's just nice to be able to go out and prove that I can still play a bit. It felt like the first time I was playing football again. It was that same feeling of excitement being out there with all my brothers."

 Junior Running Back De'Montre Tuggle

On getting his first opportunity to play at Ohio:
"Just excitement, a little anxious but I've been sitting on the sideline waiting to get my shot. When they told me to get ready I was excited, just so many emotions going through my mind I was just trying to stay focused and then we go and get the touchdown." 

On scoring a 55-yard touchdown after having a 78-yard touchdown run called back by a penalty earlier in the drive:
"Oh, I was gassed. Yeah, I was so gassed after that one. Once I saw the flag was on us, I was just happy. The first touchdown got called back. Like you said, it's rare to go 2-for-2, so I was just excited and wanted some water." 

On the competition for starting back:
"Honestly, I'm just trying to focus on being prepared when my number's called. I'm not really focused on the battle everybody talks about. When my number's called, I want to take advantage of every moment I get, just focus on the end goal, which is winning. Transferring here (from Kilgore College), coming in, I already knew what the situation was so, from day one, I just wanted to make sure to prove myself and prove that I belong here. Hopefully that's showing."

Rhode Island Head Coach Jim Fleming 

On performance of Ohio senior quarterback Nathan Rourke:
"He's a good player. He's a good player but I mean, again, you critically evaluate yourself, and we did not play our best football. I think there is a lot more for us to improve on. We look at a team dynamic, and then we did the things you can't do on the road, against any quality opponent, which Ohio University is a quality opponent. They have a great player with Nathan Rourke. They have some other guys that balled out as well, but our inability on third down to get off the field, our special teams in the second half and repeated penalties in the first half are things that, really, you just can't do and expect to win a game versus a good opponent". 

On the mental toughness of the team to fight all the way through: 
"Well, it's there. I think what we've got to look at hard is to see, are we playing to the level necessary to get us in there, a reasonable opportunity in the fourth quarter, and you're playing a game where you're sitting there down, whatever the heck it was, sitting there thinking about quick score, onside kick, and trying to pull out a miracle, but, there's so many other opportunities before that came up that didn't let us push it into that level, and it was mostly our mistakes rather than their performance. Of course, Rourke did make some incredible plays". 

On what Aaron Parker brings to the table: 
"(Laughing) Ah, you know, it is like you throw a dog a bone, he goes up and gets that thing. I mean, he elevated hugely on a couple of those balls, and I thought Vito played well. He ran around, and he kept himself alive. Offensive line probably gave him pretty good protection for the most part, with the exception of the penalties, I thought we were headed pretty effectively at times, so I mean there is a lot to build on. It just wasn't enough of a team dynamic to be able to bring home a victory versus a good team."