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Ohio Football vs. Louisiana Postgame Quotes - Sept. 21, 2019

Ohio Head Coach Frank Solich

On play of senior quarterback Nathan Rourke:
"I don't think that's all on him. He's been excellent at not giving away the ball throughout his time here. Unfortunately, this just wasn't him today. There were a lot of things that broke down today that caused what happened. We showed flashes of what we could be, but not enough consistency on any of it. The first half, we did well defensively, then sputtered on offense. The second half, we come out pretty good offensively, but, defensively, they were just able to run the ball in huge chunks, and they just kept running it. We haven't been able to put a full game together yet, and it's not what you're after four games in, but it is what it is. We'll work on getting things corrected that need to be. It's a good time to have time off. We are a banged up football team. We have been banged up a little today, but that's part of the game. Just talking to the team after the game, they're down. Obviously, this is not the start of the season they wanted in terms of going through non-conference play. We need to pick it up from here."

On the momentum switches during the game, starting with the fumbled punt by redshirt freshman wide receiver Jerome Buckner:
"There were three or four momentum switches during the game. Jerome has really good hands. It was a decision that if he had to make over again, he would've just let the ball go. I'd actually insist that he do that, but he's done a lot for us and will continue to do a lot for us. It's a learning process for him. He is a freshman, but those are hard lessons to learn." 

On how the run-pass split was different during this game:
"It didn't seem like we were able to get the running game going the way we have in the past. When that's happening, you can't keep hitting your head against a wall. You have to find other ways to try and move the ball. We have a good group of receivers, and we have a good quarterback that can throw the ball. We do what we have to in order to move the ball and get points on the board. We're down a little in running backs. Thankfully, we had two that were ready to go and able to make it through the game. It just didn't work out for us today in the running game. They have a good defensive football team. They can run, they're athletic, and we knew this would be a good challenge. They're a good football team."

On what he saw in the defense today:
"After their first drive, they gained confidence in their running game. They kept coming back to it until we stopped them. We did a pretty good job in the first half, but we did wear down. I think our depth shows a little bit in that regard. We were not able to stop their run game in the second half. If you can't run the ball at all and you don't stop their run, then you have your hands full." 

On tackling issues:
"Obviously, it jumps out at you. It's something that we have to get corrected. We'll look at what we can do as coaches in terms of making adjustments. We spend an awful lot of time on techniques of tackling, and some of it showed today and some of it did not. We are obviously going to have to get that corrected if we're going to be the football team that we want to be as we go down the rest of our schedule. We are going back to work to see what happened. There were missed tackles today. We have to look at what our strengths are on the defensive side. You don't throw away everything you've been doing all spring, summer, and the first four games, but we are looking to make adjustments." 

On redshirt junior wide receiver Cameron Odom's return from an injury last week and his three catches on 10 targets performance:
"I'll have to go back and look at the film. A lot of things have to work right with the throwing game. You have to be on the right depth on the routes, the cuts have to be crisp, and the quarterback has to adjust to the situation. We'll take a strong look at the film, but it's good to have him back." 

On how he feels about the team right now:
"We've got work to do. That's clear. The good part is that they're willing to put in the work. They will stick together and be a team that has shown flashes on both sides of the ball, and we're going to have to get it done in all areas. I think our special teams can help us, but we can't have a turnover in special teams and expect things to turn out in our favor. We have to come up with a way to stop the run. We have to find a way to force more turnovers and put more pressure on their offense. We can't give up five yards in the linebacking area and expect to have a good tackling day. We have to get things stopped better up front. We will go to work. I like their attitude, I like their talent level we have, and we'll find a way to put it together."  

Ohio Player Quotes

Redshirt Senior Safety Javon Hagan 

On if the defensive unit was worn down at the end of the game:
"Not necessarily worn down, I just felt like we weren't playing as a unit. Come Monday, we're going to have to come in and put a couple more things together and finish plays. We're losing the battle in the four-minute offense as far as getting our offense the ball back and four-minutes as far as the other team wasting the clock. We have to get off the field and play as a unit. That's it. We got to do our job."

On mental outlook on holding them defensively:
"Oh yeah, absolutely. We have faith in each other every time we step out onto the field. We're definitely a second-half team, so coming out we had it made up in our minds we'd end up in the endzone. We're just going to have to keep working a lot together and can't rely on the pass games. We only gave up nine points in the second half out of the three games. We just have to put everything together."

On team's spirit after falling to 1-3:
"I'm blessed with all my teammates. We made it out of the game safe, we don't have any injuries, everyone's walking, so we're definitely blessed. Not a lot of people in the world have the opportunity to be in the shoes that we are in, so just blessed, and we're ready to move forward."

On team being ready for conference play and what's going to change:
"Concentration, communication, watching more film so we can feel out the offense as far as what they're about to do. As a unit just trusting in each other. We're blessed to have a bye week, so any guys who are banged up can get more treatment, and we have more days off to relax ourselves. So, it gives us a jump start on Buffalo, so we're going to come back in just ready to work. When it's time to go to Buffalo, we haven't won there in quite a few times and it's their Homecoming, so we have to be ready to take on that challenge as a team."

On what led communication to break down in the second half:
"Really, just tackling. We were better at communicating. We just have to make more tackles and get off the field. We had them third down, and they broke a long run, which led to more big plays, so that's been our challenge so far. We did a great job communicating this game, and in previous games it was communication and tackling, so it's like we're starting to cover the boundaries slowly. We're looking forward to making more tackles in two weeks and playing all four quarters, not just one half."

On drive after Ohio cut it to a one possession game:
"They got the field. It was a big-time play. We ran a corner blitz, and they ran the other way and the running back broke for like 30. Honestly., by the time we realized that they were in field goal range, it was a mental battle. A lot of guys looked at the board, looked at the score, looked at the time. So, we just have to focus on the present, not look around and see how much time we got to get off the field, but it was definitely a long run. That's what really started everything."

On faults for resulting drives:
"Missed tackles, man. I've got to clean up on my tackling, wrapping up. I take full responsibility on some missed tackles. I looked at my tackling at the end of the game and then I think about the tackles that I missed in Pitt at the end of the game, so I have to do a better job as a leader, as far as tackling for the defense and helping my teammates out."

Senior Quarterback Nathan Rourke

On his performance and struggles offensively:
"I thought our defense played their best game so far, especially in the first half. I think that was a really explosive offense, and we did a great job with keeping them in tough situations. We were just not finishing plays. When they weren't stopping us, we were making mistakes. I didn't play my best football, and a lot of the fault is on me. We were just trying to get things going."

On turnovers:
"I take responsibility for all of them. I got to hang on to the ball in the pocket. I have to put the ball in a better place to make plays, and I got to set them up for success better."

On what needs to change before conference play: 
"Well, we haven't played our best ball, and I think that the good thing about the teams that I've played on in the last few years is we peak later in the year. We start playing our best ball after non-conference games. We've made a lot of mistakes. We've got that out now, and we got it on film. We can watch it, make corrections, and I think we can learn from a lot of it."

Louisiana Head Coach Billy Napier

On the win:
"We had two touchdowns called back, turned it over in the short field early in the second half, and we had our backup center in the game. You'd like it to be a little cleaner, but I tell you what, the fight that our kids showed, and, certainly, the halftime adjustments we made as a staff. That's a well-coached team (Ohio), and we have tons of respect for how those kids compete, how tough they are and how fundamentally sound they are. I have a lot of respect for Coach Solich and what he's built here. They gave us some issues, especially their defense against our offense in the first half. We had to adjust to what they were doing, and our staff did a tremendous job. I thought our players competed and made plays in the passing game when we needed to. We were plus-three in the turnover margin. You'd like to have a handful less penalties, but we certainly made plays when we needed to and when we needed to compete and fight. We knew it was going to be difficult and it certainly was."

On how they made adjustments to the running game in the second half: 
"We started the game running a little more outside zone and moving the front and cancelling the gaps. We ran into some disadvantaged looks in my opinion. They had a good plan and then we went to a little bit more inside zone in the second half. That proved to be a lot more effective. We still sputtered in the redzone at times, and we missed a field goal. We still have lots of work to do as a team, but when you can go score 45 and work together in all three phases. We certainly made some plays in the kicking game today. I thought we were really sharp in the kicking game, aside from that missed field goal. It was a good team win. Lots of things to work on. Certainly, every phase of our team has some deficiencies and fundamental flaws that we need to fix."

On their defensive play:
"That's one of the things that we try and pride ourselves in as a football team. We want to be a team that can rush the ball and stop the run. It's part of our culture, and it proved to be effective as the day went on. I was very impressed with our defense throughout the day. I know they gave up some plays in the second half, but for most of the game, we had it under control because our defense played well throughout. I thought we affected the quarterback a couple of times. We sacked him, we hit him, we pushed him from the pocket. I thought out backend guys did a good job of covering. We seemed to be on the same page though most of the game." 

On figuring out senior quarterback Nathan Rourke:
"It starts with him. He's the core of their offense. They've been a little banged up at running back. They do have some skill outside after playing against them today. Especially in the vertical passing game, they have some weapons. A big tight end can be an issue for you. But you have to give our defensive staff credit. Coach Roberts and his crew had a really good plan, and they kept us in the game when we were sputtering on offense. There's no question that we do not win this game if it gets out of hand there in the first half." 

On overcoming adversity:
"That's what impressed me most about our team. There's a lot of reason that we could have short circuit and lost our poise throughout the day. There's a lot of things that didn't go our way, but we hung in there. That's what we talked to our team about the entire week. We knew they'd be a well-prepared team. We knew that they had explosive players. They were going to have success at times. The mental toughness, responding in adverse situations was going to be very important, and we played through that. We kept a really good competitive spirt. You could hear the conversations between the players throughout the game. That's what I like about our team. I think we have a lot of fight in us. We've got lots of things to improve on, and I'm excited about how good we can become over time here if we continue to work hard as a team to get better and improve." 

On figuring out their run game:
"Once we got it figured out, we started rushing the ball. We made the defense one dimensional. We got them into passing downs and got them out of favorable down and distances. Then we rushed the passer and matched their patterns and got off the field on third down. We had big takeaways in the second half. Certainly, in the kicking game we were sound throughout." 

On Ohio's defense:
"I think we knew there were some issues. Some of those plays we had early were run-pass options where they did a good job of their disguise. They did a good job and had a good third down package. They sacked us a couple of times. You have to give them credit, too. They made some good plays. That's a well-coached operation over there, and they have a really good blueprint on how things are put together. Once we settled in and got the checkers where they wanted them, we leaned on them pretty good, and I was happy with the way we ran the ball in the second half." 

On starting 3-1 for only the third time in program history: 
"Don't tell our players that. We're going to enjoy this win. It's hard to win on the road. These guys were undefeated here last year. To come here, go through some adversity, not have everything go quite right and then find a way to win. We're going to have lots of things to work on tomorrow with our football team. The key is going to be if we can continue to improve. Can we continue to develop some of the second-tier players on our roster, get better specialist play? There's going to be days that we can't afford to have slow starts like that on offense. That happened to us last year a couple of times, and we weren't able to overcome it. We are fortunate that we've improved on defense and we can play a little bit better as a team."