ATHENS, Ohio -- Fifteenth-year Ohio football head coach Frank Solich met with the media today as the Bobcats (2-3, 1-0 MAC) welcome Mid-American Conference West Division foe Northern Illinois (1-4, 0-1 MAC) to Peden Stadium for a Homecoming matchup on Saturday (Oct. 12). Kickoff is slated for 3:30 p.m. ET.
Saturday's contest will be streamed live on ESPN+, with Doug Sherman and John Gregory on the call.The game can also be heard on the Ohio Sports Network from Learfield IMG College. Russ Eisenstein returns for his 12th season as the "Voice of the Bobcats." Ohio Alum Rob Cornelius has been a part of the broadcasts for two decades. WXTQ (Power 105) in Athens returns as the 11-station network's flagship. The broadcasts are also available online through TuneIn.com/OhioBobcats and on the TuneIn app.
"You know, it was a tremendously satisfying win. As I look back in my career, this one ranks up there in terms of having a team that's done everything they can to try to have a special season. [They] lost three of the first four games and then go into a difficult situation up there in Buffalo where you're playing against a very good program and a very good football team that's well-coached. I think a lot of teams find it difficult to play there. We've had strange things happen there, as we've discussed, so to have them win it and win it the way they did and to play as hard as they did for five quarters is about as good as it gets in my mind."
On caliber of Ohio's special teams unit:
"Well, they've been special, in, really, throughout their course of time here. Louie [Zervos] has been very consistent for us over the years. He's won ballgames for us in terms of getting it done right at the end of the game and under pressure kind of situations. Michael [Farkas] has been able to change the field for us in terms of field position more than maybe any kicker that I can recall. He had three punts that were inside at least the 20. I don't know if all three were inside the 10, but they were right there. We did win the field position battle, which was critical, and we won it by quite a bit. We lost the sack battle by quite a bit. We lost the turnover battle, and usually along with that, you lose field position, but special teams didn't allow that to happen, and that was huge in this ballgame. They've played an important role in every season that they've been here in terms of."
On if the special teams unit is the most talented he has coached:
"I think across the board they could very well be. We had some good ones at Nebraska, obviously, but these guys, I think, would measure up, certainly."
On performance of redshirt freshman running back O'Shaan Allison and the team's depth at running back:
"He's gotten off to a great start. Obviously, missing a game hurt him and hurt us. Julian [Ross] missing some games, not only this season but through his career here, has been tough on us.
Julian [Ross] should be ready to go this next week, we think, so that's a difficult situation. O'Shaan [Allison] has played really very well, Julian [Ross], obviously, has been hampered because of injuries but has shown well when he's played for us. De'Montre [Tuggle] didn't get many snaps but did a good job, and I think he's capable of giving the big play. So, right now, if we get all three healthy, that'll give us the depth every team looks for in terms of quality running backs."
On team's defensive effort at Buffalo despite not recording a sack or a tackle for loss:
"I thought they showed a great deal of improvement in this ballgame. They were going to need to in order to keep them from controlling the ball and just running the clock. If you look at it, it seemed like the first half went by in the blink of an eye. I think the officials were getting the 40-second clock going, really, as quick as I've seen it, and then you had two running football teams, so things went by pretty quick. Having the ability to stop the run and run the ball, I think, contributed big to that win. We didn't stop it totally. We didn't have big play after big play in the running game, but we were able to get enough yardage on runs. Our line was able to get enough movement to get enough yardage for our backs on runs that we were able to use a multiple offense rather than just sitting back and throwing, so that was big in the outcome of the game as far as us in the offensive standpoint. As far as the defensive standpoint, they did not have any truly explosive runs, per say. They [Buffalo] were kind of like us in the running game, just controlling the ball and getting things done. We stopped the thing that we needed to stop, and that was the inside zone play against those guys. Now they got the outside zone going, but there were some halftime corrections that were made which allowed us to do a better job against the outside zone and shut them down, for the most part, in terms of the running game, compared to what they're used to getting accomplished."
On if he expected redshirt freshman running back O'Shaan Allison to perform like he has this season:
"Yeah, you can see it in him. He's a physical guy. He'll go into contact. He's got quickness, and he's got a burst off of that quickness, so you could see that he was going to be a very good running back, and, if you give him the ball enough, he's going to show it."
On managing the carries each of the running backs get:
"I and Coach [Tim] Albin have been faced with having a lot good running backs, and I don't recall having a major problem in terms of being able to use them all. I'm okay with getting everybody some touches. I'm also okay with one guy, if he separates himself totally from the others, being the guy. But there's something with keeping fresh guys on the football field, and it's a way of giving yourself the best chance of having healthy players throughout the course of the season from the running back position. Guys will get their touches and when you have that kind of competitiveness. That usually makes them even better."
On team giving up four sacks at Buffalo:
"Four sacks is too many. Obviously, they had good personnel over there, and, at some point in time, you have to give those guys help too. We started doing that a little bit, but it's tough to get it done on both sides when they have a pair of really good rush ends. It can get difficult. There were some good moments for our tackles on some of those guys, but you get enough snaps, and those guys are going to show their ability. You've got to find ways to give guys help."
On preparing to face two quarterbacks at Buffalo:
"I don't think they're different style of quarterbacks. They're pretty much the same style. It wasn't a deal where we had to worry about a running quarterback with one versus a heavy throwing quarterback with the other. They're very similar, Lance [Leipold] uses them the same way, so it really didn't matter to us. Obviously, I'm not sure what the injuries were and what extent they were, but we figured that we might see both anyway."
On concern over Buffalo potentially running a fake punt:
"Yeah, but to be very honest with you, we have that concern for every game and every opponent. Nothing can demoralize you quicker than an onside you're not ready for or a fake punt that you're not ready for, so I think our coaches do a really good job each week preparing for the possibility of those. Now, I'm going to knock on something, because when you say that, all of a sudden something pops up, but our guys work at it and we won't be surprised if something happens like that."
On Northern Illinois:
"Their coach was a very talented running back for them, so he knows what has won at that school. To me, I don't think they're trying to have a new identity. I think they're trying to be what Northern Illinois has been, and they're recruiting really good players. You're going to get the same philosophy in terms of hard-nosed football. They like to run but they're talented. They've got talented receivers. They can throw. Defense, they're a strong physical defensive football team. That's been their trademark, and I think that's what they want to be."
On making sure team stays focused during Homecoming week:
"I think some years you may have to worry a little bit more than others. I'm not all that worried about Homecoming. In fact, I'm kind of glad to have a Homecoming. Hopefully, it's a great day weather-wise, and we have a ton of people here. It's a great time for people to come back and renew friendships on campus and bring back a lot of memories, so I think it's good for everybody. It's good for us to have those people in the stands. I don't see it as a negative necessarily in terms of attention. I can do a pretty good job of getting their attention. I don't see that being a problem with this group. They're really in-tune to wanting to be good, and they're smart guys, so they're not going to be doing things that take themselves out of the game."
On sense of relief over ending a three-game losing streak and getting the first MAC win:
"Our guys were happy. They were jumping up and down. Number one, because Buffalo is a great program in our conference. It's never easy to beat Buffalo. It's never easy to beat them up there. They had their work cut out for them. They went and got that accomplished, so I think in some ways they do feel a little relieved that they're back on the winning track. Now, the idea is to stay on that track."
On scouting Northern Illinois:
"Well, you're a ways into the season, so you get a feeling for a team regardless of their schedule. They've had a tough schedule, obviously. You look at Vanderbilt, you look at Nebraska, you look at Utah, who is really a good football team. The Ball State loss I'm sure was very tough on them. They were ahead in that ball game and to lose that in the second half was not characteristic of them. They'll be upset. They'll be wanting to get back on track. You have a loss in MAC play, that makes you a little bit more aggressive in terms of wanting to get something done and change that around to get back on the winning track. Again, similar to the Buffalo game, we'll be facing their best shot."
On getting the job done on the road in overtime at Buffalo:
"Buffalo being in our division and one of the leading teams over the years, we're facing the two teams in the MAC Championship Game back-to-back, so that's not going to be easy for us. Obviously, Northern Illinois is a proud program, so they'll be fired up and ready to go. All losses are costly in the MAC but when they're in your division, they seem to be a little more."
On former quarterback Tyler Tettleton being inducted into the Kermit Blosser Ohio Athletics Hall of Fame this weekend:
"It is well deserved. He was a great player for us and he's a great young man. He's doing well out there in the real world. He came back for a game this year. I know Tim Albin keeps in touch with him a lot, they're both Oklahoma guys. Tyler [Tettleton] and I text back and forth now and then. He's just a great guy. We were fortunate to have him in our program. He displayed tremendous leadership for us. It's great to see him get in the Hall of Fame. It is certainly well deserved."
On state of California signing the law for student athletes to market their own names and likenesses:
"Well, obviously this will be an important case, and it's an important time. What that will mean for the profession down the road, I guess I'm not sure. Right now, there seems to be a thought that we're getting too far away from what's been established, and what's happening now might be a tough thing for the sport, might be a tough thing for the NCAA as to knowing how to handle this. There are many different views on it and that's not only coming from those associated with athletics but it's coming from those that have no athletic interest at all that have views on it. They will strongly try to throw their views forward."
On his feelings about the law:
"Well, I like things that are positive for players but it's a tough call. A lot of the money goes back into trying to do things for the betterment of your athletes. You talk about the money that's thrown into facilities and money that's thrown into year-round training tables and all the things that cost a lot of money. Coaches in this day and age make a great deal of money from it. That's where a little bit of the hang up, I think, comes in. Trying to have it work for the players in a manner that's going to open that up for them, I don't know how the NCAA will look at that. But, I think that they'll try to protect what they've got and what that means, I don't know."