ATHENS, Ohio -- Fifteenth-year Ohio football head coach Frank Solich met with the media today as the Bobcats (2-4, 1-1 MAC) play host to an important Mid-American Conference East Division matchup on Saturday (Oct. 19) as first-place Kent State (3-3, 2-0 MAC) visits Peden Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for noon ET.
Saturday's contest will be televised live on CBS Sports Network, with Dave Ryan, Corey Chavous and Angel Gray 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.
On what he saw defensively from the Northern Illinois tape:
"We're looking into a lot of things, obviously, to try to get it corrected. The number of snaps some of our guys are getting on defense are probably a few too many, so we're going to look at trying to sub out earlier and try to keep fresher guys on the field at times. We were banged up interiorly, and I think that had an effect on us. If you look at it from the standpoint of, 'Well, maybe your offense wasn't getting things done and there were three-and-outs and the defense was on the field way too much, way too quickly,' but that really wasn't the case. Some of those guys did get probably more snaps than what we wanted them to get in terms of trying to keep guys fresh, healthy and energized out there."
On if struggles defensively on third-and-long come down to just making plays:
"There was some of that. We had a couple defenders around one receiver who went up and got the ball. You just can't have that happen. It has nothing to do with X's and O's. It's got nothing to do with anything other than guys in position to make a play have to make a play. It was a little bit of that. It's just something that appeared out of nowhere, us not playing the third downs better. We're looking at a lot of things. Did we get worn down? Do we need to be more aggressive in our calls? We're starting from scratch in terms of looking at what might be the problem."
On having a thin margin for error with one conference loss:
"We do not have a loss in our division, which is a plus for us. You want to win all MAC games, but, obviously, your division wins are critical in terms of even having the chance at getting to that championship game. We did play the two teams that were in the MAC Championship last year, so we played two of the better programs in terms of over the years that there probably are in the MAC. There's Toledo and maybe another one or so, but having played the two teams that were in the championship game, that's behind us now. We've got Kent coming to town. We're looking at them on defense - they're not big. They do have a 300-pounder that can line up at nose, but their three technique, and, sometimes, they're in an odd with two four-I's, they're not big. They're 230-some, 240-some pounds, but they are quick, they are tough and they are aggressive. I have to complement their coach. Those guys play hard. Obviously, that all amounts to them being a good football team, and this will be a big challenge. Offensively, they have a quarterback that can run and throw, which in this day and age seems to be, for the most part, pretty critical in an offense. That's what you look for. They're big up front. They have four of the five offensive lineman coming back, which is always a plus for an offense. There's always been good, hard-fought football games between us, so we expect that this will be another one."
On Kent State playing with tempo on both sides of the ball:
"It's tough to do it defensively to set tempo and pace, but I guess by being able to show different fronts blitzing, that all can add to your tempo of how you approach things. It might not speed up the play, but that's what you're all about. They're pretty multiple in what they do."
On making the most of senior quarterback Nathan Rourke's final season:
"It's the last season for a lot of seniors. We're doing everything we can from the coaching standpoint and the players' standpoint. We know we have to do things better at certain positions, so, as I've mentioned, we've looked at that. We think we need to give our guys a little more rest as they get well into the third quarter and into the fourth quarter and be able to have fresh guys on the field. So, that's one thing that we're doing, and we're looking at our play calling. Do we need to be more aggressive or not? We're trying to piece together why we aren't playing four quarters of football and why it's not a four-quarter team right now. It was in a game against Buffalo, they played four quarters and an overtime. They played well and hard on both sides of it. Why we're having lapses when we do and why it's taking effect? We'll see if the changes will have an effect on that."
On what led to redshirt freshman wide receiver Shane Hooks having a big day against Northern Illinois:
"When it comes to receivers and the amount of catches they get, unless you're trying to just target one guy, which is tough to do unless you've got a guy that is so special that you just want to feed him the ball, but when you have good receivers across the board, and that includes tight ends this year as far as receiving goes, you try to get to the open guy."
On if there is a sense of urgency heading into the Kent State game:
"We're pretty smart coaches. We're very smart players. We know all the implications, and we know where we stand. We know where the other teams stand, but it's a crazy conference right now. You look at the Toledo-Bowling Green game, and Toledo was favored by 27. It's just tough in the MAC. We'll see how this all plays out. We're not the only ones thinking, 'Hey, we've got to get winning and got to stay on a roll.' I think everyone in the MAC is thinking the same thing right now, so we'll do what we need to in order to get done what we need to get done."
On importance of the leadership of the team's captains during this critical stretch:
"It's very important to have the leadership that we have. That helps a great deal. The attitude is good. Do they want to win every game? No question about it. Are they disappointed that they haven't? No question about it, but their attitude is great. They know we were in every game that we've lost and had a chance with a few plays here and there, if made, to have it be a different season at this point in terms of wins and losses. They're anxious to step on the field and play again. They love the game. They know they can play well, and they want to put it all together."
On what he's seen from Kent State junior quarterback Dustin Crum:
"I think he's like a lot of quarterbacks in college football right now in terms of having running ability and passing ability. He's very good at it, and he's obviously got great leadership skills. He looks calm and poised out there, very confident. I expect that he's the kind of quarterback you face a lot and you'd like to have in your program, one that's got a lot of those boxes checked and beats teams in a lot of different ways."
On strategy for defending Kent State's offense:
"They're not going down one lane here. They're a multiple approach to offensive football in terms of throwing and running. They know in order to win consistently, you need to be able to do a little of both, and, certainly, need to have strong running game if you can. They understand that, and that's what they feed off of."
On the performance of redshirt sophomore running back Julian Ross coming off an injury:
"He's been on-and-off in terms of injuries for so long, so I'm sure he felt good about getting back in the game, getting carries and coming out healthy. He'll get more and more opportunities now that he's feeling good, and I think feels comfortable in the games again."
On managing the workload of redshirt sophomore running back Julian Ross as he comes back from injury:
"You know, we didn't necessarily intend it to be that way. O'Shaan [Allison] has had a number of carries in each of the ballgames except for one game where he did not. Obviously you have a guy that you've given the ball to and he's performed well, you keep doing that. Julian [Ross] has been a starter for us and has got a lot of the qualities that a great back needs. He's got speed. Our fastest back and one of the fastest players on our team, so, obviously, you want to get a guy like that the touches."
On performance of redshirt junior tight ends Ryan Luehrman and Adam Luehrman:
"They are excellent skill receivers for tight ends. They have the ability to get down the field, they have the ability to get down the seams. The throw can be a little high, they can go up and get it with their height. They have great hands. They can catch any type of ball thrown to them. They can be used in the red zone on back shoulder throws. They can be used on seam routes where you leading them, crossing routes, bootlegs. You can get your tight end involved in a lot of different schemes, and they play well into all of those schemes in terms of their athletic ability"
On how tight ends are doing with the blocking aspect of their games:
"They're doing a good job. Will they get stronger and become more dominant as a blocker? That's going to happen, but they've got the strength now to execute our offense and help us with the running game that they need to have."
On offense's success with the tight ends in the option game:
"They have the ability to arc out and get on overhang players, whether they're a safety or a linebacker, and make those kind of blocks against athletic guys like that. That's not always the case with tight ends, so they're good route runners. They've got good height. They can go up, twist their body and make the special catches, so we're going to keep utilizing their assets."
On update to injured redshirt junior offensive lineman Brett Kitrell:
"It's touch and go. We'll know more here in the next couple days as to whether or not he'll be available."