ATHENS, Ohio -- Fifteenth-year Ohio football head coach Frank Solich met with the media today as the Bobcats (5-6, 4-3 MAC) will play their 2019 regular season finale on the road on Tuesday (Nov. 26) when they visit InfoCision Stadium to take on Mid-American Conference East Division rival Akron (0-11, 0-7 MAC). Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. ET., and the contest will be broadcast live on ESPN+.
Michael Reghi and Jerod Cherry will have the call of the action on ESPN+. 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 message to the team about facing an 0-11 Akron team:
"Last time we played there, we lost to them and it took us out of the chance to get to the conference championship game. They went, and, obviously, we struggled playing there on that day. They played very well, and they'll work at playing very well against us. Last game of the year, what we tell our guys is that this is the opportunity to get ourselves at .500 and to not have a losing season. If we get the chance to get to a bowl game, we're going to work at winning that and try to get ourselves to a winning season. There are a lot of things out there for us in terms of striving to get this win."
On what the past few days have been like after becoming the winningest coach in MAC history:
"Really a tremendous number of people have reached out, texted me and emailing. It's been certainly much more than I expected along those lines, and I've got to get to answering those. Certainly, a lot of people showed their appreciation for what our program has been able to do. With that in mind that obviously makes you feel good, but there's work ahead. That has kind of come and gone and now it's time to get back to work."
On anyone unexpected who has reached out to congratulated him:
"I've had some players from Holy Name High School and South East High School. Obviously, throughout my coaching career, former players have reached out. Coaches have reached out. An example would be Pat Fitzgerald sent a picture of me signed by all his coaches congratulating us on the 111th win. Things like that you truly don't expect. Bob Stoops, I mean just some guys that are very well respected coaches as well as former players have reached out and really people that I know. That's all been great, and, again, those all have to get answered."
On what is meant to have former Ohio defensive coordinator Jimmy Burrow at the game:
"I thought it was great to have him there. He's been a big part of it. He and [offensive coordinator] Tim Albin, obviously, came with me at the beginning. Jimmy was with us up until this season, and Tim is still with us and collecting those wins, so having Jimmy there was important and meaningful. He's also reached out and been at other games when it hasn't conflicted with his travels down south."
On his thoughts on the game between Akron and Miami on Wednesday:
"I think it was a well-played, hard-fought football game. You look at Kato [Nelson] and his ability to escape and create plays, I think that showed in that game. I think their [Akron's] offensive line has continued to improve as the season has gone on, so it wasn't a deal where Miami just shut them down. Miami is capable of doing that to a lot of teams. Defensively they're one of the top teams in the conference. I think they're ranked fourth in total defense in just MAC games, so it tells you a little bit about their ability on the defensive end of it. Their kickoff coverage, you start to dig into special teams, and you see they're capable of winning games with special teams. It's going to be a hard fought football game and obviously we'll have to be at our very best."
On Akron's passing defense:
"They're able to do quite a bit on the defensive side of it, in terms of their looks, blitzes and different coverages that they use. They'll come up with a couple things that they'll really zero in on for our game, probably that we haven't been able to see very much of and practice very much of. Their coaching staff, I think, has done a great job in terms of getting their team prepared to play ball."
On what he would tell Akron's Tom Arth about struggling through his first season as head coach:
"There's hardly a coach out there that hasn't struggled as a head coach, certainly, when you take over a new program, sometimes even when the program has been successful. Just getting all the pieces of the puzzle put together will sometimes take some time. He's a really good coach, and he's got a really good staff. It's going to work for them."
On who will be the backup quarterback against Akron:
"Joe [Mischler] will be number two. Kurtis [Rourke] has had surgery here yesterday, and it was a planned surgery. We knew it was coming, not too unsimilar to what Nathan's [Rourke] was all about. He'll be lost for the rest of the season, and Joe will be the backup quarterback. He and Kurtis have really switched on and off with that as we've gone through the season. Joe, like Kurtis, got some snaps in this last ballgame. Although we weren't throwing the ball, every snap is meaningful. They were handing the ball off or, in a couple cases, they kept and ran with it. There's not a lot of experience but neither Kurtis nor Joe have a lot of experience. They've got a great deal of potential, and we hope that Joe doesn't get too much playing time in this last ballgame. Nathan has been good for our program and has been very durable, so we're in the situation that we're in."
On freshman quarterback Kurtis Rourke's surgery:
"It has to get done. He hasn't been taking any hits in practice, as quarterbacks don't, and he got a few in this past game. It just made sense not to put him out there to where he can worsen that injury. There will be some bright spots to this, that getting the surgery now will allow him to come back a little sooner. He'll probably be able to do some throwing in spring ball. It's his non-throwing shoulder, so he can do some throwing in spring ball, which is good and will be a plus. There are some negatives to it and there are some positives to it."
On what led to the defense creating five turnovers in the game against Bowling Green:
"We were tackling fairly good, although we missed some tackles, obviously, in the game. The physicalness, and the fact that we were going into contact well always gives you the chance at the possibility of creating turnovers, and then we have the one interception toward the end. Sometimes they come in bunches and sometimes you have a drought. We're hoping that the bunches continue."