Frank Solich spoke with the media two days after Ohio’s 24-21 loss to Miami on Wednesday at Peden Stadium and gave his analysis of Western Michigan, who the Bobcats play Tuesday.
— Solich hasn’t had a chance to fully assess the morale of players after the loss placed the Bobcats in second place — and thus out of control on their path to the Mid-American Conference Championship — in the MAC East Division. He’s not worried about it, though, and believes Ohio will be able to mentally approach each game the same way its had all season.
“I think (the morale) will be (good),“ he said. “This past week was a special week. Obviously, they knew the importance of this game. The fact that we didn’t get it done is a setback. What lies ahead is important to us, so we’ll work hard at coming back.”
— Statistically, Ohio had a solid game against Miami. The Bobcats held the RedHawks to a season-low 278 total yards. Ohio ran 73 offensive plays. Miami had only had 47.
Had it not been for a few big plays from the RedHawks, the Bobcats likely would’ve won.
“It was a game that we certainly had our chances,“ Solich said. “There was a lot of things we did well to put us in a position to win that football game on several different occasions. But right at the end, we did not get that done.
“Other than (the big plays), we feel pretty good about what we accomplished in the game.
— Ohio failed to record a turnover for the sixth game of the season, and the Bobcats are last in the conference with only two interceptions this season. Last season, Ohio finished first in the conference with a +13 turnover margin. After nine games this season, Ohio’s turnover margin is -7.
“It’s one of the most frustrating things for me this season,“ Solich said. “For the coaches and team, we identify that every week in terms of the importance of it. Our players know how important it is. Turnover is that one statistic that can give you a winning edge in something.
“We need pressure. We need people putting a smack on the ball with a shoulder pad, helmet, hand. We know what goes into causing turnovers. We just haven’t had out fair share of them yet.”
— The Bobcats have finished with results separated by two possessions six times this season. It’s an unusual characteristic for Ohio, who has been able to blow out weaker conference opponents in recent seasons. Solich was aware of that, and he admitted that the growing number of close games has felt different.
“It’s just been one of the more different seasons that I’ve been associated with,“ he said. “The things that have transpired in some cases have been a little unusual. It’s been frustrating for our players and coaches, but you need to handle that in this business.”
— Western Michigan boasts one of the top running backs in the conference in LeVante Bellamy, who leads the MAC with 20 touchdowns and 1,212 yards. The Bobcats will attempt to stop the senior running back to slow down Western Michigan’s offense, which leads the MAC with 35.9 points per game.
“He’s had a great year,“ Solich said. “That’s obviously clarified by what he’s done statistically.”
— Defensively, the Broncos lead the conference with 31 sacks and have one of the best defensive lines in the MAC. Solich expects Western Michigan to bring heavy pressure on quarterback Nathan Rourke.
“They’re good across the board defensively,“ Solich said. “Their sacks are coming off just beating people 1-on-1 to some degree. They do a lot of movement, and if you’re not ready for that, obviously you’re going to get caught. Even if you’re ready for it, they’re going to apply pressure.”
—Solich said after Wednesday’s game that running back O’Shaan Allison, who was benched for the entirety of the game after he fumbled on Ohio’s first drive, will return in the next game. Offensive coordinator Tim Albin always grades and talks to the running backs shortly after a game, and Solich knows that Allison has moved on and is ready to prove he belongs in the backfield.
“I’m not going to beat him up. I won’t run him out of town,“ Solich said. “We’re about to move forward, and I know no one will work harder at getting that corrected than he will.”
— Solich said he and the rest of the coaching staff have followed and watched the progress Joe Burrow, who attended Athens High School and was recruited by Ohio, has had. Burrow is now near the top of the Heisman Trophy race and will play against Alabama on Saturday in a game dubbed “The Game of the Century,“ and Solich will certainly be tuning in.
“It was not a surprise to us,“ Solich said. “He’s a tremendous, skilled athlete. He’s got the size. He’s got the strength. He’s got a strong arm, and he’s a tremendous worker. You put that together, and you got one of the best quarterbacks in the country.”
— Solich, however, is happy with who he has at quarterback.
“We also have what we consider to be a great quarterback who has been so important to this program and moving it forward,“ Solich said with a smile.