Coach Frank Solich looks into the stands before he greets his senior players on Senior Night and the last home game of the 2015 season against Ball State on November 17, 2015. (FILE)
Ohio (1-1) knows its game against No. 15 Tennessee (2-0) will be tough. Tennessee is ranked third in the Southeastern Conference’s East Division.
The Bobcats know the Volunteers are good – but they also know playing their style of football is the only way to success.
“Our players understand what we’re all about in terms of our approach to games,” coach Frank Solich said Monday during his weekly press conference. “Certainly it’s a great challenge to be able to play Tennessee, but I think our players look forward to those kind of challenges.”
Ohio will play Tennessee at noon Saturday in Knoxville, Tennessee. The last time these teams played each other was Sept. 26, 2009, and Tennessee defeated Ohio, 34-23.
The Bobcats are only two games into the regular season, but they have experienced adversity. Ohio lost its first game of the season to Texas State in triple overtime, but it bounced back Saturday to defeat Kansas, 37-21.
The Bobcats have also suffered some injuries: running back A.J. Ouellette is out indefinitely and wide receiver Sebastian Smith is recovering from an injury. Both were listed No. 1 on the depth chart entering the season.
“We felt going in, certainly two strengths on our football team, especially from the offensive standpoint, was our running back corps and our receiving corps,” Solich said.
Ohio would love to have Ouellette and Smith healthy – but the team is built so that a lack of depth will not be an issue.
In its first two games, Ohio has thrown to nine receivers, totaling 547 receiving yards. Ohio also had two 100-yard rushers against Kansas, with quarterback Greg Windham totaling 146, and running back Dorian Brown picking up 122. The last time Ohio had two 100-yard rushers was in 2005 during a game against Kent State.
“We’re able to spread the ball around in our offense to where it’s not a deal where we’re just going to one guy first,” Solich said. “And if you do that throughout the game, throughout the season, that guy is going to have a chance to catch 100 passes.”
Solich said because Ohio spreads the ball around in its offense, defenses could have a harder time with their coverages. Ohio giving multiple looks on offense prevents defenses from staying in one coverage.
Ohio played Tennessee at night during its last meeting. Solich said it’s different to prepare for night games, as the team has to wait the whole day for the game.
The Tennessee crowd was rowdy then, and it will likely be rowdy again Saturday. Last season, Tennessee football fans set the record for the loudest decibel level ever recorded at Neyland Stadium.
“You’re not playing the team plus its fans, so all that gets blocked out,” Solich said.