Ohio redshirt junior linebacker Quentin Poling takes down Gardner-Webb redshirt sophomore running back Khalil Lewis before Lewis could score during a game Sept. 27. (FILE)
Coach Frank Solich said after Ohio’s 37-21 win against Gardner-Webb on Saturday that the team’s tackling wasn’t up to par.
“I don’t think we tackled especially well in this ball game,” Solich said after the game.
In a game in which Ohio scored 30 first half points — the most points it has scored to begin a game this season — perhaps Solich wanted to point out something else to his players: play well for the entire game.
Solich said Ohio occasionally stalled during the game, letting Gardner-Webb put up enough points to where Ohio never had a comfortable lead.
“In terms of just being a team that’s functioning at just a tremendously high level, this one was a little frustrating for me,” Solich said.
Ohio allowed Gardner-Webb to score 14 points in the second half, and Ohio only scored seven points in the second half. The Bobcats also allowed 196 rushing yards, which is the second most rushing yards they have allowed this season; Ohio allowed 201 rushing yards against Tennessee.
Ohio let the Gardner-Webb option attack get into open space, as the Runnin’ Bulldogs averaged five yards per rush.
The tackling wasn’t horrid against the Runnin’ Bulldogs, but as Ohio prepares for Mid-American Conference play, it’s one thing the team will need to improve on in order to have more complete games.
“You want it (the game) to be a little bit cleaner than what it was,” Solich said.
Solich said on Monday that Ohio needs to do a better job of “keeping the cup” in terms of tackling, which means Ohio wants a runner to stay within a group of players — it doesn’t want a player to break away for significant yardage.
Despite Solich believing the team’s tackling was subpar, linebacker coach Ron Collins didn’t completely agree.
“There was some tackles that were not easy … but our missed tackles as a group as linebackers, we had less missed tackles in this past game than we did in the Tennessee game,” Collins said.
Collins said he thinks Ohio can improve its tackling, but he doesn’t think it was a huge issue.
Ohio doesn’t do live hitting during practice, which means there is an adjustment period during games in terms of tackling players.
“The difficult part is it’s not full speed, so it’s not live,” Collins said. “You have to get used to game speed as the game goes on and how strong the person is that you’re tackling.”
Ohio’s tackling issue isn’t the one thing that is holding it back from being one of the best teams in the MAC. Ohio has a multitude of things it can improve upon, and tackling is just one of them.
“Tackling is something we’ve always worked on,” Solich said. “We know how important it is to the game, so we spend a lot of time with our players on that. We just expect some better overall results.”