Football: Solich emphasizes red zone offense among other areas for improvement

 

Ohio senior wide receiver Sebastian Smith evades a tackle by Texas State junior safety Stephan Johnson during Ohio’s season opener on Sept. 3. (FILE)

 

Ohio coach Frank Solich didn’t just skim the stat sheet before Monday’s press conference.

Solich was more than aware of Ohio’s season stats, rarely stopping for an extended breath as he endlessly detailed the team’s strengths and weaknesses.

“Some people say, well, stats are for the team that doesn’t win,” Solich said. “I don’t buy that. I say stats are a reflection of what you are and what you did.”

Solich emphasized a number of areas Ohio needs to improve upon, whether it’s red zone offense, red zone defense or punt return units.

The Bobcats are 15-17 in the red zone for scoring, which includes touchdowns and field goals. But Ohio has only scored five touchdowns in the red zone, which makes them tied for No. 8 in the Mid-American Conference for touchdowns.

Ohio has kicked field goals with redshirt freshman kicker Louie Zervos tallying a MAC-leading 46 points — Zervos also leads the MAC in field goals attempted; he’s 13-14 in three games.

Zervos went 4-4 on field goals during Ohio’s 28-19 loss to Tennessee on Saturday, scoring all of Ohio’s 12 points in the first half.

“Louie obviously kicked too many field goals,” Solich said. “He’s kicking too many field goals on the year. That’s an area we got to address.”

Zervos is an asset for Ohio’s offense — if the offense stalls, Zervos can keep Ohio within a score against the opponent.

But no team wants its kicker kicking a bunch of field goals, either. Ohio is ranked eighth in the MAC in total touchdowns with 10.

“We got to find a way to put more touchdowns on the board and kick less field goals,” Solich said.

Solich said he will work with the coaching staff to find ways to improve Ohio’s red zone offense. The Bobcats’ red zone offense is their most glaring weakness, especially as they are one game away from heading into conference play.

“What are we doing play wise?” Solich asked, regarding Ohio’s red zone offense. “Are our schemes what they need to be? Is our play calling what it needs to be on both sides of the ball?”

Ohio will need a win against Gardner-Webb in order to head into conference play at 2-2. Solich seemingly has a plan of action for the remainder of the season, and improving the Bobcats’ red zone offense is clearly taking priority.

“As coaches we need to improve our end, and we need to make sure our players understand the turnaround we need there in the red zone,” Solich said.

Ohio plays Gardner-Webb at 2 p.m. on Saturday at Peden Stadium.

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