Ohio Preview 2006 - Offense

Posted Aug 7, 2006

Ohio Bobcats Preview 2006 - Ohio Bobcat Offense

What you need to know ... There's no question the running game will be among the best in the MAC thanks to the return of a huge, veteran line and potential all-star RB Kalvin McRae, but the passing game needs a lot of tinkering. It's an open casting call for the starting quarterback job with veteran Austen Everson a shaky passer at best. The receiving corps has the potential to be much better with improved play from the quarterbacks with speedster Scott Mayle needing to be used more to open things up for the rest of the offense. More points will come once the passing is better. Ohio finished second-to-last in America (ahead of only Duke) with a team rating of 84.12.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Austen Everson
105-220, 1,151 yds, 4 TD, 11 INT
Rushing: Kalvin McRae
209 carries, 1,153 yds, 7 TD
Receiving: Scott Mayle
21 catches, 338 yds, 3 TD

Star of the offense: Junior RB Kalvin McRae
Player that has to step up and become a star: Senior QB Austen Everson
Unsung star on the rise: Junior OT David Shelby
Best pro prospect: Senior WR Scott Mayle
Top three all-star candidates: 1) McRae, 2) OT Matt Coppage, 3) Mayle
Strength of the offense: Experience, offensive line
Weakness of the offense: Quarterback

Austen Everson has plenty of experience and is a solid runner, but he hasn't been able to do anything for the passing game. While he doesn't have to throw for 3,000 yards, completing 60% of his passes is a must to keep defenses from teeing off on the running game. He's not a lock to start with Illinois transfer Brad Bower and speedy Brandon Jones each getting a shot to win the job.
The key to the unit: Completion percentage. Ohio quarterbacks completed a mere 45.5% of their throws last year with five touchdown passes and 12 interceptions.
Quarterback Rating: 4

Projected Starter
- Austen Everson, Sr. - 105-220, 48%, 1,151 yds, 4 TD, 11 INT, 105 carries, 244 yds, 6 TD
Everson cemented his role as the starter throughout last year, but he'll have to battle to keep the job after having major problems moving the offense. He's a good-sized passer and a solid runner finishing second on the team in rushing, and now he has to prove he can throw with a little bit of consistency after failing to throw for more than 200 yards last season with only four scoring passes. 

Top Backups
- Brad Bower, Jr.
The 6-2 Bower comes over from Illinois where he lost the starting job under then head coach Ron Turner. He started in four games for the Illinois and was efficient. He'll add more passing to the quarterback mix.

- Brandon Jones, Soph. - 11-35, 31%, 124 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
The backup throughout last year seeing plenty of action over the second half of the season trying to spark the attack. He struggled only completing 31% of his throws while producing next to nothing for the running game.

- Josh Febus, RFr.
The fourth man in the mix to start the season, Febus has a good combination of all-around skills and good size. He needs more time and reps before he can move his way up the depth chart.

Running Backs
The emergence of Kalvin McRae as a star last year gave the offense an identity. He'll be the workhorse of the attack again and a marked man, so it'll be up to Voncarie Owens, Josh Abrams and James Magee to do more to help keep the star fresh. Owens is a speed back who'll add more dash to the mix behind the powerful McRae. The fullback job is up for grabs with the 246-pouind Mitch Morsillo battling the 219-pound Nate Clemens for time.
The key to the unit: Get more out of the reserves to keep Kalvin McRae healthy and get more big runs and big plays.
Running Back Rating: 7

Projected Starters
- Kalvin McRae, Jr. - 209 carries, 1,153 yds, 5.5 ypc, 7 TD, 13 catches, 97 yds
No one benefited more from the coaching change than McRae, who turned into one of the MAC's best runners with five games with more than 100 yards rushing and three with 200 or more highlighted by a two game stretch against Ball State and Buffalo when he ran for 488 yards and two scores. He's not huge and he's not fast, but he's a powerful runner with good quickness and great toughness. He's also a solid receiver.

- Fullback Nate Clemens, Jr.
A backup last year behind Brad Young, he'll get the first look as the main fullback even though he's only 219 pounds. He's a physical player who'll be used on short yardage carries to provide a little more power.

Top Backups
- Voncarie Owens, Sr. - 44 carries, 228 yds, 5.2 ypc, 2 TD, 2 catches, 32 yards
The former JUCO transfer was a big factor early in the year with a 139-yard day against Kent State, but he got dinged up and didn't see the ball much the rest of the way. He's a fast back who adds more home run hitting ability than Kalvin McRae.
- Josh Abrams, Jr. - 5 carries, 19 yds, 3.8 ypc
Mostly a special teamer so far, the 6-0, 191-pound junior is a speed back who'll be used more in the rotation. He was one of the team's most effective runners in spring ball.
- James Magee, Soph. - 8 carries, 26 yds, 3.2 ypc
A small, quick back, Magee will battle with Josh Abrams for the number three job and has the makeup to be used as a third down back.
- Fullback Mitch Morsillo, RFr.
He still needs some work as a receiver and as part of the offensive attack, but he's the biggest blocking option at 246 pounds.

Are the receivers not very good or was the system the problem last year? The quarterback play didn't help the cause as Ohio finished 116th in the nation in passing offense and dead last in the MAC. While this is a running team first, that doesn't mean there can't be far more production from speedsters like Scott Mayle and Justin Fitzgerald. They have to make more deep plays have to do a better job of getting open. Watch out for the recruiting class to make some noise right away; it was the focus of this year's talent haul led by 6-5 Robert Mercer.
The key to the unit: The corps has to be more consistent and Scott Mayle has to get more touches.
Receiver Rating: 4.5

Projected Starters
- Scott Mayle, Sr. - 21 catches, 338 yds, 16.1 ypc, 3 TD
Will Mayle ever get the ball on a consistent basis? He's one of the MAC's fastest players with 4.3 speed, and now he has to get the ball in his hands more after being all but forgotten after the opening day four-catch, 100-yard day against Northwestern. He's a premier deep threat who'll also get a few carries a game when the passing attack isn't quite working.

- Justin Fitzgerald, Jr. - 19 catches, 236 yds, 12.4 ypc, 1 TD
The 6-3 junior turned into a reliable threat over the second half of last season after getting over an early knee injury. He's a strong, physical target who can stretch the field up the middle at the inside Z position.

- Tight end Corey Logan, Sr. - 4 catches, 29 yds
Mostly a special teamer so far, Logan is a big receiver who needs to be involved more in the offense. He's not nearly the blocker Rudy Sylvan is, so he'll end up being part of a two-tight end set.

Top Backups
- William Norwood, Sr. - 8 catches, 87 yds, 10.9 ypc
The speedy former JUCO transfer has good size to go along with his wheels. He started to produce over the second half of last season and should be even more of a factor in three-wide sets and behind Scott Mayle at the X.
- Justin Riley, Sr. - 6 catches, 97 yds, 16.2 ypc
Riley came back from a broken hand to lead the team in yards per catch thanks to a 56-yard day against Toledo. He's a small, quick receiver built for the inside.
- Robert Preston, Jr. - 3 catches, 32 yds, 10.7 ypc
Preston is an athletic backup on the outside with good size and great speed. He'll have a hard time getting for time behind Scott Mayle and William Norwood, so he has to make the most of every opportunity.
- Tight end
Rudy Sylvan, Sr. - 5 catches, 24 yds
He's not going to be a game-breaking receiver by any means, but eh 6-4, 274-pound senior will be a key blocker for the ground game and is the team's leading returning receiving tight end.

Offensive Linemen
This was easily the team's biggest area of improvement last year going from allowing 55 sacks in 2004 to 19 last season despite a slew of injuries midway through the season. Three starters from 2005 return, but there are six players with good starting experience coming back to form what should be one of the MAC's best run blocking lines. Matt Coppage is the star of the show at left tackle to go along with plenty of talent, depth, and lots and lots of size for the coaching staff to tinker with.

The key to the unit: Get everyone healthy and be more consistent once the starting five settles in.
Offensive Line Rating: 6

Projected Starters
- OT Matt Coppage, Sr.
One of the team's leaders and a long-time veteran on the line, the 6-4, 288-pound senior will come back at left tackle once he gets over a hamstring injury. When healthy, he's the team's best lineman.
- OG Paul Johnson, Jr.
The 6-2, 313-pound junior is a mauling blocker who was starting to come into his own last year when he went down with an ankle injury. He'll be back to start again at left guard.
- C J.J. Knabb, Sr.
Knabb was the starter over the first half of last year before hurting his ankle. He was able to return late in the season, but he wasn't quite right. Now he'll be in a battle with Tommy Stuck for the starting job.
- OG Matt Miller, Jr.
The 6-3, 311-pound Miller was a starter over the first five games before getting knocked out for most of the second half of the season. At his size he needs to be more consistent in the running game.
- OT David Shelby, Jr.
A good backup last year, the 6-4, 299-pound junior didn't allow a sack and should turn into a solid all-around blocker in the full-time role at right tackle.

Top Backups
- C Tommy Stuck, Soph.
Stuck saw time in the starting mix as a true freshman getting the call in five games. He was fantastic in pass protection and proved he can be more than physical enough to be a starter again if J.J. Knabb isn't fantastic.
-T/G Bryson Bush, Jr.
One of the team's biggest and most versatile linemen, the 6-4, 327pound junior can play either left tackle or right guard playing well, but not out of this world at guard when injuries hit  the line. He'll get plenty of chances to win the tackle job with Matt Coppage having problems with a hamstring.

Related Stories
Ohio Preview 2006 - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Aug 7, 2006
Ohio Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Aug 7, 2006
Ohio Preview 2006 - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Aug 7, 2006

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