Ohio Preview 2006 - Further Analysis

Posted Aug 7, 2006

Ohio Bobcats Preview 2006 - Ohio Further Analysis

1st and Ten – Big Mc – We all have our comfort foods, right?  For some of us, it might be a nice chicken fried steak with cream gravy.  For others, it might be a bowl of sausage gumbo.  Some of you like fast food, a Whopper here, some Chick-Fil-A there.  Well, the good people of Athens find comfort in their own Big Mc – Kalvin McRae.  Similar to the comfort found in such culinary delights, the Bobcats find comfort in one of the MAC’s best running backs.  When the offense gets stagnant, McRae is the one offensive threat that the Bobcats have in their stable.  Last year alone, McRae carried the ball over 200 times and racked up nearly 1,200 yards as the Bobcats showed marked improvement in the running game.  The junior from Georgia may find himself carrying the ball well over 250 times this season, if he stays healthy.  He’s a solid blend of speed, vision and power, but the Bobcats have got to find another threat to take some of the pressure off of McRae.  He’ll run behind an offensive line that has some experience, but can he get the production from the QB position that he’ll need to have a Garrett Wolfe-like season?  That’ll be the key for McRae.  The Bobcats lean on him so much, remember, he’s their ‘comfort food’, that he could wear down in a 12 game season.  He’s so fun to watch, though, so who wouldn’t want to see him tote the mail play in and play out?  Other MAC opponents, that’s who.  Man, get them some crawfish etouffee to ease the pain.

2nd and Seven – Double Nickel – During the Pitt game this year, the phone rang throughout the first half.  “Man, who the heck is #55?”  If you didn’t know who Landon Cohen was before the Pitt game, you knew afterward.  Cohen is the size of a defensive end, playing defensive tackle, but that’s not good news for his opponents.  There may not be a quicker defensive tackle off of the ball in the conference, and consistently getting your hands on him is nearly impossible for centers and guards.  His ability to penetrate and create mayhem is without peer in the MAC.  He tied for the team lead with nine tackles for a loss, but the junior has just scratched the surface of what he can do.

3rd and Three – Three’s Company – With Cohen causing so many problems up front, the Bobcats’ three linebackers – Tyler Russ, Matt Muncy and Michael Graham – are free to make plays all over the field.  And, they’ve proven that when they stay healthy, they’re a force.  Muncy is the leader of the bunch, having lead the Bobcats with 115 tackles and first team All-MAC honors last year.  Russ, finally healthy for a full season, was a versatile piece to the defensive puzzle, adding 6 tackles for a loss and two sacks.  The Bobcats are going to need all three to have stellar seasons in order for Ohio to put up some W’s this fall.

4th and One – Closer? – Frank Solich’s first year at Ohio was a mixed bag.  They averaged only 18 points per game on offense.  But, they did win four games, one of those a nationally televised game against Big East foe Pitt.  The running game averaged just under 175 yards per game, but the passing game could only muster 119 yards per game.  For as good as the MAC is year in and year out, Akron showed that a team could get into the MAC championship mix in a short time frame.  But, how close are Solich’s Bobcats to getting into that mix?  Maybe the answer lies in better QB play.  Maybe the answer is keeping McRae fully healthy.  Maybe the defense has to throw shutouts to keep the offense in striking range.  Maybe it’s answer D, all of the above.  Either way, Ohio will be an interesting ‘player’ in the MAC in 2006.

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