Ohio Preview 2006

Posted Aug 7, 2006

Ohio was looking to get on the national map when it hired Frank Solich to be the head coach, and for good and bad, it worked.

Offense | Defense | Depth Chart | Further Analysis

There was Solich's DUI that brought the wrong kind of attention to Athens, and there was the nationally televised, very bizarre overtime win over Pitt that had everyone talking. Now the program is looking to be known for doing more on the field after a lousy final nine games of the 2005 season.

There are improvements The running game was better, the offensive line was far better in pass protection, and several young players showed enough promise to suggest that 2006 could be the year Ohio flirts with its first winning record since 2000. However, there's still a lot of work to be done. A lot.

Head coach: Frank Solich
2nd year: 4-7
8th year overall: 62-26
Returning Lettermen: 50
Lettermen Lost: 14
Ten Best Bobcat Players
1. LB Matt Muncy, Sr.
2. RB Kalvin McRae, Jr.
3. LB Tyler Russ, Sr.
4. WR Scott Mayle, Sr.
5. CB T.J. Wright, Sr.
6. OT Matt Coppage, Sr.
7. DE Jameson Hartke, Soph.
8. OG Matt Miller, Jr.
9. LB Michael Graham, Sr.
10. SS Todd Koenig, Sr.

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction:

9/2 UT Martin
9/9 at Northern Illinois
9/16 at Rutgers
9/23 at Missouri
9/30 Bowling Green
10/7 Western Michigan
10/14 at Illinois
10/21 Buffalo
10/28 at Kent State
11/4 at Eastern Michigan
11/16 Akron
11/24 at Miami Univ.

2005 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 3-8
2005 Record: 4-7

Preview 2005 predicted wins

9/3 at Northwestern L 38-14
9/10 Pittsburgh W 16-10 OT
9/17 at Virginia Tech L 45-0
9/24 Kent State W 35-32
10/8 at Bo Green L 38-14
10/15 at Central Mich L 37-10
10/22 Ball State W 38-21
10/29 at Buffalo W 34-20
11/4 Toledo L 30-21
11/15 at Akron L 27-3
11/21 Miami Univ. L 38-7

The passing attack was abysmal forcing an open audition for the starting job this year even though Austen Everson started every game last season. There was no pass rush from the defensive line, and the secondary was horrible despite getting decent years from the safeties and having two good corners in Dion Byrum and T.J. Wright. Worse yet, there appears to still be a long way to go with all seven of last year's losses coming by nine points or more. In other words, outside of the tremendous upset over Pitt and the wins over the dregs like Kent State, Ball State and Buffalo, Ohio wasn't even close.

This isn't a good enough team to challenge for the MAC East title, but there should be plenty of improvement with 20 returning starters, a great running game led by all-star back Kalvin McRae, and one of the MAC's better linebacking corps.

A winning record would be a great second season for Solich to show that things are pointed in the right direction with an eye one big 2007 when the team will be even more loaded with experience.

The Schedule: It's harsh early on with three straight road games including the MAC opener against Northern Illinois. Three of the four conference home dates aren't going to be walks in the park with Buffalo the only win the team can probably count on. The Bobcats probably don't have the firepower to hang with Bowling Green, Western Michigan or Akron, so there will have to be some road upsets along the way. That could be tough with three road games in the final four dates.

Best Offensive Player: Junior RB Kalvin McRae. He isn't going to make many highlight reels, but he's a hard-nosed back who always gets the tough yards and is the workhorse for the attack. If the passing game improves to take some of the pressure off him, he has the potential to be a 1,500-yard back.

Best Defensive Player: Senior LB Matt Muncy. He's not going to win MAC Defensive Player of the Year honors in a league with Central Michigan DE Dan Bazuin, but he should be the best linebacker in the conference. He can do everything from stop the run to rush the passer to make plays in pass coverage.

Key player to a successful season: Senior QB Austen Everson. Or junior Brad Bower, or sophomore Brandon Jones, or redshirt freshman Josh Febus. Ohio doesn't have to challenge Hawaii and Texas Tech for the national passing crown, but it does have to complete more passes and has to be far more efficient.

The season will be a success if ... The Bobcats win six games. That's a much, much bigger goal than it might seem with a team that returns so much experience after a four-win campaign. The overall talent level still isn't there compared to the better MAC teams, and the schedule is a bear for a program trying to quickly rise up.

Key game: Sept. 30 vs. Bowling Green. It'll be the first home game after three straight road dates and the first game of the year against a MAC East team. Ohio has to take advantage of every home game it has, especially against division foes.

2005 Fun Stats: 
- Average yards per pass: Opponents 8.1 - Ohio 4.9
- Fourth down conversions: Opponents 53% (10-19) - Ohio 0% (0-5)
- Second half scoring: Opponents 167 - Ohio 59

The Last Time Ohio…
…played in a bowl game…1968 (Tangerine Bowl vs. Richmond)
…missed a bowl game…2005
…pitched a shutout…2004 (Buffalo)
…was shutout…2005 (Virginia Tech)
…scored 50 points…2002 (Kent)
…went undefeated…1960
…won a conference title…1968 (MAC)
…had a 3,000-yard passer…Never
…had a 1,000-yard rusher…2005 (Kalvin McRae)
…had a 1,000-yard receiver…Never
…had a first-round draft choice…1936 (T Art Lewis)


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

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