2008 Ohio Offense
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It's not a bad thing to have high expectations. When a 6-6 season is
seen as a disappointment, that only means the bar has been set high for
This hasn't always been Ohio football. There was a five-year stretch
from 2001 to 2005 without a winning season and only two winning
campaigns from 1983 to 2006. This has almost always been a MAC also-ran,
and it was almost always a sure-thing win for just about everyone on the
schedule. Frank Solich changed all that.
Head coach: Frank Solich
4th year: 19-18
10th year overall: 77-37
Off. 32, Def. 35, ST 1
Lettermen Lost: 23
Ten Best Bobcat Players
1. TE Andrew Mooney, Sr.
2. CB Mark Parson, Sr.
3. TE David Carter, Sr.
4. DE Jameson Hartke, Sr.
5. CB Julian Posey, Soph.
6. QB Boo Jackson, Jr.
7. LB Michael Brown, Sr.
8. RB Chris Garrett, Jr.
9. QB Theo Scott, Jr.
10. SS Michael Mitchell, Sr.
CFN Prediction: 5-7
2008 Record: 0-0
Aug. 30 at Wyoming
Sept. 6 at Ohio State
Sept. 13 Central Michigan
Sept. 20 at Northwestern
Sept. 27 VMI
Oct. 4 at Western Michigan
Oct. 11 at Kent State
Oct. 21 at Temple
Oct. 28 Buffalo
Nov. 1 OPEN DATE
Nov. 8 Bowling Green
Nov. 15 OPEN DATE
Nov. 22 Akron
Nov. 28 at Miami Univ.
CFN Prediction: 7-5
2007 Record: 6-6
at UL Laf.
Sept. 15 at Va Tech L 28-7
Wyoming L 34-33
Oct. 20 at Toledo L 43-40
at Bo. Green
Nov. 7 at Akron L 48-37
Miami Univ. W 38-29
Cast out by Nebraska
a few seasons ago, now Solich has built up a rock-solid mid-level
program with a good talent foundation to work around and a good system.
There are flaws from a lack of a passing game a few years ago, to too
much of a reliance on Kalvin McRae and the running game, to an
inconsistent defense in his three years.
But even so, he has done a great job of keeping the team together, like
last year after an ugly 3-5 start to rally with three wins in the final
four games. The Bobcats found a way, after a rough start in 2006, to
keep on winning all the way to the MAC title game. Solich's teams run
the ball, don't turn it over, and try to take advantage of every
opportunity. This year's team will have to do the same.
The offense became more balanced last season, and while there might be
more of a reliance on the running game again, the passing attack, with
quarterbacks Theo Scott and Boo Jackson, should be ultra-efficient.
McRae might not be around anymore, but a foursome of quick speed backs
should add more pop to the ground game.
The defense suffered a setback last year, and it couldn't do much of
anything against running quarterbacks and spread offenses, but it should
be better with seven returning starters, good depth, and a few players,
like end-turned-tackle Ernie Hodge, coming back after being out last
So is Ohio a
threat to play for the MAC title for the second time in three seasons?
It'll certainly be among the East favorites, and the expectations will
be there for nothing less than a winning season and a bowl appearance.
High hopes aren't a negative.
What to watch for on offense:
A different style of running. Solich's offenses have always been about
powering the ball and getting the running game going, and not the
I-formation will give way to more and more spread looks to get the
mobile quarterbacks moving. Without McRae, and with four backs who come
in around 5-10 and 180 pounds, the idea will be to get the speedy
players the ball in space.
What to watch for on defense: More from the linebackers. The line
wasn't awful last season and the secondary was good, and will now be
terrific, but the Bobcats won't have a chance to win the East title
without a strong season from a relatively deep linebacking corps. There
aren't any stars, outside of possibly senior Michael Brown, but there
are several decent prospects and good options to play around with. Now
that they know what they're doing, they'll be better.
The team will be far better if … it shows up in the second
half. Ohio outscored teams 164 to 141 in the first halves of games.
Things changed after halftimes. The Bobcats were outscored 96 to 86 in
the third quarters, and 122 to 116 in the fourth. While the offense did
a good job of keeping up the pace, that was out of necessity as the
attack had to get out of its game plan. With more depth and more
experience, the defense should be stronger as games go on. It has to be.
The Schedule: It's a strange schedule with a three-game October road trip to Western
Michigan, Kent State and Temple wrapped around VMI and Buffalo. Getting
through the first chunk of the season will be tough with six road games
in the first eight. Two off weeks in November will be a huge help
wrapped around a key date against Bowling Green, but playing Central
Michigan and at Western Michigan from the West is as tough as it gets.
The non-conference slate isn't too nasty considering two of the road
dates are at Northwestern and Wyoming, but the Ohio State game won't
help the team's confidence.
Best Offensive Player:
Senior TE Andrew Mooney. Combined with fellow tight end David
Carter, Mooney gives the Ohio offense a dangerous threat in the red zone
and on third downs. While the 6-3, 233-pound senior isn't necessarily
built like a big wide receivers, that's what he is as a field stretcher
with terrific hands.
Best Defensive Player:
Senior CB Mark Parson. There are other Bobcats who'll have big
seasons, like DE Jameson Hartke, DT Ernie Hodge, and CB Julian Posey,
Parson is the type of shutdown, excellent tackling
cover man who'll grow into a MAC star and a decent NFL prospect. He's
the one the secondary will work around.
Key player to a
Sophomore DT Ernie Hodge. After missing all of last year with a few
major off-the-field issues, Hodge will move from end to tackle to
provide more of an interior pass rush and an active playmaker in place
of Landon Cohen. If Ohio is going to be better against spread teams,
Hodge has to wreak havoc into the backfield and stop big plays before
they start. He'll be the key to an improved run defense.
The season will be a
... Ohio pulls off a second winning season in three years. The Bobcats
might not be as good as Miami University, and there are several other
good options in the East, but there's enough talent, depth, and
experience to pull off at least seven wins and be a major player in the
Sept. 13 vs. Central Michigan. It'll be a rematch of the 2006 MAC
Championship game with huge consequences for each team. For Ohio, a win
over the two-time defending MAC champion would do wonders for the team's
confidence and would quickly jack up the expectations for the season. A
win would make the Bobcats the East favorites.
2007 Fun Stats:
- Kick return average: Ohio 25.1 yards – Opponents 21.1 yards
- Opponent 4th quarter scoring: 122 – Opponent 1st
quarter scoring: 66
- Punt return average: Ohio 4.3 – Opponents 4.2