2008 CFN Ohio Preview
Ohio LB Michael Brown
Ohio LB Michael Brown
Posted May 9, 2008

CollegeFootballNews.com 2008 Preview - Ohio Bobcats

Ohio Bobcats

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Learn more about Ohio's first opponent  2008 CFN Wyoming Preview

By Pete Fiutak

- 2008 Ohio Preview | 2008 Ohio Offense
- 2008 Ohio Defense | 2008 Depth Chart
2007 CFN Ohio Preview
| 2006 CFN Ohio Preview 

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 potential greatness.

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
Lettermen Returning
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.

2008 Schedule
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. 8 Bowling Green
Nov. 22 Akron
Nov. 28 at Miami Univ.

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 7-5
2007 Record: 6-6

Sept. 1 Gard.-Webb W 36-14
Sept. 8 at UL Laf. W 31-23
Sept. 15 at Va Tech L 28-7
Sept. 22
Wyoming L 34-33
Sept. 29 Kent State L 33-25
Oct. 6 at Buffalo L 31-10
Oct. 13 Eastern Mich W 48-42
Oct. 20 at Toledo L 43-40
Oct. 27
at Bo. Green W 38-27
Nov. 2 Temple W 23-7
Nov. 7 at Akron L 48-37
Nov. 24
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 season.

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 successful season: 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 success if ... 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 MAC race.

Key game: 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