2009 Ohio Preview - Offense
Ohio WR Taylor Price
Ohio WR Taylor Price
Posted Jun 23, 2009

CollegeFootballNews.com 2009 Preview - Ohio Bobcat Offense

Ohio Bobcats

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9 - Offense

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What you need to know: It all depends on the health of the offensive line. Since Frank Solich took over, Ohio likes to rely on the running game, but with a line that has no depth whatsoever, the attack could be more about finesse with an excellent quarterback pair in Boo Jackson and Theo Scott able to make the passing game fly. Receivers Taylor Price and LaVon Brazill are good veterans who'll keep the offense moving, while the small, quick backs, led by Chris Garrett and Donte Harden, can make things happen through the passing game as well as when they run the ball. One of the keys will be turnovers after giving it away a MAC-high 32 times. The offense will be better, but it's not good enough to afford a slew of mistakes.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Boo Jackson
185-306, 2,355 yds, 19 TD, 12 INT
Rushing: Chris Garrett
117 carries, 529 yds, 5 TD
Receiving: Taylor Price
51 catches, 694 yds, 5 TD

Star of the offense: Senior QB Boo Jackson
Player who has to step up and become a star: Senior OT Chris Rodgers
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore WR Riley Dunlop
Best pro prospect: Senior RB Chris Garrett (as a kick returner)
Top three all-star candidates: 1) WR Taylor Price, 2) Jackson, 3) RB Donte Harden
Strength of the offense: Quarterback, Quick Running Backs
Weakness of the offense: Offensive
Line Depth, Turnovers


Projected Starter
Senior Boo Jackson (real first name Franshaw) was a star JUCO transfer who came in and took over early on and had a nice year completing 61% of his throws for 2,355 yards and 19 touchdowns with 12 picks. The 6-1, 199-pounder has great mobility, rushing for 333 yards and two scores, and a big-time arm. While he had a hard time leading the team to wins, he was able to keep pace in shootouts with 365 yards and three scores against Central Michigan and eight touchdown passes in his final two games of the year. He'll have to battle to keep the starting job, but he has the tools and the skills, and he improved as the season went on. 

Projected Top Reserve: Senior Theo Scott is being given every chance to win the starting job. He was the starter in the first two games of last year, but struggled early on, broke his collarbone against Ohio State, and Boo Jackson took over. At 6-2 and 209 pounds, Scott is a bigger option than Jackson and has the same type of arm, but he's not as mobile. He threw for 247 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions in his little time last year, and he provided a nice boost for the offense two years ago with 743 yards and five scores with three picks.

Sophomore Brian Sweeney is a 6-2, 200-pound passer with good athleticism. He didn't get any time on the field last year, but he'll be the No. 1 option going into next year with good upside to fit what the coaching staff wants to do.

Watch Out For ... rotating quarterbacks. Frank Solich has never been afraid to change things up when needed, and he has two players in Scott and Jackson who can each play. He'll go with the hot hand.
Dual-threat ability. Both Scott and Jackson have big arms and each can run extremely well. These are efficient, talented playmakers who can each get the offense moving.
: 2010. There will have to be some time devoted to getting Sweeney and/or Miles Schlichter some meaningful playing time so next year won't be a total start-from-scratch scenario. That might be hard considering both Scott and Jackson will play.
Outlook: The quarterbacks will be throwing more than before with more of an emphasis being put on the passing game. Jackson is likely the better of the two options, but there's a razor-thin margin between him and Scott. This will be an efficient pair of quarterbacks who'll each be able to carry the offense at times.
Rating: 6.5

Running Backs

Projected Starters
Combining with Chris Garrett for the starting job will be sophomore Donte Harden, a flash of lighting averaging 5.2 yards per carry in his seven games of work, rushing for 454 yards and two scores with a 142-yard day against VMI and 115 yards against Kent State before being lost for the year with a torn labrum. At 5-11 and 174 pounds he's not going to pound over anyone, but he's tremendous when he's on the move with a 43-yard touchdown catch against Central Michigan and a 41 yarder against Western Michigan.

Projected Top Reserves: Former receiver Chris Garrett is a former slot receiver who turned into the team's top running back with 529 yards and five touchdowns. Most of the production came in the season finale with 222 yards and two scores in the win over Miami University, but he was steady when he got his time averaging 4.5 yards per carry even though he had an ankle problem. He was also the team's fourth leading receiver with 24 catches for 290 yards and two touchdowns and was a special kickoff returner averaging 26.9 yards per try. Only 5-8 and 190 pounds, he's tough for his size and is tremendously quick.

5-11, 186-pound junior Vince Davidson was a tremendous high school back rushing for 3,300 yards, but he hasn't been able to come up with much yet for the Bobcats rushing for 47 yards two years ago and 170 yards last years. He got one start against Bowling Green and ran for 66 yards, and he could do far more if he got time and if he was healthy after having turf toe problems all year. Extremely fast, he'll be in the mix for a few carries a game   

Former JUCO transfer L.J. Flintall fits the Ohio mold of running back at a quick 5-10 and 191 pounds, but the senior was lost in the shuffle last year with just 14 yards on four carries. He has the skills to see a few carries a game, but he won't be the featured back unless disaster strikes.

When the offense uses a fullback and that's not always going to be the case, senior Mitch Morsillo will step in used exclusively as a blocker. The 6-1, 247-pounder won't get any carries, but he's a hard-nosed hitter who'll be needed more than ever considering the issues on the offensive front. He has the hands to be used as a receiver if he has to.  

Watch Out For ... even more of a rotation. Health has been a big problem for Ohio backs with a slew of nicks and bruises, but nothing too major, that killed any consistency. Harden and Garrett will get equal work with Davidson getting more carries.
Quickness. The Ohio backs can move. They can all cut on a dime, they can all be used as receivers, and they can all take the ball the distance any time they have the ball in their hands.
Power. That's not what the Bobcat backs are about. There won't be any real pounding ability on short yard situations and no one will be able to power over anyone, but the backs are tough for their size.
Outlook: There might be a little bit less of an emphasis on the running game with the issues on the offensive front, but the backs will be effective when they get their chances. The backs will all get a few catches and they'll all get their shots to make plays, but there's no power whatsoever and health might be an issue after so many problems last year.
Rating: 5.5


Projected Starters
Ohio needed a No. 1 receiver to step on and shine and senior Taylor Price came through catching 51 passes for 694 yards and five touchdowns averaging 13.6 yards per grab. The 6-1, 209-pound speedster on the outside X position has a leg problem, but he's expected to be fine for the start of the year and he should be an occasional game-breaker. The problem is his consistency. He started out the year with 14 catches for 139 yards against Wyoming, and he caught eight passes for 100 yards and three scores in the shootout win over Akron.

5-11, 185-pound junior LaVon Brazill was a strong running mate to Price making 34 catches for 384 yards and a score, highlighted by a nine-catch, 79-yard day against Northwestern. Now he's expected to get a lot more work his way with tremendous speed after the catch, even if he didn't show it off too often throughout last year, and he's a tough target on the inside Z position. He's a surprisingly good blocker for his size.

Excellent pass-catching tight end Andrew Mooney is gone, but Jordan Thompson appears to be a nice fill-in after a strong offseason. The 6-4, 249-pound redshirt freshman has great hands and is a fantastic athlete, and while he might not be a big-time blocker, he should be the team's No. 3 receiver and a key target on third downs. 

Projected Top Reserves: Sophomore Riley Dunlop came through with a nice first season making 22 catches for 278 yards and a score averaging 12.6 yards per catch. He showed even more upside this offseason and proved he could be used as a top option in three-wide formats and will be a nice backup behind Brazill on the Z. At 6-2 and 184 pounds he has good size and excellent quickness.

6-4, 199-pound junior Terrence McCrae has the size and the speed to be a matchup nightmare on the outside, but he hasn't seen too many passes his way so far with 14 catches for 125 yards and a score catching a few passes here and there. He'll play a big role in three and four-wide sets and will work behind Taylor Price on the X.

Combining forces with Dunlop in the backup role on the Z will be Steven Goulet, a 6-2, 190-pound junior who caught ten passes for 189 yards and a score highlighted by a 37-yard scoring play against VMI. The former Vanderbilt Commodore has nice size and excellent quickness, and now he'll be more involved.

Watch Out For ... Brazill and Price to blossom. They were solid last year and will be counted on even more this season. This won't be the best 1-2 receiving punch in the MAC, but it'll be good enough to keep up in most shootouts.
Veteran targets. Price and Brazill started throughout last year while McCrae has a start under his belt. The top five receivers have seen just enough time to be counted on to make the offense more explosive.
Tight end. Andrew Mooney was an integral part of the passing game, and while Thompson is expected to be a good one, he's the starter partly by default. Injuries and a lack of options are the problem at a position that the coaching staff likes to use in a variety of ways.
Outlook: The passing game will have to shine brighter this year with good quarterbacks to get the ball to a nice group of targets. Brazill and Price are solid and McCrae, Dunlop, and Goulet are good options to allow the coaching staff to open things up a bit.
Rating: 5.5

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters
The biggest hole to fill on the line is at left tackle where All-MAC performer Josh Lueck is gone. In will step Chris Rodgers, a 6-5, 285-pound senior who started most of last year on the right side. An athletic blocker who's good on the move, he's a former tight end who should be able to slide into the left tackle spot and hold his own. He has long arms that keeps pass rushers at bay.

Rodgers was banged up over the second half of last year, and junior Colt Bunner was able to step in and produce at right tackle. The 6-5, 321-pounder is more of a blaster for the ground game than Rodgers is, but he's not the same pass protector. Great in practices ever since he came to the program, he should be a steady starter for the next few years.

Taking over at right guard for Mike Eynon will be Gary Schussler ... maybe. The 6-3, 287-pound senior had problems throughout last year with his ankle. This year he has a foot injury and is iffy for the start of the season. The senior was only able to play in five games last season, and while he has good toughness and isn't bad on the move, he has to get healthy.

The anchor of the line will be David White, a 6-1, 294-pound senior  who started the first five games of last year in the middle before spending the last few games at guard. At 6-1 and 294 pounds he's a short, squatty blocker who gets good leverage and is insanely strong. Great for the running game, he should settle in and spend the entire year at center even though he's versatile enough to play either guard spot.

6-4, 300-pound senior Michael Philibin started for most of last year at right guard and should be one of the team's best run blockers. With his size and experience, he should be one of the key factors up front as long as he can stay healthy. Out for a few games last year, he's needed up front for his size and his toughness.

Projected Top Reserves: Redshirt freshman Vince Carlotta might play a huge role sooner than expected. With Gary Schussler's foot injury, the 6-4, 270-pounder could step in right away and star at left guard and will be asked to be a key part of the puzzle early on. He's not huge, but he's a mobile blocker for the interior and should be fine on the move.

6-4, 291-pound sophomore Joe Flading has beefed up big-time since joining the team and he should be ready to step in at right tackle if needed. He only saw a wee bit of time in three games last year, but that makes him the dean among the backups. He's a smart blocker who needs to prove he can be steady in pass protection.

Watch Out For ... the left guard situation. If Schussler's foot isn't okay, it's uh-oh time. While the line was fine without him for most of last year, if he's not ready to go, the depth goes from barren to completely non-existent.
The starting five. If everyone is healthy and if everyone can play, the Bobcats have a nice starting five that should do a little of everything well. There's plenty of experience, good athleticism for the overall size, and enough talent to be a plus for the offense. However ...
Depth. There isn't any. It'll be up to a bunch of unknowns and redshirt freshmen to provide any sort of backup plan and rotation. It's going to take a while to find the right combination among the reserves.
Outlook: The line wasn't great last year, but it was good enough to get by. This year's line should be far better with most of the key parts returning to the starting five, but there's no room whatsoever for any sort of an injury issue. If the starters are healthy, the offense can run normally, but more likely than not, the concerns up front will mean more of an emphasis on the passing game.
Rating: 5