2009 CFN Ohio Preview
Ohio QB Theo Scott & C David Young
Ohio QB Theo Scott & C David Young
Posted Jun 23, 2009

CollegeFootballNews.com 2009 Preview - Ohio Bobcats

Ohio Bobcats

Preview 2009

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By Pete Fiutak

- 2009 Ohio Preview | 2009 Ohio Offense
- 2009 Ohio Defense | 2009 Depth Chart
- 2008 Ohio Preview |
2007 Ohio Preview
| 2006 Ohio Preview 
Head coach: Frank Solich
5th year: 23-26
11th year overall: 81-45
Ten Best Bobcat Players
1. LB Noah Keller, Jr.
2. LB Lee Renfro, Sr.
3. QB Boo Jackson, Sr.
4. RB Donte Harden, Soph.
5. RB/KR Chris Garrett, Sr.
6. QB Theo Scott, Sr.
7. FS Steven Jackson, Sr.
8. WR Taylor Price, Sr.
9. CB Thad Turner, Sr.
10. C David White, Sr. 

2009 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 5-7
2009 Record: 0-0

9/5 Connecticut
9/12 at North Texas
9/19 Cal Poly
9/26 at Tennessee
10/3 at Bowling Green
10/10 at Akron
10/17 Miami Univ.
10/24 Kent State
10/31 at Ball State
11/10 at Buffalo
11/21 Northern Illinois
11/27 Temple

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 5-7
2008 Record: 4-8

Aug. 30 at Wyoming L 21-20
Sept. 6 at Ohio State L 26-14
Sept. 13 Central Mich L 31-28
Sept. 20 at Northwestern L 16-8
Sept. 27 VMI W 51-31
Oct. 4 at Western Mich L 41-20
Oct. 11 at Kent State W 26-19
Oct. 21 at Temple L 14-10
Oct. 28 Buffalo L 32-19
Nov. 8 Bowling Green L 28-3
Nov. 22 Akron W 49-42
Nov. 28 at Miami Univ. W 41-26

It's all there for a MAC title, or at least an East championship.

After a strange and tremendously disappointing season. Ohio managed to go 4-8 with a not-that-bad team, and while there were several close calls that should've gone the Bobcats' way, including a 26-14 loss to Ohio State that was even closer than the final score, it took shootouts just to get three of the four victories.

Known as a pounding running team with Kalvin McRae carrying the entire program a few years ago, Ohio morphed a bit last year and balanced things out, skewing more towards the passing game. Now, with an improved defense, a good receiving corps, a slew of ultra-quick pass-catching backs, and two nice quarterbacks in Boo Jackson and Theo Scott, this might be Air Bobcat.

No, no Frank Solich-coached team is ever going to be Texas Tech, but with no depth on the offensive line, and barely enough players to field a proper front five, the power running game will go bye-bye. Not having a McRae-like back to handle the workload is also part of it, but the coaching staff will go with the strength and will start moving the ball through the air more with a shot at the East crown there for the taking.

The defensive back seven will be among the best in the MAC, the return game is special, and the problem areas, like the lack of a pass rush and the need for live bodies on the O line, aren't that big a deal. So now the pressure is on, relative to what pressure there is in Athens, Ohio. The East is the far, far easier of the two division, and as Buffalo showed last year, if you can just get your foot in the door, you have a shot.

But the team needs to do a far better job of holding on to the ball and the D has to force more errors. The offense has to be consistent and not play up or down to its competition. Most of all Ohio has to get used to winning again.

Along with a should've-been-a-win over Ohio State, the Bobcats should've beaten Wyoming, Central Michigan, and Temple. An experienced team would've pulled those games out of the fire, well, maybe not the Ohio State game, but it would've won enough to come up with a winning season. Considering Ohio was 4-8 last year, getting to 7-5 might seem like a nice boost. But not in the East. Ohio has to win the division. It's good enough to get the job done.

What to watch for on offense: More passing. While there are several quick backs who can crank out yards in chunks and can hit the home run from anywhere on the field, there could be major problems on the line as the season goes on. The strength of the attack will be the passing game with quarterbacks Boo Jackson and Theo Scott each able to throw better than most of the recent Bobcat passers and a receiving tandem of Taylor Price and LaVon Brazill that's good enough to revolve the offense around. Ohio won't go into a full-blown spread mode, but it won't be far off.

What to watch for on defense: A search for a pass rusher. The back seven should be excellent, with good veterans and sound talent across the board. The defensive front is fine, and there's good size, but someone needs to be able to get into the backfield on a regular basis. There isn't a scary-good pass rusher who'll throw a scare into anyone, which means the linebacking corps might have to be more active and more daring when it comes to being disruptive.

The team will be far better if … the turnover battle swings Ohio's way. For a team that battled in so many close games, the poor turnover margin was a problem. The Bobcats lost 17 fumbles and threw 14 interceptions and only forced 19 turnovers. Ohio was 110th in the nation in turnover margin and has to be far, far more secure with the ball to have any hope of a winning season.

The Schedule: It's not bad missing Western Michigan and Central Michigan from the West, while the two interdivision games aren't awful going to Ball State, who isn't the same as last year, and getting a strong Northern Illinois at home. On the down side, the Bobcats have to go to Buffalo, Bowling Green, and Akron, and they have to win at least one of those to have any real hope of winning the East. The non-conference schedule isn't awful with Cal Poly, a great FCS team last year that's now in a bit of a rebuilding phases, to go along with a trip to North Texas. Ohio should battle with Connecticut, but it'll have huge problems at Tennessee. The first half of the season is the rough part with four road games in five after the UConn game, but four of the last six games are at home.

Best Offensive Player: Senior QB Boo Jackson ... or senior QB Theo Scott. Scott was the starter going into last year before suffering a season-ending injury against Ohio State. Jackson stepped in and was terrific, getting better and better as the season went on. The two passers have big arms, can move, and can lead the offense to big things, and there might end up being a rotation to find who the hot hand is on a game-by-game basis. Either one can get the job done.

Best Defensive Player: Junior LB Noah Keller. The team's leading returning tackler isn't just a big hitter and he isn't just good at both getting into the backfield and in pass coverage, he's also the one linebacker-sized linebacker in the group. Ohio's linebacking corps will be great, but it's full of safety-sized players all around 210 pounds, Keller is a 236-pound rock in the middle of it all.

Key player to a successful season: Junior DT Ernie Hodge. He was also the key player to a successful season last year, and he came up with a decent year, but not the one needed. He made 18 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss, having problems staying healthy. Now that Jameson Hartke is gone, Hodge has to be the star on the interior and he has to prove he has grown into the type of defender the rest of the defensive front can work around. If he's great, the D could turn out to be the best in the MAC.

The season will be a success if ... Ohio wins the East. If Buffalo can do it last year, then the Bobcats can pull it off this season. There's enough experience on both sides of the ball and enough overall talent to do just enough to win the division and go to the MAC title game for the second time in four years. This is probably the fourth best team in the league, behind Central Michigan, Western Michigan, and Northern Illinois, but those three teams are in the West.

Key game: Nov. 10 at Buffalo. Ohio might not have to beat the defending MAC champions to win the East, but it wouldn't hurt. This is the last road game of the season with home dates against Northern Illinois and Temple to finish things up. Not only is the final away game, but the Bobcats get 11 days off before facing the Huskies.

2008 Fun Stats: 
- Kick return average: Ohio 23.6 yards – Opponents 17.3 yards
- Penalties: Ohio 79 for 708 yards - Opponents 56 for 477 yards
- Rushing touchdowns: Opponents 22 - Ohio 9

- 2009 Ohio Preview | 2009 Ohio Offense
- 2009 Ohio Defense | 2009 Depth Chart
- 2008 Ohio Preview |
2007 Ohio Preview
| 2006 Ohio Preview