2010 Ohio Preview – Offense

Posted Aug 6, 2010

CollegeFootballNews.com 2010 Preview - Ohio Bobcat Offense

Ohio Bobcats

Preview 2010 - Offense

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What You Need To Know: Ohio was able to get to the MAC title game last season with an offense that finished tenth in the league and 106th in the nation, and now the attack should be far more explosive. It all starts at quarterback where Boo Jackson is back after missing most of last year with a shoulder injury, while Iowa State transfer Phil Bates is explosive enough to take over the job, or at least be a part of a rotation. USC transfer Kenny Ashley will add some pop to a running game that was woefully mediocre last year, but the strong receiving corps, led by LaVon Brazill and Terrence McCrae, can't be ignored. The line will be serviceable with three returning starters and plenty of promise, but it's not going to barrel over anyone and will be mediocre in pass protection.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Boo Jackson
17-30, 194 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Vince Davidson
67 carries, 260 yds, 1 TD
Receiving: LaVon Brazill
53 catches, 702 yards, 6 TD

Star of the offense: Senior QB Boo Jackson and/or junior QB Phil Bates
Player who has to step up and be a star: Junior OT/OG A.J. Strum
Unsung star on the rise: Junior RB Kenny Ashley
Best pro prospect: Senior WR LaVon Brazill (as a punt returner)
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Brazill, 2) WR Terrence McCrae, 3) Ashley
Strength of the offense: Receivers, Quarterback
Weakness of the offense: Run Blocking, Pass Protection


Projected Starter: While he'll be pushed hard for the job, senior Boo Jackson is the leader and the star of the show when he's healthy. That's a problem after missing all offseason recovering from a shoulder surgery, but on the plus side, he was hurt so early last year that he was given an extra year of eligibility. The 6-1, 202-pound veteran is a good runner, but not an elite one, and is an improved passer completing 17-of-30 passes for 194 yards and a touchdown before getting hurt. Boo (real name Franshaw) has a live arm and he's used to being a part of a quarterback controversy and rotation, but he has to come back roaring this fall to take the job.

Projected Top Reserves: Boo Jackson might be the proven veteran, but Iowa State transfer Phil Bates is the freak of nature who could become one of the MAC's most dangerous weapons. Not only does he have 6-2, 223-pound size, but he's a deadly runner averaging 6.9 yards per carry and a good enough passer to get by. He needs to be more consistent and far more accurate, but he's the type of playmaker who'll be tough to get off the field. Used as a receiver at times at Iowa State after Austen Arnaud took the starting job by the horns, he could end up being moved around just to get in the offense.

Sophomore Tyler Tettleton wasn't expected to be a part of the quarterback equation as a true freshman, but he got his feet wet seeing a little bit of time over the second half of the season completing just 9-of-23 passes for 128 yards and two interceptions. At 5-11 and 201 pounds, he's not a big bomber, but he has a live arm and is a strong runner when things break down. While he wasn't accurate last year, he seemed to settle down this spring and is in the mix for playing time.

Watch Out For … Bates. It wouldn't be shocking in any way if he adds so much to the position that Boo sits on the bench. While he's hardly polished and the passing game will struggle when he's in, he has to be on the field.
Strength: Mobility. Jackson can run and Bates can fly. Tettleton is a runner, too, but the real excitement will come when Bates breaks into the open field and when Jackson is able to get out of the pocket and make things happen on the move.
Weakness: Interception. Jackson threw 12 picks with four multi-pick games in his 11 full-time appearances in 2008. Last year, starter Theo Scott throwing 11 picks, and Tettleton, in his little bit of time, threw two interceptions.
Outlook: There could end up being a great rotation with Bates bringing the flash and Jackson utilizing the dangerous receiving corps to get the passing game going. Jackson improved his effectiveness at the end of 2008 and in the first part of last year before getting hurt, while Bates simply needs a chance to show he can shine. No matter who's under center, Ohio will have a playmaker.
Unit Rating: 6.5

Running Backs

Projected Starters: Senior Vince Davidson was the No. 2 man in the mix last year rushing for just 260 yards and a touchdown, but he has the skills to do far more. Even though he's a relatively thin 5-11 and 191 pounds, he's a physical runner who can hit the hole hard and make big things happen with excellent speed, but his wow moments have been few and far between after rushing for 3,300 yards as a top-ranked high school back.

Projected Top Reserves: JUCO transfer Kenny Ashley will be given every shot to take over the starting tailback job with tremendous talent and quickness. Originally a USC Trojan, the L.A. native ended up moving to El Camino College where he averaged close to seven yards per carry with 13 touchdowns. A high school All-American, the 5-8, 230-pounder was considered a top recruit for USC and now he should be the main man sooner than later in the Ohio backfield. He can also return kicks.

5-11, 176-pound junior Donte Harden showed excellent flashes as a freshman averaging 5.2 yards per carry with 142 yards against VMI and 115 against Kent State before being lost for the season with a torn labrum. Banged up throughout last year, he only ran for 237 yards and two touchdowns, with 121 of his yards and both scores coming against Miami, but with his flash and his potential, he'll be a key part of the rotation with the touches kept to a minimum to keep him healthy.

At 6-1 and 222 pounds, redshirt freshman Ryan Boykin will be the thumper in the equation. While he doesn't have the wiggle of Vince Davidson or Donte Harden, he's a pounding runner who ran for 1,757 yards and 18 touchdowns as a senior in high school. The Georgia native will be used as more than a change-of-pace, hard-nosed runner getting every shot at the starting job.

Watch Out For … Ashley. One of the most highly decorated high school recruits to ever hit the program, he was supposed to be a do-it-all star for the Trojans. It didn't happen, but he has the size, the shiftiness, and the bulk to work the entire offense around.
Strength: Options. Ashley is likely going to be the star, but Harden and Davidson know what they're doing with good speed and the ability to crank out big plays in chunks. There should be a terrific rotation.
Weakness: Production. The Bobcats haven't run all that well over the last few years finishing a disappointing 102nd in the nation averaging just 112 yards per game. Ashley might change all of that, but the backs haven't done nearly enough with the quarterbacks doing more to help the rushing production. Now it's time for the backfield to add more pop.
Outlook: In Ashley, Ohio has a dangerous prospect to hope for bigger year from the ground game, while Harden and Davidson are good enough to do far more. Averaging closer to five yards per carry would be nice, and getting some power from someone, especially around the goal line, would be a plus, but just producing more is a must.
Unit Rating: 5.5


Projected Starters: 5-11, 188-pound senior LaVon Brazill might not have big-time size, but he plays big and he plays fast finishing second on the team with 53 catches for 702 yards and six touchdowns. More than just a dangerous target, he's one of the nation's top punt returners averaging 13.5 yards per try. Great in the open field, the idea is to get him the ball on the move at the Z position and let him roam. For his size, he's also a physical blocker.

6-4, 198-pound senior Terrence McCrae might not have been the team's best receiver with Taylor Price taking on the biggest role, but was the team's most deadly option around the goal line with a team-leading nine touchdown catches. He dominated in the MAC title game catching seven passes for 141 yards and a score, but he was steady throughout the year. Not just a specialist, he caught 35 passes for 545 yards as the team's third leading receiver, and now he'll get a bigger chance to shine at outside X position.

Working in a combination at the F position last year, and taking over the job this season, will be Stephen Goulet, a 6-2, 200-pound senior who started out his career at Vanderbilt before coming to the Bobcats. A decent part of the rotation, he caught 21 passes for 230 yards and a score with five grabs for 65 yards against Temple, and now he should get plenty of passes his way with all the attention paid to Terrence McCrae and LaVon Brazill.

The Bobcats will use a steady rotation of tight ends with no one likely to be the absolute No. 1 guy, but sophomore Jordan Thompson might be the best of the lot. At 6-4 and 245 pounds he has nice size and excellent athleticism to go along with decent deep speed. He only caught seven passes last season for 109 yards, but he became a bigger factor as the season went on and he should be a dangerous weapon down the middle.

Projected Top Reserves: Junior Riley Dunlop got in a little work in the first half of the year before suffering a shoulder injury. Dangerous before getting hurt, he made 12 catches for 122 yards and two touchdowns scoring in the first two games of the year including a 32-yarder against North Texas. He's a nice backup, but he could start in any of the three receiver spots.

At 6-2 and 204 pounds, sophomore Bakari Bussey has excellent size to go along with enough deep speed to be used on the outside. He got his feet wet last year making three catches for 16 yards, but now he'll be a bigger part of the rotation working behind LaVon Brazill while seeing action in four-wide sets.

There could be as many as five tight end options, and the top two after Jordan Thompson will likely be juniors Nathan Caldwell and Jahan Olyaie . The 6-5, 241-pound Caldwell made two catches for 21 yards last season, while the 6-3, 224-pound Olyaie made four grabs for 67 yards and was a decent blocker for his size. They'll each see plenty of passes their way and they'll each get a shot at the starting job.

Watch Out For … McCrae. Throw the ball up in the air and let him go get it. A superior athlete who's all but unstoppable around the goal line, his job will be to exploit bad matchups and come up with big plays.
Strength: Deep plays. Even without the 14 yards per catch from Taylor Price, the Bobcats should be able to bomb away with Brazill and McCrae likely to be two of the MAC's best home run hitters. They're deadly with the ball in their hands.
Weakness: Tight end. Unless Jordan Thompson can be a weapon who makes more big plays, the tight end doesn't do nearly enough in the attack. Ever since Andrew Mooney left a few years ago, the Ohio tight ends have been generally ignored.
Outlook: As long as the quarterbacks are merely adequate, the receivers will explode. The passing game might not put up a ton of yards, but Brazill and McCrae are going to average over 13 yards per catch, and Goulet is extremely promising to do more. Price will be missed, but this will still be one of the MAC's top receiving corps.
Unit Rating: 6.5

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: Gone is Chris Rodgers at left tackle after starting every game, but junior A.J. Strum is a solid veteran having started most of last year at left guard and he'll move over. The 6-5, 290-pounder was decent for the running game, but he wasn't exactly a road grater, and now he'll have to show he can pass protect on a regular basis.

With Strum moving over, sophomore Eric Herman will take over after starting the second half of the year at right guard. The 6-4, 300-pounder is a promising prospect with great size ad nice upside as a possible anchor with a bit more work at left guard. He's the one who could potentially make the running game go.

6-4, 289-pound junior Joe Flading wasn't expected to be a top blocker, but he ended up earning Third Team All-MAC recognition at right tackle. He didn't take over until the fifth game of the year, but he was extremely steady and turned out to be a nice pass blocker. Still growing into his size and frame, he still has room to improve, but he's a smart, consistent player who can be counted on to shine on the right.

Taking over for David White in the middle is sophomore Skyler Allen, a 6-3, 277-pound sophomore who saw a little time as a true freshman. Extremely versatile, he could play anywhere across the front line, even though he doesn't have the bulk to be a steady guard. A good technical blocker, he has the potential to be the quarterback up front for the next three years.

Junior Kadre Pinder got a start at right guard against Kent State and now will get the job full-time. At 6-2 and 301 pounds, the former JUCO transfer is big, but he's still trying to figure out what he's doing after mostly working as a defensive tackle at Fort Scott CC. He's a physical hitter who should be great for the ground game after getting more time in the system.

Projected Top Reserves: 6-4, 289-pound sophomore Vince Carlotta will eventually be a starter at one of the guard spots after getting the call early on against Cal Poly and Tennessee. The highly-touted redshirt freshman has hit the weights hard over the last year, but he's still mobile for the interior and should be a key part of the left guard rotation.

Sophomore James Davis saw time in every game but one as a true freshman, and now the 6-2, 295-pounder will be one of the key reserves at right guard. A tackle prospect out of Nebraska, he's good on the move and is a mauler who can move to the outside if absolutely needed.

Watch Out For … Allen. David White was the key to the interior of the line, and while Allen might not be the same sort of player, he's extremely promising and should be great at line calls. He's not bulky, but he'll be able to hold his own.
Strength: Tackle potential. Flading is a right tackle, but he's a good one to revolve the line around, while Strum should be decent even though he's more of a guard than a pure pass blocking tackle. The backups, Ryan McGrath and Jonathan Lechner, are big and should grow into roles as the year goes on.
Weakness: Run blocking. For being a Frank Solich line, the Bobcats weren't all that physical up front for the hard yards. The pass protection was mediocre while the blocking for the ground game was woefully inconsistent. Ohio averaged just 3.4 yards per carry with 1,568 total yards.
Outlook: Ohio has been surprisingly good despite a mediocre line, and while there's nice potential at each spot, and room to grow and improve with no seniors, it might take a while before the production comes.
Unit Rating: 5

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