Preview 2017: Ohio Bobcats
Previewing and looking ahead at the Ohio Bobcats season – and what you need to know.
What You Need To Know About The Ohio Offense
There isn’t going to be much of anything changed about the offense. Offensive coordinator Tim Albion will shoot for a balanced attack again, will try to grind down games and control the clock, and will try relying on the defense in key spots.
It’s not an ultra-conservative attack, but there’s nothing wow about it – but it’s still effective.
The first step is finding the right quarterback to count on week-in-and-week-out. Quinton Maxwell has the experience and should be ready to make the offense his, but JUCO transfer Nathan Rourke will provide a push.
The backfield is solid with a good group of veteran, versatile backs, and while leading receiver Sebastian Smith is done, the young corps should be fine – eventually. A No. 1 target has to emerge, but there are options.
The line loses two starters, but C Jake Pruehs is one of the league’s top interior blockers and there’s decent size everywhere else.
Biggest Key To The Ohio Offense
The scoring pop has to be there every week. The Ohio offense almost never explodes – the 368 points scored last year were the most for a season since 2012 – but it can’t be so erratically mediocre. It has to produce every time in the red zone – there were too many missed opportunities – and there have to be more points, period. The Bobcats scored fewer than 24 points eight times in the final 12 games.
What You Need To Know About The Ohio Defense
Overall, the defense turned in a great season. No one other than Texas State in the opener put up more than 29 points, and it took three overtimes – and a total Bobcat meltdown – to do it.
The run defense finished fifth in the nation, but that’s partly because the secondary was giving up yards in chunks. Three starting defensive backs return – only losing S Toran Davis – to a group that made up for the 25 touchdown passes and over 200 yards per game allowed with 15 picks.
It also helped that the rest of the D put up 44 sacks.
Top pass rusher Tarell Basham is gone along with three starters up front. But as long as the line is okay, everything else should be fine with Quentin Poling in a strong linebacking corps to go along with the veteran secondary.
Biggest Key To The Ohio Defense
The secondary has to avoid giving up so many mid-to-deep plays. Again, it did its part to pick off passes, but it also allowed 200 yards or more 11 times and was hammered for over 400 twice. The secondary gave up around 800 more yards than it did in 2015 and almost a full yard more per pass. There aren’t a whole lot of top passers on the schedule, but Purdue comes up early on.
Ohio Will Be Far Better If …
It converts more third down chances. For a team that lives on ball control and time of possession – at least at times – moving the chains on a regular basis is everything. The offense converted more than 40% of its third down tries two years ago, but last season the attack was hit-or-miss, converting a mediocre 38% of the time, and not often enough in some of the bigger games to take control. Get back up over the 40% mark, and the O will crank up the time of possession.
Best Ohio Offensive Player
RB Dorian Brown, Sr. – The team’s leading rusher, the 5-11, 207-pounder came up with just 825 yards and four scores, but he produced when needed with 212 yards in the win over Toledo and with 100-yard games against Kansas and Kent State.
Banged up a bit early on, he was in a good rotation with Maleek Irons and Paps White, and will be again. If he’s running well, though, and busting out a few big plays here and there, he’ll be the steadying force for the O.
2. C Jake Pruehs, Sr.
3. PK Louie Zervos, Soph.
4. QB Quinton Maxwell, Soph.
5. RB Papi White, Jr.
Best Ohio Defensive Player
LB Quentin Poling, Sr. – The team’s leading returning tackler, the 6-0, 235-pound veteran came up with 109 tackles with four sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss. Great at shooting into the backfield and solid in pass coverage, he can do a little bit of everything.
But that’s nothing new – he’s been doing it all for his entire career. Steady, he came up wth 14 tackles against Tennessee and 11 against Toledo, but he came through every week in the middle.
2. S Javon Hagan, Soph.
3. P Michael Farkas, Soph.
4. LB Chad Moore, Sr.
5. NT Cleon Aloese, Sr.
Key Player To A Successful Season
QB Quinton Maxwell, Soph. Or Nathan Rourke, to help crank up the passing game that was fine last year throwing for 224 yards, but wasn’t efficient. The 6-2, 210-pound Rourke comes in from the JUCO ranks and looks strong at times this spring, but the 6-3, 223-pound Maxwell should be the guy – if this all works out like it’s supposed to.
He’s a big, strong passer who threw for 1,247 yards and eight touchdowns with four picks, and ran for 193 yards and a score in a rotation with Greg Windham. Pushed aside late in the season, he has to start moving the chains more and push the ball down the field more. Whichever quarterback can provide the spark will get the time.
The Ohio Season Will Be A Success If …
Ohio finally wins the MAC title. Since the creation of the MAC Championship, Ohio has been a four-time bridesmaid since first getting into the title game in 2006. With a favorable schedule with no Western Michigan or Northern Illinois from the West, but there is a date against Toledo to deal with. That shouldn’t matter – win the key games against the East, get back to the MAC title game, and finally win it. To do that, it might take a victory over …
Key Game To The Ohio Season
Oct. 14 at Bowling Green – The Falcons should be far better after a clunker of a season, and now they’ll give the Bobcats their toughest road game of the MAC season. It’s also the lone away date in a five-game stretch. Win this, and take down Miami University a few years later, and the East could and should be relatively set.
2016 Ohio Fun Stats
– Sacks: Ohio 44 for 304 yards – Opponents 19 for 119 yards
– Penalties: Opponents 91 for 886 yards – Ohio 79 for 752 yards
– Field Goals: Ohio 29-of-35 – Opponents 17-of-23