2009 Ohio Bobcats Football Preview
2008 Record: (4-8, 3-5)
2008 Bowl: none
Coach: Frank Solich (23-26 at Ohio, 81-45 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Tim Albin
Defensive Coordinator: Jimmy Burrow
Other Key Returnees: OT Cole Bunner, WR LaVon Brazill, CB Travis Carrie, RB Donte Harden, DT Ernie Hodge, DE Curtis Meyers, DT A.J. Oxley, G Michael Philbin, LB Lee Renfro, P Matt Schulte, CB Thad Turner, C David White
Key Losses: LB Michael Brown, G Mike Eynon, LB Chris Hall, DE Jameson Hartke, OT Josh Leuck, S Michael Mitchell, WR Andrew Mooney, CB Mark Parson, C Tommy Stuck
Turnovers were a big problem for Ohio and that is why this team finished with a 4-8 record. If the turnover margin was plus one instead of negative one, Ohio could have been 8-4 instead of 4-8. Coach Frank Solich is still a good coach and the Bobcats are an experienced team that will make a run at a Mid-American Conference East title.
If the line can hold, the offense has the potential to be very explosive. Quarterback Boo Jackson had some great games during his junior campaign and he could be in for a great season as a senior. On the year, he threw for 2,355 yards and 19 touchdowns. His interception numbers were a little high at 12, but that number should improve with a year of experience under his belt. Jackson is also a good rusher and tallied another 333 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. When Jackson is not running the ball, Chris Garrett and Donte Harden will be. Both Garrett and Harden struggled with injuries in 2008 and if they can stay healthy, the ground game could be extremely effective. However, the passing offense is what carried this team in 2008. Taylor Price and LaVon Brazill combined to catch 85 passes for 1,078 yards and six touchdowns.
The defense ranked third in the conference in total yards last season, but there are some big losses. Linebackers Michael Brown and Chris Hall were experienced players and the secondary will have to live without Michael Mitchell and shutdown corner Mark Parson. The Bobcats do get a majority of their starters back, but this is a group that only forced 19 turnovers on the year. If the offense plans to turn the ball over a lot once again, the defense has to step up and create more turnovers. The back seven, led by linebacker Noah Keller, will get most of those turnovers, but it is up to the front four to force the opposing quarterback to make mistakes. Kris Luchsinger is the leading returning sacker with a mere 3.5 on the season. Fellow end Curtis Meyers needs to have a more productive season now that he is a senior.
The Bottom Line for the Bobcats:
Ohio was much better than their recorded indicated in 2008 and that should mean the team will be much better in 2009. There are some holes to fill, but nothing that cannot be dealt with. Coach Solich has enough talent to make a run at a conference championship. Even if they can just win their relatively easy home schedule, the Bobcats can get to the six win mark and at least reach a bowl game.
By Joel Welser
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