2015 Preseason Media Prediction: 2nd place MAC East (tie with Akron)
Head Coach: Frank Solich (10th season)
► Can the Bobcats bounce back into enough to be a contender in the MAC East. For that matter, can they get back to a post-season appearance? After going so long without making a bowl. the ‘Cats had become kind of accustomed to post-season trips in recent years.
► Can Ohio avoid another rash of injuries? A few here and there are one thing, but getting hit hard in particular areas can really throw a wrench into plans.
► Will the ‘Cats find a quarterback – or combination – that will give provide enough consistency to finish drives and improve scoring?
► Will the defense give Ohio winning potential – particularly in MAC play?
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► “We need to score more on offense.” HEAD COACH FRANK SOLICH.
► Ohio ranked 11th among 13 MAC teams in scoring (20.5 ppg). Fortunately, the ‘Cats were second in scoring defense (24.8 ppg).
► The Bobcats were 11th in passing offense (206.2 ypg). Things went better with the rush, as OU ranked sixth in that department (164.1 ypg).
► Walkon A.J. Ouellette burst onto the scene last year and was very impressive. His 785 rushing yards was the second most for a freshman in Ohio U football history. He averaged 126 yards over his final three games and ultimately led the team in rushing, despite starting just six games. He was twice MAC East Player of the Week. Ouellette totaled seven rushing scores and also proved a capable receiver, catching 21 balls for 133 yards and three more TDs.
► The departure of stalwart Tyler Tettleton and injuries led to a pair of quarterbacks sharing the load last year. Both have running skills to compliment Ouelette and the Bobcats’ system. However, Ohio ranked 11th in pass offense (206.2 ypg) and was 10th in pass efficiency.
► Derrius Vick completed 58.8 percent of his throws for 1,156 yards with eight TDs and four interceptions. J.D. Sprague completed 48.5 percent for 1,236 yards, three TDs and five interceptions.
► Chase Cochran, who led the squad in receiving yards, is gone. He totaled 21 receptions, 443 yards (21.1 ypc) and hd one TD. Junior Sebastian Smith had a team-high 31 receptions. He, along with returnees Jordan Reid (Jr) and Brendan Cope (So) combined for 72 receptions, 1,014 yards and three touchdowns. Both those guys have experience. They've shown flashes of being outstanding. We just need to get it done at a consistent level." -- SOLICH
► Ohio was fourth in red zone scoring (88.3%).
► While there were some notable exceptions (e.g. Marshall’s 44 points and Western Michigan’s 42), overall, defense was a strength for the Bobcats in 2014. They finished second among MAC teams in scoring defense (24.8 ppg) and were fourth in total defense (394.3 ypg).
► Ohio ranked third defending the run (132.9 ypg. However, it was 10th against the pass (261.4 ypg) and seventh in pass defense efficiency.
► The Bobcats’ 25 sacks were good for fifth among MAC teams.
► Opponents converted 80.6 percent of their red zone chances (22 TDs and seven FG). That gave Ohio a MAC ranking of sixth.
► Defensive linemen Cameron McLeod and Antwan Crutcher are gone after combining for 75 tackles. Defensive end Tarell Bashem is back after 33 stops with five sacks on the way to Third Team All MAC honors. The linebacking corps was a strong point last year. Sophomore Quentin Poling registered a team-high 89 tackles with 8.5 TFL. Classmate Javon Johnson owned 67 stops and 10 TFL as a freshman.
► Safety Devin Carpenter (R-Sr) should be back after injury short-circuited his 2014 campaign. Dein Bass and Ian Wells would figure at the corners. If the secondary can avoid serious injuries, the Bobcats could well improve in an area that could use a boost.
► Placekicker Josian Yazdani was solid in the clutch, hitting two game-winning field goals on the games’ final play. The last one, against rival Miami in the regular season finale, completed a comeback that helped OU avoid a losing record on the campaign.
►Mitch Bonnstetter averaged 41.8 yards per punt. That ranked sixth among MAC punters.
► Ohio was ninth in turnover margin (minus-4, -0.33 pg). The 23 total turnovers included 13 fumbles lost and nine interceptions.
► We certainly have a chance to be a really good football team. ... We have a lot of pieces of the puzzle. ... We have a line that is experienced now. We hve a great running back. So the whole thing kind of adds up offensively. Defensively, we've got excellent corners, excellent linebackers. We've got guys that can rush the passer. ... I (also) like our special team guys. We've got a chance to be good, but then again, we've got to show up every week."" SOLICH.
► OU’s best scoring period was the fourth quarter (84 points). It’s worst was the third period (47 points). Opponents scored best in the opening quarter (90 points) and were least effective in the third stanza (62 points).
► It was quite a roller coaster ride for OU last year. The Bobcats never won or lost more than two in a row.
► A big early test for Ohio will be its Sept. 12 game at home against Marshall. Last year's blowout Herd win was an anomoly for this rivalry in recent times.