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Ohio Football Preview
by Matt Fargo - 07/30/2008
No. 108 Ohio Bobcats
2007 Record ~ 6-6 SU ~ 6-4-1 ATS
Starters Returning ~ Offense (6) Defense (7)
After going to a bowl game for the first time in 34 years two seasons ago, it was supposed to be rebuilding time in Athens last season. The Bobcats had just 10 returning starters but they exceeded all expectations by posting a bowl-eligible 6-6 record. The record might have been 8-4 as losses against Wyoming and Toledo could have been wins if not for late breakdowns. It is unlikely a recurrence of that will happen as Ohio once again brings back the fewest starters in the MAC while facing an even tougher slate.
The rushing game will take a serious hit this season with the loss of Kalvin McRae who rushed for 4,398 yards for the Bobcats over the last three seasons. The leading returning rusher is quarterback Theo Scott with just 120 yards and Chris Garrett, who will take over for McRae, had just 108 yards last season. It will be up to Scott or spring star Boo Jackson to turn this offense into a more balanced attack. There is excellent depth at receiver while the offensive line will benefit from a lot of players seeing action last year.
The defense took a big step backward last season. After allowing just 303 ypg and 18.1 ppg in 2006, the Bobcats gave up 407 ypg and 29.9 ppg last year. They finished 91st in rushing defense, allowing 186.4 ypg on 4.5 ypc and with an offense likely to be less productive, it will be up to the defense to improve and help carry the squad early on. The line will be better with Jameson Hartke at one end and the return of tackle Ernie Hodge. The secondary, 47th in passing defense, will be the team strength.
There is only one guaranteed win and that is against 1-AA VMI. The Bobcats start the season with road games at Wyoming and Ohio St. before starting MAC play at home against conference favorite Central Michigan. It is then back on the road at Northwestern and after VMI, three straight road games start October. The only good is that three of the last four games are at home. Coach Frank Solich did a wonderful job last season so donâ€™t be surprised to see this team stick around in games it shouldnâ€™t. Keep an eye on Ohio.