Saturday, July 1, 2017

Bilo's 2017 College Football Previews: Ohio Bobcats

Ohio Bobcats
Frank Solich has had an incredibly solid run at Ohio, with this being his 13th at the school. The Bobcats, once again will be the favorites in the MAC West, even with a tinkered offense and some QB issues that may come into play. Where the Bobcats have excelled is on defense in recent years, and that should be the same once again, but will the defense be strong enough with a changing offense in play to help carry the load to a division title once again?
What To Be Excited About: Offense
The Pistol will largely be gone in 2017, with the offense going back to having the QB under Center. A more traditional offense will actually work to compliment the run game, as Ohio has a loaded group in the backfield to run the football. AJ Ouellette is back from injury to lead the way, and is joined by Dorian Brown, who rushed for 825 yards last fall, and Maleek Irons. They combined for 22 carries per game last fall, and with Ouelette back in play, the run game should be a focal point of the offense.
Three starters return up front in LT Joe Lowery, C Jake Pruehs, and RG Darrell Wood. Pruehs played almost every snap last season, and is the leader. Joe Anderson, a junior, is slated to start at LG, while Jared McCray will likely start at RT. He will be a senior this fall.
Louie Zervos was amazing during his freshman season at PK, hitting 29 FGs on 35 attempts. You cannot ask for anything more than that.
What To Be Concerned About: Offense
Solich will always go with a run first philosophy on offense, which I can appreciate, but the QB position needs to show more production. Greg Windham has moved on, and Quinton Maxwell returns to be the full time starter, but he may not be able to hold the job through camp, as he will receive a challenge from both Drew Keszei and JC transfer Nathan Rourke.
The receiver spot is down some heads as well, as the top three receivers from last season are gone. Papi White caught 41 passes last season as a RB, but will likely move to receiver full time this season. He provides excellent speed, and could do some damage from the slot, but will be learning some nuance. Elijah Ball and Keevon Harris will also get a shot to start at receiver, but both are just sophomores.
What To Be Excited About: Defense
Chad Moore and Quinton Poling are both back at LB this fall. Moore finished with 97 tackles last season and added six TFLs. Poling was a star as well, finishing with 109 tackles, and added an outstanding 13.5 TFLs. Evan Croutch will likely start  at OLB, and will be replacing leading tackler Blair Brown, who finished with 129 tackles. Croutch finished with a solid 32 tackles off of the bench last fall.
Three starters return in the secondary. Bradd Ellis will join returning starter Mayne Williams at CB. Williams played in eight games as a freshman, and won the job by the end of the season. Ellis finished with five PBUs. Javon Hagan starts at SS and Kylan Nelson is back at FS. Hagan finished with eight PBUs and forced six fumbles last fall, and finished with 52 total tackles. Nelson finished with 33 tackles last season.
Michael Farkas had a solid year as a freshman Punter last fall, averaging 40.77 yards per punt.
What To Be Concerned About: Defense
The main concern for the Bobcats on the defensive side of the football will be on the line, where five of the top seven linemen from last season have all moved on. Only NG Cleon Aloese is back up front. Seniors Kevin Robinson and Tony Porter look to fill in at DE and DT, while sophomore Sam McKnight is likely to start at the other DE spot. The DEs are undersized, but Solich will be depending on speed and agility rather than outright size to provide pressure up front from this current unit.
2017 Schedule: 9/2 Hampton, 9/8 at Purdue, 9/16 Kansas, 9/23 at Eastern Michigan, 9/30 at U Mass, 10/7 Central Michigan, 10/14 at Bowling Green, 10/21 Kent State, 10/31 Miami (Ohio), 11/8 Toledo, 11/14 at Akron, 11/24 at Buffalo
Final Overview
Ohio holds all the cards in the MAC West once again, even with a rising Miami (OH) team lurking right behind them. Ohio may be looking over their shoulders in the future, but not quite yet. There is enough talent, and Ohio has the ability to grind down a clock enough to hold off any challengers for the division title once again.

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