Behind Enemy Lines: Russ Eisenstein

IES caught up with Ohio play-by-play man Russ Eisenstein, who is currently in his fifth season as the "Voice of the Bobcats." to get his thoughts on Monday's Beef 'O'Brady's Bowl.

What are some of the things we can expect to see from Ohio Monday, running its up-tempo, NASCAR-type offense?

"They really are capable of being a big-play, big-points type of offense. When things work well, there aren't many teams in the Mid-American Conference that can stop them. The problem this year is that things haven't worked well all the way through the season, but this team has proven over the years to be one of the more dynamic offenses in the MAC. It's really fun to watch when it's working well."

Who are some of the players Pirates fans should be keeping an eye for Ohio?

"Tyler Tettleton is really the face of Ohio football and his career ends with this bowl appearance. What he's done has been really remarkable. If you can look at the stats and the records he has broken, you can certainly make a case for him to be one of the best that this program has ever had and perhaps the best quarterback Ohio has ever had. He's broken 27 records, he's been at the helm of this offense when Ohio has won these bowl games, when they've knocked Penn State and had good runs in the MAC. So really, for so many reasons, Tyler has been the guy that has done a lot of it and it will be sad to see him go, but we will have one more game to see him on Monday.

"Beau Blankenship is a very durable running back, a guy that certainly runs with a great deal of purpose, can take a tackle, run through a tackle and when the protection is good for him and the hole opens up, he's going to run through that hole really quickly. So he's a guy that can get to the outside as well and pick up some yards. The problem this year, towards the end of the season, is the yards just haven't been there for him and the offense in general, but they were able to pick it up against UMASS in the final week of the regular season so hopefully that is something that can continue against East Carolina.

"Donte Foster has caught more touchdowns than anyone in Ohio history and one of the trademarks plays that Ohio runs is a fade to the corner. It's on tape, it's no secret and Ohio has run it with a lot of different wide receivers over my time at Ohio

"They can sprinkle it to some tight ends over the middle too, but this is an offense that has some parts that when working together that can be big plays and big points. Another guy, Chase Cochran, is sure-handed and seemingly all he does is catch big-time catches for big yards. So if Ohio can find a way to get him going … that can be a key too."

How are the fans at Ohio viewing ECU and this bowl game in particular?

"From a broad-stroke standpoint, this is chance to win the program's third bowl in a row and Ohio hasn't won a bowl game before this string of two in a row. There have only been two teams in the history of the MAC to have appeared in five straight bowl games. Northern Illinois is currently doing it and Marshall did it when they were in the league. This is a seven-win season for the fifth straight year and that has only being done by two other teams currently in the MAC: Northern Illinois and Toledo.So if you look at the broad-stroke standpoint of this ball-game and Ohio being in the bowl game, there's so much to be excited about.

"And I think that ECU's name, for college football fans, they know about ECU. And if they don't, they should because of them being in bowl games 19 times and knocking off big-time competition, and fan interest and all of that. This team has Ohio's attention and I think it would be a huge win if Ohio can get it. You can make an argument that if Ohio beats ECU they have knocked off their best opponent in a bowl game. Not to slight Louisiana-Monroe and Utah State, but you can make an argument that ECU is better than those ball-clubs.

"Sure, this is a year Ohio wanted to finish the job and wanted to win the first MAC championship since 1968, but that didn't happen and that's something these seniors will unfortunately have to think about for a while. But if you take that out of the equation and you think about all they have done, this is a fitting way to end their careers and hopefully they end it the right way by earning this bowl appearance. Even if they don't win it, by play very well and playing the way they've had over their careers."

What are some of the things Head Coach Frank Solich is doing to prepare for ECU?

"Ohio has to do something not a lot of teams have been able to do and that is stopping Shane Carden. You don't have a 71-percent completion percentage without being really good. And Carden is very good. So Ohio is faced with the same problem that a lot of teams have been faced with – North Carolina, N.C. State, and the rest of the teams they have beaten in Conference USA

"Listening to (Carden's) comments, I know he is incredibly motivated for this bowl game because he does not want to go out with that bad taste in his mouth after the Marshall game. So I would imagine Ohio is going to get his best shot … This is an offense, much like Ohio, when working right, ECU is really tough to stop. So it will be interesting from the start to see Ohio's game-plan from that standpoint. It's a read-your-keys sort of deal and a play-incredibly-hard sort of deal regardless of the scheme that you run."

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