Pregame Intel: The Ohio U Bobcats

This week its an old nemesis, Frank Solich and his new team - the Ohio University Bobcats.

The last time we saw a Frank Solich coached team was the Alamo Bowl...
Defensive End Dwayne Missouri did a decent job of shutting down the option [he crashed into the QB most of the time], but the Nebraska center kept coming out and leveling our middle linebacker.

That Solich team just came out and put a whupping on the Cats that still hurts in Cat Fans' memories.

Of course Solich minimizes all this
The game that was played several years ago really has no significance. It got a little out of hand. Some of the things we did just clicked, and things kind of snowballed. We had a great football team. It all came together for us that day. -- Solich on Ohiobobcats.com
Defense: Lost just 3 starters from a team that was 2nd in the MAC in total defense. But the Bobcats changed their defense under Solich.

They now play a 4-3 that claims to be knee deep in linebackers [sounds like NU], but the players to watch will be #50 MLB Matt Muncy [6-2 234], #3 CB T.J. Wright [5-11 169] and # 15 CB Dion Byrum [5-11 192].

If you're paying attention, two of the 3 defensive guys to watch are cornerbacks which doesn't necessarily bode well for stopping a running game like NU's might be, but 4 of the returning starters on D are linebackers. They do have two Seniors up front on the line, but the Safeties are younger and considered suspect.
All I know is that if you're going to be a good football team, you better be physical. You don't win football games by being cute. You win football games by lining up and smacking people. We've conditioned them for that. - Solich
So figure the Ohio D to be physical.

Offense: My best guess is that Ohio will come out running parts of the same multi-set option offense that Solich used at Nebraska, but without all of the refinements. Last year they were a pass oriented team, this year? Who knows...

Their QB is Austen Everson [6-2 222], who has only 2 starts but has 6 receivers back from last year - the statistical leader there is Scott Mayle [6-1 175], with a 17.7 average yards per reception. It could be a long day for the NU secondary if their passing game gets hot.

The Bobcats do return two from their offensive line from last year, both Guards, and one key early will be how well the tackles, both upperclassmen, turn the outside of the NU defense.

Another question is can their center, Junior J.J. Knabb [6-3 280] get out to slow down NU MLB Tim McGarigle [6-1 235]. Tackle Barry Cofield [6-4 305] is probably the biggest guy J.J. Knabb has ever faced. If Cofield keeps him off McGarigle one third of the triple option disappears, but if the Bobcats open the center up, they might be able to run up the middle all day.

The key to stopping the triple option [after the MLB sheds the center] is literally knocking down the trailing back - what we called the "pitch man."

That job is usually given to the safety with the end playing contain on the QB [The QB reads the DE on the second part of the option]. The big issue is discipline by the defense in going after their assigned player, and not chasing the ball.

But then, you can't be sure that Ohio will come out running anything like the Nebraska offense that so decimated the Wildcats a few years ago. There have been lots of stories about the new attitude in Athens, but nothing about what they're actually runnng down there. The only hint is that Solich told the Ohio U media guys he wanted to "broaden his horizons offensively" - I guess we'll find out Saturday.

Special Teams: The Bobcats do have a pretty decent punter - Senior Matt Miller averaged 42.4 yards per kick last year and should be in the same form, but NU has some very quick guys running the Punt defense,
What the Cats have to do.
  • Crash the Bobcat QB early and often.
  • Run some blitz packages - first time QBs can get distracted if a safety comes calling.
  • Establish one running back early - don't care if its Roberson, Sutton or Conteh - the Ohio linebackers have to get preoccupied with that RB because he's ripping off 5-7 yards per carry..
  • Pass to the Tight End. If we hear the name Erryn Cobb [or Frayne Abernathy] early, its a good sign.
  • Dominate the offensive line play - when an O-Line is firing off together, that team usually wins. NU has to win the battle in the trenches against a Bobcat team using a "new" defensive set.
  • Everyone has to play their assignment - as Coach Walker says, Focus. do what you learned from watching film.
In Conclusion
Yes, the NU Wildcats should win this one easy, but this is a Ohio U Bobcat team that has little to lose in coming to Chicago.

If they lose to Northwestern, well, they were supposed to lose to a Big 10 team. If the play well, they get lots of national media coverage, the kind that their recruiters need to get the next level of player.

If they win...well.

Of all the early games, this one is the scariest. Some folks are already predicting an early implosion of the Cats - I don't think that's going to happen - but defense will tell the tale Saturday.

Personally, I'd like to see C.J. Bacher` in the game in the 4th quarter because its an NU blowout.

    The Game is on ESPNU  [or Gameplan on your computer] starting at 11 AM [Wildcat Time] and will also be on WGN internet.

    Dave Eanet and Ted Albrecht will be the radio guys, Mike Adamle and Randy Wright will be on TV.

    We'll be chatting at the same spot


    You can send your comments or "back door" information
    to Coach Roy

    Go Cats
    Beat 'em All!
    Talk about it on the Purple Boards
    [Click Here]
    Copyright 2005 by PurpleWildcats.com/Purple Reign

    Purple Wildcats Top Stories

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