Previewing this week's opponent: Ohio Bobcats

Rutgers hosts the Ohio Bobcats this Saturday, September 16th at 3:30 PM. The Bobcats are 2-0 and coming off a big road win against pre-season MAC favorite Northern Illinois. This team will try to show the country they are for real and attempt another road upset, this time against Rutgers.

The University of Ohio Bobcats is a team Rutgers fans know little about. However, to the lay fan, four things most likely stand out about this team. First, they play in the MAC, which is a conference that plays tough, hard-nosed football. Second, their coach is Frank Solich, the former Nebraska Head Coach who had steered Nebraska for some good seasons, before being fired after a 3-loss campaign. He is regarded as a good football mind and is in his 2nd year as the Ohio coach. Third, they made noise by beating Big-East Pittsburgh last year on national TV/ESPN. And fourth, they put up over 500 yards of offense to beat Northern Illinois (NIU) last week, a team that was predicted by many to run the table in the MAC conference. Has Solich turned this team around? Is Ohio a team to be reckoned with in the MAC conference? Are they a team that will put a scare or pull a potential upset of the Scarlet Knights? They have too many unknowns at this time to make that judgment. But on paper this is a team that requires 60-minutes of focused football from Rutgers.

Overall, Ohio was a very young team last year. And it showed in their inconsistency. They played a great game against Pitt to pull off that upset, yet ended the year with a disappointing 4-7 record. But what is promising for Solich is this club returns 20 starters. Thus it appears the talent is not only maturing, but also jelling.

The Ohio offense has typically been a Solich-style running, grinding option attack. The player to look out for is star RB Kalvin McRae (5'11" 210). McRae is considered the 2nd best RB in the MAC behind NIU's All-American Garrett Wolfe. Last year, McRae rushed for 1150 yards and had 3-games of over 200 yards. He is coming off a 107 yard rushing, 98 yard receiving performance against NIU. QB Sr. Austen Everson throws a good ball and has swagger, but has been incredibly inconsistent. Last year he completed 47% of his passes, and had a poor TD/INT ratio of 4 TD to 10 INT. His highest passing output was 171 yards against Central Michigan. However, he seems more productive in the early parts of this year. He is coming off a 23-31 for 322 yards and 3 TD, 0 INT game against NIU. WR Scott Mayle runs a sub 4.3 and is considered the go to WR. He has 7-catches for 73 yards thus far this year. William Norwood has a big-time body and had a breakout game against NIU, having 4-catches for 87 yards. The TE Rudy Sylvan, is a big lumbering guy at 6'4 270 pounds. He is coming off a 5-catch 51 yard, 1 TD performance against NIU. The offensive line returns 3 out of 5 starters, but has 6 players with starting experience. OT Matt Coppage is considered an NFL talent. This unit is considered one of the better run OL in the MAC and is very respectable against the pass allowing only 17 sacks last season.

The defense returns 9-starters, but struggled as a unit overall last year. And those struggles have continued this year, despite a 2-0 record; last week against NIU they allowed 462 yards of offense. On the DL, the Bobcats return 3 starters, and the one non-starter, So DE Jamison Hartke, who also happens to lead the returnees in sacks with 4.5. DT Landon Cohen is the stalwart on the interior. NT Shane Yates adds experience and is playing now in his 6th year with the Bobcats. The LB unit returns 3-starters, all seniors, and is considered the strength of the defense. MLB Matt Muncy had 115 tackles last year and is an All-American candidate. OLBs Tyler Russ and Michael Graham contributed 88 and 54 tackles respectively. The secondary returns two rangy, solid tackling safeties in Todd Koenig and Tony Ward. Koenig accounted for 77 tackles and 2 INTs, whereas Ward had 69 tackles and 1 INT. Sr TJ Wright is the teams top CB.

In conclusion, Ohio seems like a formidable team with a reputable coach that returns 20 starters. Some of those returnees have had outstanding seasons in the past. Others seem to be developing in to good football players at this time. And that maturity and continuity has allowed them to pull off an upset over a respectable NIU team. Plus, they shocked a Big-East team in Pittsburgh last year. They will try to pull another shocker this week against Rutgers - one thing is for certain, Rutgers must bring their A-game and play 60-minutes of football in order to be successful.

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