Ohio U offense

Ohio University isn't exactly a household name in terms of college football prestige but the Bobcats have enough weapons to make things interesting for homestanding Tennessee Sept. 26 at Neyland Stadium.

The Vols' Game 4 opponent returns most of the key people from a 2008 offense that set program records for passing yards (2,795) and passing touchdowns (21).

Foremost among the returnees is senior quarterback Boo Jackson, who accounted for 2,355 of the passing yards and 19 of the passing TDs. He completed 60.5 percent of his passes with 12 interceptions last fall and proved himself a capable runner by rushing for 333 net yards.

As productive as Jackson was a year ago, however, he is no lock to be the starting QB in 2009. He's being pushed by Theo Scott, who started the first two games of 2008 before being lost for the season. Scott completed 65.9 percent of his passes for 247 yards before the injury.

Further strengthening Ohio U's 2009 passing attack is the return of the Bobcats' top two receivers from last fall - Taylor Price and LaVonn Brazill.

Price registered 51 catches for 694 yards, averaged 13.6 yards per catch and scored five touchdowns. Brazill added 34 grabs for 384 yards, averaging 11.3 per catch with one TD.

Ohio U also returns its top two tailbacks from last season. Chris Garrett ran for just 529 yards but exploded in the season finale against Miami of Ohio, accounting for 321 all-purpose yards - 222 rushing and 99 more on three kickoff returns.

Donte Harden missed the last five games of 2008 due to a torn labrum. Prior to the injury, however, he averaged more yards per carry (5.2 vs. 4.5) and more yards per game (64.9 vs. 48.1) than Garrett.

Harden, who rushed for 142 yards vs. VMI last fall, projects to the No.1 tailback this season, with Garrett filling the role of third-down back. That's because the 5-8, 190-pound Garrett is an excellent receiver out of the backfield, having caught 24 balls for 290 yards (12.1 per catch) and two touchdowns a year ago.

Basically, Ohio U's biggest key for 2009 is limiting mistakes. The Bobcats had Ohio State on the ropes last September, leading 14-6 in the third quarter, only to lose 26-14 because of five turnovers. Ohio U finished the '08 season with 32 turnovers, most of any team in the Mid-American Conference.

Bottom line: Ohio U isn't likely to shock Tennessee Sept. 26 at Neyland Stadium but Frank Solich's Bobcats could make the game more interesting than most Vol fans expect.

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