#89 Ohio Football 2015 Preview

Ohio Bobcats

Overall Rank: #89
#6 Mid-American

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Ohio’s streak of five straight bowl trips came to an end last season when the 6-6 Bobcats were left out of a bowl game. Of the six losses, there was only one that Ohio really had a chance to win in the fourth quarter, a low scoring home affair with Northern Illinois that Ohio ended up losing 21-14. But now Coach Frank Solich hopes to start a new streak this year and get his team back into the MAC title picture.

2014 Record: 6-6, 4-4
2014 Bowl: None
Coach: Frank Solich (72-56 at Ohio, 130-75 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Tim Albin, Scott Isphording
Defensive Coordinator: Jimmy Burrow

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: A.J. Ouellette, RB, 785 yards
Passing: JD Sprague, QB, 1,236 yards
Receiving: Sebastian Smith, WR, 385 yards
Tackles: Quintin Poling, LB, 89
Sacks: Quintin Poling, LB, 5.0; Tarell Basham, DE, 5.0
Interceptions: Quentin Poling, LB, 3

Other Key Returnees: QB Derrius Vick, WR Jordan Reid, RB Daz’mond Patterson, K Josiah Yazdani, P Mitch Bonnstetter, LB Jovon Johnson, LB Blair Brown, CB Ian Wells

Key Losses: WR Chase Cochran, DT Antwan Crutcher, DT Cameron McLeod

Running back A.J. Ouellette came out of nowhere to lead the Bobcats offense. He banged his way for 785 yards and seven touchdowns on 160 carries. Ouellette is a bruising back that Ohio can build around for the next three years. With most of the two-deep returning to the offensive line, Ouellette could be in for a huge year. When the ball is on the ground, Ohio is pretty good and that is just as true on defense as it is on offense. The loss of tackles Cameron McLeod and Antwan Crutcher is a concern, but ends Tarell Basham and Casey Sayles have talent. So do linebackers Quintin Poling, Jovon Johnson and Blair Brown. They may not be the most physically dominating group of linebackers in the MAC, but they are great at chasing down the ball.

The secondary, which allowed 261.4 yards per game through the air, still has some questions though. Devin Bass and Ian Wells are experienced corners, but they tend to give up big chunks of yardage on every play. And they will need to work with a couple new safeties. The bigger issue may be at quarterback and wide receiver. JD Sprague and Derrius Vick split time under center last season and neither proved to be much of a passer. Sprague completed just 48.5 percent of his passes and threw five interceptions compared to just three touchdowns. Vick was more efficient, completing 58.8 percent of his passes with eight touchdowns and four interceptions. Both are more dangerous with their legs than their arms. Vick, a 6-1 senior, seems to be the more likely candidate to at least be a threat to air it out on occasion, yet somebody still needs to catch the ball. The Bobcats rarely got big plays through the air and most of those came from the now departed Chase Cochran. Sebastian Smith, Jordan Reid and Brendan Cope will be asked to step up and stretch the field every once in a while.

The Bottom Line:
This could be an interesting season for Ohio. The defense should be decent and Ouellette can make the offense dangerous. If the passing game can get a couple big plays every game, the Bobcats will be a much better team offensively. Coach Frank Solich has won with worse teams than this and the schedule is full of winnable games. Most of those games are losable too, but this is a team that should be able to win six or seven games and start that bowl streak again.

Projected Bowl: None

2014 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 164.1 (59th in nation, 6th in conference)
Passing Offense: 206.2 (81, 11)
Total Offense: 370.3 (91, 10)
Scoring Offense: 20.5 (111, 11)
Rushing Defense: 132.9 (25, 3)
Pass Defense: 261.4 (104, 10)
Total Defense: 394.3 (59, 5)
Scoring Defense: 24.8 (40, 2)
Turnover Margin: -0.33 (92, 9)
Sacks: 2.00 (74, 6)
Sacks Allowed: 1.92 (50, 7)


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