Last years matchup was a very sloppy 34-33 loss, for Ohio that featured 11 total turnovers, with seven by Wyoming and four by the Bobcats. Ohio had a disappointing season after getting nine wins in 2006 and then down to six last year. The team was very average they went 6-6, but they also had an even record in conference games, home and road games as well. This years game takes place week one in Laramie.
Offense: The team returns eight starters on offense and last season they averaged a solid 30 points per game. The Bobcats have to break in a new quarterback for the third straight year, however this years starter junior Theo Scott saw time in ten games last year so he did gain valuable experience. In those 10 games Scott threw five touchdowns to three picks and had a 57.8 completition percentage. Scott is some what of a dual threat quarterback and head coach Frank Solich said, “He understands our system and is a good combo runner and thrower. We are able to use him in shotgun formations and as a running threat as well.”
The running game will have to replace the schools all time leading rusher Kalvin McRae and looks to be replaced by playmaking junior Chris Garrett who is making the move from wide receiver to tailback this season. Garrett is also an excellent punt and kick returner with his ellusiveness running style, the coaches also plan to use Garrett in the short passing game to utilize all of his skills.
The other back to be part of the rotation will be sophomore Vince Davidson heads into the fall as part of the rotation. Davidson appeared in seven games last season and another back who could get a few carries is sophomore L.J. Flintall who coach Solich feels has the ability to find the holes made by the offensive line.
The receiving corp has only had to be a supporting aspect of the offense, because of how good the running game has been. The Bobcats’ top returning wide receiver is junior Taylor Price who led the team last season with 464 yards receiving and four touchdowns. LaVon Brazill who is the only other returning starter and is very raw and ‘learning on the fly’ according to the coaches.
While the team is low on experience the Bobcats will frequently use a two tight end formation and have a pair of solid performers returning, led by their leading returning tight end, senior Andrew Mooney. The passing game should be ok with the multiple options of tight ends and receivers.
Defense: The defense was nothing special first off, they had a tough time creating turnovers, and then they gave up 30 points per game. They do return seven starters on the defensive side. The one odd stat that the Bobcats had was that defense placed third in the MAC in both tackles for loss and sacks. Conversely, Ohio’s front four had difficulty stopping the run, allowing 186.4 yards rushing per game which ranked 91st nationally. Interesting stat about that defense and if they are able to at least be mediocre on rush defense then this side of the ball should be much better.
A key player who missed last year was Ernie Hodge, who was coming off an impressive 2006 freshman campaign, but off-the-field matters took him away from the team and Hodge took a redshirt in 2007. He’s back and moves from defensive end, where he recorded 38 tackles as a freshman, to tackle to allow for the line to be stronger with this move. The defensive end is their strongest part of the line and with both starters back, Corey Moncrief and A.J. Oxley, should be able to improve the sub par rush defense.
The defensive back position is the best part of their defense, and last year Ohio was 2nd in the league in pass efficiency defense while allowing a fifth-best 221.1 yards passing per game. The secondary will now have the depth they needed with the three starters returning and the entrance of a few junior college defensive backs who should see immediate playing time.
Early Prediction: This should be a defensive show down, since both teams have good defenses. Looking back at last year and the amount of turnovers anything can happen. Look for Wyoming to win, because they do not lose at home or early in the season.