Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
2012 SEASON IN REVIEW: Ohio was on track to be a BCS buster in 2012 after it
won its first seven games with impressive road victories at Penn State and
Marshall highlighting the early season run. Partly due to injuries making the
Bobcats very thin, coach Frank Solich's squad could not sustain its initial
momentum and lost four of its final five games. The team failed to return to
Detroit for the MAC Championship game, but it did manage to earn a bowl
invitation for the fourth consecutive year.
The Bobcats also took down New Mexico State (51-24), Norfolk State (27-24),
Massachusetts (37-34), Buffalo (38-31) and Akron (34-28) during their
impressive start. The chase for perfection ended with a 23-20 loss at Miami-
Ohio. Although Ohio looked to have cured its problems the next week while
completing a 45-14 rout of Eastern Michigan, it suffered three straight losses
to Bowling Green (26-14), Ball State (52-27) and Kent State (28-6) to conclude
the regular season.
Solich improved to 4-6 in bowl games as he guided Ohio to an easy, 45-14
decision over ULM in the Independence Bowl.
"We were a beat down football team toward the end of the season," said Solich.
"We had our share of injuries and we had four games in 19 days in November, so
it all kind of hit us. The preparation for the bowl game, there was enough
time in there for our guys and I think they really got refreshed. We seemed to
be hitting on all cylinders when we won the game."
The Bobcats have secured a bowl game win in each of their past two seasons but
still seek their first conference title since 1968. Solich has a 117-63
overall record including his tenure from 1998-2003 at Nebraska. He led the
Cornhuskers to the 1999 Big 12 title and was also the MAC Coach of the Year in
OFFENSE: Even though they dealt with injuries to key players at basically
every position, the Bobcats still produced 31.7 points per game and ranked
33rd in the FBS with an average of 444.8 yards of total offense per outing.
Solich had great balance on the offensive side of the ball thanks to his
standout quarterback and tailback.
Senior quarterback Tyler Tettleton has stood out as a leader at Ohio since he
became the starter prior to the 2011 campaign. As a sophomore, he threw for
3,306 yards with 28 touchdowns against 10 interceptions and took the Bobcats
to within a field goal of winning the MAC Championship. His overall production
was not as great due to the fact he missed one game with an abdominal injury
and attempted 46 less passes. Tettleton did cut down on his mistakes (18 TDs
to four INTs) in 2012 while increasing his career rushing numbers (886 yards,
Senior tailback Beau Blankenship stole the show in Athens last season, ranking
10th in the FBS and third in the MAC in rushing with 1,604 yards and 15
touchdowns on 312 carries. Blankenship gained some steam near the conclusion
of the regular season with 306 yards and 3 TDs on 50 carries over a two-game
span against Ball State and Kent State, both of which participated in the
postseason. Senior Ryan Boykin also got a chance to shine when Blankenship was
limited with injuries. He gained 445 yards on 74 carries for the season and
delivered a breakout performance versus EMU with 128 yards and two total
The receiving corps has a few quality options with senior Donte Foster
highlighting the group. Foster returns after pacing the squad with 4.9 catches
and 54.9 yards per game last year. Junior Chase Cochran will be expected to
take on a bigger role after reeling in 22 catches for 377 yards and four
scores in 2012.
The bright side of all of the injuries last season is that a handful of
offensive linemen gained valuable experience. The Bobcats are very strong on
both edges with senior tackles John Prior (6-6, 303) and Ryan McGrath (6-6,
298) back as starters.
DEFENSE: Ohio had the fourth best defensive unit statistically in 2012 with
allowed averages of 388.4 yards of total offense and 24.8 points per game. It
was very sporadic throughout the course of the year as it had some
surprisingly poor showings against the weaker offenses of Massachusetts,
Buffalo and Ball State to go along with stifling displays against Penn State,
Bowling Green and Kent State.
Linebacker Keith Moore was the heart and soul of the defense last season with
a team-best 98 total tackles, which is 28 more than anyone else on the roster
registered. He will have just as much pressure on him to perform in his final
tour of the MAC being one of just two returning starters on the defense.
The front four is going through a transitional phase which will force Solich
to rely on a deep group of newcomers. Tony Porter (6-1, 307) and Tarell Basham
(6-4, 250) could both see action as true freshmen due to the lack of depth on
The secondary will be a little more consistent. Senior cornerback Travis
Carrie is ready to return after missing all of last season due to injury.
Carrie led the team with four interceptions in 2011. Jamil Shaw is expected to
start at the other corner after missing all of 2012 after suffering a season-
ending injury in the opener at Penn State. Junior strong safety Josh Kristoff
is the second-leading tackler (60 total) among returners.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Oklahoma State transfer Matt Green will take over the place
kicking duties for the graduated Second-Team All-MAC selection Matt Weller.
Green has a strong enough leg to handle the kickoff duties as well as attempt
field goals from over 40 yards away. Grant Venham showed promise last season
as a freshman while starting at punter.
The return game is going to be given a boost by Carrie's return. He averaged
12.5 yards per punt return and took one back to the house in 2011. Sophomore
running back Daz'mond Patterson led the squad last year with 582 kick return
yards and a touchdown on 24 attempts.
OUTLOOK: Ohio has a slim chance of jumping out of the gate the way it did last
season due to its difficult road opener at Louisville. It has a very
manageable schedule the rest of the way though, and the Bobcats are poised at
making a run at the league title.
"It is always the goal to win every game and get to the MAC Championship,"
said Blankenship. "I feel like we would be disappointed if we didn't get
there. It's a long season, but that is definitely the end result we want."
After visiting the Cardinals for their opener, the Bobcats play three in a row
at Peden Stadium against North Teas, Marshall and Austin Peay. They then begin
their quest for Detroit at Akron. The rest of Ohio's list of MAC opponents
consists of Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Miami-Ohio, Buffalo, Bowling
Green, Kent State and UMass. Solich's unit is picked to win the East Division
and will have no excuse not to as it avoids playing Northern Illinois, Ball
State and Toledo during the regular season.
A 10-win year with a MAC Championship is certainly within reach for Tettleton
and company. The new personnel on the defensive side of the ball need to mesh
together quickly and with all the turnover, any injuries could be devastating.
Ohio's all-conference caliber positional players on the offensive side of the
ball should make it a very tough matchup each and every Saturday.
The Sports Network