Ohio preview

Discussion of the Falcon football team.

Ohio preview

Postby MarkL » Tue Oct 10, 2017 7:53 pm

It sure feels good to have a win! The win felt to me much like the Buffalo game from last year. Before I go into the preview, I think it's fine to reflect on the season so far in a glass half full /glass half empty method.

The glass is half full
  • We've lost to some good opponents. MSU just beat Michigan, South Dakota is still undefeated (just took down #3 Youngstown State and is now #4), Akron is 2-0 in the MAC and just blew out Ball State.
  • We just found some good new playmakers. Andrew Clair had an outstanding game. Admittedly without much knowledge around the conference, I think he's got a chance at MAC Freshman of the Year if he plays the way he did last week in the next six.
  • The offense found some good rhythm, even with a backup QB. 500+ yards on a good defense? I'd take that any day.
  • The defense leads the nation in fumble recoveries.
  • I can't think the last time I felt this good about special teams. Normally we all hold our breath whenever we kick or punt. Normally when we have a decent kick return, we all look for the yellow flag. We all cringe whenever the opponent is set up in a punt block formation. None of that this year.
  • The team undeniably played better against Miami than against Akron and undeniably better against Miami and Akron than the previous four.
  • We are a few plays from 4-2. MSU was beatable given the fumble recoveries and missed open receivers, South Dakota was beatable, and we coughed up the Akron game.

The glass if half empty
  • We're 1-5. We were the beneficiaries of something of a lucky play or we may be 0-6.
  • The offense is not completing enough passes.
  • The running game only has two good outings.
  • The defense is thin and is not anywhere near what we had just a few years ago.
  • The run defense allows too many easy first down gains and the pass defense allows too many third down conversions.
  • The team commits those stupid mistakes too often.
  • The questions about the coaching staff do not magically go away after a win.
  • All four of our non-conference opponents could probably beat both Miami and Akron.

I personally prefer taking full glasses and making them empty. :drinkers:

So take from that what you will. It's too early to give a complete evaluation of this team. I'm willing to wait out through the year and see how much they progress.

Anyways, on to Ohio. Homecoming against a familiar opponent.

TL;DR version
Ohio is a solid team with an excellent run offense and run defense. However, their pass offense is leaky and they are coming off a loss to Central Michigan where they turned the ball over a lot. They are a good squad, but beatable.

Run defense vs Ohio
  • Ohio likes to run the ball and they are good at it. As a team through 6 games, they are averaging over 200 on the ground with 19 TDs. Those are championship numbers.
  • The leading rusher is a guy who I swear is in his eighth year at Ohio. A.J. Ouellette has 533 yards on 85 attempts, averaging about 6.3 per carry and 3 TDs.
    • He's a compact back at 5'9 205. Not necessarily a burner but he's tough to get down. And he has his share of major gains.
  • Next up is the QB. Ohio likes to run the QB. Nathan Rourke is the TD leader with 9 on the ground. 61 carries for almost 300, averaging almost 4.9 per carry.
    • I can't think of us playing any true dual-threat type QBs yet this year. But last year we got torched by several, only containing Kent State's running QB.
  • And there's also the senior back Dorian Brown. 51 carries for 264, over 5 per carry and 3 TDs of his own.
    • He had a nice day vs UMass, coming up with some big runs and 2 TDs.
  • This team likes to run a lot. If you look at their play-by-play charts, there are all kinds of 5 - 8 yard runs in there.
  • Ohio converts a whole lot of third downs. Much of that success is first down yardage on running plays. Much like our 2013 team.
  • Big offensive line here. They are a major factor in the run success.
  • Ohio runs the ball. The running game sets up the whole offense. That's their formula every year, and it keeps working.
  • Important note: Ohio has lost 7 fumbles on the season. Notably, they lost 3 against Central Michigan last week, and those were key to the loss. All three were by Rourke.
    • Remember, we lead the nation in fumble recoveries. We may have an advantage here.

Pass defense vs Ohio
  • The success of the run game aids the pass game. This is good old fashioned fundamental football.
  • The starting QB is dual threat Nathan Rourke. He's completing almost 61% of his passes (82 / 135) for 973 yards, 7 TDs / 1 INT.
    • Obviously that's a nice ratio. When teams are afraid of the run, they can't drop too much into coverage, which means fewer chances at interceptions.
    • I've seen Rourke play some. He moves around the pocket nicely.
  • Next up is Quinton Maxwell, who has started some games in his own right in his career. In limited time this year, he is 13 / 21, 214 yards, 2 TDs / 2 INT.
    • Rourke is clearly the #1 here. But if Maxwell goes in, the dropoff is not that significant.
  • Ohio's given up 10 sacks on the season in 6 games. Not bad.
  • The leading receiver is senior Brendan Cope. Big bodied guy with 341 on 25 catches for 2 TDs.
  • I won't go over the rest of the receiving corps in detail. I'll just say this: there's some good size players and a good slot guy. Decent MAC receiving corps, though we'll see far better this season.
  • Another factor in their third down success is third down completions. Admittedly without taking the time to do the stats, it seems like Rourke's best percentage is on third down.
  • We allow a high completion percentage and a bunch of big plays. That is known. Miami came up with some major completions, though our pass D actually only allowed 56% completions.
  • Clint Stephens is a shot in the arm to the pass defense. He is an excellent playmaker out there. The defense has been far improved with him in the lineup.
  • The key to stopping the offense is not allowing major gains on first down. Put Ohio behind their down/distance goal, then make the pass offense beat us.

Run offense vs Ohio
  • Ohio has a good run defense. They give up 113 yards on the ground per game, which is a great number.
  • Our running game has vastly improved in conference play. We rushed far better than Miami gave up on average.
  • Purdue is the only opponent to come up with success against Ohio's run defense. Take away Purdue's 200+ and Ohio gives up 83 yards per game.
  • The leading tackler is senior MLB Quentin Poling. 52 total tackles, 22 solo in 6 games. Good numbers for a senior leader.
  • The OLBs are tacklers #2 and #3. Senior Chad Moore and junior Evan Croutch have 19 and 18 solo tackles respectively.
  • So their LB corps is active in tackling and is veteran. Those are solid indicators of success.
  • Speaking of veterans, the entire starting defensive line is seniors.
  • Ohio runs multiple defensive formations. You can do that effectively with a veteran defense.
  • Our offensive line play and the run game have been night and day better in recent weeks. If we can get the run game going against Ohio with some consistency, we've got a chance.
  • Important to note is Cleveland got banged up against Miami. No telling if he plays. Also no telling if Domer is back yet or not. So we may see some backs we haven't seen yet this year in order to keep Wilson and Clair fresh.

Pass offense vs Ohio
  • Ohio's pass defense gives up 276 yards per game. Take away FCS Hampton and they give up 319 yards per game.
  • If there's a weak point in Ohio's game, it's the pass defense. Kansas and Eastern Michigan both hit 300, Purdue was a hair shy, and UMass hit 400.
  • Ohio gives up 14 TDs / 4 interceptions. Purdue came up with 4 TDs and UMass came up with 5.
  • In other words, if you like to pass, you'll be able to pass. And they've given up their share of big plays through the air.
  • The strongest point of Ohio's defense is the sacks. Good run defenses generally get to the QB well. Ohio has 15 sacks on the season, or 2.5 per game. We've give up 14. Expect some sacks in this one.
  • Teo Redding just burst onto the scene in a rather dramatic way. I have to think he's licking his chops wanting another big game.
  • 2 of the 4 interceptions are by OLB Chad Moore.
  • Jinks said Doege will not play until he's 100%, and as of today he did not practice. I have to think Morgan is playing again.
  • I believe Morgan has only once this year hit >50% of his passes. Although against Miami he did have a pretty good day with 3 TDs and a high ypc.
  • Is Guyton going to play? Does anybody know for sure (not speculation but actual knowledge) the story there? More receivers are always a good thing and he brings an extra element to the game.
    • Redding at the top of his game at one side, Guyton at the top of his game at the other, and Miller at the slot makes for one potent set of receivers.
  • If we can run effectively, we can probably have a good day through the air. I'm hoping Morgan has his best day yet.

Special Teams vs Ohio
  • All around solid special teams, so no point in going over it too much.
  • Two quick notes:
    • Ohio has a solid punt return average and we are one of the best punt return defenses, largely thanks to one of the best punter's in the nation. This will present a good matchup.
    • CMU blocked a kick at a crucial time, returning it for a TD. Ohio later came up with a safety on a punt block to get back into the game. So blocks may factor in.

Ohio's season so far
  • Ohio blew out a bad FCS team in Hampton, then was shellacked by a turnaround Purdue team (Boiler Up!) Purdue moved the ball at will and the final could have been much uglier. I was a happy Boilermaker that day.
  • Ohio beat Kansas by two possessions. Ohio had an efficient day on offense. Defensively they gave up a ton of passing yards but took care of the run game.
  • Ohio beat EMU in double OT. It was a gritty game, and they held Eastern to 45 on the ground.
  • In one of the most entertaining games of the year, Ohio beat UMass 58-50. Ohio came up with almost 300 on the ground and UMass came up with over 400 through the air.
  • CMU beat Ohio mainly on turnovers. Rourke turned it over four times (3 fumbles, one pick) and Ohio found itself in a deep hole.
    • Then CMU with a two possession lead did everything they could to try to give the game back to Ohio, including giving up a safety on a blocked punt.
    • Ultimately CMU ran out the clock when Ohio came up with the stop but committed a defensive penalty, giving CMU the first down.
    • Along the way, CMU blocked a FG attempt and returned it for a TD on the last play of the first half.

Which all leads me to ...
Ohio vs Bowling Green
  • Ohio is currently 10 point favorites. Seems fair and that may go down some during the week.
  • Saturday should be stunningly beautiful for homecoming. 80s, low chance of rain. This in Bowling Green?
  • Frank Solich is in his 13th year as Ohio's HC. He has some amazing staff continuity.
    • Clawson always praised Solich for running the MAC's model program. He recruits well, develops well, and as a result starts a bunch of juniors and seniors, just to have them replaced by more juniors and seniors.
  • Ohio's strengths are in running the ball and stopping the run. I seem to remember us winning a conference title a few years ago following that exact template.
  • Really there are only a few keys to the game:
    • Do not allow big first down runs. If Ohio has success on first down, they have great success on third down conversions.
    • Continue the success on the ground. Clair was an enormous surprise last week, coming up with several big runs. Cleveland broke some nice ones too.
    • Carve up Ohio's pass defense. They give up big plays, so take advantage.
  • I've mentioned third down conversions a lot. Here's a nice stat for Ohio. They allow 31% third down conversions on the season, and no team has converted 50% of third downs. Those are good numbers.
    • And the reasoning is easy. Good run defense. Just like Ohio gets easy third down conversions by running the ball, they have good third down defense by stuffing the run.
  • I noted some RB injuries above. Ohio comes in with a notable injury sheet with a bunch of questionable players against us.
    • Why is it that Ohio always has the most injuries? Doesn't it always seem that way?
  • Now as always, our margin for success is thin. Assuming Morgan starts, he needs to have a clean game. With Ohio's efficient offense, we cannot afford to give away the ball.
  • And speaking of turnovers, I can't help but wonder if Rourke's bad day (4 TOs) against CMU will impact him against us. Will CMU beat him twice and allow our defense to come up with some TOs? Or will he refocus and have his cleanest game of the year? It's anyone's guess.
  • Overall I think this is a great chance for a win. The team has tasted success. They have the talent to be decent. When they minimize the mistakes, they can play a solid game and beat anyone in the conference. Even the defending East champs.


Thank you as always for taking the time to read these previews. I enjoy putting them together and I hope you all enjoy reading them. And as always, chime in with any insights of your own. I'd love to hear the Ohio fans' thoughts as well.
I'll be back home in Bowling Green for homecoming. Additionally, on Friday I am giving a guest lecture on the challenges of imaging phones to the Computer Science department's new Computer Forensics track. So I'll be in town for a little while. If anyone wants to catch up, PM me and I'll give you my number. I am looking forward to coming back to the town and university I so cherish.
MarkL has spoken.
You may all now return to your daily lives.
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