The Ohio Bobcats (6-4, 3-3) hit a low point last Tuesday in Bowling Green when the Falcons manhandled the Green & White in an Alabama-like fashion. It was an embarassment of sorts, and many players expressed their disappointment with the recent play of the team on practice the following Thursday.
“Practice today, the tempo increased and everyone was pushing one another,” tight end Troy Hill said on Ohio’s first day back to Peden on Thrusday. “We’re still trying to keep the same pace and make sure everyone has the right mindset going into the game.”
It sure did seem like most of the Bobcat players were out of sorts in the cold elements up north last week, leaving defenders frozen in their tracks when approaching the elusive BG backs. That can’t be the case this week when the Kent State Golden Flashes (3-8, 2-5) come to town Tuesday for an 8 p.m. ESPN2 matchup at Peden Stadium. The Golden Flashes operate on a two-back complimentary backfield that together, create a dangerous and explosive unit.
Standing at 5-8 and weighing 175 pounds, standout running back Dri Archer causes mayhem whenever he sees open field because of his lightning-quick movements. His other half, 6-1, 248-pound Trayion Durham, is the thunderous plow that wreaks havoc in between the guards. Although the two haven’t seen as much success as they accomplished last season, the victory against Miami last week sparked a revival in their backfield success.
“We’re looking forward to not letting [Archer] go east and west and instead go north and south, because he’s not that big of a runner and he doesn’t really break tackles,” Johnson said of the defense’s strategy to suffocate the Kent rushing attack. “We’re trying to contain him and keep him in the inside where we can tackle him and keep up with him.”
Despite major disappointment and frustration with the team’s play last week, head coach Frank Solich has confidence that all three units can get back to their early-season form this week. Kent just recently ended a five-game skid last Wednesday against winless Miami, but the issue Ohio’s D has had with MAC running backs this season makes this an unfavorable matchup for the ‘Cats on paper. The Golden Flashes rank fifth in the conference in rushing yards per game (170.6), while the ‘Cats have given up 187.2 yards per game on the ground since entering MAC play.
“We understand the quality of team that we’re facing, and it will take a great effort and the top of our game to get it done,” Solich said. “The games between Kent State have been physical, hard-fought football games.”
Hopefully Solich’s latter statements provides incentive, other than the “Bobcat Blackout” promotion, for fans to attend the game in order to send off a senior class that spawned success in Athens. With the final game after the Ohio-Kent contest coming the day after Thanksgiving, this may be the last chance for students to witness original greatness.
“We want to let them know that we didn’t give up, so they shouldn’t give up,” Hill, a senior, said.
About the Opponent: Kent State Golden Flashes
Location: Kent, Ohio
Colors: Navy Blue and Gold
Mascot: Flash the Golden Eagle
Notable Alumni: Talk show host, Arsenio Hall, and college football coach and T.V. sportscaster, Lou Holtz
Players in the NFL: New England Patriots wide receiver, Julian Edelman, and San Diego Chargers tight end, Antonio Gates
Previous Bobcat Game: 28-6 Kent State win at Dix Stadium – Nov. 23, 2012
Key to the Game
Limiting Kent from running outside the tackles – After a solid half of defense against Buffalo early on two weeks ago, the Ohio run D has looked atrocious in terms of tackling form and protecting the outside boundaries of the field. The Bobcats were plowed over by Branden Oliver and then out sprinted by Travis Greene, but now Ohio faces similar challenges again. Durham and Archer got back into rhythm last week against Miami, and that could spell trouble for the ‘Cats if they don’t stay disciplined on defense.
Bobcats to Watch
Offense: QB Derrius Vick – Tettleton’s comments after the blowout loss this past Tuesday weren’t the typical statements that you would expect from a senior caption quarterback. Once Vick saw playing time in the fourth quarter at BG, he was trying his hardest to bowl over Falcon defenders despite getting pummeled in the backfield on occasion. Ohio’s future starter has what it takes to be a successful dual-threat QB in the MAC. Because of his work ethic lately, he’ll likely see time early on in the first half.
Defense: S Xavier Hughes – When analyzing the Bobcats performance play by play against Bowling Green, there were few positive plays. I spotted one by the starters, and that came off of a nice jump by Hughes, which resulted in his team-high fourth interception on the season. Xavier has been one of four defensive players to be able to start in all 10 contests this season. A season prior Hughes only saw action in four games. When X is on the field, he’s the biggest difference maker on the defense.
Golden Flashes to Watch
Offense: RB Dri Archer – In this contest, Archer will be more of a threat to the Bobcats than Durham. Ohio was able to contain the physical Oliver for one half, but Greene jolted to the outside every opportunity he got, compiling 129 yards in the first half. If Archer gets things going outside, the Green & White will be in for a long day at Peden.
Defense: DL Roosevelt Nix – Ohio’s problem over the past couple weeks has been with the lack of establishing a ground game. The ‘Cats were playing catch up from the start against Bowling Green, leading to an abandonment of the running game. If Ohio can’t prevent Nix, who has compiled four sacks and is second in the MAC with 12 tackles for losses, from penetrating the offensive line, then Ohio could be in for another big loss.
Bobcats 20, Golden Flashes 17 – Even though Ohio’s season didn’t down spiral as much as Kent’s did, both squads that nearly tasted MAC Championship glory in the past two seasons are now on the outside. However, Ohio will still have the possibility for a bowl birth, which will serve as the extra motivation that the ‘Cats need to end their two-game skid at home.