The story this season was supposed to be Ohio having two healthy, experienced quarterbacks that could step onto the field at any time and be comfortable. Just three weeks into the 2015 season, the Bobcats’ (2-0, 0-0 MAC) QB situation isn’t exactly reassuring.
In Ohio’s 21-10 win over Marshall, Derrius Vick exited the game with a right arm injury just two quarters before his comrade J.D. Sprague left the game with a shoulder injury. Sprague is out for up to three weeks and Vick is questionable to start on Saturday. Even if Vick does play, redshirt junior Greg Windham is likely to receive considerable time under center.
Frank Solich is comfortable with Windham at the reigns, but says he’s not the one that needs to be comfortable.
“We are confident in Greg,” Solich said. “What is probably even more important is Greg’s confidence in Greg.”
In limited action last season, Windham completed 10 of 13 pass attempts for 82 yards and 20 rushing yards. Sources say that if Vick starts, he will be replaced by Windham if the ‘Cats garner a comfortable lead.
In recent years, when the Green & White hosted FCS schools, that comfortable lead was a foregone conclusion, but Ohio will have its hands full when it faces the two-time reigning Southland Conference Champion Southeastern Louisiana Lions on Saturday afternoon.
“They are very much a football team that will run and be physical with you,” Solich said. “They have been very effective in operating the way they have been operating.”
The Lions are currently ranked No. 17 in the FCS Coaches’ Poll and will be far from outmatched physically when they line-up against the Bobcats. The Southeastern Louisiana roster is littered with transfers from Division I FBS programs.
SE Louisiana boasts a ground attack that has run the ball 58 times per game this season. The Lion’s triple-option attack features several running backs and will be led on Saturday by redshirt freshman quarterback Donovon Isom.
In its 28-17 victory last week over Florida Tech, SE Louisiana forced a jaw-dropping nine turnovers and scored three of its touchdowns on the defensive side of the ball. The Lions struggled to capitalize off their takeaways after starting QB D’Shaie Landor suffered an injury left the game.
About the Opponent: Southeastern Louisiana Lions (2-0, 1-0 Southland)
Colors: Green & Gold
Mascot: Roomie the Lion
Notable Alumni: ABC broadcaster Robin Roberts and Harlem Globetrotter/The Amazing Race participant Nathaniel “Big Easy” Lofton
Players in the NFL: N/A
Previous Bobcat Game: N/A
Current Matchup: Saturday at 2 p.m. — Peden Stadium
Ohio players to watch
Offense: QB Greg Windham – The redshirt junior may be inexperienced, but Solich and the Ohio coaching staff has praised Windham for his improvement in the offseason, noting that he threw his hat into the Bobcats’ quarterback competition. Windham could see the first significant action of his career Saturday.
Defense: S Nathan Carpenter – The senior safety was awarded with MAC Defensive Player of the Week honors after his four tackle, fumble recovery and interception in Ohio’s win over Marshall. Last week’s performance gives Carpenter two interceptions and fumble recoveries on the young season. Those numbers rank him second in FBS in takeaways. Carpenter will have a different role on Saturday because he’ll be tasked with filling the box and slowing down the Lions’ rushing attack.
SE Louisiana players to watch
Offense: QB Donovon Isom – The redshirt freshman transfer from Utah is likely to get the start behind center on Saturday. In his Lions debut, Isom completed 5 of 11 pass attempts for 40 yards and ran for 55 yards in relief of injured starter D’Shaie Landor. The Lions don’t air it out often, but if the Bobcats get a nice lead, we’ll get a chance to see more of Isom’s arm.
Defense: LB Tre’ Bennett – The junior linebacker forced two fumbles in SELA’s victory over Florida Tech. Bennett spearheads the Lions linebacker corps that recorded two interceptions and three forced fumbles as a unit last week. Don’t expect them to match those numbers, but Bennett will be around the ball all day.
Ohio 31, SE Louisiana 17 – I see the Bobcats winning this one by 10+, but don’t sleep on the Lions. Both of these teams have questions at quarterback, but the experience of Ohio’s supporting cast will set them apart. The SE Louisiana run game will tire down the Bobcats D and may bust a few big runs, but not enough to upset Ohio and give the Lions their first win over an FBS opponent.