Poling, defense look to continue hot start against Miami

After Ohio’s 14-12 victory over the Akron Zips in last week’s Mid-American Conference opener, sophomore defensive end Quentin Poling was asked about the defensive effort the Bobcats made over the final three quarters of the game. After a quck thought, he made his statement short and clear:

“Bend, but don’t break. We just need to stop bending.”

Each time Akron made any sort of threat toward the end zone, the Bobcats’ defense would turn up the dial and force the Zips to settle for field goals – four of them, in fact. That was the difference for the Bobcats in last week’s game, and wasn’t the first time Ohio has been bent to the point of being broken, but did not gave in.

Against Marshall, the Bobcats made two key defensive stops inside their own red zone – one including a forced fumble by the Bobcats at the Ohio one-yard line and created a potential 14-point swing in a game they won by 11 points. Then, with the game almost all but over, senior Nathan Carpenter put the finishing touches on an Ohio win when he intercepted a pass on Marshall’s final drive of the game.

Those two games are a small sample of how well the defense has fared with its’ back against the walls, as they have been one of the best teams in the MAC in keeping opponents out of the end zone. In five games, Ohio has given up the second fewest touchdowns in the MAC, ranking only behind the Toledo Rockets (who, by the way, have played one fewer games than the Bobcats).

Even more impressive is that they have done so with senior linebacker Jovon Johnson missing time with injuries and junior defensive end Tarell Basham being limited at his role. With that being said, Ohio coach Frank Solich has noted how the depth of the defensive has helped them so far.

“We have more depth on the defense than we’ve had for some time,” Solich says. “That’s a huge positive and it’s coming into play as a huge positive for us this early in the season

The depth on the defensive end has helped the the Bobcats stay toward the top the MAC and will certainly play into Ohio’s favor when it hosts the Miami RedHawks tomorrow at Peden Stadium. Similar to Akron, The RedHawks have one of the worst offensive teams in the MAC, averaging a conference-worst 17.4 points per game.

However, Akron nearly bent Ohio to its’ breaking point, despite the low offensive numbers. In order to advance to 2-0 in the MAC, Solich knows they have to match Miami’s effort on both ends.

“They will come in with a great attitude and feeling confident in themselves and their ability,” Solich explains. “And we need to counter that with our own confidence in ourselves and our ability.”

About the Opponent: Miami RedHawks (1-4, 0-1 MAC)

Location: Oxford, Ohio

Established: 1809

Colors: Red and White

Mascot: Swoop the RedHawk

Notable Alumni: Baltimore Ravens’ coach John Harbaugh and former Michigan coach Bo Schembechler

Players in the NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, Houston Texans’ guard Brandon Brooks, New Orleans Saints’ defensive tackle Austin Brown and Green Bay Packers cornerback Quinten Rollins

Previous Bobcat Game: 24-21 Ohio win at Yager Stadium — Nov. 25, 2014

Current Matchup: Saturday at 2:00 p.m. — Peden Stadium

Ohio players to watch

Offense: TE Keith Heitzman — The University of Michigan transfer has been a big part of the passing game this year, and finally caught his first touchdown pass as a Bobcat last week against Akron. His ability to control the middle of the field has allowed the receivers on the outside to get open. Heitzman can sneak out for a big game move, similar to a touchdown pass he caught last week, where he was wide open on a wheel route and walked into the end zone untouched.

Defense: DE Tarall Basham — Despite being limited by injuries, Basham still leads the team in sacks. However, for as much hype as he came into the season with, he hasn’t had a big “breakout” game this year. Is there any better time to have that game than against the RedHawks, OU’s rival, on homecoming weekend? The RedHawks have only given up nine sacks on the season, but Basham will need to make a living the RedHawks backfield if the Bobcats want to continue their success on the defensive end.

Miami players to watch

Offense: WR Sam Martin – Miami doesn’t do much on the offensive end, but one way they can exploit the Bobcats defense is through the air. Martin, who leads the team in receptions and receiving yards, is the best way for Miami to push the Ohio defensive to its’ breaking point. The Bobcats haven’t given up many explosive plays, but the long pass plays against Akron last week shows the vulnerability that Ohio has in the secondary.

Defense: LB Paul Moses – The best way to disrupt Ohio’s offense? Get to the quarterback. The Bobcats have allowed 12 sacks this season, and with Vick not completely 100% physically, the Bobcats will have to bring extra protection. One player they’ll have to watch is Moses, who comes into the game with three sacks and another 4.5 tackles for loss.

Prediction

Ohio 31, Miami 14 – The Bobcats can’t lose on homecoming weekend, can they? At least not to Miami, right? Ohio finds its rhythm on both ends and will leave its fans in good spirits.

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