Coming off the heels of a Bowl Game win last season, the future looks bright for the Frank Solich coached Bobcats as they kickoff camp this week.
Last season the Bobcats of Ohio University posted a 8-4 record, with five of those wins coming inside the their own Peden Stadium, as they posted a 5-1 home record and a even-keel 3-3 record on the road. The 8-4 record was good enough to land a bowl bid. They traveled to The Bahamas where they faced off against the Blazers of UAB and overpowered them on the ground, racking up 249 rushing yards and winning handily, 41-6. Ohio quarterback Nathan Rourke, who won the starting job early in the season threw for 185 yards and two scores on 18 attempts, which leads me to the first thing to look forward to in 2018.
Nathan Rourke has proven he can lead the team. The 6-2, 209 pound junior from Oakville, Ontario performed well last season. Rourke threw for just over 2200 yards and 17 touchdowns and rushed for 907 yards and an Ohio University record 21 scores on the ground. The future looks bright for the dual threat quarterback, he was named to two national award watchlists, the Davey O’Brien Award watchlist and the Maxwell Award watchlist. Each year these awards are given to the nation’s best quarterback and the nation’s best player respectively. Look forward to a big season from the QB1 as he will surely be attempting to set more records and bring the first conference championship to Athens since 1968 in his first full season as a starter.
In Frank Solich’s 13 year tenure at Ohio University he has been unable to win a MAC championship and has came up short in the game a few times, but going into his 14th season at the university, the team has been picked as the favorite to win it. With returning offensive starters Papi White, a quick receiver who had 631 yards on 36 receptions in 8 games and senior running back AJ Ouellette, who tallied his first 1000 yard rushing season. The offense could improve on a great season from a year ago. The experienced line, led by redshirt senior Joe Lowery will be leading the way for the powerful offense as they try to make it to Detroit for the 22nd MAC championship game.
Returning play makers on the defensive side of the ball are tackles Andrew Payne and Kent Berger, and senior linebacker Evan Croutch. They will look to put heat on the quarterback and stuff the run game to make it easier for the secondary. The secondary does not have a lack of returning players either. Junior safety, Javon Hagan looks to shine for the Cats this season. After racking up 85 tackles and getting one interception in 2017, Hagan looks to improve those numbers and watch over the Jimmy Burrow coached defense. Also returning in the secondary is redshirt senior cornerback Jalen Fox and another red shirt senior, Kylan Nelson at free safety. Experience is what Jimmy Burrow’s defenses have lacked in past seasons, and with a strong returning group of players who saw substantial time on the field last season, they look to be better equipped to give the fast-paced offense a break while they’re on the field.
In Frank Solich’s 14th season at Ohio University he will look to lead the experienced team to their first Mid American Conference Championship win in 49 years. The high-powered offense and experienced defensive secondary could be just what the Bobcats need to bring a conference championship to Athens, Ohio and give fans a reason to stay in Peden Stadium after the Marching 110’s always entertaining halftime show.