Ohio ready for home opener
Bobcats to be challenge by strong-armed QB
By Lonnie McMillan / Contributor
Thursday, September 06, 2012
ATHENS – Coming off a 24-14 victory at Penn State, the Ohio football team has to make sure not to experience any letdowns its home opener Saturday against New Mexico State.
Ohio coach Frank Solich said he does not expect the Bobcats will have any problem being in the right mindset against the Aggies.
“I really do believe we have that kind of group that will be able to move on,” he said. “We’ve always approached every season, every game, just one at a time. I think our players understand that and know that. I think they also know there’s no one on our schedule that cannot beat us if we don’t play great football. And so we need to line up and play really well every week.”
Based on the result of New Mexico State’s first game, a 49-19 victory against Sacramento State, it should be apparent to Ohio that it will have to play well to come out a winner again, Solich said.
“You know it’s a pretty easy sell in terms of New Mexico State being a good football team,” he said. “They scored 49 points in their first game.”
The Aggies showed they are capable of big plays in their opener, especially from the arm of quarterback Andrew Manley. He had three touchdown passes of 50 yards or more in the first half alone in his team’s opener, finishing the game 14 of 22 for 367 yards.
Austin Franklin led all receivers across the nation the first week with 236 yards. He made eight catches, including touchdown grabs of 53 and 84 yards.
Jerrel Brown added a 50-yard touchdown reception.
“In a lot of ways, offensively, they will present more problems for us than what Penn State did,” Solich said. “They’ve got a quarterback who’s got a tremendously strong arm. They go down the field a fair amount of the time. They got two really good, quality receivers that are physical players as well as having great speed and hands.”
New Mexico State did struggle to get its running game going in its opener, though, totaling 101 yards on 40 attempts. Robert Clay led the way with 11 attempts for 33 yards. He was one of four backs to carry at least seven times. In addition, Manley was sacked four times.
The Aggies also showed some vulnerability on defense, allowing 397 yards to the FCS team that went 4-7 a year ago. The Hornets had success throwing the ball, completing 23 of 35 passes for 308 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.
After a slow start against Penn State, both the Ohio offense and defense found success in the second half.
Offensively, Tyler Tettleton led the way with 324 passing yards and two touchdowns, completing 31 of 41 passes. He added 47 rushing yards and a touchdown on the ground.
Beau Blankenship was a workhorse with 109 yards rushing on 31 carries. He also caught seven passes for 72 yards.
“Beau was very productive, got everything he could out of the plays,” Solich said.
Ohio’s only returning starting receiver Donte Foster had five catches for 32 yards. The Bobcats also got big production from converted cornerback Ryan Clark (four catches for 54 yards) and sophomore Landon Smith (three caches for 82 yards).
“(The wide receivers) were a question mark coming into the season, I don’t think there’s any question about it,” Solich said. “And then the last week of fall camp, I thought they really started improving, you could see it on film. They looked faster, they looked quicker, they were coming out of breaks better. They were catching the ball much, much better.”
Altogether, Ohio’s defense allowed 352 yards to the Nittany Lions for an average of 5.0 yards per play. Penn State threw often, completing 27 of 48 passes for 260 yards. It rushed for just 92 yards on 22 attempts.
Middle linebacker Keith Moore led the way on defense with seven tackles. Safety Gerald Moore and nickel back Nate Carpenter had six tackles apiece.
Cornerback Jamil Shaw left the Penn State game early and is questionable against New Mexico State. Defensive end Nic Barber did not play against the Nittany Lions and is also questionable with a shoulder injury. Safety Xavier Hughes has been cleared to play against the Aggies after sitting out the opener for disciplinary reasons.
Ohio did lose one player, wide receiver Mario Dovell, for its home opener due to a leg injury.
Kickoff at Peden Stadium is set for 7 p.m. Saturday.