Here's a look ahead to Saturday's Ohio University at UB football game. We asked Jason Arkley of the Athens Messenger for a quick update on the Ohio Bobcats (5-2). Ohio is coming off a 49-14 loss to Western Michigan, but the Bobcats beat UB last year, 37-14.
1. How has QB Derrius Vick played, and what are his strengths and weaknesses?
Vick has played pretty well, especially when healthy. He's been more accurate this season, and in my opinion excels when it comes to deep throws. He's a decent runner, but that part of his game has been handicapped with a nagging ankle sprain over the last month. He's willing to play hurt and is a guy the offense, especially the O-line, will rally around.
2. Do you expect a bounce-back from the Western Michigan loss, or do you think the LB injuries could greatly change the dominance of Ohio's defense?
The LB injuries will impact the defense, but that was only part of the issue against WMU. Yes, Ohio's top 4 LBs are battling injury, and I expect no more than two of them to play at Buffalo (Jovon Johnson and Blair Brown). But there was an emotional letdown component in the second half that Ohio needs to address/correct, and I think will. If I'm Buffalo, I'm making sure I'm trying that inside zone run repeatedly either way.
3. How well have Ohio's cornerbacks played. Do they play a lot of press coverage?
Ohio has received good corner play all season. Senior Ian Wells is the best of the bunch and will likely get stuck to Willoughby. Seniors Brett Layton and Devin Bass will also see a lot of time. Solid group. Ohio will use press coverage often. Cover 4 is the base look for the Bobcats, and opponents haven't often found much over the top against it this season.
4. What are a few of the things Frank Solich has done especially well in building a consistent winner in Athens?
Solich's plan in Athens was always, and still is, for the long haul. Junior college transfers are usually few and far between (1-2 per season), and the staff is able to redshirt the vast majority of true freshmen. Continuity at the top of the staff (DC Jimmy Burrow and OC Tim Albin came in with Solich) has been a plus. Solich has been able to get facility improvements, home games and a budget that are at a level unseen in Ohio's modern history. While the Bobcats don't have that MAC title yet, they'll be on the list of contenders most every season regardless.