Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Post - Athens, OH
The independent newspaper covering campus and community since 1911.
The Post

Football: Spring practice begins

Spring football practice kicked off yesterday under gray skies, intermittent rain and hail, but the weather might not have been as bleak as what the Bobcats face during their initial preparations for the 2011 season.  

Although 156 days remain before Ohio visits New Mexico State in its opening contest, coach Frank Solich and his staff have plenty of items on their agenda to complete. The most daunting of those tasks is replacing two-thirds of the team’s starting defense.

In all, 12 first-string players from the Bobcats’ 2010 squad will not return next season. Their absences leave gaping holes that need to be filled before the Sept. 3 game against the Aggies.

The most glaring vacancies exist on the defensive line and in the secondary. All four starting linemen from last season were seniors, as were both starting safeties and one of the cornerbacks.

Sixth-year defensive coordinator and safeties coach Jimmy Burrow said starters might be named during spring practice to get a clearer picture of what the squad might look like this fall.

“We’d like to (name starters),” he said. “If somebody separates themselves from the next guy, then we would name starters.

“It’s a long way to go, and we’ll have a lot of good film to evaluate here during the course of spring ball.”

With the linemen and secondary in question, the Bobcats’ most experienced unit is the linebackers. Four returning players gained experience on the gridiron last season. Eric Benjamin and Alphonso Lewis will be seniors in the fall, and Jelani Woseley adds depth to the corp.

“If you’re picking one group that’s the most experienced, then that would be the group,” Burrow said. “But you look elsewhere, especially with some of the guys that are out with injuries right now, it looks maybe even younger than it really is.”

Anchoring Ohio’s defense will be senior linebacker Noah Keller, who sustained a season-ending foot injury early last season and received a medical redshirt after playing in only three games. He had 26 tackles, one sack and a forced fumble in his limited time.

“As much as I’d never thought I’d say it, I do miss spring ball practice when before everyone used to dread it,” Keller said.

“Ever since high school I never missed a game. It’s definitely different, a humbling experience. I’m ready to get back to it.”

Ohio needs to replace a trio of outgoing seniors in its starting secondary. The Bobcats will lose Julian Posey at cornerback, but three players who saw significant time at the position will be juniors or seniors next year.

At safety, Ohio has much less depth. The top three players on last fall’s depth chart were seniors, and among the Bobcats’ reserves, only little-used redshirt sophomore Storm Timson played in 2010.

A rebuilding process also awaits the defensive line. Dak Notestine, Marcellis Williamson, Ernie Hodge and Stafford Gatling were a fixture in the trenches for two seasons, but now the Bobcats must find a new combination of big men.

“That was a close-knit group,” Burrow said. “You’re trying to develop a team and a lot of good chemistry, and when you just don’t know who are the starters, then that just takes time.”

Offensively, Ohio will replace four starters. The offensive line went untouched by graduation, but the Bobcats will need to find new players to produce points — namely, a quarterback, tailback and two wide receivers.

Redshirt senior LaVon Brazill returns after missing much of 2010 with a foot injury to bolster Ohio’s receiving corps and kick-return game. He also plans to see time in the secondary.

“It feels good to be back out here with the family and everything,” Brazill said. “I missed it a lot. I’m just glad to be back out here and healthy.”

Redshirt senior Phil Bates split time with ex-Bobcat Boo Jackson under center, but Tyler Tettleton, Derek Roback and Kyle Snyder will vie for the starting role.

All took snaps at practice yesterday except for Bates, who did not participate.

“It’s harder to get to know which quarterback’s going to be starting, but you’ve got to work together and try to build that chemistry with both of the quarterbacks,” Brazill said. “I try to work with all the quarterbacks, but it’s just hard to work out because you don’t know which quarterback is (starting).”


Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2016-2024 The Post, Athens OH