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Frank Solich

Football: 'Cats hit snooze button for some extra Z's before Owls

Before facing Temple, Ohio decided to take a rest. A ’Catnap, so to speak.

The Owls (5-3, 3-2) are one of the more physical teams in the Mid-American Conference and boast the best one-two rushing attack that Ohio (5-3, 2-2) will face this season. Ohio has not played since Saturday and has six more days before Temple touches down in Athens.

But so far, the Bobcats have not stepped foot onto the field to prepare for the Owls. They will take the turf at Peden Stadium again this afternoon after four days without taking any reps.

Coach Frank Solich’s reasoning for the break was simple: The team needed to heal up more than it needed to pad up.

“You crank up the intensity and you get yourself all banged up again, and you’re right back to where the off week didn’t help you,” he said.

Ohio has been putting in shorter hours at practice the last two weeks. The team sometimes takes an extra day without wearing pads to keep the players fresh and ready for the weekend.

“When you’re constantly banging during practice and games, the bumps and bruises pile up,” tight end Jordan Thompson said. “I’m still feeling a hit that I took in the Buffalo game three weeks ago.”

But the team had not had multiple days off in a row since the season began. With a few days to get rid of their bumps and bruises and to clear their minds, the Bobcats will now get back to business as usual.

“I expect that our focus will be great,” Solich said. “They know what they’ve got to do to make this thing work.”

Defensive dominance

No MAC team has matched the defensive effort the Owls have mustered. Other than a 36-13 loss to Toledo, no team has scored more than 14 points against Temple. That includes a 38-7 road win against Maryland and a narrow 14-10 loss to Penn State.

Before falling to Bowling Green last weekend, the Owls had put together a 134-minute stretch of scoreless football. Neither Ball State nor Buffalo — both of which defeated Ohio — managed any points against the staunch defense. The Owls allow only 10 points and 263 yards per game.

Solich said the Bobcats would need to adjust mentally to what might be a low-scoring affair.

“The lack of production in points leads to frustration,” he said. “You’ve just got to understand that you’re playing a team that doesn’t allow people to put points on the board. You’ve got to find way to do it.”

Ohio’s players agree with their coach, saying they have had success in past weeks and are capable of generating offense against Temple’s defense.

“It comes down to who executes more,” Thompson said. “Our offense is capable of moving the ball and we’ve shown that.”

Power and balance

Temple has two of the best running backs in the MAC to complement its shutdown defense. Juniors Bernard Pierce and Matt Brown contribute 189 yards on the ground per game, which is more yardage than 10 MAC teams compile a week. Ohio averages 186.5 yards per game.

Pierce has the power to break through the defensive line, the agility to avoid opposing linebackers and the speed to separate from defensive backs. He averages more than 22 carries per game and gains about five yards per carry.

“Some of their runs are designed that regardless of the kind of blitz that you’re running, they’re still going to run that play,” Solich said. “Some teams would be checking out. They’re not into, necessarily, just checking out.”

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