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Ohio University quarterback Tyler Tettleton (4) attemps to run past Ball State linebacker Tony Martin (47), Oct. 15 at Peden Stadium. Ohio lost 23 to 20.

Football Notebook: 'Cats rest, regroup, try to rebound from slump before final stretch

It’s that time of the year again for Ohio football.

No, not National Signing Day. Homecoming has come and gone. Still 36 days until Thanksgiving.

Whether it is early or late in the year, and whether the Bobcats are expected to thrive or dive, there always seems to be a point where season goals become harder to attain.


That day was Saturday, when Ohio dropped its third game out of four — something the team has done 10 of the past 11 years. The only squad immune from the pattern since 2000 was the 2009 Mid-American Conference East Division championship team.

“I don’t know how that compares with a lot of teams in the MAC. I would imagine that at least half that aren’t having winning seasons are having that kind of problem,” coach Frank Solich said.

Less than a month ago, the team sat at 3-0 and eyed a road upset against Rutgers. With running back Donte Harden sidelined, the injuries continued that game: cornerback Travis Carrie left with a head injury.

Carrie returned for the MAC opener against Kent State, but nose guard Neal Huynh and cornerback Omar Leftwich sustained more serious injuries. Another defensive back, Xavier Hughes, and defensive lineman Carl Jones left the game against Buffalo, and fellow lineman Curtis Meyers had little impact because of illness.

The injury flood ceased in the loss to Ball State, but the damage had been done.

Of those games, Ohio only managed to defeat Kent State, and the only thing decimated more than the secondary was the already thin defensive line.

In addition to injuries, an increasingly not-so-easy strength of schedule might play a role in Ohio’s struggles. Four of Ohio’s seven opponents have beaten a member of a Bowl Championship Series automatic qualifier conference this season.

But senior linebacker Noah Keller sees on-field symptoms of a slump, too.

“We haven’t been forcing turnovers, we haven’t been getting after the quarterback, and we’re losing the field position battle,” he said. “Those are three definitely key stats … that will definitely sway (games) into your favor.”

Rest for the weary

Saturday’s game in Akron will mark Ohio’s final weekend game of the regular season. The team will have 10 days off before facing Temple at home Wednesday, Nov. 2.

The Bobcats will take three days without any football-related activity following the game to give players a chance to heal and regroup mentally before the final stretch of competition.

During Solich’s tenure, Ohio has gone 11-9 for the rest of the regular season after having at least nine days off.

With rest, restored health and luck, Keller said playing in a bowl game or winning the MAC East hasn’t been ruled out.

“We’ve always kind of been a streaky team,” he said. “Hopefully, we’re ready to get back on that run, start getting some guys back, getting some guys healthy, just get the ball rolling.”

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