A week into the spring practice schedule, Ohio football players are adjusting to their new roles on the team.
With six of the team’s seven captains no longer a part of the unit, some of the Bobcats will have to step up to lead the team if it hopes to repeat or build upon its 2011 success.
“Obviously we’re going to have to replace some playmakers,” said quarterback Tyler Tettleton, who will be a redshirt junior next fall. “If anything, just being able to replace those guys and having other guys step up (will help).”
The Bobcats lost their top two wide receivers, their starting running back and two starting linebackers — which is particularly troubling for schools that run a nickel package frequently.
But rising senior Jordan Thompson, the team’s only returning captain, said the team has plenty of talent, and players will have what it takes to step into the outgoing seniors’ shoes.
“There are guys that are good enough to play,” Thompson said. “I think we’ll have guys that will step in and be just fine at those positions.”
But some positions do not have a natural succession process. The team is now without punter Paul Hershey, whose kicks often helped Ohio win the field-position battle.
Hershey also helped out the Bobcats as a member of the good-hands team and as the holder on extra-point attempts and field-goal tries.
“The punting situation is a little bit up in the air. It’s a little bit of a concern. That position is going to be followed very closely,” coach Frank Solich said.
“We have two walk-on kickers that will be vying for the position. We’ll most likely have another one that’s coming in, and I like the guys that we’re going to be choosing from,” he said.
As for the holding job, Solich said he has backup quarterback Derrius Vick in mind. Vick offers multiple options on kicking plays, as his ability to throw and run gives Ohio options to fake a play.
“He has excellent hands,” Solich said. “That’s a spot typically that a lot of coaches will use a quarterback for.”
The Bobcats will have security under center with Tettleton returning for his second season as a starter. But Tettleton, who said he is taking on more of a leadership role because of his on-field experience, refused to take the starting role for granted.
“I feel like nothing’s given to me. It’s a new year, so everything’s new,” Tettleton said. “If anything, I’m going to go out there and prove myself again.”
The Bobcats made the leap to an up-tempo offense in 2011, and it led them to their most decorated season in team history. But Solich said the squad would continue to look for ways to improve its attack on both sides of the ball.
“As far as changing things, after last season, I’m sure the coaches sat down and went through a list of what went well and what didn’t work well,” Thompson said.
“I’m not sure how much more offensive output we could have. With Tyler coming back, it all starts with the quarterback, and we have the offense around him that is capable of making big plays.”