As the spring practice season passes its halfway mark, the Bobcats are confident that they are on track to field a squad that is capable of replicating its success from 2011.
Ohio has completed eight of its 15 scheduled practices during the spring season and has made some strides toward solidifying a depth chart heading into the summer.
The Bobcats have two more scrimmages ahead of them, including the more formalized Green and White Spring Game on April 21. Between now and then, coach Frank Solich and the rest of his staff are looking to instill a toughness and devotion to fundamentals that will carry over to fall camp.
“I was pleased with the fact we seem to have pretty good team speed on defense,” Solich said. “I think that showed in the scrimmage. I think we will be an aggressive football team.”
That aggressiveness will require a redistribution of team leadership that has already begun to take place this spring. Six of the team’s seven captains graduated, leaving senior tight end Jordan Thompson as the team’s sole returning captain.
But with quarterback Tyler Tettleton still in the fold, the Bobcats have another source of leadership.
“I’m not more vocal, but just more showing through my actions,” Tettleton said. “A lot of guys feed off that.”
Another motivating force during the spring season is the clean slate that every player has for making a good impression with the coaches. Though most starters will keep their jobs and upperclassmen might have an upper hand, the younger Bobcats view spring as a chance to make a move up the depth chart.
“All of our players run our offense and our defense, everybody is trying to move up the depth chart,” Solich said. “So we don’t look at our first-team running and second-team running things all the time. You are also looking at your third and fourth (teams).”
Ohio’s defense has a chance to improve upon an impressive season last year by boosting its performance at the line of scrimmage and in the backfield. The Bobcats return four starters on the defensive line and all four in the secondary.
That should give the squad a chance to improve upon its Mid-American Conference-best 15 interceptions and their fifth-best rushing defense.
The secondary never got a chance to live up to its potential last year, as several key players were injured throughout the year. The unit is still banged up this spring, but defensive backs coach Fred Reed said the squad will rally behind its leader, Travis Carrie.
“(Carrie) got a chance to sit back and learn from some guys that were ahead of him the first couple years,” Reed said. “He’s got a great personality, so they kind of rally around him.”
Ohio will take to the turf at Peden Stadium three more times this week and next week before the spring session closes with the annual spring game. Next fall’s first game is a Sept. 1 contest at Penn State.