Holy crap, is it really time for these summer series again?
Nothing signals the summer stretch of the off season like good filler posts like Summer Snapshot, tomorrow's first ITBUUS (Inside the Bloggers Unwashed, Unshaven Studio), and others totally geared toward giving you something to read as we all count down the seconds until college football 2012.
As the summer progresses, every few days we will feature a new team, moving chronologically through Penn State's football schedule. Naturally, we're kicking things off with a team that should make any smart fan uneasy in his gut: The Ohio Bobcats.
Join me below the fold for a snapshot of the Bobcats this summer.The Past Few Years in Athens...
When Frank Solich arrived in 2005, the Ohio program wasn't even mediocre. The Bobcats had won a mere 11 games in the four seasons prior to Solich's hire. In the 22 years since 1982, Ohio had a total of two winning seasons, with the highest win total at eight victories.
It didn't take Solich long to make his mark on the team. In 2006, just a year after taking over the program, the Bobcats took the MAC by storm with a 9-5 season. That year included trips to the MAC Championship Game and the GMAC Bowl. Both resulted in losses, but proved to be a critical turning point in the program's trajectory under Solich. Since then, Ohio has only one losing season (2008), with 27 wins in the past three years. To put that into perspective, Penn State has won... 27 games in the past three years.
In 2011, Ohio's program reached the elusive 10-win mark, something Athens hadn't seen in over 40 years. The Bobcats failed to beat Northern Illinois for the MAC title, but beat Utah State in the bowl game, the program's first postseason victory.
The team will lean much more heavily on its passing game this year, with quarterback Tyler Tettleton taking the snaps. The rising junior and 2012 team captain became the first Ohio player ever last year to throw for more than 3,000 yards in a season. But he's far from a pocket passer. Tettleton not only threw for 3.302 yards at a 64 percent completion rate, but ran for 658 yards at four years per carry. That's better than most backup running backs. With Penn State's secondary looking thinner than a wet tissue, a quarterback like Tettleton could be the poison that kills the Nittany Lions on opening day.
The defense was inexperienced last year with just four returning starters, but this year brings back eight on that side of the ball. Solich called this his best defense ever at Ohio. He is probably right. Though Ohio loses its top defender in Noah Keller, two of the team captains are in the secondary this year in seniors CB Travis Carrie and S Gerald Moore. Moore started all 14 last year, while Carrie finished with 84 tackles and 17 passes defended.
Looking at the schedule, Ohio's season could start off with an earth-shattering upset in Happy Valley. But even if the Bobcats come away without a victory, pushing Penn State to the limit on opening day would send a warning to the rest of Ohio's opponents that this team is not to be taken lightly. Last season's 10-win total was a great achievement for this program. Ohio could easily top that mark in 2012, as the talent and experience from top to bottom is there for a landmark campaign, possibly a championship one at that.
Be sure to check out SBNation's MAC blog Hustle Belt for more Ohio Bobcats coverage this season.
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