Updated Fri, Aug 31, 2012 5:17 pm
Updated Fri, Aug 31, 2012 5:17 pm
Saturday’s season opener between Ohio and Penn State is full of opportunity as both teams look to start the season with a big win.
Penn State is looking for a morale boost, a fresh start to a new era. The Bobcats are looking to prove that they can live up to the preseason hype.
The Nittany Lions will debut under first-year head coach Bill O’Brien, a former assistant of Bill Belichick’s in New England. Penn State will be fueled by a hostile crowd of about 100,000 people.
Penn State’s quarterback, Matt McGloin, who split time with Rob Bolden last year, threw for eight touchdowns last year. The fifth-year senior is more of a game manager and leader, his numbers don't quite match up to Tyler Tettleton's last year.
The Nittany Lions lost their two best offensive returners, running back Silas Redd and receiver Justin Brown both transferred to USC and Oklahoma, respectively. The pair combined for 9 touchdowns and 1,798 yards of total offense last season.
Bill Belton will be replacing Redd at running back, he is a converted receiver who is new to the position.
Penn State also has an inexperienced offensive line, the only returning starter is center Matt Stankiewitch. The left side of the line is very young, Penn State is starting a sophomore at left guard and a freshman at left tackle.
The Nittany Lions' front seven is their biggest strength. "Linebacker U's" defense is led by three players; outside linebackers Gerald Hodges and Michael Mauti, and defensive tackle Jordan Hill. The three are all NFL prospects who will make it very hard for Ohio to establish a running game.
Ohio is poised and ready to have the best season in school history. Multiple outlets have chosen the Bobcats to win the MAC and a Sports Illustrated blogger chose them to run the table and possibly earn a BCS berth.
The Bobcats run a no-huddle offense; quarterback Tyler Tettleton orchestrates the squad with a controlled chaos. He led the Bobcats to school records in points, total yards and total passing yards last year.
Tettleton was third team All-Mac selection last year; he threw for 3,302 yards and 28 TDs, while rushing for 658 yards and 10 TDS. He lost his best weapon in LaVon Brazill to the NFL Draft, but Ohio still retains a solid receiving core. Donte Foster is the best returning receiver for Ohio. He caught 30 passes for 352 yards and 5 touchdowns last year. Senior captain Jordan Thompson will also be a big factor this season, the tight end had 24 receptions for 258 yards last year. Ohio's inexperienced receivers against Penn State's weak secondary will be a good matchup to watch.
Ohio’s backfield is led by Beau Blankenship and Ryan Boykin, who rushed for a combined 927 yards last year. The Bobcats' backfield duo is respectable, but they will be facing a great defense, with multiple NFL prospects. It is unlikely that the two will be able to affectively rush the ball.
The Bobcats defense suffered a huge blow when senior cornerback Travis Carrie went down with a shoulder injury in camp and needed season ending surgery. Carrie was a second team All-Mac player last year and his loss is a huge one.
Ohio’s defense is solid. The line is reliable; they are all experienced seniors who play well off of each other. Keith Moore, the quick junior linebacker, is looking to lead Ohio's defense and fill the big shoes left behind by former Ohio linebacker Noah Keller. Ohio's defensive poise will be tested as the raucous crowd of 100,000 plus at Beaver stadium will be trying their hardest to disturb Moore and the defense.