Updated Mon, Nov 18, 2013 10:52 pm
There was a sense of urgency at Ohio Bobcats football practice this week, as up-tempo coaches used high-energy drills in an attempt to spark life into the players that have appeared unmotivated and disinterested ever since the second half of their 30-3 loss to the Buffalo Bulls.
With a Mid-American Conference Championship now out of reach and the chance of a bowl berth appearing less likely, the Bobcats need to find a new goal on which to set their sights, as they welcome the Kent State Golden Flashes to Peden Stadium on Tuesday night.
The Bobcats have come under criticism over the last two weeks for appearing unenthusiastic, some even saying that Ohio seems to have checked out for the remainder of the season.
“The enthusiasm wasn't there,” head coach Frank Solich said. “The ability to take a hit and come back off of it and deliver was not shown. Those are alarming things.”
Coaches have attempted to set the energy level high for Tuesday night’s game however, as the staff required faster and higher intensified level of practice this week. Even outside of drills, coaches told players to run and move quickly from place to place, hoping to instill a “never let up” attitude.
“We have to get in the right mindset coming out of practice,” freshman defensive lineman Terell Basham said. “We have to want to fly around and make plays. If everyone wants to fly around and make plays, then hopefully we’ll have more plays made overall.”
“There were obviously some things that needed to be turned around,” senior wide receiver Donte Foster said. “We’re out here with intensity and high energy and that’ll carry over to the game.”
After the Bobcats have played their last two games against teams at the top of the MAC East Division, they now transition to one of the division’s worst in Kent State, a team that has plundered from winning the MAC East just a year ago.
With the Golden Flashes’ 3-8 record, many would expect the Bobcats to easily secure a victory at home, but they Flashes still boast many talented pieces that could cause trouble for Ohio.
Senior running back Dri Archer has struggled with injury throughout the season, a setback that has prevented him from continuing his high level of play from the 2012 season. Archer ran for 1,429 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground last season, but has only mustered 389 yards and three touchdowns so far this season. However, the back is coming off of one of his better performances on the season against the Miami RedHawks last week and the Bobcats have consistently struggled to stop the run all season.
“We need to put a few good hits on him to slow him down,” Basham said. “He’ll be a little bit more hesitant of coming inside knowing that we’re hitting hard in there. He’ll be hesitant going outside as well. He knows that if he cuts back, he’ll take a hit.”
Ohio has faced arguably the best two defenses in the entire conference over the past two weeks, but the Flashes’ defense shouldn’t provide as big of a challenge to the Bobcat front even though the Flashes have been a strong defensive team in recent years.
“They’ve always been a great defensive team,” Foster said. “They’ve played some really good opponents this year and their record doesn’t show how good they really are.”
The Bobcats could figure out all of the X’s and O’s perfectly and have a flawless game plan set out on paper, but at the end of the day, there is a reason why the coaching staff has preached energy in practice all week.
With energy, motivation, and any sort of drive, the Bobcats can put an end to their current struggle and improve their résumé for a possible bowl bid with a win on Tuesday night.
“We need to let everyone know that Ohio Football hasn’t gone anywhere,” Basham said. “We’ve just had a little deficit for the last two weeks.”
“We’re hungry,” Basham added. “We haven’t eaten in a while.”
The Bobcats and Golden Flashes kick off from Peden Stadium on Tuesday night at 8 in front of a “Bobcat Blackout” crowd. A win would guarantee a winning record for the fifth straight season and the sixth time in the Frank Solich era.