Ohio Football Notebook: Depth Tested As Injuries Pile Up< < Back to
Throughout fall camp, the Ohio coaching staff raved about the depth that the Bobcats had this year and that it was much improved from recent years.
Just six weeks into the season, the depth is getting tested.
So far this season, eight major contributors for the Bobcats have missed time due to injury: RB A.J. Ouellette, RB Papi White (5 games), WR Landon Smith (1 game), WR Brendan Cope (1 game), LB Blair Brown, LB Jovon Johnson, CB Ian Wells (1 game), and S Josh Kristoff (2 games).
Plus, three key starters have suffered injuries that will keep them out indefinitely, those being QB Derrius Vick (knee), DB Devin Jones (knee), and DB Nathan Carpenter (hip).
Add in projected starters Durrell Wood (right guard), and Ben Russell (middle linebacker) suffered season-ending injuries in training camp, and it’s easy to see why it is causing some concern amongst the Bobcats coaching staff.
“There’s no doubt our depth has been affected,” said defensive coordinator Jimmy Burrow. “We’re starting to play with less-experienced guys, which is always a little scary.”
With those injuries, players such as freshman CB Kylan Nelson, and redshirt-freshmen LB’s Cody Grilliot and Travis Daugherty have been called on to play crucial snaps of late.
“These guys have a lot of ability, but they just haven’t played much,” Burrow said.
Coming into the season, those three players had zero reps combined in live games. On Saturday, Burrow estimated that some of the young guys played as much as 50-60 snaps in the game.
“The more reps they get, the more confident they’ll get and the more confident we will be,” Burrow said.
After a rough showing at Central Michigan last week, the Bobcats offense did get some good news this week.
True freshman RB/WR Papi White returned to the practice field this week, after missing the last five games due to a knee injury he suffered during Ohio’s Week 1 win at Kent State.
In the game against Kent State, White carried the ball six times for 23 yards, and had one reception for seven yards.
However, White’s status for Saturday’s game against Bowling Green is unclear.
More good news for the Bobcats comes with the right leg of quarterback Derrius Vick.
Vick, who injured his right knee in Ohio’s Week 4 win against Idaho, was seen at practice this week minus the big knee brace and crutches he had been sporting for the last two weeks.
However, Ohio coach Frank Solich said on Monday that Vick is “still week’s away” from playing for the ‘Cats.
On To Bowling Green
Last season, the Bobcats made a mid-week trip to Bowling Green and left with an embarrassing 49-0 loss at the hands of the Falcons.
This year, the Bobcats have that game on their minds as some extra motivation to get back at the Falcons.
“The way the embarrassed us last year, we feel we have extra energy and focus for the game this year,” junior left tackle Mike McQueen said. “It’s homecoming, we’ll have more fans, and former players coming back to support us, so we definitely want to show the good side of our team and show what we are capable of.”
Perhaps one silver lining for Ohio is that Bowling Green’s All-MAC quarterback Matt Johnson won’t be playing. Johnson suffered a hip injury during the Falcons’ Week 1 loss against Western Kentucky.
In Johnson’s place is sophomore James Knapke, who has been solid so far for the Falcons, throwing for 1,559 yards and eight touchdowns.
“This guy is very, very good,” Burrow said. “Bowling Green still has good protection among the offensive line, and still has great athletes around him. I don’t think they’ve missed a beat at QB.”