Ohio Football Travels to Take On Minnesota

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If Ohio football takes down Minnesota on Saturday, it will likely be due to the upset that the Bobcat offense pulls off over the Golden Gopher defense.

Minnesota (2-1) held TCU to 23 points in week one. The no. 3 Horned Frogs have averaged 63 points per game since. The Gophers have a defensive efficiency rating of 83.6 according to ESPN – good for 13th in the nation.

“They’re a group that really doesn’t get knocked around,” Ohio coach Frank Solich said. “It will definitely be a challenge. I think our guys are anxious to try to meet that challenge.”

The ‘Cats (3-0) had fast starts offensively against Marshall and Southeastern Louisiana, but players acknowledged after both wins that it was the defense that kept them out in front.

Those fast starts have been thanks to quarterback Derrius Vick and a receiving corps that makes jump-ball catches look easy and earn yards after the catch. That won’t look or be so easy, though, against Minnesota.

The Golden Gophers have deflected 14 passes this season, and they have two defensive backs with high expectations for the season. Briean Boddy-Calhoun and Eric Murray were both second-team all Big Ten in 2014.

Vick’s long, risky throws may not be an option Saturday. His two touchdown passes against SLU were for 31 and 67 yards.

The Bobcats will be forced to rely on the run game, something Solich says is the key to improvement on the offensive side of the ball.

“We want to be able to establish the running game a little more than what we’ve been able to do,” he said Monday. “In terms of lining up and just being able to put some first downs together, I’d like to see us get a little better at that.”

The question then becomes which running back will start that. AJ Oullette, Daz Patterson and Papi White all have between 100 and 200 rushing yards this season.

The answer will likely depend on how the team is matching up with the Minnesota defense. With the extra size and speed on defense, the Gophers aren’t forced to stack the box if they want to stop the run.

“They will certainly be the most powerful team we’ve played up until this point,” Solich said. “How we match will obviously tell us a little bit about what we can get done against them.”