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Bobcats Bruised Badly In Battle With Kent State

Ryan Boykin +  reception + truck stick - helmet = touchdown. (Photo via Ohio University)
Ryan Boykin + reception + truck stick - helmet = touchdown. (Photo via Ohio University)

A win is a win. That is one of the most overused cliches in sports but it's also very true. No matter how a team performs, if they have more points or runs at  the end of a game, they get the win. The Ohio Bobcats did win yesterday, but it wasn't pretty. And it wasn't pretty in two different respects: Not only did the Bobcats barely squeak out a 17-10 win over Kent State, they were also decimated by injuries in the process.

Just a few plays into the game Ohio's top defender Neal Huynh went down with a leg injury and later on in the quarter cornerback Omar Leftwich came out of the game with an apparent shoulder injury. After the game coach Solich said that both players will miss significant time if not the entire season. Late in the fourth quarter Tyler Tettleton would leave the game with a leg injury and even though Ohio was leading at the time, coach Solich said that he wouldn't have been able to continue even if he was needed.

Tettleton was still able to make Spencer Keith look awful by comparison, though I think Adam Sandler could do that. Tettleton threw the ball a healthy 42 times for 276 yards and a pair of scores. For the fourth straight week Tettleton did not turn the ball over through the air.Tettleton's completion percentage would have been a bit better had not been for some lackluster throws that he made in the second half, which were the first indication that something was wrong with him physically. Eventually he could no longer be able to plant his foot to make a strong throw and ended up falling on the field in pain before being replaced by Phil Bates.

Bates looked comfortable in limited time though the main reason that he was inserted as the QB was because the Bobcats needed to run down the clock and didn't need to throw the ball. After the game coach Solich alluded to Snyder being the back-up QB but said he knew Bates' experience and running ability would be more effective in the situation. Bates was pretty effective and he was able to rip off a 25 yard gain on an read play, showing his versatility. Though the drive eventually stalled having Bates make those big plays makes you wonder whether or not he could have a bigger place in the offense. Even though Tettleton has been fantastic the run game has been more of a grind it out necessity than an explosive offensive entity.

Of course, the team is 4-1, so things have clearly been working with the no huddle offense with Tettleton at the helm. That said, when Ohio gets into the Pistol formation, which is often, there is very little success for the running game to have. I'm sure some of that will change when Donte Harden returns and I'm not saying that Ryan Boykin hasn't been effective - he really has - but what I am saying is that there are not a lot of big plays in the running game right now and replacing a few pistol formation handoffs with a couple of Bates options could be beneficial for the offense.

With Foster out, Boykin finished the game with 72 yards on the ground on 22 carries, giving him an average of 3.3 yards per carry, which isn't great. That said, Boykin made a few big plays out of the backfield in passing situations, including the game-winning touchdown in the third quarter. Boykin described the play as "Stick" and the object of the play is to get the ball into the flat if a linebacker blitzes. Kent State did blitz on this particular play and Tettleton slung the ball out into the open. Being third and goal from about the nine, it was either boom or bust for Boykin, literally, and he lowered his shoulder into a corner back, driving the defender into the ground as he strolled into the endzone without a helmet. These passes out into the flat to either Boykin or LaVon Brazill, who led the team in receiving with 102 yards and yet another touchdown (he has five touchdown grabs this season), have become the staple of the offense this year, at least in Brazill's mind.

Ohio's defense was pretty sturdy in this game, especially considering the fact that their defensive line-up was not sturdy whatsoever. Kent State did have some decent success in the second half on draw plays become of Huynh's absence but other than that they were able to force four turnovers and hold Kent State to 10 points.  Three of those turnovers came on interceptions, two of which were thrown by the inept Spencer Keith. The other was thrown by Kent State running back Jacquise Terry on one of the worst run trick plays in the history of football that I have witnessed. The Golden Flashes had just blocked an Ohio punt attempt (which I'll get to later) and had the ball the Bobcat 22. At this point they had a chance to take a very early lead on the Bobcats and rattle them for the first time at home all season long. But instead they ran a halfback pass play that the Bobcats read perfectly. Not only was Terry being dragged down as he threw the ball down field to his receiver but Gerald Moore was right there waiting for the ball when he threw it.

Though Ohio didn't come out of this game looking too good health wise or play wise, they got what the win. There may be some serious consequences from this win because of the injuries they suffered but you can't ask for more than a victory any given Saturday and that's what the Bobcats got against Kent State.

Other notes:

Not So Special Teams

Ohio had a field goal attempt blocked, a punt blocked and another field goal attempt tipped in this game. It's safe to say that at least the final score would be prettier if the Bobcats had gotten a better effort out of this unit, which is talented but just didn't produce.

"Special teams cost us with a blocked punt and a blocked field goal. Those two things were costly. Matt (Weller) didn’t have one of his better days. His kickoffs were OK to below OK," Ohio head coach Frank Solich said. "We’re capable of being a very good special teams team and I’m not satisfied with this."

On the bright side, the official box score had LaVon Brazill slated for -50 punt return yards in this game but it turns out he actually had 26. That puts him 154 yards away from breaking the school record for career punt return yards.

In His Defense

There were a lot of folks that didn't think that red shirt Freshman Matt Carpenter, officially deemed "the Magic Man" by some press box cronies, would be able to play safety effectively at the college level. After all, he is officially listed at five-foot-nine and 184 pounds. Five games into his college career, Carpenter has done a good job proving this people wrong. With all of the injuries in Ohio's secondary, Carpenter spent a large amount of time playing safety in this game and was in on a lot of nickel sets as well. Carpenter was officially credited with 10 tackles, a sack and an interception in this game.

A Troy Polamalu Sighting

Having never seen him play before, I'm not how sure C.J. Malauulu is. That said, I'm still going to refer to him as the Troy Polamalu of the MAC. Not only does he have the same Dove Head and Shoulders Hair-Do that covers up his name on the back of his jersey, he also wears #43 and also has a last name that ends in AUULU. He also looked like Polamalu on the statsheet as well, racking up a game high 12 tackles, three of which were for a loss (including a sack), and a forced fumble.