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2021 Mid-American Conference Football Week 2 Game Preview: Ohio Bobcats vs. Duquesne Dukes

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The Bobcats looking to improve across the board in Week 2.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 04 Syracuse at Ohio Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Ohio’s (0-1) performance in all phases of last week’s 29-9 loss to Syracuse was a mixed bag, with some parts that worked and others that need improvement. The Bobcat offense moved deep into Syracuse territory six times but came away with only nine points, missing on some red zone opportunities. Ohio’s defense made some stops but gave up 283 yards rushing. The field goal unit looked improved from 2020, hitting 3 of 4 attempts with the only miss coming from 50 yards, but the kickoff return team’s play contributed to a safety, a lost possession, and two drives starting within its own five yard line.

Ohio had a week to work out the kinks and will be looking to put together more of a complete performance this week against the Dukes.

Duquesne (0-1) comes in looking to rebound from a 45-3 loss to TCU.

We take a look at some game notes followed by some keys for each squad heading into Saturday’s contest.


Game Notes

  • Time and Date: Saturday September 11th at 2:00 p.m. ET
  • Network: ESPN 3
  • Location: Peden Stadium — Athens, OH
  • Weather: Partly Cloudy, 80 degrees, wind 5-8 MPH SSW
  • Line: Ohio (-28), Sportsbookreview.com
  • ESPN FPI: Ohio has 92% chance to win

Getting to know the Ohio Bobcats

Being 28-point favorites, the ideal scenario for Ohio is to turn in a crisp performance in all three phases from the starters then get the backups some meaningful work, given the Bobcats have a short week due to a prime-time game against Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns on Thursday, Sept. 16.

Here are some things of note heading into game two:

Although the Bobcats ran for a solid 4.2 yards per carry overall vs Syracuse, they will work to build on that this week; for instance, the typical explosive plays from the Ohio running game were absent vs the Orange, with the longest rush of only 13 yards.

The Bobcats will likely be without their starting right guard Hagen Meservy and possibly their starting left guard, Kurt Danneker, as he is questionable with an injury he suffered last week; however, reserve guards Brody Rodgers and Gary Hoover are experienced players and should fill in well if needed.

Ohio will also look to improve on their red zone offense, where they scored just nine points in three trips. QB Kurtis Rourke is an accurate passer and should be able to connect this week on opportunities the Bobcats couldn’t take advantage in the passing game last week.

The Bobcats defense will be led by Senior safety Jarren Hampton, who last week had 10 tackles and some effective coverage against the Orange’s go-to receiver Taj Harris.

The Bobcats will be looking for improved run defense after surrendering 283 yards last week. Syracuse had a number of explosive run plays to the outside last week so the Bobcat run fits off-tackle will one key to improvement.

The Bobcats have some defensive front seven reserves who could benefit from some extra snaps this week, given their talent but inexperience. DL players like Denzel Daxon, Chris Mayfield, Aiden Malenchek, and Michael Taylor all saw their first major action for Ohio last week and could be key depth as the season progresses, a quality rotation on the defensive line keeping everyone fresher at the end of games and for the long haul.


Getting to know the Duquesne Dukes

Players to Watch

  • RB Garrett Owens, 6’3”, 230 LBS. Second-Team All-Northeast Conference (NEC)
  • WR Cyrus Holder, 6’4”, 205 LBS. 2020-21: First-Team All-NEC, 23 rec, 491 yards, 5 TDs, five games
  • SS Spencer DeMedal, 6’0”, 200 LBS: 2020-21: First-Team All-NEC, 32 tackles, 2 INTS, 4 PD, FF, five games. 11 tackles last week vs TCU
  • FS Leandro DeBrito, 6’2”, 210 LBS. 2020-21: First-Team All-NEC, 37 tackles, 1 INTS, 3 PD, five games. 8 tackles, INT last week vs TCU

Head coach Jerry Schmitt has had a lot of success in his 17 seasons with the Dukes, including a 61-36 record, five NEC championships, and two FCS playoff appearances.

Based on his track record, Schmitt will have Duquesne ready to put its best foot forward against the Bobcats, but there will definitely be some challenges.

The Dukes suffered significant injuries last week against TCU, to such a degree in fact that the coaches of both teams decided to play 12-minute quarters in the second half.

A key injury impacting this week’s game was a knee injury to starting QB Joe Mischler, who appears to be out vs Ohio, given that he did not return after being injured vs TCU and does not appear on Duke’s two-deep this week.

Ohio fans will remember Mischler was a Bobcat backup before transferring to Duquesne. Mischler had a great season this Spring, leading the Dukes to the NEC championship game in while earning 2020-21 First-Team, All-NEC honors.

With Mischler likely sidelined against the Bobcats, the Dukes may turn to its running game and look for some explosive plays to Cyrus Holder.


Prediction

The Bobcats get Tim Albin his first career win as Bobcat head coach, 40-14. Although Duquesne has a number of all conference players with FBS size, Mischler was the spark for this club in the Spring 2021 season, and if he cannot go, the Dukes will likely struggle to move the ball regularly.