Monday, September 3, 2012

Scouting report: Ohio Bobcats

(Ohio wide receiver Landon Smith runs for daylight vs. Penn State. The Bobcats won 24-14 over the Nittany Lions/Associated Press photo)

This promises to be a very tough game for the New Mexico State Aggies, when these two college football teams meet Week 2 of the season this Saturday.

Ohio is coming off a 24-14 win over Penn State last weekend and looks like a very sound squad under head coach Frank Solich.

Offensively it starts with quarterback Tyler Tettleton, a dual-threat QB who's the key cog in the Bobcats machine. Tettleton is an athlete and slowing down Ohio begins with slowing him down.

The team also has an effective running back in Beau Blankenship, who can average between four and five yards a carry while picking up the tough yards inside.

This combo operates behind an experienced and physical offensive line coached by former Aggie assistant Kevin Lightner. He is not the only former NMSU assistant coach on the Bobcats staff, joined by co-offensive coordinator Gerry Gdowski (both were with the Aggies under Tony Samuel) and defensive line coach Jesse Williams (who was at NMSU the past three years).

For all intents and purposes, the New Mexico State front-seven will be in for a stiff challenge this weekend in Athens, as the Ohio offensive line is capable of wearing down the opposition over the course of a game.

Last week against the Nittany Lions it appeared as if Ohio's defensive secondary started the game playing off the Penn State wide receivers in a zone. Meanwhile, they rushed four up front and played man coverage underneath.

It didn't take long, however, for the Bobcats to adjust, blitzing Penn State more frequently and manning up in the defensive backfield.

What they elect to do this Saturday will be a key storyline going into the game, although much of the same wouldn't surprise. The Bobcats want to feel out the opposition early, formulate a gameplan, then attack.

The earlier strategy could benefit the Aggies, who could use a short passing scheme with their wideouts to control the ball, and the clock. If/when the Bobcats elect to go after NMSU more aggressively, and how NMSU handles such a tactic to protect quarterback Andrew Manley, will be worth watching as one of the game's keys.

As stated earlier, containing Tettleton will be the Aggies chief challenge defensively, and the secondary will have to play better than it did last weekend against Sacramento State (we do expect this unit to improve as the season moves along).

Perhaps the bigger concern for New Mexico State is establishing a rushing attack. Last week the team managed just 101 yards on 40 carries (a 2.5 yards-per-attempt average) in a game where, frankly, more was expected. The Aggies struggled running the ball in between the tackles when playing the Football Championship Subdivision Hornets, and now face a much better team this weekend.

We harken back to last year, when NMSU implemented a run-option offense with draws, misdirection, and a screen-passing game. Granted, that gameplan was put into place with Matt Christian at quarterback and Kenny Turner at running back — both were the perfect complement and fit the offense well. Can the team do it again in 2012 with different personnel in place? Maybe they'll look at it, maybe they won't, but something has to be done here to get this area moving in the right direction.

Expect NMSU to open this week as two-to-three touchdown underdogs going into Saturday as it prepares to face one of the top teams on its schedule. A tall challenge will be in order, although one where we should learn something about this 2012 Aggie football team.

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Anonymous said...

The Aggies need to keep the Bobcats guessing, making it more difficult for Ohio to adjust to what the Aggies are doing offensively.

Anonymous said...

Tough, tough game this week.

Anonymous said...

Aggies vs Las Cruces High would be a tough game.When you are poorly coached and have no talent every game is tough.

Anonymous said...

I agree this will be a tough game and the running game needs to improve. Of more concern is something I said last year about Manley. He doesn't throw the short passes, he is more into the home run ball and that does not produce results over a long haul and makes him a target against a good defensive scheme. I hope he does go to the short passes but doubt it. The Aggie defense also has to improve. Good luck Aggies.