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Bobcats Open 2011-12 Season with New Mexico State

Curtis Meyers and the Bobcats are ready for the season to begin on Saturday night.

Sept. 2, 2011

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Ohio-New Mexico State Game Notes

Las Cruces, N.M. -Ohio Football kicks off its 2011-12 campaign with a 8 p.m. ET matchup against New Mexico State on Saturday evening in Las Cruces, N.M. The contest with be the first-ever meeting between the two schools.

Fans may listen to the game on the Citizens Bank Ohio IMG Sports Network with "Voice of the Bobcats" Russ Eisenstein, Rob Cornelius and Caleb Troop calling all of Saturday's action. Airtime is 8 p.m. ET.

The game will be televised on Aggie Vision and carried on Altitude in the Denver area, ESPN3 and ESPN GamePlan. Fans can also catch the rebroadcast on Fox Sports Ohio, Sept. 5 at 8:30 p.m.

The Bobcats are coming off a very successful 2010 campaign that saw them go 8-5 overall, 5-1 at home and 3-3 on the road. The Bobcats also played in a bowl game for the third time in five years after posting a conference record of 6-2.

As a team, the Bobcats recorded 326.1 yards per game in 2010, rushing for 163.8 yards a game and passing for 162.3 yards a contest. The offense was also very good in the red-zone, scoring 88 percent of the time. The Bobcats' defense gave up 353.4 yards a game in 2010, 123.1 yards on the ground and 230.3 yards thru the air.

Individually, the Bobcats will be led by redshirt sophomore quarterback Tyler Tettleton, who did not play in 2010. Donte Harden is the Bobcats top returning running back, rushing for 244 yards and three touchdowns in 2010. Riley Dunlop returns to lead the receiving corps after catching 27 passes for 387 yards and three touchdowns.

Defensively, Ohio lost its top four tacklers from 2010. Linebacker Eric Benjamin is the top leading tackler from a year ago, recording 56 tackles and three sacks.

Glance at New Mexico State
Offensively, the Aggies enter the season with their fourth offensive coordinator in the past four years. The team hired former Kent State head coach Doug Martin who will run a spread formation. The one area where the team appears relatively set is at quarterback. Senior Matt Christian is a steady player, while sophomore Andrew Manley is a big body (6’4”, 225 pounds) with a strong arm.

Last year’s leading rusher, Kenny Turner, will line up at H-back, getting carries while also motioning into the slot as a wide receiver. Junior running back Robert Clay is a between-the-tackles pounder.The Aggies return senior offensive tackle Aundre McGaskey to anchor the right side of the line. Senior Sioeli Fakalata played guard last year but could slide over to center in 2010. A handful of newcomers will push for playing time, led by junior college transfer Andrew Kersten.

On defense, the lack of a push up front forced their secondary to cover opposing receivers for too long. The result was nine sacks total, 207.1 rushing yards and 39.5 points allowed per contest. At defensive end, Donte Savage and Pierre Fils are athletic and need to use their speed and burst to their advantage. Fils, though, could see more time at tackle.

Linebacker Alexander LaVoy was brought in this offseason and will push middle linebacker Boyblue Aoelua, who was good against the run last season. Weak-side linebacker B.J. Adolpho has potential and could be in for a good junior season. The secondary brought in reinforcements and could be a team strength. It will help if cornerback Jonte Green realizes his potential and safety George
Callender stays injury free.

On special teams, Tyler Stampler had a decent season as the team’s placekicker. Taveon Rogers was a dangerous return man last season and should reclaim his role.

Ohio vs. The WAC
The Bobcats are 2-2 all-time against opponents from the Western Athletic Conference with the last victory coming in the last contest, a 21-10 victory over Hawai’i at Aloha Stadium in 1996.

The Bobcats have played two games on the road against WAC opponents. The other time being in 1972 when Ohio traveled to Moscow, Idaho for a game with the Vandals

Bobcats Return to Their Roots
Two former Ohio Bobcat coordinators will feel familiar to the faces in Las Cruces as assistant head coach/co-offensive coordinator Gerry Gdowski and offensive line coach Keven Lightner both coached under former NM State head coach Tony Samuel.

Gdowski was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for NM State from 1997-2004, while Lightner coached two seasons with the Aggies from 2003-04. Another Bobcat with New Mexico State ties is Andrew Mooney. Mooney works with Lightner at Ohio and was a Second-Team Sporting News Freshmen All-America Selection for the Aggies in 2004.

Flading Named to Lombardi Watch List
Ohio right tackle Joe Flading was named to the Watch List for the Lombardi Award this summer after another solid campaign on the Bobcats’ offensive line. Flading was named to the MAC’s first team last season after grading out a team-high 1.89 (out of 2.0), with 63 pancakes and 16 decleaters. With that effort, Flading was named a captain for the 2011 season.

Ohio Football Has 11 Named to Steele’s All-MAC Team
The Ohio football squad had 11 representatives on Phil Steele’s preseason All-MAC Team.
Ohio offensive lineman Joe Flading, linebacker Noah Keller, kicker Matt Weller and punter Paul Hershey all earned first-team honors, while wide receiver LaVon Brazill and offensive linemen A.J. Strum and Eric Herman were selected to the second team. Tight end Jordan Thompson, punt returner Travis Carrie and linebacker Eric Benjamin were tabbed as third-team honorees and Carl Jones was slotted onto the fourth team.
Flading, named a first-team All-MAC selection last year, played the most snaps of any lineman (752) and led the squad in average grade (1.89 out of 2.0), and decleaters (16). Keller was named to the 2010 Nagurski Award Watch List before having his season cut short due to injury. Also named a 2010 Preseason All-American by SI.com, NationalChamps.net and Consensus Draft Services (cdsdraft.com), the Kearney, Neb. native had 26 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble in just three games. Weller made 11 of 14 field goals last year and tied for fifth in the league with 73 points. Hershey ranked third in the MAC in punting with a 41.0-yard average last year and recorded the longest punt in the league this season with a 72-yard boot against Bowling Green. He forced 18 fair catches and dropped 14 inside the 20 with just one touchback. Ten of his punts went for 50 yards or more on the season.
Brazill was named to the Biletnikoff Award Watch List prior to last season. His exploits as a punt returner are well known as he claimed four 2010 preseason All-America honors from Sporting News, Phil Steele, NationalChamps.net and Consensus Draft Services (cdsdraft.com). Like Keller, his 2010 season was also cut short by injury, as he had 12 catches for 78 yards in just three games. Strum, a second-team All-MAC selection in 2010, moved from guard to tackle and posted a 1.80 grade with 30.5 pancakes and six decleaters in a season where he was slowed by injuries as well (452 plays). Herman led the offensive line with 65 pancakes and was second on the team in plays (697) and decleaters (13).
Thompson, a second-team All-MAC selection by the league’s coaches last year, snared 21 passes for 204 yards and three touchdowns. Carrie finished second in the MAC and 25th nationally in punt return yardage (10.4) in 2010. Benjamin is the team’s top returning tackler from a season ago, as he amassed 56 with three sacks, three pass breakups, a fumble recovery and a forced fumble.
Jones finished 2010 with 40 stops, five tackles for loss which included 3.5 sacks, one interception, one pass breakup, one fumble recovery and one forced fumble.

Rookie Signal Caller Behind a Veteran Line
Tyler Tettleton will make his first start as quarterback of the Bobcats against New Mexico State. Although this will not be the first action the redshirt sophomore has seen, it will mark the the first time in his career that the Oklahaoma native is the No. 1 guy on the depth chart.

Tettleton will be of 22 signal-callers debuting in their respective school’s first game. Only one other MAC school, Akron, will be in that position to start the 2011-12 season.

Division 1-FBS Quarterbacks Making First Start
Florida Atlantic
Iowa State
Louisiana Tech
NC State
North Carolina
Ohio State
San Jose State
Virginia Tech

However, Tettleton will have an advanatge in knowing that his offensive live is one of the most experienced units in all of Division 1 - FBS. The Bobcats boast an interior core that has made 99 career starts between them, ninth-most in the nation.

Ohio Offensive Line Starts
Joe Flading (24)
Eric Herman (24)
A.J. Strum (20)
Skyler Allen (13)
Jon Lechner (9)
Vince Carlotta (6)
Ryan McGrath (3)

JD Bales, Sam Johnson and Mark Smith have all suited up for the Bobcats and seen game action, which adds to the depth this position boasts.

Offensive Line Unit Total Starts
158 - SMU
137 - Northwestern
118 - UAB
116 - Clemson
114 - Tulsa
106 - BYU
105 - Florida State
104 - Middle Tennessee
99 - Ohio
98 - Virginia Tech

MAC Announces 2011 Football Preseason Poll
Ohio was selected second in the MAC East at the annual Mid-American Conference Media Day at Ford Field in Detroit. The Bobcats were the East Division’s runner-up last season after winning twice in the previous four seasons.

Ohio earned 96 points, second only to Miami’s 97 points. However, the Bobcats gained eight first-place votes to the Redhawks’ four. Temple was third (88) and also received four first-place votes, Kent State was fourth (57), Bowling Green was fifth (48), Buffalo was sixth (37) and Akron was seventh (25).

Toledo was selected to win the MAC West with 83 points and eight first-place votes. Northern Illinois was second with 81 (five first-place votes), Western Michigan was third with 76 (two first-place votes) and Central Michigan was fourth with 55 (one first-place vote). Ball State was fifth with 27 points and was followed by Eastern Michigan with 24 points.

Toledo was chosen as the preseason pick for the MAC Championship, receiving five votes. Northern Illinois and Miami each picked up three votes while Ohio and Western Michigan had one apiece.

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