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NOTEBOOK: Ohio Readies for 2017 Season Opener

NOTEBOOK: Ohio Readies for 2017 Season Opener

By Pete Nakos
OhioBobcats.com Feature Writer

Most of the time last season, Louie Zervos was counted on to score points for Ohio. 

It was at Kansas when Zervos made five field goals, the most in school history. He finished off the season with 29 made field goals, placing him fourth all-time after just one season. He's just nine away from being tied for second all-time. 

And during his weekly press conference with reporters, coach Frank Solich admitted he hadn't focused too much on special teams during fall camp. Instead, he focused on making sure Zervos wouldn't have to kick a lot of field goals in 2017.

That comment from Solich goes for the tandem of special team members— Zervos, Michael Farkas and Jake Hale. The three have been dependable for the Bobcats, as Farkas takes care of punting and kickoff duties while Hale is relied on for long snapping. 

"We have all of our kickers coming back and our long snapper coming back which is huge," Solich said. "I think we have a lot of talent in terms of covering punts, kickoffs, returns. We have ability in those areas."

This past offseason Solich announced the change of co-offensive coordinator roles with Tim Albin taking charge of the passing game, Dave Johnson calling plays and Scott Isphording focusing specifically on quarterback play.

"It just made sense to put him in charge of the running game since he is working with the offensive line," Solich said. "He designs what we run in practice so he has a lot to say in terms of what we're doing offensively. What we want to do, we want to be able to do it really well. It's the formula that Western Michigan used last year. It's the formula we've used in the past."

Last season, Isphording helped Albin call the plays, while Johnson focused on the offensive line. Isphording and Albin will remain in the press box during games and Johnson will stick to the field.

Saturday's contest against Hampton will mark the first game with the change. 

Talking with defensive coordinator Jimmy Burrow after practice Tuesday, he was quick to smile when the three members of the 2016 class, who are on NFL rosters, were brought up. All three were members of last season's front seven.

Tarell Basham and Blair Brown were both drafted, Casey Sayles was picked up as an undrafted free agent; all three remain on NFL rosters. The three led the Bobcats rush defense to national attention, leading the MAC and ranking fifth in the nation. Basham, a defensive end, book the program's record for all-time sacks and sacks in a season. 

"We wish we had them," Burrow said. "Those guys that go on and graduate and go to the NFL, that's a great thing. They did a lot for us and we're going to miss them. We got three NFL guys off of that defense."

In Solich's 12 seasons with Ohio, he's never lost a game to a Football Championship Subdivision (I-AA) team. During his time spent at Nebraska, he went undefeated, with six wins. Solich has never lost a game to an FCS opponent as a head coach.

Last season, the Bobcats faced Gardner-Webb in week four, a 37-21 win, Quinton Maxwell's first appearance for Ohio. 

"I don't like opening up with a conference game," Solich said. "I generally like them to be later in the season. We do have Eastern Michigan a game early this year, so we're getting into conference play early. It's difficult to have all the pieces of the puzzle fit together." 

In traditional style, the Bobcats' first home game of the year will be a night game, kicking off at 7 p.m. ET. The game can be watched on ESPN3.


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