By Pete Nakos
OhioBobcat.com Staff Writer
It's the things that lacked from the Bobcats 2016 resumé that still bothers the 2017 Bobcats' football team. A win over Eastern Michigan for example, even a Mid-American Conference Championship.
On Saturday in Ypsilanti, Michigan the Bobcats will have a chance at redemption against EMU and can take the first step to winning the MAC.
And as important players such as Javon Hagan or A.J. Ouellette will be, it's been a different cast of characters who've made the biggest impact on the Bobcats season thus far. It's been the likes of Bradd Ellis, Andrew Meyer and Evan Croutch.
Croutch leads the Bobcats with three sacks, tied for the second most in the MAC through three games. His 3.5 tackles for loss also leads the team. Meanwhile, Ellis has broken up a team and conference-high six passes which ranks sixth nationally, and Meyer landed on SportsCenter last week with a touchdown grab in the back right of the end zone.
"He's (Ellis) a good athlete, and you start with that obviously," head coach Frank Solich said. "He's a very bright guy and a very smart football player. He doesn't make the same mistakes time after time. He's a quick learner so he uses his intelligence to make himself a great cornerback."
Ellis, a cornerback, started at Ohio as a walk-on, moving his way up as a special teams player and late in the 2016 season started games. He's now a scholarship player and a leader of the Bobcats' secondary.
As for Meyer, with the departure of Sebastian Smith and Jordan Reid, along with the season-ending injury of Elijah Ball, he's found a groove for himself in the Ohio wide receiver corps. With the ability to rotate from the slot position to stretch the field as the deep guy, Meyer adds a wrinkle to the Bobcats' offense.
The touchdown catch—which landed him on national television—was his first since high school. He's a redshirt junior.
"I was the next man up and now with Papi (White) hurt someone has to step up into his position," Meyer said. "I think I'm filling in well. Coach (Dwayne) Dixon gets us prepared to play at any spot, we always go over it in the meeting room."
Alongside Quentin Poling and Chad Moore in the Bobcats linebacking group is Croutch. He's been able to complement the two, while still making his impact by putting a constant pressure on the quarterback. In last week's game against Kansas he hit the quarterback twice and collected six tackles.
"Next man up," Croutch said. "We need to know all the positions for whoever is in and out. It doesn't matter to me what front we're in, as long as we get the win."
It's the attitude and passion of Ellis, Meyer and Croutch that's willed the Bobcats to this 2-1 start. Each played in that loss to EMU last year, each remember that last-minute loss in the MAC Championship game.
Saturday will be the first step for the three of them and the Bobcats at redemption.