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NOTEBOOK: Ohio Set to Take on Kent State

NOTEBOOK: Ohio Set to Take on Kent State

By Pete Nakos
OhioBobcats.com Feature Writer

ATHENS, Ohio -- After a 48-30 victory from Ohio Football over Bowling Green last week, OhioBobcats.com feature writer Pete Nakos previews Ohio's matchup against Kent State on Saturday, Oct. 21. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. at Peden Stadium. 

In Monday's weekly press conference, head coach Frank Solich announced that wide receiver Papi White would return to practice this week and will be available for Saturday's game against Kent State.

White was the leading receiver for the Bobcats when he was injured in the first half against Kansas. He was also the leader in touchdowns in 2016, as quarterback Nathan Rourke has filled in the production void while White has been sidelined.

"You take a guy like Papi out of it, that's a big loss," Solich said.

Ohio hasn't rushed back White, but it will be happy to get him back as the wide receiver group has been battling injuries for most of the season. The redshirt junior made the true switch from running back to wide receiver this past offseason, where he'll line up in the slot. 

Rourke continues to impress for Ohio, his 75-yard run this past Saturday against Bowling Green blew open the game, as he totaled four touchdowns and was named the Mid-American Conference East Division Offensive Player of the Week for the second time this season. 

It was his third straight game with 100 yards of rushing. 

He's been a game changer for the Bobcats and the statistics show it, too. Rourke has 12 rushing touchdowns this season, good enough for second in the country behind Auburn's  Kerryon Johnson, who has 13. It's also the most rushing touchdowns ever from a Solich era quarterback. 

"He just has a knack," Solich said. "He is able to escape tough situations, keep the ball alive, seize people running down the field, can throw across his body if he has to, but he has excellent ability to make people miss, which is huge."

With passing touchdowns included, he's totaled 20 touchdowns, just a game after the halfway mark. He's seventh in the nation in total touchdowns, and on pace to break the single season record at Ohio of 38, set by Tyler Tettleton in 2011. 

For the second straight week, the Bobcats play on special teams wasn't superb. Against Central Michigan, a field goal was blocked and returned for a touchdown with seconds remaining in the first half. 

The troubles seemed to continue Saturday, as the Bobcats struggled to pick up return yards,  just 27 on four punt and kickoff returns. They also had three penalties when punting the ball. Solich took notice to it, too, noting that it will be addressed this week in practice. 

"We have aggressive, talented guys on those special teams, and I think they are playing hard," he said. "Sometimes playing hard can relate to an error hear or there, in terms of penalties."


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