Ohio wide receiver Andrew Meyer runs drills at football practice on Aug. 22.
Monday afternoon, the Bobcats huddled and took a knee around Frank Solich.
The coach spoke a few words, and a few seconds later his players sprung to their feet, yelling as if they were ready to head into battle.
It was officially the start of game week.
“He was just telling us to focus in, lock in on Texas State,” free safety Toran Davis said of Solich. “It’s our first game so it’s just a game to send a message to everybody across the conference as well.”
Ohio opens its season Saturday, when it hosts Texas State at 3:30 p.m. in Peden Stadium.
Solich got the players riled up, and they used that adrenaline to start off practice as though it was a game. They went through their drills at twice the speed as they did the week before.
The first game of the season for many teams is usually filled with jitters and mystery. On the surface, it seems as though Ohio has uncertainties on its roster, particularly from its relatively inexperienced secondary.
Ohio, however, doesn’t believe in the mysteries surrounding it.
“Everybody is just going to play as hard as possible and just prove what we already know,” Davis said.
The Bobcats know their defense is solid.
Because Ohio’s front seven and secondary strive for aggressive play, Texas State’s fast-paced offense might not be prepared. Ohio allowed 25.3 points per game last season, good for fourth in the Mid-American Conference.
“We’ve faced fast teams before and I don’t see that as being a particular problem for us,” Solich said.
The mysteries are not only on the defense for Ohio, either. Greg Windham, Ohio’s starting quarterback, will have his first career start.
“You want to see great composure from him,” Solich said. “He’s played in eight (sic) games this past season, and so it’s not like he’s starting fresh.”
Windham threw for 298 yards last season, tallying one touchdown. Windham has looked the part of starting quarterback since the spring, and he’s the most experienced quarterback on the depth chart.
Ohio is anxious to play and ready to show the work it has put in from spring ball until now. It wants to see how much progress it has made, too.
But the jitters of the first game of the season had redshirt junior linebacker Quentin Poling giddy.
Poling peeked into the team’s office Monday morning and said he could not wait for the game, Solich said.
“He just wanted us to know that, … which is no surprise to me,” Solich said. “He just loves the game of football. But we have a lot of those kind of guys on our football team — who just love the game and can’t wait to compete.”