Football: Ohio not overlooking Hampton in first game of season

 

Ohio’s Trent Smart sacking Bowling Green’s QB, James Morgan, during their game on November 8th, 2016 (BLAKE NISSEN | FILE)

 

Frank Solich has never lost to an FCS school as a coach.

Solich’s next challenge against an FCS squad comes Saturday, when Ohio plays Hampton at 7 p.m. at Peden Stadium to open the season.

Hampton, a historically black college, is in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.

Solich and the Bobcats aren’t in the business of underestimating any opponent, either. Ohio didn’t underestimate Texas State in the first game last season. Ohio lost 56-54 in triple overtime.

“Playing Hampton, opening up with those guys, they’re better than what most people understand,” Solich said at Monday’s press conference.

This game will mark the first time Ohio and Hampton have played against each other. The Pirates finished 5-6 last season and defeated Howard 34-7 for their biggest win.

Solich said the Pirates expect to be a good defensive team this season, as they have eight players from last season returning. The Pirates allowed 24.5 points per game last season with 340.5 yards per game.

Even with the Pirates’ defense, the Bobcats know they must play well. The Pirates aren’t going to bow down to the Bobcats. No, just like the Bobcats, the Pirates are trying to win.

“There’s a lot of good football players around the country, and they’re not all in Division I,” Solich said. “There’s enough good football players on every football team to beat you if you don’t play your best game.”

For the Bobcats, especially with the Pirates boasting a solid defense, executing a solid offense will be the challenge for Saturday – and for the entire season.

The Bobcats pride themselves on stout defense, too – it’s what led them to the Mid-American Conference Championship last year.

But when they needed to score points, sometimes they struggled.

“We know we left points out there last year, but we’ve had a good camp, we’ve had a good offseason,” starting quarterback Quinton Maxwell said. “So offensively we feel good going into the season.”

Ohio ranked No. 8 in the MAC in points per game last season (26.3). Part of the reason for that was the absence of running back A.J. Ouellette.  Ouellette suffered a foot injury during last season’s opening game against Texas State, leaving the Bobcats without their starting running back.

The season-opener is truly one where anything can happen, and the Bobcats know this.  For this first game, Ohio has scouted Hampton as best it could. And even with some uncertainty of how the Pirates will play, the Bobcats will be ready to adjust.

“We’ve prepared for just a lot of different things, just not knowing which direction they’ll go in this first game,” linebacker Quentin Poling said.

 

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