Sports Column: Ohio football team’s bowl-game opponent to be a formidable one

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Postseason bowl games offer a potpourri of possible scenarios, and Ohio will spend its holiday in Louisiana to sample one of the Southern variety against Louisiana-Monroe on Dec. 28.

On paper, Ohio’s trip to the AdvoCare 100 Independence Bowl appears to be of the former variety, as Ohio and Louisiana-Monroe boast identical 8-4 records, quarterbacks with an aptitude to make plays with their feet and a penchant for injuries.

Both programs began the season by putting marquee wins under their chinstraps, as the Bobcats beat Penn State in Happy Valley and the Warhawks stunned then-No. 8 Arkansas.

“It’s been an exciting year,” Louisiana-Monroe Director Of Athletics Bobby Staub said. “It’s our first winning season since going (Football Bowl Subdivision), and it was landmark in a number of different ways.”

The play that broke the Razorbacks and set the tone for the Warhawks’ first season to end in a bowl berth came in overtime, when junior quarterback Kolton Browning took a snap under center, moved to his left and, facing pressure from the Arkansas defensive line, shifted direction and found wide-open field.

From there it was a mad dash to the pylon, as Browning beat a cadre of defenders before ending up in the end zone and being greeted by the joyous embrace of his victorious cohorts.

“He makes a lot of plays with his feet, he knows how to extend plays,” Staub said. “He’s a very good leader and very tough young man.”

The third-year starter finished the regular season with 2,830 passing yards and 27 touchdowns — not to mention that he’s the Warhawks’ leading rusher with 441 yards.

His favorite target is senior wide receiver Brent Leonard, who has accounted for 10 of Browning’s throwing touchdowns.

For Browning, grit and determination are two words that just come naturally, as he was faced with injury in the Warhawks’ week nine loss against Louisiana-Lafayette.

“He probably came back sooner than most would, but that’s just the makeup of the young man,” Staub said.

Browning will likely be the name on Ohio coaches’ lips even more so now that both of the Warhawks’ top running backs will be bench-bound for their bowl game, Staub said.

How Ohio redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Tettleton will play behind a tattered offensive line is topic No. 1 for the Bobcats.

Ohio coach Frank Solich confirmed Monday that offensive linemen Vince Carlotta, a redshirt senior, and Ryan McGrath, a redshirt junior, will be out for the bowl game, as both sustained season-ending injuries against Kent State in the regular season finale.

Tettleton was harassed more often than not, seemingly, against Kent State, and was caught eight times for a loss of 35 yards.

Solich did note in his weekly radio show that redshirt junior offensive lineman Sam Johnson could possibly return from an ankle injury for the Bobcats’ bowl game.

For the Bobcats to be successful, Tettleton will need to dig deeper than he did in Ohio’s final drive against Penn State, in which he completed all five of his passing attempts and almost seemed like he was willing his receivers to come down with each catch.

Who knows, maybe Tettleton will create a little Southern hospitality for the Bobcats to bring a warm tone to what has so far been a relatively cold end to Ohio’s 2012 season.

Nick Robbe is a senior studying journalism and the sports editor of The Post. Unsure what to expect from the Bobcats in Shreveport? Email him at
nr225008@ohiou.edu.

 

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