The Associated Press
Ohio University coach Frank Solich (center) and his players didn't like what they saw during a 49-7 loss to Louisville on Sept. 1.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Following that old football adage, Frank Solich's Ohio team improved a lot between its first and second games, probably the most it will all season.That's not exactly a bold statement.The Bobcats were chewed up and spit out in their season opener at Louisville, falling to the ninth-ranked Cardinals 49-7. Back in the cozy confines of Peden Stadium last weekend, the Bobcats downed North Texas 27-21.Perhaps beating a team picked to finish fifth place in Conference USA's West Division doesn't instill fear in Ohio's future opponents, but it was good for the Bobcats' psyche.And it was good for the team's fundamentals. Solich cited several areas of improvement, such as:Not giving up the big play as often. Against Louisville, the Bobcats gave up five runs of 10 or more yards and 14 pass plays of at least 15 yards. Against North Texas, those "explosive" plays fell to two rushes of 10-plus yards and five passes of 15-plus.
"The number of big plays in the Louisville game was ridiculous," Solich said. "Some came because they have some excellent personnel, but there were some breakdowns on our end. And we had to solve that issue."If you're wondering, Marshall has 21 runs of 10-plus yards and 14 passes of 15 or more in two games.
A better running attack. The Bobcats ground out 203 yards against North Texas, compared to 81 at Louisville. The run-pass ratio was more to Solich's liking, 40-to-30 vs. 28-to-31 at Louisville.
Outrushing the Herd would continue a two-year trend, but Marshall isn't lacking in its ground game. Dared by pass-oriented defenses, the Herd has rushed for 528 yards on 96 carries - the latter number dwarfing the 72 passes.A solid punting performance. Sophomore Grant Venham averaged 42.8 yards on four punts, but more importantly, held North Texas' Brelan Chancellor to one return. The previous week against Idaho, Chancellor had 111 yards on three punt runbacks.
A repeat performance by Venham stands to keep MU's Devon "Moo Moo" Smith from breaking off a big return.All this poses the questions: How much can Ohio improve from Week 2 to Week 3?Or will the Herd send the Bobcats into regression?Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5140, email@example.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.