Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl Preview

Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl

Saint Petersburg, Florida

December 23rd 2:oo PM EST

Ohio (7-5, 4-4) vs. East Carolina (9-3, 6-2)


Ohio Preview

After opening the season with a 49-7 loss to Louisville, the Bobcats were able to rattle off four straight wins to open the season 4-1. Following the four game streak, Ohio fell at home to MAC opponent Central Michigan, 26-23, for their first home and MAC loss. The Bobcats then bounced back with two straight wins against Eastern Michigan and Miami. The last stretch of the season however did not go in Ohio’s favor, finishing 1-3. The schedule heated up as the Bobcats dropped three straight to Buffalo, Bowling Green, and in-state rival Kent State. The regular season though ended with a home win against Massachusetts, and the Bobcats clinched their fifth consecutive season with a winning record, finish 7-5. Monday will be Ohio’s sixth bowl game under head coach Frank Solich. A win in the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl will be Ohio’s third straight, which included wins over Louisianna-Monroe and Utah State, the passed two seasons.

Offensively the Bobcats are led by senior quarterback Tyler Tettleton. A three year starter and owner of 23 Ohio record’s, Tettleton has one last chance to put his mark into Ohio University history. Over his career as the man under center for the Bobcats, Tettleton has completed nearly 63 percent of his passes and has recorded 8,896 career passing yards. Protecting Tettleton is an offensive line which features three senior’s and a combined 76 starts; John Prior, Jon Lechner, and Ryan McGrath, all standing 6’6″ and over 300 lbs. Senior running back Beau Blankenship hasn’t recorded the high numbers that he did in 2012, but still is an extremely dangerous weapon for Ohio’s offense averaging 4.6 yards per carry. Senior Ryan Boykin has also provided a nice spell to Blakenship, recording a team leading seven rushing touchdowns in 2013. Senior wide receiver Donte Foster continues to be Tettleton’s favorite target as he leads the team in receptions, yards, and touchdowns. Junior Wide Receiver Chase Cochran will be a name to keep an eye on as he averages 20.5 yards per catch, and has been a consistent vertical target for Tettleton.

On defense the Bobcats feature youth, with only three senior starters. Leading the younger defense is sophomore middle linebacker Ben Russell, who leads the team in tackles (89) and is second in tackles for loss (7.5). Next to Russell is senior Kieth Moore and sophomore Jovon Johnson, combining for another 99 tackles between the duo of outside linebackers. In the trenches freshman defensive end Tarell Basham leads the team in sacks (6.5) and tackles for loss (8.5), and has shown to be a pleasant surprise for defensive coordinator Jimmy Burrow. In the back end the cornerback tandem of senior Travis Carrie and sophomore Devin Bass have combined for 25 passses defended and six interceptions, while proving to be possibly the best in the conference as both players were selected to All-MAC honors. Senior safety Xavier Hughes has provided a team leading five turnovers and nine passes defended.

Ohio Leaders

Passing: Tyler Tettleton 209-331, 2,623 Yards, 20 TD, 9 INT

Rushing: Beau Blankenship 183 Attempts, 844 Yards, 5 TD

Receiving: Donte Foster 63 Receptions, 858 Yards, 6 TD

Tackles: Ben Russell 82 Tackles, 7.5 TFL

Sacks: Tarell Basham 6.5 Sacks

Interceptions: Xavier Hughes, Travis Carrie 4 INT


East Carolina Preview

Finishing 9-3, East Carolina sees its program’s best season since 2009, the last season they finished above .500. Two straight home wins to open the season against Old Dominion and Florida Atlantic set the Pirates up with a home contest against visiting Virginia Tech. The Pirates fell in the close contest against the ACC opponent, 15-10. Following the loss, East Carolina picked up another non-conference win against North Carolina and then followed with a Conference USA win versus Middle Tennessee State. A triple overtime thriller loss to Tulane set the Pirates at 1-1 before heading into the heart of their schedule. East Carolina then went on a five game winning streak, with their closest margin of victory being 14 points during that streak. East Carolina set themselves up for a week 14 road contest with Marshall to clinch the Eastern Division title and a spot in the Conference USA Championship, but fell 59-28.

Much like Ohio University, play at the quarterback position is one of the biggest strengths of East Carolina’s offense. Shane Carden, only a junior, will have a shot to bust through to the top of East Carolina’s single-season and career passing records. Carden was named the Conference USA Most Valuable Player following his 3,866 yard and 32 touchdown regular season. Carden’s favorite target is junior wide receiver Justin Hardy, who also stands towards the top of most East Carolina single-season and career receiving records. Hardy is one of the top junior receivers in the country and averages nearly nine catches per game. Up-front the Pirates boast a pair of senior, all-conference guards in Jordan Davis and Will Simmons. 

On defense senior outside linebacker Derrell Johnson will have his name called plenty. Johnson leads the team in tackles, tackles for loss, and sacks from his outside linebacker position. At the opposite outside linebacker position sophomore Montese Overton has contributed key play for the defense which allows just 117 yards per game on the ground. In the secondary the Pirates are led by senior free safety Damon Magazu. Always around the football, Magazu leads the team with four interceptions and is second in tackles. On the outside senior cornerback Adonis Armstrong will be one of the key pieces to slowing down Tettleton, as he has 12 passes defend and 10 pass break ups this season.

East Carolina Leaders

Passing: Shane Carden 358-404, 3,866 Yards, 32 TD, 10 INT

Rushing: Vintavious Cooper 205 Attempts, 995 Yards, 11 TD

Receiving: Justin Hardy 105 Receptions, 1,218 Yards, 8 TD

Tackles: Derrell Johnson 79 Tackles, 13.5 TFL

Sacks: Johnson 7.5 Sacks

Interceptions: Damon Magazu 4 INT


National Rankings Offense

Total: Ohio 374.8 (87th), East Carolina 459.8 (30th)

Passing: Ohio 238.5 (58th), East Carolina 331.5 (10th)

Rushing: Ohio 136.3 (96th), East Carolina 128.3 (101st)

Scoring: Ohio 28.0 (71st), East Carolina 40.4 (10th)

Redzone: Ohio .808 (74th), East Carolina .884 (26th)

National Rankings Defense

Total: Ohio 329.3 (55th), East Carolina 363.3 (3oth)

Passing: Ohio 212.2 (29th), East Carolina 245.8 (87th)

Rushing: Ohio 180.2 (78th), East Carolina 117.5 (15th)

Scoring: Ohio 26.7 (66th), East Carolina 25.2 (51st)

Redzone: Ohio .757 (20th), East Carolina .738 (16th)

Turnover Margin: Ohio +1 (54th), East Carolina +5 (34th)


Top NFL Draft Prospects

Justin Hardy, WR, East Carolina,

Shane Carden, QB, East Carolina,

Tyler Tettleton, QB, Ohio, Senior

Damon Magazu, FS, East Carolina,

Derrel Johnson, LB, East Carolina,

Donte Foster, WR, Ohio, Senior