Breakdown: Ohio’s defense

By Eli Gehn

Defensive Line

The Bobcats’ biggest man on the line is nose guard Neal Huynh, who weighs 307 pounds. The two defensive ends, Curtis Meyers and Tremayne Scott, have an average weight of 254 pounds. The smallest lineman, Carl Jones, at 245 pounds, lines up at the other defensive tackle spot. The Ohio defensive line hasn’t put a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks sack-wise this season. Of all the defensive line positions, the Bobcats managed to bring down the quarterback 11.5 times, with Scott leading the way with 3.5. Grade: B-


The Bobcats’ linebackers may not have the size, but they sure do have the speed to keep up with the Huskies. Leading the corps is middle linebacker Noah Keller. Keller leads the team with 92 tackles. Being a redshirt senior could make this the most important game of his collegiate career. Starting alongside Keller are Jelani Moseley and Alphonso Lewis. Ohio may throw in some more nickel coverage schemes against the spread-out NIU offense, which means redshirt freshman Nathan Carpenter and redshirt junior Mose Denton would rotate in for Lewis in those scenarios. NIU has beaten a majority of its opposing defenses with its speed.

“They’re a sound defense,” said NIU coach Dave Doeren. “They definitely tackle well, chase the football and do a good job of mixing up coverages and pressures. It’s going to be a great game on both sides of the ball.” Grade: B

Defensive backs

The secondary of the Bobcats has a lot on its hands Friday with a loaded set of receiving options for the Huskies. They have to watch for the scrambling abilities of Harnish. The defensive backs who will most likely keep their eye out mostly for Harnish are the two safeties, Josh Kristoff and Gerald Moore. Moore has the instincts to get to the ball carrier, racking up 73 tackles this season, second on the team behind Keller. The men lining up across from the flurry of Huskies’ receiving options are cornerbacks Omar Leftwich and Travis Carrie. Carrie leads Ohio with four interceptions heading into Friday. Grade: C+

Special Teams

Place kicker Matt Weller seems to be automatic from within 40 yards this season. Weller has drilled all of his 16 field goal attempts under 40 yards and once he gets over that distance, he’s hit or miss. The redshirt junior is only 50 percent (6-12) from kicks between 40 and 49 yards and is 0-2 on attempts from 50-plus yards. Punter Paul Hershey doesn’t have an outstanding leg, but he has shown quite a few times this year that he can get a hold of one. The kicking game gets a little bit easier indoors due to the fact the kicker/punter doesn’t have to worry about the weather issues. Seeing Weller and Hershey on the field Friday night would mean the Huskies defense is forcing Ohio to punt it away or making them settle for field goals, unless, of course, Weller goes out for the PAT try. Grade: B