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George Sipple | Detroit Free Press | November 28, 2016

Ohio recognizes challenge of ending WMU's perfect season

  Ohio knows it will have to bring its A-game to beat Western Michigan on Friday.

Coming up with a game plan to stop Western Michigan quarterback Zach Terrell is admittedly difficult for the Ohio Bobcats.

"So far, no one disrupts him," Ohio football coach Frank Solich said with a chuckle on Monday's Mid-American Conference teleconference. "We're still trying to work on that game plan."

The Bobcats (8-4) face the undefeated Broncos (12-0) in the MAC championship game at 7 p.m. Friday at Ford Field in Detroit. The Bobcats finished 6-2 in winning the MAC East Division, while the Broncos went 8-0 in winning the West.

Terrell has completed 71.7 percent of his passes for 3,086 yards, 30 touchdowns and just a single interception.

"He's a very composed football player," Solich said. "He does not get rattled. He makes great decisions. When he's in the pocket and people are flying around him, he still zeroes in on the coverages and his receivers and where the ball has to go and has great timing on his release.

"Very, very accurate thrower. He's got, I think, the mental makeup, too. He makes great decisions with the ball. He's able to run enough that he's going to hurt you if you're not taking care of that responsibility. ... He knows when to scramble, how to scramble. There's not a phase of the game that he's not really proficient at. He's a complete player at the position."

Terrell has gained 222 yards and six touchdowns on 67 carries, too.

Terrell's favorite target is Corey Davis, who has 83 catches for 1,283 yards and 17 touchdowns. The Broncos also have a potent running attack that the Bobcats will have to try to stop.

RELATED: Corey Davis breaks all-time receiving record

"No one has been able to stop their ground game," Solich said. "And so, you can try to double Corey all you want. He'll still make some plays, and the ground game will kill you. So you gotta try and pick your poison a little bit and try to be as sound as you can be and try to be at the right spots at the right time. It comes down to really tackling well.

"That offensive line is so big that they create some holes, so your secondary has to fill in and make a lot of plays. If you're not careful, all of a sudden, a little sloppiness in your approach, your tackling, and now big plays hurt you on the ground. That's kind of the problem everybody faces when they play them. They do not have a weakness. Their ground game is exceptional. Their passing game is exceptional."

The Bobcats rank fifth nationally in rushing defense, allowing 105.1 yards per game. The Broncos rank 13th in rushing offense, averaging 247.3 yards per game.

Ohio linebacker Quentin Poling said stopping the run has been a "must" for the Bobcats to win games this season.

RELATED: Alabama and Western Michigan only remaining unbeaten teams

"That's one thing we've excelled at," Poling said. "We need to continue that or else we won't have a chance in this game. We need to stop the run and make them as one-dimensional as possible."

Poling said Ohio's secondary has done well for being inexperienced.

"We try to make a lot of calls to help them out and take a little less pressure off of them," Poling said. "Our run defense has been able to put a lot of predictable passing downs and passing situations. That's really helped us alleviate pressure from the secondary."

This article was written by George Sipple from Detroit Free Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


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