Breaking down today’s AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl matchup between Ohio and Louisiana-Monroe:
1. Healthy Tettleton: Ohio junior quarterback Tyler Tettleton was slowed by a rib injury that played a role in the Bobcats losing four of their final five games. He’s thrown 16 touchdown passes and only three interceptions and is much healthier now that he's had time to recover. Ohio will use Tettleton on designed running plays. And now that he’s back to full strength, he becomes even more difficult to defend because he won’t be as tempted to try to force things in the passing game.
2. Beating man coverage: Louisiana-Monroe isn’t afraid to play man coverage and leave their cornerbacks one-on-one on the perimeter. The Warhawks have intercepted 15 passes, led by Isaiah Newsome's four picks. They will stack the line of scrimmage and come after Tettleton. Pass protection will be critical for Ohio, not to mention making some big plays down the field when the Warhawks bring the pressure. The Bobcats need to set the tone early in their offensive line.
3. Getting defensive: Ohio was decimated by injuries on defense this season, particularly in its front seven. Some of those defenders are scheduled to return for the bowl game, but it remains to be seen how rusty they might be. Against an offense like Louisiana-Monroe’s that’s continually attacking, the Bobcats could help their cause by forcing some turnovers and not allowing the Warhawks to get into a rhythm early.