Most of the time, Tyler Tettleton is in total agreement with his head coach.
On Monday, however, his opinion differed — slightly — with that of Bobcat coach Frank Solich.
Ohio (4-0), off to its first 4-0 start in 36 years, will travel to Foxborough, Mass. for a 3:30 p.m. start against UMass (0-4) inside Gillette Stadium. During both his weekly appearance on the Mid-American Conference conference call and his own weekly local press conference, Solich indicated Tettleton would be questionable to make the start.
Tettleton, who had made 17 straight starts at QB for Ohio, sat out Saturday’s win over Norfolk State with an undisclosed abdomen injury. It was topic No. 1 for Solich during all his media appearances on Monday.
Solich said Tettleton would sit out practices Monday and Tuesday, and then would attempt to get in some throws during Wednesday’s practice. At that point, Solich said, a decision would likely be made.
“If he’s to be ready enough to play, he has to get practicing by mid-week,” Solich said on the conference call.
Tettleton suffered the abdomen injury on Sept. 8 against New Mexico State. He played through it in Ohio’s win on Sept. 15 at Marshall, but was at decidedly less than 100 percent by the end of that game thanks to the injury and a bruised throwing hand he suffered against the Herd.
Tettleton differed with Solich on Monday about one thing. He said there’s nothing questionable about him being ready to play Saturday. Asked to gauge how sure he was about being able to play, Tettleton didn’t hesitate.
“I’m pretty confident,” he said.
So, like 70 percent sure, 80 percent sure?
“Probably more like 100 percent sure,” Tettleton replied. “I’m ready to get back, ready to get going.”
Even if Tettleton is cleared to play, Solich didn’t rule out the notion about possibly continuing to play backup Derrius Vick. Vick, a redshirt freshman, threw for 199 yards and four touchdowns as the starter on Saturday. There’s no QB controversy, but finding spots to get Vick more time is something Ohio will mull over.
“Tyler has won so consistently for us and is such an experienced and really good quarterback that when he’s operating at a high level it’s tough to say ‘OK, go sit on the bench for a couple series. We’re going to try something else.’ So you keep going with him,” Solich explained.
“But, there may be times when it makes sense to utilize Derrius in some games. That will be something we’ll look at game-by-game.”
Ohio has more than Tettleton to keep an eye on this week. The Bobcats’ depth will be tested at several spots.
For example, Ohio could be without a single healthy option among its opening day starting trio at wide receiver. Mario Dovell (leg) is already lost for the season, and Solich said on Monday that senior WR Tyler Futrell (shoulder) will miss Saturday’s game at UMass. The third starter, junior Donte Foster, is playing with a damaged thumb.
There’s more. The offensive line is looking at as many as four players missing this weekend. Backups Mike McQueen (ankle) and Matt Prichard (knee) will be out this week, and could miss several more games. Starting guards Eric Herman (back) and Vince Carlotta (neck) both missed practice Monday and will be watched closely this week.
Also out this week will be DE Tremayne Scott (foot), and RB Ryan Boykin (hamstring) is questionable.
Ohio has tried to build depth, and that’s being tested now, Solich said.
“You have to have depth, and our depth is coming into play now,” the coach said. “We’ve lost some really top-line players, a lot of them on the defensive end of it.
“I think we’ve built the depth within our program to give us a chance,” Solich added. “At some point in time it has to level off and it has to stop, in terms of injuries.”
The Bobcats enjoyed their best week of the season, in terms of points gained, in both major national Top 25 polls this week.
In the Associated Press Top 25, Ohio checked in at No. 29 overall — the same rank the Bobcats held a week ago. However, Ohio picked up 40 points and appeared on 13 voter ballots this week. The ‘Cats received 20 points and were on 11 ballots last week.
In the USA Today/Coaches Poll, Ohio was listed 37th overall with 13 points. The Bobcats jumped five spots, and more than doubled its point total from the prior week. After week 3, Ohio was tied for 42nd in the poll with just five points.
Solich said he’s not concerned with his team’s standing in any of the opinion polls, though he did acknowledge he’s aware of Ohio’s standing.
“It’s brought to my attention. I do not look it up. I view it as nothing really at this point,” Solich said.
“Obviously that would be an important step for our program to be able to get that done, to break into the Top 25,” he added. “But, you know, that shouldn’t happen right now. It’ll possibly happen if we really take care of business. Again, that’s just looking too far ahead for us.”