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Interviews with the Enemy: A Q&A with The Hustle Belt

We talk with the Hustle Belt before tonight’s game.

NCAA Football: MAC Championship-Western Michigan at Ohio Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

While SB Nation’s empire is vast, it does not quite have an Ohio blog. Fortunately, that is where the Hustle belt comes in. Alan Rucker is the managing editor of our blog devoted to all things MACtion, and he was kind enough to do a late blogger interview about tonight’s game:

T-Mill: Is there anything that really stood out for Ohio in week 1 from drubbing a pretty hapless Hampton team?

Alan: I don't put any stock whatsoever in an FCS win. The Bobcats looked great, sure, but extrapolating out from that win is a fool's game. Everything that was supposed to happen in terms of performance did, but it’s only worth mentioning if it didn’t. Hampton was exactly who we thought they were: a tune up game to just make sure uniforms fit and you could hit someone other than your teammates.

T-Mill: Do the Bobcats employ a dual-QB system, or was the blowout that spectacular and they just gave the backup a lot of reps?

Alan: In some respects it is a dual system in that both Quinton Maxwell and Nathan Rourke will likely play in the first half and based on performance that’s who you’ll see the majority (if not the entirety) of the second half. Frank Solich is still trying to figure out exactly what he’s got under center with Rourke The transfer played well enough last week to garner MAC East Player of the Week recognition, so that’s a good option. In truth, I would bet Solich is unsure who is going to respond to a road contest against a B1G team better so he’s leaving options open.

T-Mill: The defensive numbers were obviously great, but is this a strong defensive team or was Hampton just that outmatched?

Alan: Both? Ohio’s defense was the best in the Mid-American Conference last year and will likely be that way again this year. But a strong MAC defense is like being the most attractive patient in a burn unit. I’m saying the MAC ain’t known for defense and Ohio being the best at something the conference sucks at in general isn’t really all that impressive. OF COURSE EVERYONE GETS A TROPHY NOW SO CONGRATS, BOBCATS. But I digress. I wouldn’t take anything from week one since Hampton was so terrible. Comparing the success against Hampton to potential success against Purdue is like comparing apples to wombats.

T-Mill: Offensively the Bobcats were pretty run-heavy against Hampton. Should we expect more of that on Friday night, or will they air it out a bit?

Alan: I would expect Ohio to try to find whatever is working and exploit that. The thing about Frank Solich is he’s old school enough to not beat himself or let his vanity or stats get in the way of a W. If the run works, you’ll see that. If the pass works, you’ll see that. At least initially expect the run game to be the focus to get the QBs comfortable and see what will need to happen for the Bobcats as the game progresses.

T-Mill: On paper this looks like a strong candidate for a MAC over B1G win. What will it take for the Bobcats to pull it off?

Alan: Like most games against a P5 opponent that’s only marginally better or on the same plane, the MAC squad can’t beat themselves. Ball State/Illinois last week was a good example of how a MAC squad can piss away an upset by not being on the ball for the entire game. One special teams gaffe or a critical turnover can legitimately cost a team an upset. The Bobcats need to win the turnover battle, not give up big special teams plays, and capitalize on either of this things if they happen to Purdue.

T-Mill: What about Purdue in week 1 surprised you and how does that help against Ohio?

Alan: Admittedly, part of my surprise is because I’m a Louisville native and everyone I know from there thinks Teddy Bridgewater walks on water and was equally confident that Purdue was going to lose by somewhere in the neighborhood of 932 points. There’s two ways to look at the Boilers’ opening week performance if you’re a MAC fan or an Ohio fan. The first is positive, in that there may be a letdown after a better-than-expected performance against a national power. The flip side of that, however, is that the Boilers’ confidence is higher now than it has been in years. That normally doesn’t bode well for a MAC squad going on the road.

Thanks Alan. We appreciate you stopping by!