Ohio's defense will face another test Tuesday night in Akron. The only difference is that this week's test will be much easier than the one the Bobcats just passed with flying colors.

When Ohio faces Akron on Tuesday for the Mid-American Conference East Division title, the Bobcats secondary, and defense as a whole, will once again have to shut down their opponent. Only this time, MAC Championship Game implications are directly on the line.

With a win, the Bobcats will clinch a spot in the MAC Championship Game on Dec. 2. For that to happen, the secondary will need to have another strong performance against Thomas Woodson.

Ohio beat Toledo 38-10 on, relatively, its strongest defensive performance of the year. Logan Woodside is one of the best quarterbacks in the MAC, and the Bobcats' defense completely shut him down.

Against the Zips, who throw the ball 54 percent of the time (including 59 percent in their last three games), the Bobcats will have to be ready once again to stop an attack that would decimate any chance of a MAC Championship. 

Breakdown

Thomas Woodson, who was suspended for the Miami game last week, will make his return against Ohio. A senior, Woodson runs the Akron offense nearly single-handedly. He does, however, have a key weakness. 

Woodson has thrown eight interceptions in nine games this season, with an interception in every game except for two. The Bobcats will have to be opportunistic and force turnovers Tuesday night.

The Zips rushing attack isn't something to behold, either, as their leading rusher, Warren Ball, has just 332 yards this season. Ball would rank fourth on the Bobcats in rushing yards. 

Woodson, against a common opponent in Toledo, went 18-of-33 for 205 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Akron lost 48-21.

Using this YouTube video, I looked at Woodson's arm and what he brings to the table. At the 2:07:17 mark, Woodson makes one of his best throws of the day.

The Zips line up in the spread facing press coverage on the outside, where the Rockets counter with a 4-2-5 look. Ohio linebacker Chad Moore has been the man tasked with being put in the slot for most of the season.

Woodson takes the snap and recognizes cover one from Toledo (one high safety) with man-to-man coverage across the field. Toledo also blitzes, meaning Woodson doesn't have long to get rid of the ball. 

He looks to the right slot, where his receiver runs a seven-yard curl route. That look is just long enough for Woodson to keep the high safety away, so Woodson can throw a seam route to his receiver from the left for a touchdown.


gif created by Andrew Gillis from YouTube user Evgeniy Fedorov

If the Bobcats decide to blitz heavily Tuesday, then an onus will be put on safeties Javon Hagan and Kylan Nelson to step up in coverage to defend the Zips spread. 


gif created by Andrew Gillis from YouTube user Evgeniy Fedorov

Woodson can also be dangerous to his own team, too.

With so many receivers running routes, Ohio will likely have to drop more defenders in the secondary. With that, high passes can turn into tipped balls, then interceptions like at the 31:24 mark.

Woodson tries to find his receiver at the first down marker, who is open, but only slightly overthrows him. That overthrow is enough for the receiver to not only not bring in the catch, but deflect the ball in the air, which gives the safety enough time to make an interception. 


gif created by Andrew Gillis from YouTube user Evgeniy Fedorov

Judgement

Ohio has already passed its toughest exam of the season. It just has to manage its way through an easier one. Akron will be ready to go, however, as Woodson's suspension is over. 

For the Bobcats to come out victorious, they'll have to shutdown the Zips passing attack. 

If the Bobcats can do that, then they'll have more to celebrate than just a win in Akron. 

@Andrew_Gillis70 

ag079513@ohio.edu

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