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Tim Albin at his weekly press conference on Sept. 27, 2021.

Football: What we learned from Tim Albin's fifth weekly press conference

The beginning of Ohio’s Mid-American Conference schedule is here.

Ohio finished its nonconference slate with a disappointing 0-4 record, but a new opportunity presents itself against Akron in Week 5. Ohio has a chance to start off conference play with a win. 

Akron’s performance against nonconference opponents wasn’t stellar. Its only win came against a Football Championship Subdivision team, and it was blown out by 50 points or more twice against Power 5 programs, including last week’s loss to then-No.10 Ohio State.  

Ohio coach Tim Albin addressed the media Monday to discuss Ohio’s loss to Northwestern, its upcoming first conference game against Akron and how it plans to respond to the adversity in front of it. Here’s what The Post learned from Albin’s fifth weekly press conference: 

Familiarity with Akron 

The Zips were one of three teams the Bobcats faced in 2020, and being an already familiar conference opponent brings a bit of comfort.  

Albin faced off against third-year Akron coach Tom Arth twice as Ohio’s offensive coordinator, and he’s familiar with Arth’s offensive background, defensive looks and much of Akron’s roster. Linebacker Bubba Arslanian, Akron’s leader in tackles this season, has played against Ohio in three straight matchups — starting in the last two —  and can challenge Ohio’s offense Saturday.  

There is also a sort of familiarity in the Zips’ quarterback, DJ Irons. Irons will be another dual-threat quarterback going against the Bobcats, as he leads the Zips in both passing and rushing yards. The Bobcats have yet to see Irons in action, but his dual playstyle is akin to what they try to recruit for their own quarterbacks.  

“His skill set fits our quarterbacks and guys that we try to recruit here,” Albin said. “We like guys that can extend plays and keep their eyes downfield. We don’t want just an exclusive runner, we want a guy that can do both and, again, extend plays.” 

Kicker position being evaluated 

Ohio has not named a starting kicker for Saturday’s game. Original starter Stephen Johnson went three-for-six on field goals in his first three games and was pulled during the loss to Louisiana. He was replaced by Tristian Vandenberg, Ohio’s starting kicker from 2020. Vandenberg hasn’t missed an extra point attempt this season but missed a 31-yard field goal attempt against Northwestern. 

Albin praised Johnson and Vandenberg’s competition in practice and will continue to evaluate the kicking squad this week before making a decision on the starter. He recognized the issues with field goal accuracy, but he praised Vandenberg’s distance, as he averages 65 yards on kickoffs. 

“Accuracy is the most important on field goals,” Albin said. “But I am pleased with the kickoffs, and we’ll see how it goes with the numbers this week on field goals.” 

Next man up 

The injury bug has given the Bobcats no favors this season, particularly on the offensive line. After starting center Nick Sink went down during Ohio’s first drive against Northwestern, it was left without four of its original starting linemen.  

The Bobcats embrace a “next man up” mentality, and Albin will depend on offensive line coach Allen Rudolph to prepare the younger players to step up. Players Albin rattled off by name included Shedrick Rhodes, Parker Titsworth, Christophe Atkinson and Jay Amburgey.  

“Coach Rudolph will have to continue to do a good job with guys up front,” Albin said. “Because we are banged up.” 

There is some good news for Ohio. Albin announced that redshirt fifth year Hagen Meservy, who’s yet to play this season, will return this week against Akron. Meservy started 16 straight games from 2019-20, and his return will bring back more experience and leadership to Ohio’s offensive line.  

Allison’s earned the starting role 

Running back O’Shaan Allison has seen an increase in play time this season. After averaging fewer than six carries per game in 2020, Allison has become Ohio’s predominant rusher. He leads the running backs unit through four games with 30 carries for 154 yards. Allison has been splitting time with fellow running back De’Montre Tuggle, who received the majority of carries last season.  

Allison started for the first time since 2019 against Northwestern and rushed nine times, getting the most carries of any Bobcat. Albin praised Allison for his on-field production and work off the field, noting that the redshirt junior has gotten stronger and quicker over time.  

“(Allison’s) done a great job with his training,” Albin said. “He’s changed his diet, and he’s eating fish and chicken breasts, and he’s leaned up. His weight is the same, but his body fat is down.” 

@elifeaz  

ef195418@ohio.edu 

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