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Tim Albin at his weekly press conference on Sept. 20, 2021.

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

The end of Ohio’s nonconference schedule approaches. 

After a 0-3 start to its season, Ohio will have another challenge ahead of it before it begins Mid-American Conference play. Northwestern is the second Power 5 program Ohio will face this season, albeit one that has struggled in its first three games.  

Northwestern is 1-2 and coming off a 30-23 loss to Duke. Like the Bobcats, the Wildcats are in the midst of sorting themselves out after a less than ideal start to their season.

Ohio coach Tim Albin addressed the media Monday to discuss Ohio’s loss to Louisiana, its upcoming game against Northwestern and how it will adapt to an unpredictable and physical opponent. Here’s what The Post learned from Albin’s fourth weekly press conference: 

Buckner and Cox likely to return

Quarterbacks Kurtis Rourke and Armani Rogers will have more targets to throw to Saturday. Albin anticipates wide receivers Jerome Buckner and Isiah Cox will both return to the field against Northwestern after both missed at least one game.  

Buckner sat out against Louisiana but had previously proven to be one of the Bobcats’ most capable receivers. In Ohio’s loss to Syracuse, Buckner caught seven passes for 102 yards. His Week 1 performance alone places him at second in receiving yards for Ohio this season. Buckner is not guaranteed to return against Northwestern, but Albin is optimistic.

Cox has seen limited play time this season, only briefly appearing against Syracuse. His return will help the Bobcats’ pass game immensely, as he led the team in receiving yards last season with 142.  

“I’m anticipating Jerome,” Albin said. “I know Isiah will be back for sure.” 

Concern and optimism for offensive line 

Ohio’s offensive line is in a tight spot. Three of its starters — Kurt Danneker, Hagen Meservy and Brody Rodgers — are out for the time being due to a mix of injuries and off the field issues. Albin noted Northwestern’s defense boasts a physical front seven, and he plans on matching it with a balanced run-pass approach. 

The absence of three veteran starters ought to raise concern. Ohio now has to fill the gaps with younger players like Christophe Atkinson and Shedrick Rhodes. Despite this, Albin remains confident in offensive line coach Allen Rudolph and his players.  

“I think that coach Rudolph’s the guy,” Albin said. “He’s leading them, and I know they’re going to give it their best against (Northwestern).” 

Northwestern is physical 

One of the first things Albin mentioned in his press conference Monday was the physicality present in the Wildcats’ defensive line. 

Albin’s plan to counteract this? Stay flexible. If Ohio’s offense avoids becoming one-dimensional, it could take care of Northwestern’s physicality by keeping its defense off balance.  

“Their guys, they fly around and know what they’re doing,“ Albin said.” They know where they’re going. They can get there fast.” 

Improvement needed on third down 

Northwestern has been successful in the second half this season. Last week, it didn’t allow Duke to score once in the second half while putting up two touchdowns and a field goal of its own. To keep up with the Wildcats, the Bobcats cannot get worn down after halftime.

To do that, Albin wants Ohio’s offense to keep its defense off the field. He believes the best way to achieve this is by improving Ohio’s third-down conversion rate. The Bobcats are 9-of-30 on third-down conversions so far this season. Albin attributes this to too many third-and-longs, and he is actively working to correct this issue. 

“If we can, as an offense, help the defense a little bit more,” Albin said. “That will help those guys from wearing down in the second half.” 

@elifeaz  

ef195418@ohio.edu 

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