Ohio is off to a rough start.
A 29-9 loss in its season opener against Syracuse revealed some of its biggest struggles out of the gate. Ohio’s defense failed to contain Syracuse’s rushing attack, and the offense floundered in the red zone.
Coach Tim Albin wasn’t coy in acknowledging the Bobcats weren’t up to snuff Saturday. He’s maintained an optimistic outlook, but he knows the Bobcats have vital problems they need to remedy this week.
Albin addressed the media Monday to discuss Ohio’s loss to Syracuse, its upcoming game against Duquesne and how it will handle its issues on both sides of the ball. Here’s what The Post learned from Albin’s second weekly press conference:
Younger Bobcats getting time
Albin wants to get Ohio’s inexperienced players time on the field in the near future. Ohio has young talent like wide receiver Miles Cross and cornerback Torrie Cox Jr., who Albin wants to utilize. Cross only recorded one reception against Syracuse but is expected to see more action in the coming weeks.
“Cross had played. He needs to play some more,“ Albin said. “I know he was a guy that got in that was young. I think you'll see there's going to be four or five guys, young guys, that will see time at some point in time.”
Offensive lineman Kurt Danneker exited Ohio’s game Saturday with a knee injury but was able to leave the field without much assistance. Albin said the full extent of Danneker’s injury will be determined Tuesday. However, he anticipates it’s nothing too serious. Danneker has been wearing a knee brace as a precaution.
“He wanted to go back in the game, and we just said, ‘Hey, let's just wait and see,‘“ Albin said. “Not taking any chances on it.”
Red zone issues under review
Ohio’s offense struggled to follow through in the red zone against Syracuse. Easy touchdown passes were dropped, and Ohio was forced to settle for field goals. Although quarterback Kurtis Rourke passed for 142 yards and was 21-for-28 in his fourth career start, the Bobcats did not record a touchdown.
A game without any touchdowns whatsoever is unacceptable to Albin. The Bobcats were handed plenty of chances but were unable to capitalize. Albin wants the offense to be more aggressive going forward.
“We had opportunities, and for us to beat a school like that, we're going to have to make some plays, and we have to take some chances,” Albin said.
Defense needs work
Ohio wasn’t able to put an effective stop to Syracuse’s rushing attack in its first game. It gave up 283 rushing yards and three touchdowns and didn’t record a single three-and-out.
Albin believes the root of the issue lies in working on fundamentals. The Bobcats have struggled with their run defense since last season, and Albin wants to correct that.
“We pride ourselves in running the ball here and stopping the run, and we're going to have to make sure that we get the run stop better than 280 (yards),“ Albin said. “That's not typical of Bobcat defense. And I think, to those guys, that’s going to hurt, and they'll respond this week.”
Duquesne is still a challenge
The Dukes lost their first game of the season 45-3 to Texas Christian Saturday, and quarterback Joe Mischler suffered a knee injury in the first quarter, which sidelined him for the remainder of the game.
Despite Duquesne’s blowout loss, Albin doesn’t want Ohio to be overconfident. Duquesne coach Jerry Schmitt is the winningest coach in the program’s history, and an upset is never an impossibility. Ohio will still be challenged when Duquesne comes to Athens.
“I’ve seen all of the TCU game,“ Albin said. “I've seen most of their spring games from summer preparations. We will be challenged. For me to sit here and say it’s like Syracuse, come on. I'm not going to do that to you. But I know that we will be challenged, and we will have to play our best game Saturday.”