BOWLING GREEN — Tim Albin sat with his shoulders slouched during his post-game press conference at Doyt L. Perry Stadium. Ohio had fallen short once again and its season was brought to an ugly end with its ninth loss of the season. Albin chalked up much of Ohio’s 21-10 loss to Bowling Green on an inability to move the ball downfield.
But as he answered the final question of his press conference, Albin pinned the responsibility for Ohio’s lackluster performance, both against Bowling Green and all season, on himself. The first-year coach is aware of the expectations fans place on the program and knows 2021 was far from acceptable.
“It's been tough with the losses,“ Albin said. “I know the expectations, and I'm disappointed because I have not met those with our fan base.”
The Bobcats (3-9, 3-5 Mid-American Conference) were whipped in a game that was theirs to lose before Friday. The Falcons were blown out in their two previous games and had one of the worst-ranked offenses in the MAC.
Albin had been Ohio’s offensive coordinator for 16 seasons before he took command of the program this season. But despite inheriting a coach whose repertoire was built around high-scoring offenses, Ohio stalled out at 10 points Friday and never scored outside of the second quarter.
“It was a one-score game with seven minutes to go, and we just could not consistently move the ball,“ Albin said. “Going in, I thought we would be able to run the ball with a little more success against them. That was not the case, and we just couldn’t get anything with the run game.”
The dual quarterback system that Ohio clung to this season provided little help. Armani Rogers, Ohio’s usual rushing quarterback, lost yards on the ground. The redshirt fifth year made three rushing attempts and ended up losing four total yards. After Bowling Green turned the ball over downs on Ohio’s three-yard line, Rogers was swapped in to rush. Rogers hurried to his right but was thrown back into the end zone for a safety.
“We just thought, hey, they’ll be expecting it up the middle and tried to go wide with it, didn’t execute it,“ Albin said. “As far as they play call itself, again, we thought they were going to take it up the middle, we tried to go wide and get a big play and it just didn’t work out for us.”
Fellow quarterback Kurtis Rourke fared no better than Rogers. The redshirt sophomore went 12-of-24 passing for 103 yards, was intercepted three times and sacked twice. He’d passed for 12 yards before halftime.
Rourke also entered a 38-minute stretch between the first and fourth quarters in which he completed just one pass. After Alec Burton caught a six-yard reception with 37 seconds remaining in the first quarter, Rourke struggled to make completions. His lone pass between the second and third quarters was a two-yard pass to running back De’Montre Tuggle.
“All season I feel like we struggled to finish at some points but then we had been really good,“ Rourke said. “A lot of that falls on myself.”
Ohio didn’t collapse, it never showed up. Its 223 total offensive yards are its worst performance since it was blown out by Louisiana in mid-September. However, the gap between Louisiana and Bowling Green is a mile wide. Ohio was shut down Friday by a team that won one of its past 15 conference games.
Ohio’s record this season is its worst since 2003, when it went 2-10 and fired then-coach Brian Knorr after the following season. After a messy first season at the helm, Albin enters the offseason on thin ice and with a laundry list of problems that need addressing.
Albin has looked for solutions, but he’s yet to come up with one after a season of searching.
“Starting with me and this coaching staff, I've got to get find ways to win the close games early,“ Albin said.