The end of Ohio’s season is on the horizon. After falling flat in its 35-23 loss to Toledo on Tuesday, Ohio now has 10 days to prepare to face Bowling Green for its final game of the season. The Bobcats (3-8, 3-4 Mid-American Conference) have beaten the Falcons (3-8, 1-6 MAC) in their last five meetings.
Ohio coach Tim Albin addressed the media Thursday to discuss Ohio’s loss to Toledo, its final game of the season against Bowling Green and what the team is focused on during its 10-day break. Here’s what The Post learned from Albin’s weekly press conference:
Return of red zone issues
Ohio struggled to reach the end zone against Toledo’s defense. It reached the red zone five times on Tuesday and didn’t score a touchdown until late in the fourth quarter. The only points it put on the board for the first 45 minutes of the game were due to field goals. Ohio reached the end zone on its final two drives of the game, but by then it was too late to make a difference.
Albin said Ohio’s inability to reach the end zone was made worse by Toledo scoring on its first two drives of the second half.
“I think mistakes down in the red zone when we got down there, but I can't speak to a mistake versus just a good defense,” Albin said. “I'm not second guessing kicking the field goal to make it 14-9. If I’d known Toledo was going to score the first to play to make it 21-9 on the long pass, sure. But you just don’t have that information at the time.”
A quasi-bye week
Ohio’s bye week has come and gone, but it’s been handed another extended break.
Albin said Ohio is using the 10-day break between its games against Toledo and Bowling Green to recover from its recent loss and make headway on recruitment. The extra time will also grant a window to some of Ohio’s injured players to possibly return to the field by next Friday.
“We’re treating it like a bye week,” Albin said. “We're getting some recruiting done, we’ve got a couple of coaches on the road here in the next couple of days. The kids are getting a couple of days extra rest. So, we're trying to utilize it to the best of our ability to benefit us moving forward.”
Injuries on the offensive line
Ohio’s offensive line has had to work without two of its best players for much of the season. Starters Brody Rodgers and Kurt Danneker both sustained injuries that have either limited their time on the field or taken them out entirely. Rodgers has started in just one game since MAC play began, and Danneker hasn’t made an appearance since Ohio’s season opener.
Now, Ohio may have to play its final game of the season without a third member of its original starting linemen. T.J. Jackson, Ohio’s starting left tackle, sat out the second half against Toledo due to a groin injury. Albin said that Jackson might be cleared to play as early as Sunday, but the injury does spread Ohio’s depleted offensive line even thinner.
“We're going to be limited,” Albin said. “It'll be stressful as a staff based on who's going ... But we are going to move forward and practice tomorrow. It will be limited but we're going to do that and then give them a day off over the weekend and then resume.”
Shutting down Matt McDonald
Bowling Green is last in the MAC in every offensive category except for passing offense. Its quarterback, Matt McDonald, has passed for 2,300 yards this season. In Bowling Green’s win over Buffalo, the senior passed for 263 yards and four touchdowns.
But the Bobcats have faced McDonald before. When the Falcons came to Peden Stadium last season, McDonald was held to 125 passing yards and was picked off three times. Albin said the Bobcats need to single out McDonald and take the early lead in order to beat the Falcons.
“I think their offense goes as he goes,” Albin said. “And so we’ll have to play well against him. Last year, offensively, we got out to the early lead, it got them out of their game plan a little bit.”