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Ohio University quarterback Kurtis Rourke (7) runs the ball during the first half of the game at Ryan Field on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021.

Football: What we learned as Ohio wraps up spring practice

Ohio is beginning to show signs of growth.

It's been slow going, but the Bobcats' progress shined through as they concluded spring practice on Saturday. Players have shown development, and the rough outline of a depth chart is taking shape ahead of fall camp.

But that's all there is to be seen for now. Spring ball has come to an end, and Ohio is inching ever closer to the 2022 regular season. Here's what The Post learned from Ohio's final spring practice:

Defensive restructuring

Ohio's spring practices were the first opportunity for new defensive coordinator Spence Nowinsky to work with Ohio's defense. While it will take longer than spring practice to adjust to a new defensive coordinator, Ohio is already reworking itself. A handful of position changes have provided accommodation to thinner units, while returning players like linebacker Keye Thompson will bolster Ohio's depth.

It's a welcome change. Ohio coach Tim Albin is open to experimentation with defense and wants to provide Nowinsky with room to work the defense as he sees fit. He's already seeing progress.

"You don't get it in six weeks, but I think we are farther along than last spring," Albin said. "But last spring, I was looking at the running backs and the offense. But I know, from a talent standpoint, we've got a lot of really good talent."

Quarterback battle seemingly over

With Armani Rogers gone, the dual-quarterback system that the Bobcats clung to over the past two seasons has been thrown out the window. However, that might not be a detriment. Kurtis Rourke, who will likely become Ohio's lone starting quarterback next season, can benefit from the extra time on the field.

He's already been allotted more snaps during spring practices. Ohio's other quarterbacks, like C.J. Harris and Callum Wither, each took their fair share of snaps Saturday, but Rourke was on the field for the majority of practice. His position as next year's starter is nearly set in stone. Albin believes Rourke has been due for more responsibility and was impressed with his performance throughout spring ball.

"He had a really good spring, as he should, because he's at the next step," Albin said. "He got a lot of experience. He did it all through spring ball, and he finished today. I thought he had a good day."

Learning from last season

The disappointment from an underwhelming 3-9 record in 2021 still looms over the Bobcats' heads. It's been a prevalent thought since Albin's first season as head coach wrapped up last November.

Albin's core takeaway from his inaugural season at the helm: Stay out of the way. He wants to steer away from micromanaging games as often as he did last season and let his players and assistant coaches handle game-time situations more often. Albin doesn't want to disappear on the sidelines, but he believes granting more autonomy during games may help the Bobcats down the road.

"The lesson is to let the guys do their job and talk between series or leading up to the game more about situations," Albin said. "Let them work and not try to do too many things, that's for sure."


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