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Athens Ohio, Ohio University, Peden Stadium, Ohio University vs Fordham University, Sept 24 2022,

Football Column: Ohio's defense is one of the worst in FBS

There is a lot to unpack from Ohio’s 59-52 win over Fordham Saturday, but first I want to take a look at some of the raw numbers, because they are absurd.

The two teams combined for 111 points, 1332 total yards and 60 first downs. They averaged 8.4 yards per play for the game, which is just a ridiculous pace. It wasn’t all exciting, though, as each team also had 11 penalties for over 100 yards.

Fordham quarterback Tim DeMorat threw for 503 yards and six touchdowns, with 320 of those yards and four of the touchdowns going to receiver Fotis Kokosioulis. Not to be outdone, Ohio’s Kurtis Rourke put up four touchdowns of his own, as well as 537 yards, obliterating the previous program single-game passing yards record of 409, set by Donny Harrison in 1983.

But despite the fact that it was a tremendously entertaining game featuring some fantastic performances, and the fact that every win is a good one in a 12-game season, this was not a good game for Ohio.

The Bobcats allowed 640 yards and 52 points to a Football Championship Subdivision opponent, and even with the context that the Rams possess the best offense in FCS, those are numbers that simply cannot happen if the Bobcats want to return to contention in the Mid-American Conference.

Ohio’s defense struggled last season, and it made a change at defensive coordinator heading into 2022. So far, the returns have not been encouraging.

Ohio allowed 42.3 points per game over its first three games, but two of those games were against Power 5 opponents. In the other game against Florida Atlantic, many of the points Ohio allowed came once it had a significant lead and was simply trying to run out the clock.

There wasn’t clear evidence either way through three weeks, but there certainly is now: Ohio’s defense is bad.

This is not to say that any of the individuals involved, players or coaches, are bad at their jobs. It’s also not to say that Ohio’s defense will continue to be bad all season, but at the moment, Ohio’s defense is simply not at the level it needs to be.

Out of 131 Football Bowl Subdivision teams, Ohio ranks No. 127 in points per game allowed and No. 130 in yards per game allowed. The only team that is worse than Ohio in the second statistic is Charlotte, who has allowed 560 yards per game.

The Bobcats have struggled to get pressure on the quarterback, they have been gashed both through the air and on the ground and they have generally been unable to consistently stop any of their opponents.

Since a stretch of five straight drives without allowing a point in the middle of its game against Florida Atlantic, Ohio has allowed its opponent to score on 26 of 42 drives. If that rate continues, and there is no reason to think it will not, Ohio will be in significant trouble once it starts facing better teams than Fordham.

If the Bobcats’ defensive issues are not solved quickly, it could cost them more than just a season of potential contention in the MAC, it could cost head coach Tim Albin his job.


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