Well, it won't be a perfect 2019 season for the Green and White. The Bobcats walked away from Heinz Field disappointed, suffering a 20-10 defeat to the Pittsburgh Panthers. The defense hung tough with the ACC outfit led by Pat Narduzzi, but Ohio's offense was sluggish and could only muster 10 points against a solid Panthers front seven.
The cloud hanging over the game was the illness of Nathan Rourke, who had his worst full game of his career according to ESPN's QBR metric. But how did the fine folks at Pro Football Focus grade the Ohio Bobcats. These grades are used in scouting evaluations for 30 of 32 NFL teams, and give us insight beyond the numbers. A 60-69 grade indicates average performance, while the 70's indicate above average performance, 80's is a great performance, and 90's is an elite performance.
Top 5 Individual Grades
S - Javon Hagan - 79.7
Hagan has his eyes on the NFL, and performances like this will make the decision to return for his Senior season a good one. Hagan set the tone for a defense that certainly gave its offense a chance to win the game.
LT - Austen Pleasants - 74.8
Another guy who's had NFL rumblings, Austen Pleasants is starting to settle into his new role at Left Tackle. Watching the game at first glance I did not expect this grade, as it felt like Ohio's offensive line was allowing too much pressure on Rourke. These grades show that other factors, such as Rourke's inability to escape, could have played a factor in a bad stats day for the O-line.
LB - Jared Dorsa - 69.5
Coming off being named MAC defensive player of the week vs Rhode Island Dorsa put in another solid performance at the linebacker position. The redshirt Junior now has 14 tackles on the season, and is emerging as one of the more reliable players on this Ohio defense.
RT - Marques Grimes - 67.3
Pretty much copy and paste my surprise that the Ohio offensive line is getting praise from PFF this week. Grimes was arguably the biggest question mark on the Ohio line, so seeing him with a well-graded performance is a positive sign.
DT - Kai Caesar - 66.9
With just one proven returnee at defensive tackle there was opportunity for young, athletic talent to emerge at the position. Caesar may be that talent as a sophomore. Although he hasn't recorded a tackle for loss or a sack, Caesar has played well in the middle. Well enough to be the 5th highest graded Bobcat according to PFF.
Skills (QB, RB, WR, TE) - 55.6
Nathan Rourke's performance assuredly dropped this position group's grade. It also shows how reliant the youth in the skill position's need a healthy, active in the pocket, Nathan Rourke. He is the key to the offense, and there isn't a spare. His health is paramount moving forward for Ohio.
O-Line - 69.3
I think this grade reveals just how much Rourke struggled in this game. This line allowed six sacks on the day. SIX SACKS. Yet, PFF has them as the highest graded position unit. Your reaction may be to discount this rating, but this game was combed over by analysts at PFF, so what does it mean. It means Rourke did not perform well in climbing the pocket, escaping normal pressure. Ohio's line blocked at a competent level, enough to receive a 69.3 grade. So, a positive sign for future performances.
Front Seven (DL, LB) - 58.1
Many times on Saturday, Kenny Pickett had plenty of time to throw for Pittsburgh. This shows in the PFF grade for the front seven. They also allowed 6.8 yards a carry to AJ Davis, and another 4.2 yards a carry to Vincent Davis.
Defensive Backs - 59.1
Pickett's ample time to throw allowed him to dice up the Ohio secondary. He completed 70% of his throws for 321 yards through the air. Ohio gave up a big touchdown that was a miscue by the secondary which definitely helped push their game grade down.