Lukas Moore --
On Wednesday morning the Bobcats held a press conference featuring head coach Frank Solich, offensive coordinator Tim Albin, and new defensive coordinator Ron Collins. The room was filled with the rest of the Ohio coaching staff.
If there were one word to describe the attitude of the Ohio staff, it'd be confident. The term consistently repeated throughout the presser was "developing depth". Well, if a primary goal for a coaching staff is developing depth, they're pretty confident about their front line guys. Ohio also exudes confidence in their weight program, and it is becoming a lynchpin of Ohio's consistent success.
Of course most media days are positive events, but there was still information to be gleamed from what the Ohio coaching staff had to say. Here are the three takeaways from Ohio media day.
1. Nathan Rourke is ready, along with the other Captains
As expected, Solich and Albin were confident when speaking about their senior quarterback. They believe Rourke has taken his game to another level. He was finally able to get a full weight lifting program in and is in incredible shape. Solich mentioned his preparation and said Rourke is someone that every college football player should strive to be. Those are words of high praise from a man with as much experience as Solich.
Rourke was named a captain (obviously) along with safety Javon Hagan (3x Captain), defensive end Will Evans, wideout Cam Odom and left tackle Austen Pleasants. All three new captains are integral for Ohio this year; and if their teammates think they've earned being a captain that says something about how they've developed in the offseason.
2. Nobody knows who's replacing Papi White/Aj Oullette
The running back and wide receiver room will be wide open this season, and Albin confirmed as much. Outside of Cam Odom, Julian Ross (if healthy), and O'Shaan Allison, there are tons of snaps up for grabs between a ton of exciting athletes. Albin did warn of mistakes from both position groups because of the youth, but he feels excited about the talent in camp.
I'm pretty sure Ohio does not know who is going to emerge as consistent contributors at either position. But the talent in the group is there.
3. The defense is ready... almost
A new coordinator in Ron Collins did not mean much change to Ohio's defensive system, which makes sense given the success of the defense in MAC play a year ago (2nd in points allowed). It also makes sense because crucial parts of the defense are back and ready to roll. The secondary is led by NFL prospect Javon Hagan and has multiple talented returning players. The linebacking core has returning starters and Collins especially pointed out the depth and competition at the position. The ends are fast and have gotten a year of experience under their belt, and Cole Baker contributed well inside a year ago.
However, after losing Kent Berger and Andrew Payne, the depth inside the defensive line is questionable. Brian Arp is a senior with limited experience, and the rest are young guys with a lot to learn. This will be Collins most important job for the season. If Ohio can find a way to replicate Berger and Payne on the inside, this defense will certainly take a step forward in 2019.
The Bobcats are a well-run football program, the system is installed, and the coaches know what it takes to win. They just need to get over the hump and finally win the MAC.