Football: Ohio offense struggles against Kent State amid mid-season quarterback battle

MATT STARKEY

Quarterback Quinton Maxwell shouts to his teammates before a play against Kent State on Saturday. (File)

 

Greg Windham’s job as starting quarterback was his to lose at the beginning of the season.

And for now, in the midst of Mid-American Conference play, he’s lost it.

Redshirt freshman Quinton Maxwell took over as the starting quarterback Saturday in a 14-10 win over Kent State. The game was Maxwell’s first start of his college career.

“(The first start) felt pretty good,” Maxwell said. “I obviously have a lot of areas to improve on. Missed a lot of throws that I know I can make and that I made during the week.”

In the first quarter, Maxwell made an errant throw that almost resulted in an interception. He completed 57.8 percent of his passes, throwing one interception.

Though Maxwell didn’t have an amazing game, some of that is on the offense as a whole.

For whatever reason, whether it’s Windham or Maxwell under center, Ohio has struggled to move the ball down the field.

“We had some tough field position, got pinned back a couple of times, but honestly I’m going to sit back and take that one on me,” Maxwell said. “There was a couple times I missed some easy throws, and if I made them, we could have continued some drives.”

Maxwell had his fair share of bad reads. When he threw the interception, he forced it out of his hands as an oncoming Kent State pass rusher drilled him in the pocket.

But in other situations, like when Ohio needed to establish the passing attack, the Ohio offense faltered.

Ohio passed the ball 19 times and ran the ball 36 times. For Ohio, that veers from the balanced attack the team aims for.

But it’s what it strives to do on every possession throughout the game.

That attack usually sets up Ohio’s offense to be solid in the first half. The run is established, and the offensive line creates holes for the running backs to run through. Ohio’s two touchdowns were on the ground, with Dorian Brown and Maleek Irons rushing for touchdowns in the first half.

But in the second half, Ohio didn’t score even a field goal because its passing attack couldn’t produce.

Solich said Ohio considered putting Windham in the game because of the offense’s lack of production. A few high throws from Maxwell were also a factor in the coaching staff’s consideration.

“Offensively, I know we stalled out a lot in the second half,” coach Frank Solich said. “We should have been up 21 to nothing.”

The Bobcats, as Solich and Maxwell said, should have scored more against the Golden Flashes. Despite the offense’s inconsistencies, it’s loaded with playmakers. Sebastian Smith, Papi White and others can make plays in open field.

But as Ohio prepares for MAC powerhouse Toledo (6-1, 3-0 MAC), the quarterback it uses doesn’t seem to be the overarching problem; rather, it’s the offensive system itself.

Ohio will play at Toledo on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

“I don’t fault any one position offensively,” Solich said. “There was a stretch there we could have blocked better, stretch there where (Maxwell) could have thrown a few better throws. But he made enough plays and was composed throughout the game to where we wanted.”

But if Ohio is serious about winning a MAC championship — something it hasn’t done since 1968 — it needs to pull together — and fast.

 

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