The Bobcats fell to the Volunteers in Tennessee on Saturday.
KNOXVILLE, TN – Ohio isn’t going to fret about losing to the No. 15 team in the country.
The Bobcats were disappointed with their 28-19 loss against Tennessee, sure, but they weren’t going to let the loss take away from a decent performance on the road.
Ohio’s offense was without some of its best playmakers in running backs A.J. Ouellette and Maleek Irons. Dorian Brown was left to shoulder most of the load in the backfield, and he had to leave during the middle of the game due to an injury.
Ohio will play Gardner Webb next Saturday at home, and with the Bobcats losing their second game of the season, albeit to the No. 15 team in the country, they have much to improve upon.
Red Zone Efficiency Is Nonexistent
The Bobcats’ offense faltered in the red zone, going 6-20 on third-down conversion attempts. The Bobcats only scored one touchdown during the game, and the rest of their points were field goals. Kicker Louie Zervos made four field goals during the first half, scoring 12 points.
“You don’t want to kick field goals,” coach Frank Solich said. “I don’t think that there’s anybody in the business that wants to kick field goals. But you want to be able to keep yourself within a score of your opponent, and we were able to do that by kicking field goals.”
Though the Bobcats were able to stay within reach because of the field goals, the red zone offense is something they know needs improvement.
“There’s a lot of work that needs to get done with our red zone offense,” Solich said.
Running Back Depth Is Getting Limited
Solich has continually praised Ohio’s running back depth. Heading into the season, the Bobcats had all of their running backs healthy, they were able to run two-back sets with ease.
Now, however, with Ouellette, Irons and possibly Brown out for an extended period of time, Ohio will likely need to rework its backfield formations. Solich did not comment on Brown’s potential return date.
“We have some two-back sets in our offense, we have a three-back set in our offense,” Solich said. “Obvioiusly the three-back set is out. The two-back set is run sparingly now.”
Vinny Emaneule, a freshman walk-on running back from Pittsburgh Central Catholic High School will likely get more reps if Irons and Brown cannot play next week.
Sebastian Smith Is Still Ohio’s Best Playmaker
Wide receiver Sebastian Smith hasn’t been fully healthy to begin this season as he has battled a hamstring injury. Smith played his best game of the season Saturday, picking up nine receptions for 156 yards. He accounted for just under half of the Bobcats’ total yards.
Ohio is going to be in a good position to win any time Smith has this kind of game – and it was. Despite this, the Bobcats could not find other playmakers, particularly in the wide receiving corps.
Smith was the wide receiver that gained the most yardage with at least 50 yards. Jordan Reid and Brendan Cope followed Smith in receiving yards, picking up 29 and 21, respectively.
“He’s (Smith) a great receiver. He’s got decent height,” Solich said. “He can go up, and he will battle for the football. He’s a long strider, but he’s got good speed. He can make the tough catch, he can be a special receiver.”