Nathan Rourke fumbles the football after a sack from Central Michigan’s Nathan Brisson-Fast during Ohio’s homecoming game against Central Michigan University on October 7, 2017. The Bobcats lost 23-26 (Blake Nissen | Photo Editor)
Now, as Ohio prepares for a road game against Bowling Green, it is still hopeful that its performance against Central Michigan was atypical. The Bobcats will play the Falcons at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday in Doyt Perry Stadium, and they are set on continuing to prove their resiliency.
“There’s going to be turnovers here and there,” safety Javon Hagan said. “There’s going to be bad plays by offense and defense.”
The Bobcats won’t play the blame game, and that mindset starts with coach Frank Solich.
Quarterback Nathan Rourke committed three fumbles and one interception against the Chippewas, but Solich won’t blame Rourke for all of them.
Solich said after the game against Central Michigan that some of the turnovers simply couldn’t be avoided, with Rourke pressured on his blind side.
Still, the Bobcats will need to take care of the ball better against the Falcons. The Falcons lead the Mid-American Conference and the country in fumbles recovered (10), and they have the second-best turnover margin in the MAC.
Solich isn’t trying to cut out Rourke’s ability to scramble outside the pocket, but he did acknowledge Monday that Rourke would need to take care of the ball better when he’s scrambling.
Rourke feels the same way, perhaps even more.
“It was exactly what I thought it was with what it was on the field,” Rourke said. “Just me being undisciplined, have bad habits of holding the ball with one hand.”
While Rourke looks to take care of the ball better, the defense will need to shore up some issues of its own, too. In the past five games, the Bobcats have allowed an average of 301.2 passing yards per game.
Hagan and the rest of the defense knows the Falcons will be coming for the secondary, the unit has been attacked the whole season.
But at the same time, the secondary knows it has to make the game tough for the Falcons’ receivers. The Falcons have two receivers – Scott Miller and Teo Redding – who rank in the top 10 of the MAC for receptions per game.
“They feel like their receivers can beat our defensive backs, and that’s what it comes down to,” Hagan said.
The Falcons have passed for an average of 236.7 passing yards per game this season, which ranks them No. 6 in the MAC. But the Bobcats, a team that hasn’t lost two straight games since the end of last season, are set on being resilient.
It’s what they’ve been doing the whole season.
“They’ve been a great team as far as showing up every day and practicing at a level that gives them a chance to win every week,” Solich said. “I expect that will be the case in this game.”