Ohio's Offense Still Progressing


Football: Offense still a question mark for Ohio

Cameron Fields / For The Post

Last season, Ohio relied on its No. 6 nationally ranked run defense, its front seven starring the 2016 Mid-American Conference Defensive Player of the Year, Tarell Basham, as well as Blair Brown.

Basham, a defensive end, led the pass rush, and Brown led the team in tackles (128). But with the two gone, the defense will need to find some viable replacements.

Because it’s likely going to have carry the offense again.

That old-school offense was the mystery around the Bobcats last season, in part because the team lost its star running back, A.J. Ouellette, to a foot injury during the first game of the regular season against Texas State.

With Ouellette returning — he participated during spring practice — the offense will be better with Ouellette’s running skills opening plays for the passing game.

But the offense won’t be significantly better.

Quentin Poling, a redshirt senior linebacker, and Javon Hagan, a redshirt sophomore defensive back, will lead the defense, a that unit won’t be as good because of its losses.  

The leader of the offense, however, is indefinite — for now. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Quinton Maxwell has a chance to be that leader, and as the presumptive starting quarterback, he will likely settle into that role naturally.

Maxwell was not the full-time starter last season, with former quarterback Greg Windham the starter until the middle of the season. Maxwell came in during the middle of Ohio’s game against Eastern Michigan last October, and he earned his first start at Kent State during the same month.

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Matt Starkey | FILE

Javon Hagan (7) celebrates a 3rd down stop against Bowling Green in Peden Stadium October 8, 2017.

Maxwell threw for 1,247 yards and eight touchdowns during his redshirt freshman season.

But for Maxwell to be effective, for him to be a true leader, he will need playmakers around him. That’s the only way the offense won’t be dragged to the end of the season like a heavy bag.

The Bobcats are returning most of the team’s running backs, including Ouellette, Maleek Irons and Dorian Brown. A new addition is Dylan Wears, who previously played wide receiver for the Bobcats. As long as the running backs can stay healthy, the Bobcats will be able to execute the style they prefer: run, run and run some more.

The Bobcats ranked No. 3 in rushing attempts last season in the MAC with 546. Ohio loves to run, but it needs to improve its passing attack.

And, well, that’s the true problem at hand in the offense. The starting wide receiving core will likely consist of Papi White, Elijah Ball and Cameron Odom. White is the only upperclassman in that group, as he is a redshirt junior. Ball will be a redshirt sophomore, and Odom, a freshman last season, did not see much playing time.

Though the offense is a mystery, the Bobcats concocted during the spring what looks to be a plausible solution. The Bobcats will have more under center snaps, snaps in which the quarterback will stand over the center and directly receive the ball. Those snaps will help them in short yardage situations, something Ohio needs to improve on.

Ohio struggles when it needs only a few yards, having the No. 7 ranked red zone offense in the MAC last season, only scoring 27 touchdowns.
So, the Bobcats need the offense to at least be serviceable this season. The defense will be good, but it won’t be able to lead like it did last season.

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Development by: Taylor Johnston / Digital Production Editor

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