Ohio junior quarterback Nathan Rourke helps leads Ohio to a 58-42 victory over UMass. | Ben Wielgopolski WOUB

Ohio Football: Bobcats Close Camp With Heightened Focus for Week 1

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ATHENS, OH — When the final whistle of fall camp blew on a sunny Friday afternoon in Peden Stadium, the Bobcats were relieved.

“It’s a necessary evil. It’s tough, it’s a grind, but it’s something you gotta do. But at the end of camp, everybody starts getting rowdy,” Ohio senior linebacker Jared Dorsa said. “It’s final preparation for game time, so everybody’s mood is getting up there for sure.”

With the ‘Cats first kickoff being less than a week away, the preparation for their game against Rhode Island, which began trickling into meetings and practices in the last few days of camp, kicks into full gear.

However, with the knowledge of how last year’s season opener against Howard went, the Bobcats are looking to be more prepared, both physically and mentally, for the Rams next Saturday.

“We definitely got shocked last year on the opening weekend. We were surprised a little bit by how hard they came out at us,” Dorsa said. “Last year, I think we weren’t necessarily ready for a battle. This year, we’re going into it ready for anything. We’ll be more prepared.”

As a refresher, last season’s opener brought FCS Howard to Athens in a game which saw starting quarterback Nathan Rourke benched in favor of Quinton Maxwell with the Bobcats staring down a 16-3 deficit midway through the 2nd quarter. Maxwell, with some help from a 99-yard D.L. Knock kick return touchdown to start the second half, rallied back to defeat the Bison 38-32, but it was by no means a strong showing for the ‘Cats.

“We came out pretty flat (last year). I think that it was good that we had two scrimmages this year, which is one more than last year,” Rourke said. “We had an opportunity with our offense to get out some of the kinks and flush them out of our system, which is what happened last year in the first game.”

Rourke played in just the first three series of the game last year against Howard, having two drives sputter out inside Bison territory and generating just three points.

Flash forward to today, Rourke not only went on to have a phenomenal junior season, but the senior has also had a solid fall camp.

“I’m feeling good. It’s been a lot of going up against our defense so I’m ready to see somebody else,” Rourke said. “But, in terms of our mentality, every game is an opportunity to go out and show ourselves. You can’t win the MAC championship in one week.

“Coach Rudolph says ‘How do you eat an elephant? You eat it one bite at a time’,” Rourke added.

The Bobcats’ first bite of the elephant that is the 2019 season comes next Saturday at 2 p.m.