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Sports

[Grant Kiefer | WOUB]

Storylines to watch after Ohio’s spring game

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) – Ohio hosted its annual spring game at Peden Stadium on Saturday giving the Bobcat faithful their first look at the team.

Coming off back-to-back 10- win seasons and wins at the Arizona and Myrtle Beach Bowls the Bobcats went through some major changes over the offseason.

Here are three storylines to follow out of Ohio’s spring practice.

Ohio’s busy quarterback room

After two consecutive seasons of Kurtis Rourke under center for Ohio, this year the Bobcats have more questions at the position to be answered.

Ohio QB Parker Navarro goes through warmups at Ohio's spring game.
Ohio QB Parker Navarro goes through warmups at Ohio’s spring game. [Andrew Bowlby | WOUB]
The position battle is led by grad students Parker Navarro and CJ Harris. Both have seen action in each of the past two seasons, and head coach Tim Albin noted the advantage Ohio possess having two experienced leaders.

“We are going to have a dimension to our offense with that room moving forward,” Albin said.  “They know the playbook inside and out, we’ve got some good wrinkles.”

In addition to the two veterans, the Bobcats also have two younger QBs in Jacob Winters and Callum Wither. Albin was also impressed by what the two young players showed as well.

“I thought the young quarterbacks had a good day. We ended up with some live work with those guys, commanding the offense,” Albin said.

Defensive changes after last season’s dominance

 The Bobcats held one of the top defenses in the country last season but many core pieces of that group have since left. Even despite the losses Albin still believes in his group to remain dominant.

“I think we have a resilient bunch. When you lose Bryce [Houston] and Keye [Thompson] to graduation, it’s next man up mentality,” Albin said.

Ohio’s defense has another hole to fill after its defensive coordinator form the past two years, Spence Nowinsky, left to pursue another job at Memphis.

Redshirt Junior linebacker Shay Taylor still has faith that the Bobcats defense will be solid in 2024.

“I’m very confident, I don’t think we are rebuilding I think we are reloading,” Taylor said.

Tim Albin watches Spring Game warmups. [Andrew Bowlby | WOUB]
With the significant number of players moving around, it opens to door for younger players to step up into new a bigger roles, something Taylor is excited for.

“I think it’s just eager and hungry. A lot of guys were young going into the Myrtle Beach Bowl,” Taylor said. “So just a hungry group very eager to get out there and prove ourselves.”

Albin believes Ohio has a big opportunity to grow on the defensive side of the ball despite the challenge they are facing.

“It’s an opportunity to get better, and that’s our approach,” Albin said.

Replacing offensive production

The Bobcats will also have plenty to replenish on the offense after losing their top two rushers and several pass catchers from last season.

One bright spot is in redshirt freshman Rickey Hunt Jr. who is coming into the 2024 campaign after posting five touchdowns in the Myrtle Beach Bowl.

Albin added to the running back room saying there are four or five players that will likely see action in the upcoming season.

“We have to find balance [offensively], we are at our best when we can establish a running game,” Albin said.

Chase Hendricks is one of the few returning receivers for the Bobcats. Hendricks played in 13 games last year including the bowl game against Georgia Southern.

Albin also noted newcomers like Coleman Owen (Northern Arizona) and Max Rodarte (City College of San Francisco) who both transferred to Ohio after time on the west coast.

“We’ve got some really good guys in there I think that are very capable, I’m excited about what we have to work with,” Albin said.

Ohio will kick off its 2024 season Aug. 31 on the road to face Syracuse.