Ohio held its first full scrimmage of fall camp, with its first full contact of the fall, on a overcast, cool, Saturday morning inside Peden Stadium.
I touched on this in the recap for the print edition, but it was a surprisingly positive exhibition for head coach Frank Solich.
First, there appeared to be no serious or noteworthy injuries.
Second, the First Team Offense — with so many new pieces — was sharp. QB Nathan Rourke was outstanding, all three of the running backs used showed something, and the offensive line played physical, aggressive and with an attitude.
Third, the defense wasn’t pushed around and the young talent on that side showed — especially when Second and Third Teamers were involved.
It all left Solich scrambling to find something to be grumpy about afterward. Instead, with a look of ‘I can’t believe I’m saying this’ on his face, Solich admitted that the Bobcats were further ahead — offensively — than they are normally at this time of year.
Here’s a breakdown of what happened in the scrimmage, in five separate parts. Keep in mind all stats are unofficial. Three additional plays were wiped out by penalty. Big piles made finding tackles on a handful of plays impossible. And the no-touch rules for the quarterbacks resulted in my missing credit for one of the three sacks.
1) The stats
Passing — 22-32-3 interceptions, 307 yards, 2 touchdowns
Rushing — 40-162 yards
Nathan Rourke — 9 of 10, 171 yards, 1 TD; 1 rush, eight yards
Kurtis Rourke — 7 of 13, 1 interception, 90 yards; 3 rushes, 17 yards
Joe Mischler — 6 of 9, 2 interceptions, 46 yards, 1 TD; 5 rushes, 11 yards
De’Montre Tuggle — 12 rushes, 64 yards; 1 reception, 5 yards
Ja’Vahri Portis — 10-33 yards; 3-19
O’Shaan Allison — 9-29, 1 TD
Wide Receivers/Tight ends
Camryn Snow — 3 receptions, 72 yards, 5 targets
Ty Walton — 2-17 (3)
Casey Clanton — 2-11, 1 TD (4)
Keevon Harris — 1-7 (3)
Drew Keszei — 1-18 (2)
Nigel Drummond II — 1-11 (2)
Cam Odom — 1-59, TD (1)
K.J. Minter — 1-40 (1)
Adam Luehrman — 1-12 (1)
Keeshawn Tyson — 1-10 (1)
D.J. Knock — 1-9 (1)
Isiah Cox — 1-7 (1)
Luke Ewald — 1-6 (1)
Ryan Luehrman — 1-4 (1)
T.J. Robinson — 4
Dylan Conner — 4
Isaac Gill — 4
Jamison Collier — 3
Bryce Houston — 3
Ben Johnson — 3
Tackles for Loss (excluding sacks)
DE Austin Conrad, DE Amos Ogun-Semore, OLB Keye Thompson, DE Chukwudi Chukwu, MLB Bryce Houston — One piece
DE Chukwudi Chukwu and DT Jeremiah Burton — 1 apiece; One unassigned
S Jamison Collier, S Jett Elad and CB John Gregory — 1 apiece
2) The out list
WRs Shane Hooks, Jerome Buckner, Tyler Tupa and Bingo Long; RBs Julian Ross, Jake Neatherton and Jonathan Barna
DT Brian Arp, DE Amir Miller, S Javon Hagan, S Jarren Hampton, CB Jamal Hudson, CB Ilyaas Motley, CB Kel Davis.
3) Special Teams
There were no live punts, or kick-offs, but both Isiah Cox and Jerome Buckner were lined up as the first options at punt returner. Ty Walton, D.J. Knock and Marlin Brooks are also in the mix.
Ohio did line up and attempt 10 field goals of varying lengths. Senior PK Louie Zervos missed his first attempt — a spur of the moment 46-yard attempt called for by Solich — then converted kicks from 30, 34 and 40 yards. Zervos missed his final try from 43.
Freshman Tristian Vandenberg made all five of his field goal attempts — once from 30, twice from 34, and once from 40 and 43.
Neither kicker missed on a trio of point-after attempts.
4) Offensive standouts
— QB Nathan Rourke was brilliant, and his only incompletion came on a dropped pass on a slant route by Ty Walton. He didn’t scramble, and kept just one read, but was in control in the pocket throughout. He completed passes on all three levels to both sides of the field.
— WR K.J. Minter had the toughest catch of the day has he hauled in a 50/50 ball down the left side from Rourke, despite good coverage by Xavior Motley, for a 40-yard gain. He’s helped himself in camp.
— Earlier this week OC Tim Albin said there was going to be effort to involve the tight end more in the passing game. It was true on Saturday. Tight ends were targeted 11 times out of 32 counted pass attempts, and the group collected eight receptions.
— RB De’Montre Tuggle showed off his quick feet several times, stepping through some tackles and away from others. He’s got good burst and acceleration, and led all rushers with three carries of 10 or more yards.
— RBs O’Shaan Allison and Ja’Vahri Portis had typical days for them. Allison was used slightly less than usual, but showed his developing vision for a clean 10-yard run on a touchdown early on when he cut back to the weakside. Portis goes hard every play, hits the hole quickly, and might be the best pass-catcher in the group.
— Freshman TE Casey Clanton stood out, despite a drop and looking gassed when a fade pass to him in the end zone resulted in an interception. He’s big and thick, a more than able blocker and has a natural knack for using his size to create space on routes. If Ohio needs a fourth TE, he’d be the guy right now.
— Walk-on WR Camryn Snow led all receivers with three catches and five targets. He had a 41-yarder on a wheel route down the sideline, and gave Ohio’s safeties/outside linebackers fits in coverage.
— The First Team offensive line played with attitude. They were aggressive and physical at the point of attack, and talked with the defense as much as any position group on the field. It was a promising first step for a unit replacing three starters from 2018.
5) Defensive standouts
— A couple qualifiers first. Ohio barely used its top three cornerbacks and top two safeties. The first team defensive line had just a handful of snaps. The starting MLB and WLB both barely participated.
— Redshirt freshman MLB Bryce Houston (3 tackles, 1 TFL) was playing fast and free. He diagnosed quickly and arrived with force.
— Redshirt freshman CB John Gregory had his best day since he’s been at Ohio. He walled off the bigger Clanton, and made a pick in the end zone versus fade. He ran down a streaking slot receiver down the sideline for a one-handed pass break up. He delivered one of the biggest hits of the day on a short WR out.
— Freshman Jett Elad and redshirt freshman Isaac Gill are safeties that bear watching. It’s traditionally been hard for a first-year safety to show up early at Ohio in Jimmy Burrow’s (now Ron Collins’) defense but Elad got reps and made them pay off. Gill, now in year two, was a pleasant find a year ago as a walk-on and continues to be around the ball; he had a team-high four tackles.
— OLB T.J. Robinson is a player that I pegged to take a big jump this fall and the early returns are positive. He had four tackles and is doing his part to potential earn reps at weak-side linebacker.
— DE Chukwudi Chukwu had a sack and a tackle for loss. He’s been a terror for the younger tackles on the offensive line to handle.
— DT Jeremiah Burton has been popping up early in camp, and continued that trend with a sack on Saturday.
— DT Kaieem Caesar had two tackles but was in the pile in the middle on three other occasions. He’s making a push to be a potential starter.
— Special mention to DEs Austin Conrad (TFL) and Amos Ogun-Semore (2 tackles, 1 TFL) for landing impact plays in limited action.