Entering the 2023 season, Nowinsky’s defense was projected 131st coming off the university’s 4th ever 10-win season, a MAC East Division Championship, and the 2022 Barstool Arizona Bowl Championship. They have surpassed all doubt thus far through ten weeks with the Bobcats currently sitting at 6-2 and holding an active home-field win streak of 10. The defense ranks in the upper quartile in over 20 MAC Defensive statistical categories and Bobcat defenders have taken home 3 MAC Defensive Player of the Week awards. Their show-out game came in Week 4 matchup vs Bowling Green: a 18% 3rd down conversion rate, 4 total turnovers, and 2 defensive touchdowns.
The Bobcat defense seemed to improve week by week during Nowinsky’s first season in Athens, and have already hit the ground running in his second season. The numbers speak for themselves, ranking as a Top 5 Defense in all of FBS. Ohio is 2nd in Sport Source Analytics’ FBS Most Improved Defenses (2022 vs. 2023) Scoring Defense (PPG) at -16.5 less points per game versus the previous season.
Simply put, Coach Nowinsky uses all 11 players on the field to orchestrate the powerful defense and puts his players in the best positions to succeed. For example, senior DE Shane Bonner was a walk-on player who spent time being shuffled around position rooms when Nowinsky arrived in 2022. Coach Nowinsky added Bonner to his room and used his strengths of quickness and relentlessness while coaching up his other abilities and turned him into a 3rd down pass rush specialist, where Bonner has now found his home. Bonner had a 2-sack game in the Arizona Barstool Bowl and already has 3 sacks this year.
In a recent newspaper sixth-year LB and team captain Bryce Houston had this to say about Nowinsky: “He is my favorite coach I’ve ever had; I would say that for a lot of the people on the defensive side of the ball,” Houston said. “It’s not just how intense he is; he really does love us and we know that. We know that that’s a bad dude; he gives off his swag and his confidence and it feeds on us just knowing how confident he is in us to make plays; we owe it to him to be able to do that for us. We see he’s a great father, we see how he is with his kids and he doesn’t change. He acts like me and Keye (Thompson) are his sons, just like his own two sons.”
Nowinsky describes his coaching style by explaining: “I yell, I tell them the truth, but then I will hug them,” Nowinsky said. “You talk about Bryce and Keye and the first thing I do when I see them in the morning is hug them; that’s important. You have to coach the guys really, really hard, but you have to love the guys really, really hard; the relationships is what it’s all about for me.” He coaches his players hard but LOVES them HARDER.