Ohio State Football Notebook: ‘On the field he’s a monster’

Ohio State Buckeyes Buckeye Football Notebook

Monster Balls

If you’re a consumer of Ohio State media coverage, you’ve no doubt read or heard about freshman running back J.K. Dobbins. You can’t walk 20 feet inside of OSU Twitter without stepping on somebody’s excitement about Dobbins. His name keeps popping up everywhere, even on a radio show in Nashville. While we have chosen not to engage in the overexposure of a freshman, it can be difficult to ignore the words coming from his teammates.

Asked who has impressed him from the offense so far in camp, Buckeye linebacker Jerome Baker showed zero hesitation in his answer.

“If you come to practice you know — J. K.,” he said. “He brings it every single play. It’s fun to watch him play. It’s fun to tackle him, fun to try and take him down because even when you get close you know he’s got the moves to make you miss.”

And when asked if Dobbins played like a freshman, Baker had to take a step back.

“Honestly, I forgot he just came here in January,” he said. “He plays like he’s been here for years. He’s definitely a good guy, he’s fun to be around. On the field he’s a monster.”

Offensive Line Earning Respect

For many, the Ohio State offensive line is their biggest concern. How do you get a more productive J.T. Barrett? You protect him longer. How do you hit more home runs in the running game? You open up bigger holes. How do you win in the fourth quarter? Your offensive line imposes its will when the defense is too tired to prevent it.

Even with a new offensive brain trust in the OSU boardroom, this offense is only going to go as far as the offensive line can push it.

Fortunately for the Buckeyes, this offensive line gets to work against one of the nation’s best defensive lines every day.

“Oh, there’s no doubt,” offensive line coach Greg Studrawa said. “We’re not going against blocking dummies. I can guarantee that.”

Because of their play so far in camp, the offensive line has been earning positive reviews from teammates and assistant coaches. More than anything, however, they are building confidence and improving every day.

“I know who we go against every day,” Studrawa said of the defensive line. “Those guys are really, really good. So the successful things we do against them, we can build off of those things. Then when we get beat, we learn why. And then you know what? You come back the next day and you fight again. And that’s what we’re doing right now.”

Leading the Seekers

The Ohio State secondary returns just 13 career starts, and all of them belong to Damon Webb. Junior cornerback Denzel Ward is considered a starter by his coaches and teammates, but those 13 total starts give you a pretty good understanding of the need for leadership in the back end.

Ward will definitely be part of that leadership, but you could argue that nobody is more important to the secondary this season than free safety Damon Webb. Now a senior, Webb is intent on showing his younger teammates the right way to work every day. And if you’ve looked an Ohio State roster lately, you’ve seen how many younger defensive backs there actually are.

The Buckeyes have four freshman cornerbacks and four freshman safeties on the roster, and Webb doesn’t want them getting off on the wrong foot when it comes to the right way to do things.

“It’s just knowing that you’ve got to take on the responsibility as the younger guys are looking up to you,” he explained. “Everything you do, they’re watching. The spotlight is on you to make the right decision and to come out to practice and when they see you’re not doing right, they’re not going to do right. If you’re keeping up and having enthusiasm, they’re going to have enthusiasm. It’s just up to me to go out each and every day, knowing that I’ve got people looking up to me that I’ve got to bring the juice every day.”