Ohio State Football Notebook: ‘I’ve seen him do some things in the open field’

Ohio State Football Notebook Buckeyes Buckeye Football

Change Your Situation

It didn’t take long for Ohio State freshman running back J.K. Dobbins to come in and secure his spot as the Buckeyes’ backup running back. His stellar play in both spring and fall camp convinced his coaches that he is ready to contribute this season. Fans love when a freshman emerges like this, but they sometimes forget about the players who have been bypassed by that freshman.

Sophomore running back Antonio Williams is one such player. While he has not been forgotten about, he has been passed by, and that is never an easy thing for a player to handle. So what has running backs coach Tony Alford told Williams about what he needs to do in order to improve his situation?

“‘Get better,’” Alford said . “I mean there’s some psychology to it too, that’s part of being a coach, that’s part of being a parent. There’s some psychology to everything you do. Here’s the deal, if you don’t like the lot that you’re in, change. Get better. And he has. Don’t come in and, ‘Well, I don’t like my situation.’ Well, I can help you. Get better. Improve. Study. And he’s done those things.”

To Williams’ credit, he has taken those words to heart and has become a much better player, and a player that Alford believes he can count on.

“He certainly is a guy now that I feel comfortable, ‘Hey, let’s go play,'” Alford said. “He’s a good football player, and he’s showing that. I’m excited for him.”

Open Field Wonder

Speaking of J.K. Dobbins, you don’t have to go far to find players willing to talk about him. They have now seen him almost every day since the winter, so they have plenty to talk about. Once fall camp got underway, however, they got a much better picture of the kind of teammate they now had.

What has defensive end Sam Hubbard seen from Dobbins?

“Yeah, I’ve been very impressed with him,” he said. “He’s gonna be special, I’m pretty sure. You would think he’s a junior starting running back the way he practices and plays going against us. Just that level of maturity, I haven’t really seen in a young player like that. And just the way he’s super fast, really well built. He’s going to be a great player. He runs really hard. He hits the hole really fast. I’ve seen him do some things in the open field in one-on-one tackles where guys didn’t even touch him — it wasn’t me. But he’s kind of the whole package in the running back position from what I’ve seen so far.”

Knowledge is Faster Than Speed

The Ohio State Buckeyes may very well have the fastest group of linebackers in the nation on the field this year. Chris Worley began his career as a safety and is now patrolling at middle linebacker. And both Dante Booker and Jerome Baker will race anybody anytime, anywhere.

The wall of combine numbers inside the WHAC has Booker listed with a 4.40 40-yard dash and Baker an even faster 4.37. That kind of speed can make up for plenty of mistakes.

“Absolutely,” said linebackers coach Bill Davis. “Absolutely. You just don’t want that speed going really fast in the wrong direction because you’ve got farther to get back to where you’re supposed to be. So when Jerome knows where he’s going, a guy that’s got that much speed and he clearly knows where he’s going. When the mind clears, the body moves faster. You can take a slower body, and if it’s got a clear mind, it looks like it’s going faster because it’s going without wasting anything. You take Jerome Baker’s speed and you get him understanding and going in the right direction, then you’ve really got something.”

So is speed maybe more important than knowing where to be?

“Ah, you can’t get me to say that as a coach,” Davis said smiling and shaking his head. “I can’t. They’ve got to know their jobs. They’ve got to know their jobs. Speed just is what you’re always looking for. Smart with speed.”