Name an offense that can lose its top playmaker and not look worse off because of it.
Ohio State has yet to play this season with a healthy Mike Weber, and just because J.K. Dobbins is No. 11 nationally in rushing doesn’t mean the Buckeyes aren’t missing what Weber could have provided.
Through winter conditioning, spring camp, and fall camp, OSU’s coaches spoke of a different Mike Weber. A new Mike Weber, and a much better Mike Weber.
Due to a hamstring injury, however, Weber barely took part in fall camp and has only carried the ball seven times this season.
After rushing for over 1,000 yards last season as a redshirt freshman, Weber has been overshadowed by the emergence of the freshman Dobbins. Dobbins has rushed for at least 170 yards in two of the Buckeyes’ three games this season, so Weber isn’t exactly standing alone in the rookie’s shadow.
Ohio State doesn’t want to just rely on a freshman to carry the load on the ground, however. Especially not when they have a proven talent in Weber waiting to show off his new wheels.
Some people may be forgetting about Weber, but his coaches sure haven’t.
“It’s not that Mike is a lost soul around here,” said Urban Meyer. “He’s one of the few freshmen, I want to say three freshmen to ever rush for a thousand yards. He’s very critical for us as we continue to move forward in conference play coming up in a few weeks. So we’re going to need him at full strength. He’s still not at full strength. We have to make sure we get him full strength.”
A hamstring injury can linger for weeks upon weeks, and the Buckeyes are seeing that with Weber. The frustrating part for Meyer is that he has seen so much growth with Weber on and off the field that he wants to see that hard work rewarded.
And that wasn’t always the case.
“I can tell you Mike Weber, two years ago, how do I say this politically correct: It was a hard time for me to walk across the street for him,” Meyer said. “That’s not too rough, is it? And his growth in one year, and then by the time this spring and this summer, he was one of our hardest working guys on the team.”
As a team leader, Weber has contributed to the Ohio State running backs being able to play so well this season, and when he finally gets back to 100%, Meyer wants to pay him back for all of his contributions.
“His commitment to our program is incredible right now,” Meyer said. “So he’ll be rewarded once he gets back full speed.”
What does that mean for Weber? Will he simply be inserted back into the starting lineup?
“I haven’t thought about it,” offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson said. “He’s going to be rewarded because I trust the winter he had, the summer he had going, the spring, he’s missed a little bit of time. It might take him a little bit of time to get his practice volume and game volume up. He was awesome before his injury. We’re going to try to work hard this week to keep bringing him along and hopefully get him in the mix soon.”