Thunder and Lightning? Perfect Storm Brewing for Ohio State Running Game

Mike Weber J.K. Dobbins Ohio State Football Buckeyes

When talking about running back tandems, the term “Thunder and Lightning” is the standard cliche always thrown about.

A big bruiser complemented by a speedy counterpart. Together, their wonder twin powers combine to form one pretty good running back.

At Ohio State, something similar — but different — is brewing on the horizon.

Mike Weber is now completely healthy and he is ready to become part of an offense that has featured freshman J.K. Dobbins in his absence.

Dobbins is currently third in the Big Ten in rushing, averaging 114.6 yards per game on the ground. Given what Dobbins has done this season, and what Weber has done in his past, the time is now to get them both involved.

Except this won’t be your standing “thunder and lightning” thing. Lightning precedes thunder. There is a flash and then a rumble a few seconds later. No, Urban Meyer wants the thunder and lightning occurring at the same time. And you need a pretty stout storm to make that happen.

The Buckeyes are working to bring this perfect storm into being.

“We’re putting together the ’20’ grouping or ’21’ grouping, and that’s two backs, one tight end; two backs and no tight end,” Meyer said on Monday, seeding the clouds. “So it’s the best 11. I do that myself each week: Who are your best 11 players? If they’re in the best 11, which right now they are, get them on the field.”

Meyer has said repeatedly that he has never had two running backs like this on the same team, so there is a bit of a process in figuring out how best to use them together. The Buckeyes have done some things in the past with Curtis Samuel moving into the backfield with Weber last year, so there might be some more of that this year.

Can this all be put into place in one week, however?

“Absolutely,” said running backs coach Tony Alford. “Absolutely. You tweak some things. You know, every week you’re implementing new stuff every week, so absolutely we can do that.”

The entire offensive staff will be involved in figuring out which tweaks to make.

“Yeah, it’s going to be exciting moving forward,” co-offensive coordinator Ryan Day said of the plans to come.

“I’ve never had two running backs like that. I mean, those are really talented guys. They’re very unselfish. We’re playing fast right now so we’re running a lot of plays, and so those guys are getting plenty of reps and they’re getting touches, and so I think they’re both happy and they’re both pulling for each other. We’re lucky to have both of those guys because we’re going to need them as we roll on.”

Not only could they be pulling for each other shortly, but they will also be blocking for each other. There are any number of things we could see moving forward.

So, any hints of what is to come?

“I don’t know. Ask the head coach that. Ask him,” Alford said. “No, I’m playing. We’ve got some packages that we’re looking at and we’ll see if we can’t get them on the field together. They’re two dynamic players. They’re two of our best playmakers on offense. So he wants to try to get them on the field at the same time so they’re not sitting there watching like me.”

8 Responses

  1. I think that it would be a interesting thing if J.K. was moved to H-Back. He seems to have the intangibles that Urban is looking for in an H-Back and can touch the ball in many ways whether it is at RB or as a Receiver. What do you guys think, am I thinking about the right course of action? That would also allow Campbell to focus on being a Receiver and not an H-Back.

    1. I think this is the first year that Parris Campbell is productive, so moving him isn’t ideal. I think there are enough carries to go around.

  2. Tony, you are generally good at your analyses, (yes, that is the correct spelling of the plural of analysis) however, you are mistaken in saying that thunder precedes lightning. The rumble of thunder is the echo of the sound of the explosion that the lightning strike makes, like the pop you hear if you touch two bare wires (the copper and the silver) from the end of an extension cord that is plugged in. The flash and then the pop, lightning and thunder. Thunder is the sound of the lightning strike. But maybe you were just being facetious. Haha.

    1. No, I was actually thinking about it as a kid. Counting the seconds between the two. I got them mixed up. Thanks. I’ll fix it.

  3. My fear is that having two talented backs on the field at the same time will mean very little if opposing D’s don’t respect the vertical pass attack. Opposing D’s will simply hem in, in the past it was slot WR or H back and the QB, but now with Weber and Dobbins. We’ll only see if that comes to pass down the stretch beginning with a visit from The Nittany Lions. However, if OSU does establish a vertical passing game that opposing D’s have to respect, both of them on a field, present a nightmare for opposing DC’s, especially with their Thunder and Lightning skills. .

  4. Hello? There’s no “trying”- get them out there, DO it.

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