Coming off a sensational 1,000-yard freshman season, the Buckeyes expected a big 2017 out of running back Mike Weber. However, through the first third of the season, Weber was basically a non-factor. He had just seven rushes for 42 yards in the first four games of the year as he struggled to return from a hamstring injury.
That slump ended Saturday night at Rutgers as Weber exploded for three touchdowns on just 10 carries in the Buckeyes’ 56-0 win.
Throughout fall camp and the first four weeks of the season, the information released on Weber’s hamstring were generally somewhere between vaguely encouraging and just plain vague. After the Rutgers game, OSU head coach Urban Meyer told reporters that the injury was more serious than previously reported.
“For a while there he had to fight through the scar tissue. It was a significant tear right before training camp,” Meyer said. “They almost had to do surgery on him. So we were dealing with maybe a year lost right before training camp. He came back fast and then had another setback, but now it’s go.”
“I probably had the worst grade 2 (tear), close to a grade 3,” said Weber. “Coach said it’s possible to come back this year, but it’s going to be a long wait. That’s what I wanted to do. I didn’t want to sit out this year.”
“I never really thought about surgery. It was brought up a few times, but my mind was never set on getting surgery. I wanted to come back and help my team win this year.”
Saturday night, Weber was finally healthy enough to do that. He carried the ball 10 times for 44 yards and those three scores, and said he definitely could have carried it a heavier workload if the game was more competitive. But he knows a lot of the real work will come during the week, to try to keep his hamstring healthy.
“Really just staying on top of it, doing everything I can even when I am feeling good, to keep it to where I want it to be,” Weber said. “Just staying in the training room, just doing everything I can to make sure my hamstring doesn’t get bad on me again.”
With Weber now back full-go, the Buckeyes can finally take advantage of something the state-wide internet coaching staff has spent weeks screaming for; a backfield with Weber and freshman J.K. Dobbins together on the field.
“That’s going to be enjoyable to have those two checkers to work with,” said Meyer.
Weber agreed, “If we get things going like we want to, the one-two punch that we see in the future if we everything together it could be really scary.”
By all accounts, Weber and Dobbins are close. They came out of the locker room together after the Rutgers game, and Weber said he has been helping Dobbins’ development throughout the year “as much as I can.”
He acknowledged that both he and Dobbins would love to be the featured back, but knows that in the big picture, that’s not the most important thing.
“That’s real hard,” he said. “We both want the ball as much as we can, and unfortunately the game goes differently every game. Sometimes teams take away the run, sometimes the pass is open, but as long as we come away with the win, that’s all that matters.”