Football

Mike Weber’s Return is the Right Move for a Number of Reasons

Mike Weber vs Michigan 2016

 

It’s not officially official yet, but in today’s day and age, a single tweet from Mike Weber of “One more year” on Saturday is about as official as it gets that the redshirt sophomore running back will return for a fourth season with the Buckeyes in 2018.

There is no doubt that Weber’s personal “Stay or Go” list had positives and negatives on each side. For a running back, mileage is a legitimate concern, so the sooner you can get to the League, the better. This is a pretty deep running back draft this year, however, with the likes of Penn State’s Saquon Barkley, LSU’s Derrius Guice, San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny, and about a half dozen more who could be above Weber on any particular team’s draft board. Leaving may not have been as attractive right now as it once was.

By returning, however, Weber could be opening up a world of possibilities for himself and the Buckeyes.

As a draft prospect, Weber still needs to show that he can stay healthy for an entire season, which is something that he has been unable to do yet at Ohio State. His first season was cut short by a knee injury that forced him to redshirt. His redshirt freshman season ended with a bum shoulder, and this past season was a nearly-constant trial with a hamstring issue over the first half of the year and beyond. He also had a sprained wrist/hand that he had to deal with later in the season as well.

Splitting carries is not a draft deterrent for NFL teams. In fact, it could be considered a plus, considering running backs have a finite number of carries in their bodies. And it has never been about what a player didn’t do with the carries he didn’t get. It is always about what he has done with the carries he did get.

Now imagine the healthy Mike Weber that you saw hitting home runs against Michigan State and Illinois in back-to-back 100-yard outings playing for the entire 2018 season. The same Mike Weber who salted the Michigan game away with a 25-yard touchdown run.

There is an awful lot to like with the possibilities that Weber and J.K. Dobbins can bring.

Weber still needs to find a way to close in a stronger fashion, however. In the Michigan and Clemson games in 2016, he finished with 16 total carries for 50 yards. In the final two games of 2017, he managed just nine carries and 24 yards.

He did not appear very happy after the Cotton Bowl win, but there is plenty of reason to believe things will be changing for the Ohio State running game.

For one, the J.T. Barrett crutch is going away. Against ranked opponents this past season, Barrett averaged 15.8 carries per game. Against the unranked portion of the schedule, he averaged just 8.5 carries. On the season as a whole, he was right around 10 carries per game when you remove sacks.

Whichever quarterback wins the job, they will be required to run the ball, but they won’t be called upon — or at least they shouldn’t be — as often as Barrett was. That means more touches for a stronger, faster, and healthier Mike Weber.

The Ohio State running game will feature their running backs in 2018, and that should be all the Weber needed to hear. He knows he is good enough to get snaps, and the selflessness of the running backs room right now shouldn’t be overlooked. J.K. Dobbins doesn’t mind sharing. He wasn’t expecting to be “The Man” this past season, and yet when he emerged as OSU’s go-to running back, his mentality never changed. He leaned on Weber and learned from him every step of the way.

Together in 2018, they should become the first 1,000-yard running back duo for the Buckeyes since Pete Johnson and Archie Griffin did it in 1975. We saw a sneak peak of Weber and Dobbins together in the backfield against USC, which has a slew of possibilities.

With a full and healthy season in 2018, and another thousand or so yards under his belt, Mike Weber should establish himself as one of the top running backs in the 2019 NFL Draft.

We have seen glimpses of what he can be, and with one more season, perhaps those glimpses will turn into the norm.

 

6 Responses

  1. He can do a lot better than he has, it will be great to see him back.

  2. Also happy to see Mike Weber coming back. If he can get in one relatively problem-free year (injuries, turnovers) and if he shows the ability to perform as he did against MSU, he will be solid first or second round pick.
    with the average NFL running back career being 4.5 years or something like that, he’ll be out of the league at 27 or 28 and, I hope, glad that he came back for another year.
    Good luck, Mr. Weber.

    1. Am in total agreement, Jeff, but the only reservation I have concerns further injuries. If he can stay healthy the whole season, coming back is the wisest decision he can make. All the best in ’18 and beyond, Mike. GO BUCKS!!!

  3. I agree with the deep draft and health issues his whole career that Weber really didn’t have an NFL choice as it was made for him.
    My biggest concern is that he’s never proven to be a back to get that 1 tough yard when you need it. The home runs can be debated (and are) but Weber has never been option 1 for getting tough yards (and of the times I remember he gets stuffed more than he doesn’t when they do ask him for tough yardage). He’s probably closest to Carlos Hyde of recent Buckeye backs and as I remember ‘El Guapo’ was only stopped behind the line of scrimmage MAYBE 3 times in his entire Buckeye career? Part of that is a function of the line you’re running behind but Weber’s lines haven’t been all THAT bad (check his 1k yard season and then a true freshman getting 1k more this year, setting the freshman record while he was at it).

  4. Glad to see Weber returning. He’s got great talent, but it’s likely one more year will do a world of good not only for his career at OSU, but also for his NFL prospects. With Dobbins and others, he won’t need to be the backfield bell cow, and he’ll have the opportunity to show what he can do over a full, healthy season. An established, veteran returnee is always better than an unproven, blue chip prospect.

  5. Great to hear. No doubt the article is a hammer on multiple nails of truth. While the D and DL line dominated against USC, most OSU fans easily thought that we would run over, around and through the suspect USC D and that game mirrored OSU’s recent sluggish O. So I’m not too harsh on JTB, JD or MW on their lack of space to run in that game. Running was very hard and USC stuffed many easily 3rd and 4th and short downs. What most OSU fans want to know isn’t if OSU’s QB can run as well as JTB, but can they pass, much like what OSU fans saw as Haskins did a great relief job in carrying OSU over TTUN!

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