As Sam Cooke once sang, it’s been a long, a long time coming, but I know a change is gonna come.
For the Ohio State offense, that change is coming in the form of a new quarterback, be it Dwayne Haskins, Joe Burrow, or Tate Martell.
Gone is J.T. Barrett and his 34 OSU records and five Big Ten records. Also gone are his 370 carries over the previous two seasons — an average of nearly 14 per game.
Regardless of who wins the quarterback job this season, things won’t be the same for the Ohio State offense.
And that doesn’t have to be a bad thing for a program that doesn’t ever want to get complacent or comfortable.
“It will be a little different. He was a great leader,” running back J.K. Dobbins said of Barrett recently. “He had so much experience and he could help so much. It’ll be different.”
One of the ways that the Buckeye running backs believe it will be different is in the number of rushing attempts that they will get.
Dobbins and Mike Weber like the possibilities.
“I do expect more carries for me and Mike,” Dobbins said.
Dobbins also believes that the zone read will become a smaller part of the offense, thereby allowing the OSU offense to dictate the running game, rather than the opposing defense.
Don’t be confused, however, because no matter which quarterback wins the job, they will still run the ball. But it is unlikely that they will become the security blanket that Barrett has been over the past four years.
“I feel like it’s going to help a lot,” Weber said. “I think J.T. finished with more carries than both of us. In my first year, he had more than me. I feel like those carries are going to hit us a little bit. I guess we’re going to split those carries at running back that the quarterback was having.”
To no surprise, Dobbins is in complete agreement with his running mate. He doesn’t think it would be strange at all to run the quarterback less than they have over the past six seasons.
“No, I don’t find it strange at all because we’ve got two great running backs, so why not run us,” he said. “It gives me a lot of confidence. I just feel like it will be something great.”
It might also give Dobbins a few snaps at Wildcat, which he has shown some promise at in high school.
“That would be pretty cool. Yeah, hopefully,” he smiled.
2 weeks in a row UM's DEF has given up a big cutback TD run on a direct snap. Does OSU have anybody who can do that?
[Googles 'JK Dobbins'] pic.twitter.com/lG04acRIjK
— Tony Gerdeman (@TonyGerdeman) October 30, 2017
Down the Field They Go
One of the other changes that is expected to come to the Ohio State offense is a more downfield passing attack, which could also open some things up for the Buckeye running backs.
“I feel like you’ll see more deep passes,” Dobbins said when asked what a Haskins-led offense would look like. “The passing game will be crazy because Dwayne has an amazing arm. It will be kind of similar to last year because J.T. had a great arm as well. It won’t be too much different, but I feel like we’ll see a few more deep passes.”
Regardless of who the quarterback is this season, Weber also expects a deeper passing game to pay dividends in the running game.
“It’s going to be hard for defenses to control that,” he said. “We’ve got all our receivers coming back. They all can play. We’ve got a good quarterback that can throw it down the field. That’s going to back the defense up and you can run it, and if they come in, you can throw it. It’s going to be hard for defenses to control. All we’ve got to do is execute.”
It has been a long time coming for the Buckeye running backs, but change may finally be here, and even though they will miss J.T. Barrett, they are excited about the possibilities moving forward.