Football

Mike Weber Asked for Larger Role, Expects to Make Most of It

Mike Weber Ohio State Football Buckeyes

Last season wasn’t what Mike Weber envisioned for himself. A hamstring injury slowed his start and stunted his progress. He was forced to give way to freshman J.K. Dobbins and was never able to reclaim his spot.

He still finished 14th in the Big Ten in rushing (626 yards) and 10th in scoring among non-kickers.

But even when he was healthy there were times when he appeared to be an afterthought in Ohio State’s plans. Dobbins got the bulk of the running back carries, which is understandable, but Weber’s touches were tertiary to quarterback J.T. Barrett’s secondary — and sometimes primary — carries.

Only four times in the 12 games that Weber played in last season did he have more carries than Barrett. The Buckeyes won those games by an average score of 56-10, so there was no need for Urban Meyer to get overly reliant on Barrett’s legs.

Nowhere was Weber’s lack of carries more noticeable than in the postseason. He carried the ball just four times against the Badgers in the Big Ten Championship Game and five times in the Cotton Bowl. Barrett, meanwhile, ran the ball 19 times (with a bum leg) on the Badgers and 16 times in the Bowl game.

Any frustration with his role last season would be understandable, and there were people who thought that frustration might lead him to leave early for the NFL.

Ultimately, however, he decided to return, saying that the coaches told him what he wanted to hear.

Despite a desire for more touches, Weber’s goals are team oriented.

“Really just get a Big Ten Championship,” he said this spring. “All of the championships and be successful. Get a national championship and reach my personal goals with yards and catches and touchdowns, and stuff like that.”

What kind of numbers are we talking about for his personal goals?

“I want at least 1,300 yards or higher and over 15 touchdowns,” he said. “That’s the goal for me.”

With Dobbins returning and carries earmarked for other players, it would be logical to wonder if Weber will have enough opportunities to reach that mark.

He’s optimistic, however.

“Most definitely, I just have to make the best of my opportunities, and hopefully I get a lot of them,” he said.

Helping him on the way to his 1,300 yards will be the home-run ability he showed over the second half of the season last year.

Only two players in the nation had more than Weber’s three carries of 40 or more yards in November last season. San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny had five such carries last season in 80 attempts. Boston College’s A.J. Dillon had four 40-yard carries in 115 attempts. Weber did his damage in just 37 November carries. Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor also had three 40-yard rushes, but he needed 97 carries to get there.

After a redshirt freshman season in 2016 where he was so close so many times to breaking a big one, what was the difference last year?

“Most of the part was being healthy, but the other half was me just working on things in the offseason that I needed to work on,” he said. “Like speed training, my wind and how long I run, and stuff like that. There was a lot of things I did that summer before I got hurt to become more explosive and faster. It showed when I got healthy.”

Those 37 carries are a small sample size, but one that Weber believes will project out accurately.

“Oh, most definitely,” he said. “If I stay healthy, everything should fall into place.”

Weber knows that as long as he gets the carries, the big hits will come. The more big hits he gets, the closer he comes to reaching his goals. While the team is sad to see quarterback J.T. Barrett leave for the NFL, Weber knows that Barrett’s carries have to go somewhere, and he and Dobbins should be the beneficiaries of these new-found opportunities.

“Yeah. J.T. did a lot of running,” Weber said. “There was a lot of games where he had more carries than both of us combined. But I feel like Coach has a lot more trust into his quarterbacks and we have less of a running quarterback now. We should get the ball a lot more.”

The idea of more carries is what brought Mike Weber back to Ohio State. The allure of a larger role for the Buckeyes is what has been driving him since his decision to return.

“It’s really exciting,” he said. “It’s the moment I’ve been waiting for since I got here, to put the team on my back in a game and just be the workhorse. That’s one of my goals. I asked for it, and hopefully I get it this year and I’ll show people what I can do.”

14 Responses

  1. 3rd & 1. He’s good for it every time. Sometimes goes for 70.

    1. don’t think it is clear at all that Dobbins is the better back. See the MSU game. Weber is more explosive and was slowed by 2 injuries last year….hamstring and wrist later. They are both outstanding and should be a great 1-2 punch.

  2. The thing is – if this kid was very “me” oriented he would have transferred like some others have done. I don’t blame them for transferring mind you – actually i think it makes college football that much better when the talent is suddenly spread around in lieu of ‘Bama, Bucks, Clemson, stashing 4-5 stars. But, to the point, he seems to be focused on success, and as someone said, at his position, individual success leads to team success. Go Bucks!

  3. Good comment, Christopher. I agree with you in that he deserves to get more touches this year and hoping he will stay healthy this year. I don’t see this kid as a give-me, give-me kid. I believe he is for the team and thank God he didn’t choose ttun as he would have been on a loser!

  4. OSU is going to be a nightmare for defenses this year, particularly the running game IF the OL is average or better, and there’s no reason to think it shouldn’t be. This O has the potential to be absolutely awesome with playmakers everywhere. That, of course, means no one will get enough touches to make everyone happy. Hopefully the team-first attitude is real and not just empty talk. Weber will be an important cog in the machine, but just a cog. It’s important that he understands that and accepts it. I just can’t wait to see this O in action.

  5. Healthy last year I am convinced he would have started and carried the runningback load. Naturally it would have been secondary to JT Barrett, but, he’d have been the primary runningback. JK Dobbins is an outstanding back and he produced very good results. But he’s more dhift than git it and hit it. Mike plants his foot and goes. Two outstanding runningbacks with two completely different styles.

    Everyone on here complained about Mikes speed his first year. He showed what his speed looks like once he finally started getting healthy last year. I never thought he had a speed problem his first year. He had a FEET problem. He just didn’t pick them up and it made ankle tackles an obstacle. In HS he could simply truck defenders and keep going. At this level you better get your feet up or you’re just not going to be as productive as you should be. If you just shuffle your feet these big tome defenders will grab your ankles and you’re going down. If you pick them up and drive/plant into those steps you are more difficult to ankle tackle AND you have that instant speed acceleration in gaps.

    100% a fan of Mike Weber. Living proof that dedication and working hard and smart on your craft leads to success.

  6. I dunno, Gerd. His goals sound a lot more ‘me-oriented’ to me.

    1. He mentioned the team first, then when he mentioned personal goals, I asked him what they were. That’s the only reason he went into it.

    2. He wants to win all (big 10, national) of the championships and achieve personal goals of 1300 yds and 15 tds which I believe both correlate to team success. Not sure where the “me-oriented” is. Oh yeah, you’re not a fan of his.

  7. I am liking this kid more and more. The way he handled himself stepping in after a legend was exemplary…the way he handled a very tough situation last year was NOTHING short of professional…and the way he has maintained his cool while watching J.T. become 3rd on OSU’s rushing attempts list is unbelievable (as you couldn’t blame any good RB for transferring out of a system that has the QB power dive as its base play).

    If healthy, these RBs have a chance to be the best 1-2 punch in Buckeye History. I am praying for this kid to hit his marks. He deserves it.

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