Tony Alford Wants His Running Backs to Want the Football

Tony Alford, J.K. Dobbins Ohio State Football Buckeyes

Ohio State has two running backs on the 2018 team who have rushed for 1,000 yards in a season. That is something that most other teams can’t say.

Mike Weber rushed for 1,096 yards in 2016 as a redshirt freshman and J.K. Dobbins rushed for 1,403 yards last season as a true freshman.

In other words, the Buckeye backfield is the envy of most other college football programs.

The problem that could arise, however, is that there is just one football to be used between the two of them.

Weber came back for a fourth season because he believes he is going to see more carries than he did last year. Given his big-play potential, there is no reason to doubt him.

The question for running backs coach Tony Alford, however, is how does he split the carries in order to get the most out of his talented tailback duo.

“I don’t know. I think it’s just the flow of the game and how it’s going,” he said. “The one thing you do is you like guys that want all the carries. I was that way too with Coach [Earle] Bruce. I wanted all the carries. But at the end of the day, you do what you do. As I got older, maybe what’s best for the team is that I don’t get all the carries. As long as we’re having success. Those guys have all bought in, but they’re highly confident guys, so they want it. They want to put it on their shoulders too.”

Antonio Williams wanted the ball as well, which is why he is now off to North Carolina and a less-crowded backfield.

Transfers or discord may happen when players aren’t getting the carries that they feel they deserve. Does that ever pose a problem for Alford?

“No. No,” he said.

The desire is to have running backs who want the ball, because what good is a running back who is okay with deferring to somebody else?

“Absolutely. Absolutely. And you recruit that way,” Alford said. “That’s how you want it to be because if they didn’t want the ball, and they didn’t want to play, and they didn’t want to compete, then why the hell would I want them? I don’t want to be around them just as a person, let alone coach a player.”

Running backs have to be tough mentally and physically. If they don’t want carries, then what is to say they’re going to want that extra inch on fourth and one?

If a player isn’t going to fight for a spot on the depth chart, then they aren’t going to fight for a spot in a short-yardage situation.

Alford wants his running backs to want every single carry. And if they aren’t getting the carries, then he wants them working to improve enough to get more touches.

While he goes with the flow of the game when it comes to who plays when, if a running back isn’t going to work for carries, then he’s just going to let that player drift on by.

“If you’re not a guy that wants it and is hungry to succeed and compete, then why would I want you?” he said. “That’s just how I think. I’m not saying I’m right, but that’s how I think.”


7 Responses

  1. Robbins had a great freshman season. Towards the end of the season he showed that he needs to improve his breakaway speed a bit if he can…and he needs to become a bit smarter and tougher runner (see michigan game running out of bounds).

    Weber should be very good…if healthy all year.

    1. I’ll have another piece this summer where Weber talks about working on his “wind” in preparation for big plays last year. That’s what Dobbins worked on in the offseason as well. That’s what held him back on his big runs late in the year. I’ll have a piece on that as well I believe.

  2. Weber was a bread and butter back in 2016. His return in 2017 he became a home run hitter (see MSU and MI!) His spring game home run was just a continual confirmation of his progress. We all thought that JK Dobbins would be the home run hitter, but he is still a threat, to rip off huge runs. The benefit of both is that their styles are unique and they present problems of preparation and game plan to contain them both!

  3. Hope Mike proves me wrong this Fall, but from what I’ve seen my opinion from a year and a half ago stands – he’s a good, serviceable back, but nothing special and won’t be. Would love to be proven wrong, but while the Spring Game means next-to-nothing I’m much more intrigued by what Master Teague brings to the RB room.

    1. I think you’ve already been proven wrong about Weber. He rushed for 1,000 as a RF…and then once healthy in the second half of last season he showed yet an added dimension to his game. I would imagine you’re the type whose favorite players are the commits and you’re always looking for the next best thing. Appreciate this kid Weber. He has a chance to be very very good this year (Teague may redshirt).

Comments are closed.