A Pair and a Share
It wasn’t that long ago that trying to convince a running back to split carries was a fool’s errand.
For a long time, running backs wanted to be workhorses. They wanted as many carries as they could physically handle.
Time and change have surely shown, however, that there is a reason Woody Hayes always wanted a pair and a spare.
Running the ball is damn hard work, and in what walk of life would you not want to share such an arduous task?
Under Urban Meyer, Buckeye running backs haven’t necessarily had to be season-long workhorses thanks to the quarterback being involved in the running game.
Mike Weber has shared the load in his three seasons as an Ohio State running back. Even though he has nearly 2,600 yards rushing in his three seasons, he has never led the Buckeyes in rushing attempts. The last two seasons he has split Ohio State’s carries with JK Dobbins.
Without a running quarterback to take carries away from the running backs this year, Weber and Dobbins carried the load. Dobbins has carried the ball 223 times for 1,029 yards and Weber has 157 rush attempts for 858 yards. The split helped both players remain effective late into the season.
“It helped me a lot,” Weber said. “The Michigan State game, I was pretty beat up after that game and that was a 22-carry game. I thought we got used to having two backs in. That’s what a lot of programs are going to. A lot of big-time programs are doing that now, the way the game is evolving. The Big Ten is a rough conference, and you need a couple backs to rely on.”
Figuring Things Out
It has not been an ideal season for the Buckeye defense.
Opponents scored at least 28 points in six of Ohio State’s 13 games, and 26 points in two other games.
The 25.7 points allowed per game is 10 more than the 2016 defense and three more points than the 2013 defense that convinced Urban Meyer changes were needed.
The Rose Bowl is an opportunity for the Buckeye defense to close things out on a positive note, but that’s not something that is necessarily on their mind.
“It’s not really something we are worried about,” middle linebacker Tuf Borland said. “The past is in the past. We can’t control it and there is nothing we can do about it. We are looking forward to Washington and playing as well as we can.”
Despite the struggles, there is some belief that things began to turn for the better beginning with the game against Michigan.
“Sometimes you don’t get the results right away and that just showed with some of the effort and the work we were putting in in practice,” Borland said. “The results somewhat showed. We are just trying to build off of that.”
No Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes Planned
Urban Meyer is stepping down as Ohio State head coach following the Rose Bowl and Ryan Day will be taking over on January 2.
Athletic director Gene Smith decided to hire Day in order to make the transition as seamless as possible.
Things going perfectly upon replacing a Hall of Fame head coach is a rarity, but the belief is that with Day, the Buckeyes are going to be as close as humanly possible to what they were under Meyer.
“I think we saw at the beginning of the season,” receiver Johnnie Dixon said. “[Day] is a passionate guy who loves what he does. So there’s not going to be a fall-off anywhere. We all have an incredible amount of confidence in what he can do and what he brings to the game. So there won’t be a drop-off.”