Fall camp gets underway for the Buckeyes on Friday and every single Ohio State position coach will have a mental list of things that they need to get done.
In fact, they may actually have a physical list as well.
Speculating as to what might be on each assistant coach’s list is always a fun exercise, and there are no shortages of items that will need to be addressed.
We have previously covered the to-do lists for offensive line coach Greg Studrawa and linebacker coach Al Washington.
Up today is running backs coach Tony Alford, who returns three tailbacks from last year’s team and adds two true freshmen into the mix.
Last season was a bad one on the ground for the Buckeyes. That can’t happen again, and Alford no doubt has a checklist in mind to make sure it doesn’t.
What might that list look like?
1. Keep JK Dobbins running hard.
Ryan Day has said this offseason that they want JK Dobbins turning 3-yard carries into 5-yard carries and fighting for extra yards. Bringing more fight to his running style should lead to more broken tackles and more big plays. That process began in the winter and continued in the spring when Dobbins said he didn’t want the leniency that many veterans are granted. He wants to show last year was a fluke, which should make Tony Alford’s task here a bit easier, but it’s one that is still going to be closely monitored.
2. Get Demario McCall reps.
Demario McCall spent his time this spring watching practice rather than taking part. He was basically the hot rod that Tony Alford and Ryan Day couldn’t wait to get out on the open road, but they couldn’t ever get it out of the shop. During camp, they have to get him reps and get him back involved. Getting him back into the flow will also allow them to work on the packages and plans they have for him. McCall could add so much to this Ohio State offense, but only if he is healthy enough to take advantage of the possibilities.
3. Bring back the explosive plays.
Last season was a bad one in terms of explosive running plays for the Buckeyes. Their six rushes for 30 yards or more was the fewest by a Buckeye team in the last decade, and was only good for 10th in the Big Ten last year. Their 15 rushes for at least 20 yards was ninth in the Big Ten, and again it was the lowest mark in the last decade for OSU. By comparison, in 2017 the Buckeyes had 18 rushes of 30 yards and 35 of at least 20 yards. Both numbers led the Big Ten. Last year was the first year Ohio State finished out of the top three in 30-yard rushes in the Big Ten since they were fourth in 2012. Pushing JK Dobbins to run harder should help this number, as would a healthy Demario McCall. An improved run-blocking offensive line would make things easier, as would a running threat at quarterback, but the tailbacks have to do their part, and Alford will be working hard to make that happen.
4. Regain the feel for the read option.
Ohio State probably ran about 15 true read-option plays last season where Dwayne Haskins could have handed the ball off or kept it and ran with it. They also ran some RPOs early in the season where the running back may be given the ball or Haskins would keep it to throw it. Over the second half of the season or so, the main deception when it came to the hand-off was a simple play-action pass. This year, however, the read option running game is back, as is the RPO, so the running backs are going to have to get back into the habit of being patient at the mesh point and letting the quarterback determine at the very last second where the football is going to go.
5. Prepare the depth.
JK Dobbins and Demario McCall are experienced and aren’t out of place on the field. The other three running backs, however, cannot say the same thing. Redshirt freshman Master Teague ran the ball 17 times last season for 106 yards, but those carries came in three games that the Buckeyes won by an average score of 59-13. Teague has yet to be part of a game that is in doubt. True freshmen Marcus Crowley and Steele Chambers aren’t in a much different spot when it comes to pressure situations. The Buckeyes need at least one more running back to step up in camp who can be relied upon this season. Teague is expected to be that guy, which is something that Tony Alford will definitely be working to make happen. And given McCall’s unfortunate injury history, getting two freshmen ready to play this year wouldn’t be a bad idea.
So, can someone tell me please when did Ohio State football get the cream of out of state RB’s? Alford is doing a good job – sometimes you swing and miss. Let’s not be held hostage by the moment.
Alford has consistently struggled in recruiting top talent. Our best right now would not even see the field in Bama/Clem/GA eh maybe mop up…
we need new young blood. learn from the Heartline experience. Same with OL and DL coaching. last year was a transition and some continuity on at least on side was desirable. we can now revamp that side starting the search now and even possibly making making replacements ASAP.
I believe Alford landed two of the top 11 RBs in the 2018 class. Before that it was JK. And he’s had 5-star kids from CA, AZ, TX in town looking at the Buckeyes. He’s really not doing any differently than any of his RB coach predecessors. Who was the last 5-star out of state RB Ohio State has landed? None prior to 2002, we know that. Eddie George wasn’t.
Seems the formula should be pretty simple…1) take the top RB in the state of Ohio each year and 2) grab the best OOS running back you can get.
We have done pretty well with Ohio RBs (Clarrett, Pittman, Beanie, Hyde, just to name a few).
Crowley and Chambers…two unknown wild cards. If 9ne of them pops that REALLY helps with the depth. Dobbins should be solid. Teague seems like he can be serviceable. Need another RB to step up (not including McCall).
Alford should be on a bit of a hot seat in terms of RB recruiting. It’s odd that he isnt getting better RB recruits in.
I usually agree with your assessments. Can’t on this one. Marcus Crowley is far from an unknown. He is physically strong, and as fast as every other Buckeye tailback not named Master Teague. He was a respectable level 4 star tailback who can be versatile. When he has to be, he can be patient with good vision and no hesitation once he processes that vision. He’s not contact shy. I think he came in needing some strength development, but he’s a very good running back.
Steele Chamber has big time star potential. Fast, strong (Derrick Henry strong). He’ll remind a lot of people like a more advanced Eddie George at the same age. Alabama wanted him. Georgia was hot on his recruiting trail. LSU and Auburn also wanted him. If he has a weakness it’s blocking which probably kept him down to a high 4 star recruit rather than a 5 star, but, Alford won’t have much difficulty in developing that. Steele Chambers was also a very good, hard hitting linebacker, so translating those skills to tail back blocking isn’t a big challenge.
But those 2 young men don’t have to be super stars year 1. JK Dobbins looked really good when we had a chance to see him in the Spring. Demario McCall is lightning waiting to strike. We’ve seen glimpses of what he’s capable of and he’s entering his money year. I wouldn’t bet against him. Master Teague is set to explode. Blazing speed and outstanding vision and power. He plants and he goes Teague isn’t a “serviceable” runningback. He’s a potential Doak Walker winner.
Plenty of star power in that running back room. With a much better offensive line in front of these guys in 2019 we’re set up pretty well for a running back treat. That’s a pretty darned good position group.
Comments are closed.