Mike Weber back on form to give Ohio State powerful 1-2 RB combo
Last season, freshman J.K. Dobbins took over as the main running back for Ohio State, to the tune of 1,403 rushing yards. His production meant that Dobbins overshadowed Mike Weber, whose own sensational freshman campaign came in 2016.
On Saturday against Oregon State, Weber looked like his 2016 self again, and that will spell trouble for the rest of the Big Ten in the 2018 season.
There is something to be said for Saturday’s level of competition, or lack thereof. The Beavers defense is simply not on the same level of talent as Ohio State’s offense, and that was obvious on Saturday as the Buckeyes rolled to a 77-31 victory at Ohio Stadium.
But Weber has given enough evidence during his career in Scarlet and Gray that he is capable of big performances against strong competition, and if Saturday is anything to go by, he is past the injuries that hampered him in 2017.
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Weber ran 20 times for a career-high 186 yards and three touchdowns against Oregon State. He showed the burst to get through holes quickly and the power to shake off tackles:
The Buckeyes offensive line played a huge role, of course. Weber was untouched on his 49-yard touchdown run, with the whole line executing very well up front and receiver Binjimen Victor setting a strong one-on-one block on the outside to spring Weber.
Dobbins didn’t disappear against the Beavers, either. He had a workmanlike 74 yards on 15 carries (a 4.9-yard average) with a long of 10 yards.
For the past several years, Ohio State has had a succession of fleet-footed quarterbacks, not to mention durable and productive No. 1 running backs like Carlos Hyde and Ezekiel Elliott, so having two running backs carry the load on the ground wasn’t that important.
The last time the Buckeyes produced two 1,000-yard running backs was in 1975, when Archie Griffin (1,450 yards) won his second Heisman Trophy and Pete Johnson (1,059 yards) had 25 rushing touchdowns, a school single-season record which still stands.
If Weber and Dobbins can stay healthy, Ohio State looks pretty likely to have two 1,000-yard running backs again in 2018.