What's the best way for Ohio State to use Mike Weber?

On3 imageby:Austin Ward06/26/18


Mike Weber by Rick Osentoski

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There is a strong likelihood that Ohio State will finally be unveiling more packages that feature both Mike Weber and J.K. Dobbins in the backfield at the same time. But the fullback is still an extinct position for the Buckeyes as long as Urban Meyer is around, and considering what a healthy version of Weber can provide, honestly it might be a waste to line him up in that role.

Weber showed down the stretch last season just why he’s considered one of the better rushers in the Big Ten when his hamstrings aren’t slowing him down, and a couple of touted rush defenses from Michigan State and Michigan can both attest to his speed and elusiveness. He also does all of the little things required of his position at a high level, which Lettermen Beanie Wells just broke down on the latest edition of BuckIQ.

It’s clear on film just how high his ceiling is at running back. There have certainly been times where his ability to pull away and become a home-run threat have been questioned in the past, but Weber effectively buried those last November with a handful truly electrifying carries. He’s also strong enough to be a solid blocker, has consistently been pointed to as a selfless teammate and can hold up in terms of blitz pickup — but Weber is a tailback, and one that could have been in an NFL camp right now instead of electing to come back to Ohio State for another season.

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Mike Weber finished with 626 yards and 10 touchdowns last season for Ohio State. (Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports)

So, Weber isn’t changing positions. But if the intent is to try to find a way to get him more involved in the offense, that’s certainly a goal Ohio State should be doing everything it can to accomplish. The Buckeyes showed only the briefest glimpse of what that two-tailback personnel grouping might look like in the Cotton Bowl, with the play ironically going to H-back Parris Campbell — but gaining 21 yards thanks to the focus on Weber and Dobbins. Ohio State essentially had four different rushing options coming off that one play with the threat of the quarterback thrown in as well, and that’s yet another way this collection of talent Meyer has assembled can toy with defenses.

The other, more traditional way would be to simply rotate in the primary role to keep both Dobbins and Weber fresh and healthy. There’s the age-old debate about riding the hot hand or allowing a rusher to find a rhythm, but Ohio State’s rushing attack was at its best last season with Dobbins in the featured role complemented by the secondary punch from Weber. The Michigan State game is the ideal blueprint for that workload, with Dobbins handling 18 carries and Weber turning his 9 attempts into 162 yards with a pair of touchdowns.

That game, in particular, is also the perfect example of how dangerous Weber can be when he’s operating without any physical limitations. Now Ohio State just has to find the right formula to keep him involved on a consistent basis at tailback.

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