COLUMBUS — Ohio State running back Mike Weber will play against Oklahoma, sharing time with dynamic true freshman J.K. Dobbins.
Weber rushed for over 1,000 yards as a redshirt freshman last season but was hampered by a hamstring injury throughout preseason camp. Still not 100 percent last Thursday, he sat out as Dobbins rambled for 181 yards on 29 carries, showing instincts and judgment beyond his years in a 49-21 win over Indiana.
Coach Urban Meyer said Monday that Weber will play, but he hasn’t yet decided how the rotation will work in Saturday’s game.
“Mike had a good practice,” Meyer said. “He went full speed today.”
Now that Weber is healthy, Meyer has a pleasant conundrum on his hands. Weber earned the starting role, but how does Meyer keep Dobbins on the bench at all?
Center Billy Price said the backs bring different styles to the game and using both just makes the Buckeyes’ offense more diverse and harder to solve.
“I think those two complement each other very well, having that 1-2 punch,” Price said. “It just adds a little more depth to the running-back room and another threat that defenses have to be aware of.”
Price described Dobbins as “one of those guys who can get into those crevices and be able to flip things and roll. Mike is that bruiser, he’s that guy who can really get in there and if he needs a couple extra yards on maybe third-and-2, run it up the middle.”
Looking for the deep ball
Much was made in spring practice and during the preseason about a new focus on the deep passing game and quarterback J.T. Barrett’s accuracy, with Meyer saying both would have to be better.
Meyer said he was satisfied with the progress of Barrett, who threw for 304 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 61 yards and another score against Indiana.
But Barrett was 0 for 3 on long passing attempts, with one perfectly placed throw fluttering through the fingers of Parris Campbell in the end zone. The receptions that were big gainers were of the catch-and-run variety. The Buckeyes’ passing game didn’t get on track until the second half.
Meyer found himself again defending against criticisms of Barrett’s accuracy.
“The accuracy of a quarterback has to do with the timing and relationship he has with the receivers,” Meyer said. “If he’s expecting to come back to me and the receiver goes there, it looks like the quarterback’s fault. And that’s what happened. We’ve had some accuracy issues with J.T., but also the receivers. He’s much better now.”
Not a revenge game?
Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley downplayed the revenge factor in Saturday’s game.
Ohio State went to Oklahoma last year and beat the Sooners 45-24 in a prime-time nationally televised game. Oklahoma is 11-0 since that loss.
“I don’t think we’ll talk much about the game last year,” said Riley, the offensive coordinator last year who was bumped up to head coach when Bob Stoops retired. “I told somebody this morning that I don’t think that has much of an effect on it. I think regardless of how the game turned out last year, regardless of who won or lost, this is one of those games that both teams are going to be excited to play. It’s going to be a great college football environment, two good football teams going at it.”
Notes: Oklahoma sophomore cornerback Jordan Parker is out for the season after suffering a knee injury in Saturday’s win over UTEP. Riley said he’ll likely have surgery. … Ohio State receiver Eric Glover-Williams is no longer with the team. Meyer said the departure was due to a “school conduct issue.” … Barrett was chosen by the Big Ten as co-player of the week, and Dobbins the freshman of the week.