“He’s a banger. He’s a thumper and a plus-yardage guy most of the time. Zeke was too, but he doesn’t have the top end that Zeke has. We’re working on that. And Carlos was a great back. We have been fortunate, and I think Mike falls right in that category.”
How lucky have Ohio State fans been lately when it comes to the running back position? First Carlos Hyde was putting up big numbers in the first few years of Urban Meyer’s reign in Columbus. After Hyde moved on to the NFL, the Buckeyes didn’t miss a beat with Ezekiel Elliott. Now with Elliott also playing at the next level, the next running back that is having a big impact on the ground is redshirt freshman Mike Weber. Meyer has referred to the H-back position as the “Cadillac position” and it’s easy to see why.
Through just four games of his Ohio State career, Mike Weber is currently second in the Big Ten in rushing, amassing nearly 500 yards on the ground. While he is a physical back like Hyde and Elliott, there are still areas of Weber’s game that he knows he has to work on. Elliott had breakaway speed, while Weber isn’t quite as fast, but there is still plenty of time for the running back to improve on that. Meyer sees more of Carlos Hyde in Weber than Ezekiel Elliott due to his feet and power. Either way, it’s quite high praise for a back who is so early into his Buckeye career.
“It’s been pretty fun. I’m starting to get a little momentum. I’m starting to mentally be able to slow the game down. Right now I’m taking it one day at a time, one game at a time, one practice at a time. I’m taking advantage of every opportunity I get.”
One of the biggest surprises this year for Urban Meyer and Ohio State has been the play of defensive tackle Robert Landers. With a defense full of playmakers, the second-string redshirt freshman is leading Ohio State with five tackles for loss this season. Even though he isn’t starting, Landers is becoming more comfortable when he is on the field, and his play is demanding the coaching staff try and find more ways to get him on the field.
Landers is doing all this while he is a little shorter than the prototypical defensive tackle. Every other defensive lineman on the Ohio State roster is 6-3, while Landers is two inches shorter at 6-1. What makes Landers so effective is that even though he is a little smaller, his lower center of gravity allows him to get better leverage on those trying to block him. Landers says that defensive line coach Larry Johnson has a little fun with the redshirt freshman when it comes to his height, calling him “gravity challenged”. As long as Landers keeps making noise in the defensive backfield, the rest of the Big Ten won’t be laughing nearly as much.
“We’re not going to do any talking. We’re about action. We don’t do any trash-talking.”
Ohio State is third in the nation in scoring, averaging 57.0 points per game, and fourth in the nation in total offense, with 576.3 yards per game. That type of production doesn’t happen if the offensive line isn’t playing at a high level. Even more impressive is the Buckeyes came into the year with three new starters on the line. Pat Elflein and Billy Price have been a big part of the development of the latest edition of “The Slobs”. The latest performance from the Ohio State offensive line saw all five members earn champion status from Urban Meyer and the coaching staff following the 58-0 drubbing of Rutgers.
The scary part about the offensive line this year is they are likely to only get better as the year goes on. Left guard Michael Jordan is a true freshman, and all is becoming more comfortable with his role in the offense with each game. Even though the play from the offensive line has been outstanding before, assistant Greg Studrawa knows there is room for improvement when it comes to run blocking. With the way the Buckeyes are playing right now, any improvement on the high level the offensive line is playing currently could spell trouble for the rest of college football.
“Coaching is teaching. There is a need to educate aspiring coaches on how to teach today’s youth.”
Nearly everybody watching from afar thinks they can be just like Urban Meyer and Thad Matta, but actually doing so isn’t nearly as easy as it looks. To try and cultivate the next crop of coaches, Ohio State’s College of Human Ecology is preparing to launch a master of sports coaching program. The program is specifically designed for students that are actively coaching a team.
The program will feature faculty who are current and former coaches in the Ohio State athletic department. Many of the assignments will be based on implemented on students’ teams in real time. Also, curriculum will include courses on ethics, sports law and research, as well as race. Athletic director Gene Smith first asked faculty to look into the possibility of a coaching masters program four years ago. For those thinking the program will be easy will need to think again, as the university has made the program rigorous. Who knows, maybe one of Ohio State’s coaches down the road could begin to hone their craft in the program.