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Ohio State could see more of J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber together in the backfield this year

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Opposing defenses have to be frightened at the thought of the two talented running backs being on the field at the same time.

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

“It brings explosiveness. I feel like defenses won’t know what to do against it.”

Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins via Ryan Ginn, Land of 10

Last year it was hard enough to slow down running backs J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber when they were on the field separately. In 2018, defenses might have an even tougher task, after what the Buckeyes showed on one play in the 2017 Cotton Bowl against USC. In one of the first plays after halftime, Dobbins and Weber were on the field at the same time, which resulted in a 21-yard rush for Dobbins.

Dobbins already has some experience at sharing the workload at running back in a two-back set. As a sophomore in high school, Dobbins rushed for 2,243 yards and 37 touchdowns, even though Dobbins didn’t receive the majority of the carries. The thought of the numbers Dobbins and Weber could put up together when utilized together should have Buckeye fans salivating.

Between the power of Weber and the speed and elusiveness of Dobbins, defenses would have their hands full if they have to try and prepare for both running backs coming at them at the same time. The duo of Dobbins and Weber in the backfield at the same time could also help to take pressure off of Ohio State’s starting quarterback this year, whoever that ends up being.

“The main difference between the punishment for the football program and that of the men’s basketball program is neither the university’s compliance department nor the NCAA told the program it could not recruit any of the three basketball players. This calls in question how Ohio State decided to determine the self-imposed punishments and why they differed so drastically.”

Colin Hass-Hill and Edward Sutelan, The Lantern

In September, when Ohio State was getting ready to host Oklahoma, five-star football defensive end Micah Parsons, along with three basketball recruits all walked onto the College Gameday stage and met Buckeye alums Kirk Herbstreit and Eddie George as part of their official visit. While the meeting doesn’t seem like a big deal, it was an NCAA violation.

Ohio State self-reported the violation, and not only agreed to end their recruitment of Parsons, who went on to sign with Penn State, but the also gave football recruiting assistant Ed Terwilliger a one-game suspension. The NCAA found the punishments satisfactory and didn’t add any sanctions.

While the Parsons violation was self-reported on Sept. 26, the violation by the basketball recruits wasn’t reported until Nov. 16. Jaedon LeDee and Luther Muhammad, two of the recruits involved, both signed with Ohio State less than two weeks after the incident took place.

The NCAA temporarily declared LeDee and Muhammad ineligible, requiring Ohio State to apply for reinstatement for the student-athletes. Director of player development Scoonie Penn was also suspended for a game for being the one to allow for the basketball recruits onto the stage area to meet with Herbstreit and George.

Ohio State might have hurt themselves by being too harsh with their punishment when it came to Parsons. Because the Buckeyes self-reported so quickly and punished themselves the way they did, it likely had a negative effect on the basketball program, who took two months to self-report the incident.

In the grand scheme of things, the violations weren’t all that malicious. Some are wondering if Ohio State used the suspension of their recruitment of Parsons to cover for the Buckeyes decided to end their recruitment of Parsons because of a tweet he sent following the loss to Oklahoma, in which Parsons called for Dwayne Haskins at quarterback to start instead of J.T. Barrett.

Because Ohio State brings in so many top recruits, along with some of the NCAA violations they have committed in the past, the Buckeyes will always be under the microscope when it comes to recruiting. Going forward though, it might be in Ohio State’s best interest to self-impose sanctions, as the punishment for the football program wasn’t quite as harsh as what the NCAA ruled for the basketball program.

“For the first time under coach Urban Meyer, the Buckeyes believe the line has sufficient depth. It’s not just that they have an adequate backup at each spot. It’s that the backups are now pushing presumed starters for jobs.”

Bill Rabinowitz, The Columbus Dispatch

Ohio State’s offensive line depth took a bit of a hit yesterday when Matthew Burrell announced his intention to transfer, but even with the loss of Burrell, the Buckeyes still have plenty of talented offensive linemen vying for the five starting spots. Offensive line coach Greg Studrawa has been very pleased with what he saw from the linemen during spring practices.

Despite Studrawa not being ready to announce the starters on the offensive line yet, the only spot doesn’t feel up for grabs is at left guard. Michael Jordan has started the last two seasons at left guard, and even though he missed spring practices as he recovered from shoulder surgery, Jordan should be the starter when the Buckeyes open up the season against Oregon State.

There sounded as if Isaiah Prince was going to shift from right tackle to left tackle this year, but in the spring game Prince was back at right tackle. Prince did state that moving to left tackle was like trying to learn to write left-handed, and Meyer and Studrawa might have to make changes because they aren’t seeing the progress they have hoped for.

Another reason why Prince might be back at right tackle is because Thayer Munford, who was the favorite to replace Prince at right tackle, has had an easy transition to the left tackle spot. Josh Alabi, who moved over from the defensive line, has also found himself more comfortable on the left side of the line.

Ohio State’s depth has especially shown at center, where Josh Myers is pushing Brady Taylor, who is the favorite to replace Billy Price. While Taylor is steady at center, Myers has made massive strides as he has gotten more reps and become more comfortable with the offense. The battle at the center position is likely one that won’t be decided until late in preseason practices.

Unlike in years past, where the offensive line depth hasn’t been the greatest for Ohio State, the amount of talented the Buckeyes have amassed on the offensive line will help to make the linemen even better. The offensive linemen know they can’t become complacent, because there is a lineman right behind them who could take their starting spot. The competition for starting spots will bring out the best in the Buckeyes.

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