It took only one week for Ohio State fans to ease into the new era of Ohio State football without Ezekiel Elliott.
True Freshman Demario McCall had eight carries for 54 yards and a touchdown, but all of his action came in the second half after the game was out of reach. Here’s a breakdown of the three players who should be getting the most action out of the backfield for the remainder of the 2016 season:
Weber carried the ball 19 times on Saturday for 136 yards, averaging just over seven yards per carry. He lived up to hype in game one, showcasing his strength, speed and niftiness. Fans should expect Weber to continue to get plenty of touches this year, as Meyer mentioned in his press conference today that he wants the Buckeyes to lead the Big Ten Conference in rushing yards (due to the team’s identity as Meyer put it). It’s evident Weber will be a stud at the college level, the question is how soon analysts will be talking about the potential of him playing at the next level (that is if they’re not already).
Samuel had a huge performance against Bowling Green. However, this article is intended to talk about him as a runner, not a receiver. Samuel had 13 rushing attempts on Saturday for 84 yards and a touchdown. It’s the 177 yards receiving along with two touchdown receptions that’s got Columbus, Ohio going nuts. In the backfield, Samuel brings plenty of speed and is a big-play-threat on any down. I’ll just say it, dude is straight-up versatile in this offense.
The unsung hero from Saturday was Dontre Wilson. He may not have had the eye-candyesque stats of Weber and Samuel, but he simply made things happen with the ball in his hands. Like Samuel, he also had two receiving touchdowns, but once again, this is about his production out of the backfield with the ball in his hands. Wilson had 36 yards on seven carries against Bowling Green. Weber and Wilson were the only two backs to average more than 7 YPC in the game.
What it all means
Yes, we only have one week in the books, but we’re quickly learning a lot about this football team. It’s safe to expect Weber to get plenty of carries on a game-to-game basis. Also, I believe Wilson will get more touches this weekend out of the backfield, as he showed through his consistent performance in week one he’s worthy of getting the ball more. Samuel looked the part at receiver, but as a back he might not get as many touches as he did in the season opener. His ability to draw attention as a wideout should help open up more space for Weber and Wilson up the middle and even on the edges.
Also, the Buckeyes do have J.T. Barrett at quarterback who is effective passing as well as rushing. His health, however, is a top priority, so don’t expect him to be rushing as much as we may have expected going into the season. He’ll rush the football plenty when necessary (hint hint…Oklahoma in two weeks).