Too many backs? No problem

Kevin Noon, Publisher
Buckeye Grove
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Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio – While Ohio State's backup quarterback derby has dominated recent headlines another position battle has taken a spot on the back burner as the Buckeyes have a logjam at running back.

Unlike the quarterback position however, it is possible to have more than one running back on the field at a time and that is something that Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes are looking into.

J.K Dobbins emerged on the scene and has been the most productive freshman running back in Columbus since Maurice Clarett. Mike Weber broke through the 1,000-yard mark during his redshirt freshman season and has had a slow start due to injury to his 2017 campaign.

Both backs have been raved about during the offseason. Playing them both is a no-brainer. But how about playing them both at the same time.

"I would like to eventually go two-back," head coach Urban Meyer said on Wednesday evening. "I have done that before where you have those two… because they are good compliments to each other. And Antonio (Williams) is getting better too."

Most teams struggle to find one solid runner per season but the Buckeyes may be almost as deep with players who can run the ball as they are with defensive linemen.

"I would say that Mike Weber was having a great winter and a great summer, he really was. Until his (hamstring injury)," offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson said. "That really helped JK come along. You have not seen Mike play that much, Mike was awesome through spring and when we get him back, I would like to see him pick up where he was."

If this plan has been in the works, the players are doing a good job of keeping it under wraps. What is hard to keep under wraps however is what this could present to opposing defenses to prepare for.

"I feel that if that happens it is going to be great," Dobbins said. "I think it is going to cause a lot of problems for a defense because he is a great back, he is a 1,000-yard rusher last year. It would be great."

Weber and Dobbins spend a lot of time together off of the football field as well. They are not there to talk about X's and O's but that does not stop them from playing football video games, Madden is the game of choice. Dobbins said there is not a lot of competition between the two.

"We don't compete well because I am the best at Madden," Dobbins joked.

The two-back system may not emerge for some time and may never emerge. There have been more than a few formations or sets that have been thrown around in the interview room with the media that have never come to pass throughout the years. A two-back set is nothing new in the game of football, just something new for what Ohio State has done through recent years.

"We have not done anything like that yet," Dobbins said. "But I am pretty sure it is going to be pretty nice."

It takes a couple of special players to consider making a change like this. Meyer feels he has that in this tandem.

"I don't know how many times we have had that quality of players standing next to each other," Meyer added. "They are both 100-miles an hour, refreshed and ready to go. I don't know if I have ever really had it like that."

Dobbins says to just bring it on and he will do whatever it takes to make this team successful.

"If I get the ball, I know he is going to block for me," Dobbins said. "If he gets the ball, I am going to do my very best to block for him. I know it will be very explosive."

Is there really no rivalry between the two to see who will get more carries or more opportunities on the field?

"Our chemistry is great. We don't really think about playing time because we are friends," Dobbins said. "It is not about that stuff. Since we have great chemistry, it does not make any problems."

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