Coach Urban Meyer and offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson are starting to imagine at least the possibilities of an Ohio State backfield that could feature a 1,000-yard back and another who, in three games as a collegian, is almost halfway to 1,000.
J.K. Dobbins has used a lethal jump cut, something he said he has had in his repertoire since middle school in Texas, to leap out to 425 yards rushing after becoming just the second true freshman to start a season opener for Ohio State. Dobbins got his opportunity because of a strained hamstring that limited returning starter Mike Weber, who gained 1,096 yards last season.
But Weber is getting stronger by the week, which means eventually that Wilson could be hearing Meyer tell him to get Dobbins and Weber on the field at the same time. It would be the spread offense’s version of a full-house backfield, which also would include quarterback J.T. Barrett.
“I’ve done that before,” Meyer said of using a two-back set. “They’re good complements to each other.”
The Dobbins-Weber tandem likely won’t be seen Saturday when Ohio State plays Nevada-Las Vegas at Ohio Stadium. Dobbins said they haven’t practiced such a look, though he has been in sets with hybrid back Parris Campbell also in the backfield.
Meyer said a Dobbins-Weber backfield would be breaking new ground for him in terms of whom to feature.
“If they’re both refreshed, ready to go,” Meyer said, “I don’t know that we’ve ever had that (dual potential) like that.”
Dobbins' 52-yard touchdown run Saturday against Army was the kind of home-run play that Meyer had hoped to get from Weber last season. But Weber, who has played sparingly, is not going be overlooked once he is completely healthy. He will “be rewarded,” Meyer said, referring not just to his production last season but also for his strong work in the spring, something Wilson also saw.
“Mike was awesome through spring, and winter, and when we get him back (full speed), I’d like to see him pick up where he was,” Wilson said.
Other players on the offense see the potential of having two featured backs.
“You never know what you can do with that; the more weapons you have, the better it is always,” left tackle Jamarco Jones said. “Mike has proved, too, that we’re not going to just forget he had a 1,000-yard season last year. … We’re going to need both of those guys during the Big Ten season. … Having two guys we trust to get the job done is going to be great for us.”
If it sometimes means both being on the field at the same time, Dobbins would welcome it.
“We haven’t done anything like that yet,” Dobbins said. “But I’m pretty sure it’s going to be pretty nice.”