One has to figure the frustration level for J.K. Dobbins is high.
The running back goes out of his way to talk “team first” in any interview session when his stats become the subject. He wasn’t available for interviews this week, but after setting the Ohio State freshman record last season with 1,403 yards rushing, averaging 7.2 yards per carry, his numbers are 521 and 4.3 through eight games this season.
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Headed into a game Saturday against Nebraska, Dobbins likely is seeking a breakout. That goes double for fellow running back Mike Weber, whose numbers of 516 and 5.4 were bloated substantially by his career-high 186 yards in a season-opening blowout of Oregon State.
“It’s J.K. and Mike, and they’re both very frustrated, as we all are, as the offensive line is,” coach Urban Meyer said.
The running game has been on a slide for a month, drifting into ineffective status two weeks ago in a 49-20 loss at Purdue.
The line, which has provided a stable launching pad for Dwayne Haskins Jr.’s assault on Ohio State’s passing records, has had trouble getting Dobbins and Haskins to the second level. Dobbins’ longest run this season is 21 yards. But to lay it all on the line play isn’t accurate, Meyer said.
“There’s times when you’ve got to make your own hole and plow through it and get positive yards,” he said. “And we worked extremely hard on that in the bye week.”
The Buckeyes are going against a Huskers defense that is 71st nationally against the run (166.0 yards per game). Ohio State has been averaging 171.8 yards rushing.
“Frustration is the right word,” Meyer said. “They’re both great people. They want to do well, first for the team, but also, they’re prideful guys. They want that ball and they want to rip through and get some big yards.”