J.K. Dobbins surpassed 20 carries in only four games during his first two seasons at Ohio State.

The workload was split. Dobbins shared touches with Mike Weber.

But with Weber’s departure to the NFL, the allocation is likely to change.

 

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Ohio State coach Ryan Day shied away from providing a target number of carries for Dobbins to see as a junior but acknowledged one thing: He is due for an increase, as Day predicted he would see “some 20-carry games.”

“He's got to be the workhorse,” Day said. “And I think he's ready for that.”

One factor is the uncertainty behind Dobbins on the depth chart. The Buckeyes had been in search of a clear-cut backup throughout preseason training camp before last week settling on Demario McCall as the likely candidate.

There is also an inexperienced quarterback.

When sophomore Justin Fields, the Georgia transfer, lines up behind center on Saturday against Florida Atlantic, it will mark his first start in college.

It leaves Dobbins as a greater focal point.

Dobbins sounded eager for the challenge when he met with reporters earlier in camp. He said he had improved his physique, dropping 4 percent off his body fat while remaining at around 215 pounds. He reported being at 8 percent body fat.

The hope was that the change might allow him to become an even more durable runner.

Part of that was also owed to an adjusted running style, as coaches described seeing throughout preseason practices. It was less evident last season as his yards per carry average dipped.

“I wouldn’t say he was a finesse guy,” running backs coach Tony Alford said, “but he was trying to make guys miss versus put your foot in the ground and trust your speed and finish runs in a more powerful manner. He’s a lot stronger than he has been, probably as strong as he’s ever been.”

Dobbins rushed for 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons.

With an expanded workload, he could do so for the third time, a feat only previously accomplished by Archie Griffin.

His chance begins Saturday.

jkaufman@dispatch.com

@joeyrkaufman