Fumble aside, Dobbins shows some positives

Bill Rabinowitz,Joey Kaufman

It was probably fitting that J.K. Dobbins needed to cross into the end zone twice to get one touchdown for Ohio State on Saturday.

Dobbins scored on a 1-yard carry in the fourth quarter in a 45-21 win over Florida Atlantic at Ohio Stadium. That came one play after officials signaled a touchdown after a run from the 9-yard line. But replay review showed Dobbins’ knee touched the ground before he crossed the goal line.

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Dobbins entered this season wanting to show he was the best running back in college football after a sophomore year he repeatedly characterized as a failure. His first game of 2019 probably wasn’t what he had in mind, at least statistically. The junior gained 91 yards on 21 carries, with a long of 17.

Dobbins also lost a fumble, which Florida Atlantic converted into a field goal for its first score at the end of the first half.

“I thought he ran it good,” coach Ryan Day said. “I’m going to watch the film and see. Ball on the ground is unacceptable. We can’t have that. I thought he ran hard, though, at times harder than I’ve seen him run in the past. We’ll look at the film and figure out where we can get those things to the second level a little bit faster for him.”

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The revamped offensive line pushed the pile at the beginning of the game but then had some issues controlling FAU linemen.

“There were a couple things in the zone game where we didn’t fit it quite right up front, and there were a couple guys coming free, and we have to get that fixed,” Day said.

It's a snap

When Justin Fields threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Chris Olave late in the first quarter, the play began with an unfamiliar look: Fields took the snap from under center.

It varied from previous seasons when Day served as the offensive coordinator under Urban Meyer. Day, who remains the primary play-caller, incorporated a variety of pro-style wrinkles to the offense.

“I think it’s important to have a balance,” Day said. “I think it’s important to be able to line up under center and run the football, play-action pass, do some things and also run spread and run with tempo. I think when you can mix those two things and you’re good at both of those things, it’s not easy to do.”

Day noted that Fields, who normally lines up at shotgun depth, was comfortable under center. He added the variety of formations “brings a different level of preparation for the defense.”

Bowen makes return

Fifth-year senior Branden Bowen made his return after almost two years. Bowen suffered a broken left leg in two places on Oct. 7, 2017, against Maryland. This training camp, he prevailed over Nicholas Petit-Frere for the starting job.

“Indescribable,” Bowen said of his emotions. “It didn't really affect me too much until I was out of the game and I had time to really realize like, ‘Oh wow, I really played a football game, the first one in a while.’ ”

The most emotional moment might have come much earlier.

“Before the game, when we came out to stretch at first, running down the tunnel and hearing the music and the fans, it gave me chills the whole time,” he said.

Proctor gets pick

Teammates raved during training camp about Josh Proctor’s knack for turnovers.

The sophomore has been competing with Isaiah Pryor for playing time at free safety behind Jordan Fuller.

Ohio State had only one takeaway against FAU, and Proctor had it. With two minutes left in the game, he showed his range by intercepting a pass from backup quarterback Justin Agner.

Wrapping up

Receiver C.J. Saunders, listed as unavailable on Ohio State’s status report Friday, was seen on the sideline standing on a crutch with his left knee wrapped. A former walk-on who had been named a captain, Saunders was projected to be the backup slot receiver behind K.J. Hill and involved in returning kicks and punts. … After he had been listed as a game-time decision on the status report, reserve running back Demario McCall rushed twice for 11 yards. He was also involved heavily on special teams as a kickoff and punt returner. He began the game with his best return, taking the opening kickoff for 26 yards.

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