OSU undecided on backup runner

Joey Kaufman
Ohio State Buckeyes running back Master Teague III (33) rushes upfield ahead of Florida Atlantic Owls defensive end Leighton McCarthy (13) during the fourth quarter of the NCAA football game at Ohio Stadium in Columbus on Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019. Ohio State won 45-21.[Adam Cairns/Dispatch]

Ohio State remains without a clear-cut backup to running back J.K. Dobbins.

Coach Ryan Day said Thursday that the No. 2 spot on the depth chart remained “in flux.” During the season opener against Florida Atlantic, three running backs split carries behind Dobbins.

Redshirt freshman Master Teague III had the most with eight carries for 49 yards. Freshman Marcus Crowley had four carries for 27 yards, and redshirt junior Demario McCall had two for 11 yards.

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“I thought Master ran hard,” Day said. “But Master hasn’t practiced a whole bunch, so we really only can go off the game film and what we did this week in practice. Demario did some good things on special teams, but he’s still working. If we can continue to build that room up, build some depth, I think both those guys will play.”

None of the running backs had the edge for the backup spot on the team’s initial depth chart released last week.

Teague was limited by an undisclosed injury suffered in preseason camp, and McCall had been a game-time decision before playing against Florida Atlantic.

At one point, it looked like McCall had the inside track. About a week and a half before the opener, running backs coach Tony Alford said McCall projected as the backup running back.

Old friend

The team ranked behind Ohio State in the national polls is LSU, which sits at No. 6 and faces Texas in a high-profile game Saturday night.

The Tigers are led by Joe Burrow, a former Buckeyes quarterback. During his news conference Thursday, Day complimented Burrow.

“I couldn't be prouder of what he's done down there,” Day said, “not just playing, but going into a big-time SEC school in a tough environment and being the leader.”

Day, who was Burrow’s position coach with the Buckeyes in 2017, said he spoke with LSU coach Ed Orgeron at the NFL draft this year.

Orgeron told him that Burrow “literally took over that team and turned that program around.” The Tigers went 10-3 in 2018 for their first season with double-digit wins since 2013.

Extra rest

Cincinnati will visit Ohio State with at least an extra day’s rest.

The Bearcats opened their season on Aug. 29, a Thursday, while the Buckeyes began Saturday.

Day didn’t view it as a significant issue, noting that Cincinnati’s opener was a night game. Ohio State kicked off at noon. The difference in allotted rest was less than 48 hours.

“They do have a little bit of time to catch their breath,” Day said, “but in this situation, I don't think it matters all that much.”


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