Alabi turned heads with play against Nebraska

Joey Kaufman
jkaufman@dispatch.com
Joshua Alabi, who started at left tackle for Ohio State in the Rose Bowl, moved to right tackle against Nebraska and was named player of the game. [Barbara J. Perenic/Dispatch]

Joshua Alabi had lost his sense of direction.

As he prepared to start at right tackle for the first time last week in Ohio State’s game at Nebraska, he kept turning his head the wrong way in practice.

Alabi needed to look to the left when the center made his calls, not right.

“Everything’s backwards,” he said.

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In his previous start last season in the Rose Bowl win over Washington, Alabi took over at left tackle. At that spot, he glanced right, toward the center. It was a minor hitch for the senior. Alabi had few issues as the Buckeyes trounced the Cornhuskers and he was named the team’s player of the game.

“It was a tribute to his attitude and what he's done up to this point,” coach Ryan Day said. “In the world of people just wanting to go to another school or transfer and go into the portal and try to run to someplace else, this is a guy who stuck with it, kept a great attitude, and when the team called on him, he stepped up and played really well.”

He could reprise the role if Branden Bowen, who missed the game because of an undisclosed injury, does not return Saturday against Michigan State. The team was scheduled to release its status report and depth chart Friday.

For most of Alabi’s career, he has been a backup, hoping for a chance to start. It proved to be a long wait.

“It's tough, it's not easy,” Alabi said. “I'm not going to sit here and say, 'Oh yeah, it's easy to sit around and not start.’ I obviously want to start, but I know my role.”

His niche might be something of a pinch-hitter for the Buckeyes, able to line up on both sides of the offensive line. He filled in for Thayer Munford in the Rose Bowl when the left tackle had a back injury. Alabi said he was prepared if needed again.

“My expectation is just to always stay ready,” Alabi said, “no matter when my number is called. I tell myself, 'Make sure you're ready, because if you're not ready, things can go bad.' That's my mindset right now.”

Day suggested his role could expand, even if Bowen returns to the lineup. Alabi proved he could play at “high level,” Day said, and he remained open to rotating offensive linemen.

“He'll continue to play,” Day added.

Fields, Dobbins treat

linemen to meal

After the win at Nebraska, quarterback Justin Fields and running back J.K. Dobbins treated the starting offensive linemen to some grub at Benihana.

The stop was a show of appreciation for their pass protection and blocking in the running game.

“It was good hanging out with all those guys,” Fields said, “and just kind of rewarding them for what they've done.”

Among the linemen, right guard Wyatt Davis said left guard Jonah Jackson and Alabi ate the most.

Hamstring slowed

Teague in camp

Redshirt freshman running back Master Teague said this week that a hamstring injury had caused him to miss part of preseason camp. The injury had not previously been disclosed.

“It definitely had an effect, but I took a lot of mental reps and tried to watch a lot of film, things like that,” Teague said. “I think that helped me a lot.”

Teague still cracked the rotation for the season opener, before taking over as the primary backup. He has rushed for 326 yards and three touchdowns over five games.

jkaufman@dispatch.com

@joeyrkaufman

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