Ohio State football running back Master Teague looks to show improved vision in 2021
Despite coming off a torn Achilles tendon, Master Teague never endured ill effects from the setback last season.
“I felt comfortable,” he said. “I didn’t feel my Achilles, really.”
But he lamented that the injury altered his offseason preparation. As he readied for a featured role in Ohio State’s backfield, Teague spent months in rehabilitation instead of workouts. He saw few reps in practice and less time in strength and conditioning drills.
That has changed this summer as the Buckeyes running back has gotten a heavier workload in preseason training camp.
“I’m excited about that,” he said. “I was able to be with the team and participate in everything that we’ve done. All the drills. I'm feeling good and looking forward to what's to come.”
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As much as his clean bill of health has allowed him to jockey with freshmen TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams for carries in the upcoming season, it’s also put him in a better position to find success on the field after rushing for 514 yards and eight touchdowns in seven games last fall.
Known as a physical downhill runner over his first three seasons at Ohio State, Teague sees an opportunity to become a more balanced back as a fourth-year junior. He said that additional carries in practice have given opportunities to improve his vision, where he can spot openings in a defense, cut and change direction instead of just steamrolling down the field.
“Not being so one-dimensional to one side,” Teague said. “There's some times where I've missed some cuts on the backside this past year, so I’ve got to make sure my eyes are in the right place and reading the d-line right. I’ve gotten really better on that with certain runs.”
The effort caught the attention of running backs coach Tony Alford in a recent film review with his players. He noticed a sequence from practice in which Teague set up a linebacker before cutting in another direction, spotting an opening on the field.
“He wouldn’t have seen that before,” Alford said. “A lot of it goes back to that patience of understanding schematically where things are going and the timing of pushing a guy.”
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If Teague’s vision is enhanced, leading to some shiftiness, he should be a more productive runner and remain at the top of the pecking order at running back.
“It’s going to help his whole game immensely,” Alford said.
Teague understands the reason for this offseason’s backfield competition despite his status as the incumbent starter. The Buckeyes bring in blue-chip prospects in each recruiting class, and his position is no exception. There are a lot of talented options at running back. He added that the situation has helped him improve, keeping him on his toes.
But it’s also not a high priority.
“I don't try to dwell on that type of thing,” he said. “I just focus on getting better and focus on me.”
Much of his effort has remained on conditioning, holding his weight at 225 pounds, and becoming a more well-rounded runner who can more easily slither through a defense.
Picking up practice reps, he’s making progress and using his expanded vision.
“It comes with experience,” Teague said. “Just getting more comfortable with certain plays. Certain plays, you're better at than others. So there are certain things that the coaches try to do to help you, to make it easier, to make it more understandable, or how this play is supposed to run, or whatever may be the case. But I just feel like I have a better sense of the field, the whole field."