Countdown Until THE GAME 2018

Friday, February 24, 2017

2017 Ohio State Spring Football Preview: A Tour Of Redemption – Running Backs Preview

"In the time of darkest defeat, victory may be nearest." ~ William McKinley

I have to give some props to President McKinley.  Born in Niles, Ohio, McKinley was the last American President to have served in the military in The Civil War, so McKinley certainly knew what he was talking about when it came to defeats and victory.

To say that the 2016 Ohio State football season ended with a thud is an understatement.  While I certainly believed Clemson was capable of defeating Ohio State in The 2016 Fiesta Bowl, I never thought Ohio State would be so thoroughly outplayed, and, let's be honest Ohio State fans, outcoached.  

As badly as I felt about that loss on New Year's Eve, the Ohio State coaches and players felt the sting of that loss much more so.  Dramatic overhauls along the coaching staff, combined with early departures of players for the 2017 NFL Draft, have Ohio State with questions to answer as spring football begins in Columbus on March 7th.

For the next several weeks, I will be writing position group previews, leading up to the Ohio State Spring Football Game in Ohio Stadium on April 15th, 2017. These position groups will be ranked, from least to most concern, as I perceive them. It is entirely possible that my concerns, as well as the coaching staff’s concerns, will be reevaluated after the spring game.

8th - Running Back
Players Lost:  Technically, no running backs have been lost, but H-Backs Curtis Samuel and Dontre Wilson both carried the ball for Ohio State in 2016.  Wilson carried the ball only 16 times for 78 yards and 1 touchdown, but Samuel wound up with 97 carries for 771 yards and 8 touchdowns.  Nearly a thousand yards of rushing, and several timely touchdowns, will be lost heading into 2017.

Returning Players/Incoming Players:  Mike Weber (Redshirt Sophomore), Demario McCall (Sophomore), Antonio Williams (Redshirt Freshman/Sophomore?), J.K. Dobbins (Freshman)
A few things to keep in mind for this position group...
  • Mike Weber returns for his redshirt sophomore season after rushing for 1096 yards on 182 carries and 9 touchdowns.  Weber heads into 2017 as the starter, but should be prepared for other players to supplement the rushing attack as the season progresses.
  • Demario McCall played sparingly as a true freshman in 2016, but impressed with 270 yards on 49 carries and 3 touchdowns.  McCall will be given first crack at the H-Back position, but could also factor into the running back rotation.
  • The battle for carries between Antonio Williams and J.K. Dobbins should be intense this spring and summer.  Williams played against Rutgers in 2016, with 6 carries for 28 yards, but did not play again during the 2016 season.  The reason I have a question mark next to Williams' eligibility is I thought I read that Ohio State Head Coach Urban Meyer was going to try to get a redshirt for Williams; I am guessing more information will be available once spring practice begins.  Dobbins enrolled early, and will be eager to impress the coaching staff this spring.  Look for either Williams or Dobbins to emerge as the primary backup to Weber by the conclusion of spring practice.
The 2016 Ohio State football season did not end on a positive note.  Spring practices in 2017 can show the Ohio State coaches, players, and fans that the 2017 season will not end in a similar fashion.

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