Ryan Donnelly/Land of 10
Master Teague showed solid potential in his first spring game at Ohio State.

Ohio State football: Spring shows Buckeyes backfield in full bloom (and then some)

Austin Ward

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There was already no question that Ohio State’s loaded backfield would make it perhaps the envy of every other program in the country heading into spring, and that was just based on expectations for the 1-2 punch of J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber. Throw in the clear improvement of Antonio Williams as he pushes for more than just a short-yardage role and the addition of early enrollee Master Teague and now the Buckeyes could potentially wind up riding as many as four horses.

And, just for the record, Brian Snead and touted H-back Jaelen Gill aren’t even on campus. It also doesn’t account for Demario McCall, who figures to be involved in the running game in some capacity despite primarily looking like more of a slot receiver at this point. So, if any unit qualifies as having an embarrassment of riches, Ohio State’s collection of tailbacks has to be on the short list.

Ohio State-Tony Alford-running backs coach-Ohio State Buckeyes-Ohio State football-depth chart
Tony Alford has no shortage of candidates to handle the workload for the running game. (Ryan Donnelly/Land of 10)

What exactly will the Buckeyes do with them all? Position coach Tony Alford has proven he can get creative with distributing the workload, and he might have to with Dobbins building off his remarkable freshman campaign and Weber fully healthy after struggling with a hamstring issue last season. Ohio State certainly appears willing to add Williams into that rotation, and with Teague looking mature beyond his years and coming off a spring game that included 73 yards and a touchdown, there obviously isn’t a shortage of options.

Just figuring out what to do with Dobbins and Weber was going to provide something of a challenge. Both are elite rushers with 1,000-yard seasons already on their résumés, and top tailbacks generally want the football in their hands as often as possible. It does help matters that Alford has shown little interest in simply spreading around touches just to keep people happy, and it’s also a bonus that he can refer back to the script the Buckeyes unleashed against Michigan State last season that showed just how dangerous that rotation of running backs can be at its best.

If it were possible to just add a bunch more snaps to the game, Ohio State would surely love to let all of those guys get 15 or 20 carries to show what they can do. Unfortunately it doesn’t work like that, and there’s only one football. That’s going to create a fierce competition for playing time in training camp and heading into the season. And right now, most programs couldn’t even dream of sorting through as many talented options as Ohio State has stockpiled in its backfield.

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