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Today is Wednesday, Nov. 9, and this is your Ohio State Wake-Up Call.
Running with good company
Buckeyes RB Mike Weber has filled the shoes left by Ezekiel Elliott very nicely. Averaging six yards a rush, Weber has eclipsed 100 rushing yards in three of his nine career games as a Buckeye and scored seven times.
Those numbers are solid for any Ohio State running back. But for a redshirt freshman in Columbus, they are historic. With 842 yards rushing in his first year, Weber is 158 yards away from rushing for 1,000 yards — and joining a very exclusive club.
— Buckeye Fans Only (@buckeyefansonly) November 8, 2016
In Ohio State history, only two backs have rushed for more than 1,000 yards in their freshman season, and Weber is in pretty good company. Robert Smith rushed for 1,126 yards in 1990, a dozen years before Maurice Clarett rushed for 1,237 in Ohio State’s 2002 BCS Championship season.
With three games to go, Weber has the chance to rush his way into the Ohio State history books. In its next two games, the Ohio State offense faces the Nos. 8 and 12 rushing defenses in the Big Ten in Michigan State and Maryland, respectively. Weber could be in for two big games before he has to face Michigan’s No. 2 ranked rush defense (and No. 10 in the nation).
A look at Maryland’s rush offense
If there is one thing that is going Maryland’s way this season, it’s the Terrapins rushing attack. The Terps have the third-best rushing offense in the Big Ten, averaging 232.7 rushing yards per game. And they’re doing it at a clip of 5.4 yards per carry with 21 rushing scores, fifth in the Big Ten.
Of course, it helps when you have two solid running backs whose numbers are nearly identical:
Ty Johnson, sophomore — 69 carries, 635 yards, 4 TDs
Lorenzo Harrison, freshman — 88 carries, 633 yards, 5 TDs
The biggest thing that separates them is their explosiveness and consistency. Johnson averages a whopping 9.2 yards per rush and has three games with at least 115 yards. That includes a 204-yard, 2-touchdown explosion against Purdue, when he did his damage on just 7 carries. However, he also has three games with less than 25 yards rushing, and all of them have come in the Terps’ last five games. Last week against Maryland, he tied his season-low with just 11 yards and reportedly left the game with an undisclosed injury that has him questionable going into Saturday’s game against the Buckeyes.
No Johnson? No problem. Maryland has its own impressive freshman back in Harrison. He averages only 7.2 yards per carry and has eclipsed 100 yards just once, but he also has only with less than 60 yards rushing.
Maryland's leading rushers, Ty Johnson and Lorenzo Harrison are averaging 9.2 and 7.2 yards per carry respectively.
— Lori Schmidt (@LoriSchmidt) November 7, 2016
Now with the Ohio State rush defense, you always have to look at the opposing quarterback’s rushing ability. This week, however, that remains a huge question as starter Perry Hills was injured last week and his status for this week is uncertain. Tyrrell Pigrome has typically served as the backup, but last week Maryland coach DJ Durkin replaced Hills with Caleb Rowe. The trio has combined for just 333 yards on 121 carries (2.8 yards per carry) but do have 7 total rushing scores.
Even though Maryland’s success in the rushing game may seem daunting for Ohio State, let’s remind each other of how the Buckeyes rush defense did against Nebraska. The Cornhuskers only ran for only 78 yards on 24 carries last Saturday, just 3.3 yards per carry.
Maryland’s rushing attack has been impressive. However, this three-game stretch against No. 3 Michigan, No. 5 Ohio State and No. 19. Nebraska may bring those numbers back down a bit.
A new look at punt returner
According to the two-deep depth chart for Saturday’s game against Maryland, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer will not have H-back Dontre Wilson returning punts. Wilson has averaged barely 6 yards per punt return and last week lost a fumble against the Huskers. Instead, the Buckeyes are bringing in their big weapons.
H-back Curtis Samuel and WR K.J. Hill are both listed as first strings at punt returner this week. Hill has not returned a punt this season while Samuel’s only punt return was a 5-yard loss.
However, if Samuel is anything like this iguana, he should be a pretty good punt returner.
— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) November 7, 2016
Jim Harbaugh loves Spongebob
The news around Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh this week has been connected to cartoons. First, ‘The Simpsons,” as the cool kids say, threw shade at the Wolverines coach.
Then, Harbaugh went on a radio show and confessed his love for another cartoon.
Jim Harbaugh is all about SpongeBob. ? pic.twitter.com/RzMUypckCx
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 8, 2016
We will see if Harbaugh is “ready” for his team’s trip to Ohio Stadium on Nov. 26.
- Michigan QB considered transferring
- Kirby Hocutt thinks Washington more deserving of No. 4 than Ohio State
- Big Ten teams control their own destinies
- Interesting goal for Nebraska defense
- MSU to get visit from USC commit