Bri'onte Dunn is Back in the Race at Running Back for Ohio State

By Kyle Rowland on March 30, 2014 at 6:00a
45 Comments

It would be fair if you forgot who Bri’onte Dunn was. He hasn’t appeared in a game since his freshman season, a year he introduced himself as the future Ohio State running back in a season the Buckeyes finished undefeated. That backfield can become clogged, though.

So when Dunn was a healthy redshirt last season, there was reason to believe out of sight meant out of mind. Ezekiel Elliott impressed as a true freshman, Warren Ball finally earned playing time and who could leave out Rod Smith. It looked like things quickly turned upside down for the up-and-coming Dunn.

He opted for a different attitude. Dunn took his scout team reps serious and became a better runner without appearing in a single game. Instead of transferring, which he said was never a possibility, Dunn withstood the competition and enters 2014 as a piece of the offensive playbook.

“Redshirting is tough,” running backs coach Stan Drayton said, “especially after playing your freshman year. We asked him to take a step back in his development and get in the weight room, get stronger and get his body right. He did just that, and now he has another opportunity. He’s hungry again.”

Demotions are never easy, which led to frustration and disappointment for Dunn. But once he understood the reasons behind his redshirt, he became a model teammate. Nearly a year later, he’s vying with a stable of tailbacks to be the No. 1 option.

The reasons why have been on display throughout the spring. Acceleration, vision, speed and elusiveness are all part of Dunn’s repertoire. With one stutter-step in a recent practice, he broke through the heart of the defense and outran the secondary for a 50-yard gain.

“I’m starting to see Bri’onte act like he knows what in the hell is going on, excuse my language.” – Stan Drayton

“Everybody’s in the mix right now. There’s no depth chart right now on the running back side,” Dunn said. “Everybody is going hard and fighting for a spot.

“I’m going four to six seconds from point A to point B like Coach Meyer says. I have to know my plays and just be me. I have to be a physical back, just go do what I do.”

That includes blocking, one of the least favorite activities for running backs. But the 6-foot, 216-pound Dunn doesn’t shy away from contact whether the ball is in his hands or not. Colliding with defensive ends and linebackers is part of the glamorous job description, something Dunn didn’t always embrace.

“I’m starting to see Bri’onte act like he knows what in the hell is going on, excuse my language,” Drayton said in a serious tone. “He’s learned the offense and he’s starting to play fast. We’re starting to see the things that Bri’onte already had within himself, but is now coming through in his execution. It’s just a matter of him becoming a student of the game. Now he’s playing it fast.”

When significant playing time once again became possible, a new Dunn emerged from the shadows. Spirits remained high last year, but he knew adjustments were needed. Dunn averaged more than five yards per carry as a true freshman, even garnering Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors after a 73-yard, one-touchdown outing against Illinois.

Still, instant success doesn’t equate to a career filled with rushing yards and touchdowns. Dunn proved that by starting slowly last spring. It set in motion the events that resulted in his playing time disappearing.

Meyer relayed a message to Dunn: bulk up and learn the playbook. He heeded that advice and approached the spring of 2014 with a newfound hunger.  

Said Drayton: “Now, he’s got another opportunity again.”

45 Comments

Comments

Buckeye419er's picture

We all know that talent or lack there of is NOT a problem here. I just hope that the coaching staff is able to utilize it in a way that gives the team the best opportunity to win games.. ALL OF THEM. lol. I can honestly say I don't care who scores on offense and who makes tackles on defense, just get the job done period. If the team plays up to the level of talent that they have we as fans should have little concerns this coming season.

+8 HS
BroJim's picture

This is good news for Braxton, he should have less carries. Now we have to get the o line on board.

I season my simple food with hunger

+3 HS
osu07asu10's picture

Meyer and Herman have stated numerous times that most of Braxton's runs last year were not by design but were when he chose to scramble and run. In 2012, most were by design.

Braxton can run as little as he wants.

"They don't know what they don't know." - Coach Mick

+2 HS
Seattle Linga's picture

With the horses that we have - he will definitly be more conservative with his runs. EZE DUNN AND SMITH will be the workhorses this year and be punishing the LB's and DB's all season long.

BroJim's picture

While true, Meyer has also stated that he woukd like Miller's to have less carries. Sometimes Miller runs instead of throwing when a better passer could throw, this is what is meant by fewer carries.

I season my simple food with hunger

CGroverL's picture

People seem to always say that about Miller taking off and running. What isn't said enough is that the Buckeye WR units have been less than stellar as there are many dropped passes that plague the passing game. I saw a stat from last season that took into effect Miller's throwaways when receivers weren't open added with on target receiver drops. It brought his completion pct. close to 80% which is big when your supposed weakness is that you can't throw at a 70% clip and your junior year has you at 63.5%. His receiving corps hasn't helped him much at all.

On top of that, even though there are many horses in the RB stable, Miller is most probably the most dangerous weapon and the ball is in his hands on every play. To take his runs away may be counter-productive especially when his best runs seem to be the ones where the pass play breaks down (for whatever reason) and he just tucks and runs.

"I hope they're last in everything"

Thanks, Urb!

+2 HS
BroJim's picture

I'm not saying take his runs away, he just needs less. He wants to run less, the coaches want him to run less. . .

You're right the WR unit has been less than stellar while Miller has been at Ohio State, but it is what it is. At the end of the day Miller was a 63.5% passer, it's a double standard, I known, but it comes with the position. There are always going to be the "what if" question, but that does not get you far. 

I season my simple food with hunger

buckeyepastor's picture

In terms of his production and his opportunity to start, the redshirt was great for him.   Last year, he would have gotten a decent number of in-game reps, but Carlos was so clearly the #1 guy.   Now, he has three full years left beginning with this one in which he appears to be as good and experienced as anyone at running back.  

"Woody would have wanted it that way" 

Chief B1G Dump's picture

He aint Dunn by any means!

+6 HS
buckeyedude's picture

I see whatcha did there, brah.

 

 

+2 HS
BuckeyeJAK's picture

Good to hear he is on board. A 50 yard run because of a stutter step ? Come on Defense get tough !

Mark May is a mental midget

BuckInNashville's picture

If back in 2012 Ed Warriner could make the  offensive line the strength of the team with guys recruited by someone else, he certainly can develop this group. I am more concerned with how Tom Herman will use the speed and talent that's coming out of the woodwork, including Dunn. He hasn't shown me even a glimpse of play calling that gives us a competitive advantage. And don't tell me he's limited by Miller's ability to read a D. That's on the coach as well. Play calling limited by Braxton Miller ?     Child please.

+9 HS
osu07asu10's picture

He hasn't shown me even a glimpse of play calling that gives us a competitive advantage. And don't tell me he's limited by Miller's ability to read a D. That's on the coach as well. Play calling limited by Braxton Miller ?     Child please.'

Did you watch SDSU, Florida A&M, or Cal? Did you notice that we called a similar package with Kenny at QB as we did when Braxton was at QB? That Kenny threw the ball more in those 3 games (28 attempts, 32, attempts, 34 attempts) than all except 1 of Braxton's games last year?

The play calling isn't limited by Braxton but how the plays develop are. Braxton still wants to use his athleticism to bail himself out of situations. He has trouble getting through progressions and missed a number of throws available to him last year. He is more comfortable tucking the ball and running than he is standing in and making throws. 

He took a beating against Clemson but to me it was the first game I saw him play where he was willing to stand in the pocket and take the abuse. He needs to build on that by making the mental leap to a complete pass first qb.

"They don't know what they don't know." - Coach Mick

+3 HS
CGroverL's picture

I get what you are saying, but that Clemson game you mentioned is not what we want to see at all by Miller. He had his worst game of the year running the ball (35 yards on 18 carries) and his passing numbers were acceptable to a point...if it is ok for you to see Miller throw 24 times for 16 completions and 234 yards with 2 TD's and 2 INT's. I think that Miller, with the athletic set he brings, should be over 250 total yards in every game. Against Clemson, he stayed in the pocket, tried to be a passer, and had possibly his worst game of the season with just 252 total yards.

Don't think that I'm not in agreement....I just look at Miller's running ability as a blessing and his best attribute. Is there a QB out there that is as dangerous as Miller when running the ball? I understand that everyone wants Miller to be a pocket passer but that is not what he is. He is a dual threat QB and his running is what makes him a Heisman contender and the best weapon that the Buckeyes have. I think that too many people are trying to make him a pro style pocket passer when that is not the offensive set that Ohio State plays and it is obvious that the kid can beat teams with his legs alone. Instead of looking at his passing numbers and thinking that anything he gets by running is a bonus, we should be looking at it the other way around. The Buckeye offense plays much better when Miller rips off a couple of big runs early. Turning him into a pocket passer just goes against the entire offensive set.

"I hope they're last in everything"

Thanks, Urb!

buckeyeotaku's picture

i think you missed the point of the argument ! everybody loves watching miller run the ball but this is a spread offense, if the QB doesn't get the ball in the hands of other playmakers on the perimeter and downfield then the defense can stack the box and those huge running lanes never exist.

We don't give a damn for the whole state of Bichigan

buckeyedude's picture

This is great news about Dunn. I think he may be the dark horse in a stable of athletic and talented running backs. I assume he was taking notes while watching El Guapo last year?

 

 

Normal Buck's picture

I really like this guy.  We saw some flashes of a great runner his Frosh year, and he was fantastic in phenomenal in extended action against Illinois.  He gets that blocking aspect down, and I think he and EzE are going to be a near-unstoppable force.

Seattle Linga's picture

Agreed - it gives you that "Can't Wait" feeling again.

buckeyepastor's picture

I don't know that any Buckeye fans are particularly worried about the running back position.   We've got a wealth of talent there, with Smith, Elliott, and Dunn all showing us something already with their opportunities the past two years.   At receiver, on the other hand, we have Smith and Spencer as our experienced vets, both of whom in my opinion seem to have hit their ceiling in terms of abilities and were MIA when we needed them most at the end of last year.   We only really need one back at a time to have the "hot hand" in order for our offense to thrive, and we're likely to have at least three.   The big question mark that I want to see answered is what 4-5 guys are going to be serious threats in the passing game.  Because while one "Carlos Hyde"-type talent on the field at a time is enough to make us dangerous in the run game, for the pass game to really be what a championship team needs we need at least three guys that are really elite.   In spite of the 24-0 streak, we haven't had a really strong lineup of receivers since 2010.    In 2011, there was too much out of sync to notice.   In 2012, Braxton's inexperience was thought to be a big part of the equation.  In 2013, we finally saw it as our achilles heel on offense, but Carlos and Braxton helped us ignore it.    Year three for Urban, we need receivers that can get separation.   We need to be able to pass for 250 or better not just against an atrocious Cal defense.   
 

"Woody would have wanted it that way" 

+2 HS
Kyle Rowland's picture

It still comes down to the offensive line. If they can shore everything up on the line, there's enough talent to not have a huge drop off in production from the RB position as a while. Here's the question: when OSU needs two yards on third down, will you have the same confidence you had the past two seasons? Picking up the first down was virtually no issue for the previous OL and Hyde. 

btalbert25's picture

That is the question right there.  I don't think we can possibly answer it until the kids start playing real action though.  We know that Decker was good and Elfien filled in nicely when called upon, but outside of that who knows.  I have confidence that this group will come together nicely, but I also am pretty confident they may struggle a bit.  I'm also not so sure coming into the season people had a ton of confidence that Hyde was going to be a guy you could just say here's the ball go get me 1500 yards either.  It'll be interesting to see how everything comes together.  

I will say, though, I'm far more concerned about the defense than I am the staffs ability to retool the offensive line. 

+1 HS
BeijingBucks's picture

We've got a wealth of talent there, with Smith, Elliott, and Dunn

Don't forget the immortal Rod Jones!

 

 

None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license. ~ John Milton

+4 HS
InvertMyVeer's picture

Hyde will be missed, but I think about this stable of running backs and hybrids and I can't help but feel optimistic. So many playmakers! Won't be room on the field for all of them though. EZE, Dunn and Smith, one of them is going to get the short straw. 

Football is complicated...

+1 HS
Seattle Linga's picture

Oh yeah we also have Samuel and Wilson and Huerman - good luck D-Coordinators. 

There sleepless nights have begun

+1 HS
CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Nice to hear he's been getting it Dunn in the weight room and on scout team.  I'll be pulling for him to get some good playing time this year!

Go Bucks!!

+1 HS
buckeyeradar's picture

Redshirting is not a demotion.  In Dunn's case it was time to mature and get out of Urban's doghouse.  He accepted the challenge and he is competing for touches.  He wants to prove he's an important part of the team.

Buckeye in Texas

Doublecrash's picture

It would be nice if we can get some leads in the first half of the season to get all these guys some game reps to see what they can do. 

Doublecrash

FitzBuck's picture

So can we lineup smith at FB, Dunn at RB, Wilson and EZE at WR to play them all at the same time?  Crap I forgot Ball.  Buckeye problems.

Fitzbuck | Toledo - Ohio's right armpit | "A troll by any other name is still a troll".

+1 HS
Osurrt's picture

Dunn is a model of Hyde at the same point in their OSU careers. By the time he is a senior, he will be bulked up to 230-235 and at absolute beast. Sounds as if Dunn is coming on strong, Elliott is stagnant and Rod Smith again has disappeared. Ball remains the unknown wildcard.

saltybuck61's picture

I am not sure where you are hearing that Rod Smith has disappeared. Several times the coaches have mentioned him as a guy that has been performing well. Many of the fans forget about him, but I wouldn't be surprised if he started next year.

+2 HS
ScarletNGrey01's picture

Will be rooting for Bri'onte to be successful.  Would like to see Rod Smith finish his senior season strong, and Ezekiel Elliott was VERY impressive last season, he seems to be the early favorite to be the featured back IMHO, but we'll see.

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

+1 HS
KingsRite's picture

I don't care who carries the rock as long as they stay hungry. It will be a nice luxury to bring in fresh legs after an opposing D is feeling it.

“I have yet to be in a game where luck was involved. Well-prepared players make plays. I have yet to be in a game where the most prepared team didn't win.” -Urban Meyer-

Seattle Linga's picture

Nice play on words there Omies

Jeremypreemo81's picture

Great to hear he bought into the program 

"“I’m going four to six seconds from point A to point B like Coach Meyer says"

and we have a plethora of rb's and I'm excited to watch them all

southbay's picture

I liked what I saw of this guy and I like what I'm hearing now.  I hope he gets significant playing time this year.  He's a good pass catcher too, as I recall.

ShowThemOhiosHere's picture

I also wasn't sure what would become of Dunn.  Many kids in the situation he was in would at least consider transferring.  But he had a positive attitude, busted his ass, and now he's back in the fold.  Good for him, and hopefully that rubs off on any teammate that might not have that same attitude.  You can never have too many good RBs.

Class of 2010.

+1 HS
TossTrap's picture

Dunn (and all the RBs) should understand what changed for Carlos was the mental side of the game. Last season he ran every play like a man who would inflict ultimate punishment on anyone that got in his way.

First and goal at the five and Arch is getting the ball.

+1 HS
Seattle Linga's picture

With a Non-Stop engine - so determined to make a play every time he got the ball.

BeijingBucks's picture

until i see a video of of one of these kids knocking Stan on his Drayton... I won't believe the Hyde has been replaced.  Get mean, get nasty, and stay out of clubs.

 

 

None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license. ~ John Milton

+4 HS
southbay's picture

BTW did a Heisman Trophy turn up at the Sugar Bar?  Because  I think Carlos may have lost it there, unfortunately.  Not that things aren't turning out very nicely for him, but others would be wise to take note.

+1 HS
Buckeyevstheworld's picture

Hyde wasn't winning the Heisman even if he had played all 14 games.

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

rdubs's picture

He has been the biggest surprise this spring in my opinion.  Warren Ball seemed clearly slotted above him last year and some of the articles I read seemed to indicate that Ball was more explosive and almost as strong.  Great to see Dunn stepping up after so many people wrote him off not even 12 months ago.

MAVBuck's picture

At the end of the day I dont think we see a 1,000 yard rusher this year. I think the staff keeps the offense rolling with fresh backs rotating through. The bulk of the carries will still go between EzE and Dunn but Ball and Smith spell the two here and there. I love what I seen from EzE last year but Dunn is the main guy I'd buy stock in. What he was able to do 2 years ago is exactly what EzE was able to do plus now he has an extra year under his belt as well as a chip on his shoulder for sitting that year out. The guy is going to be a beast for years to come!

SilverState's picture

99 yarder as well:

Two practice observers confirmed Dunn had a 99-yard touchdown run in practice against the No. 1 defense. Dunn took a handoff up the middle, found a small opening and split the defense all the way down the field and ran away from defenders.

Read more: http://www.cantonrep.com/article/20140401/Sports/140409985#ixzz2xg4jPAmo