Urban Meyer: J.K. Dobbins Deserves The Ball

By James Grega on November 6, 2017 at 3:11 pm
Urban Meyer

Trailing 31-17 early in the third quarter, Ohio State wasn't in too terrible of shape against Iowa. 

The Buckeyes had outgained the Hawkeyes, and forced a three-and-out to open the third quarter, before starting their first possession of the second half near midfield. 

Running back J.K. Dobbins, who earned just five carries in the first half, got the call to open the second half for Ohio State. He gained a respectable four yards to set up a 2nd-and-6 from the Ohio State 46-yard line.

He did not carry the ball for the rest of the game. 

The freshman finished with six carries and five receptions against the Hawkeyes, something Urban Meyer said Monday was due to the situation Ohio State was in. 

"He should have more than six carries, but we got behind and started throwing it a lot," Meyer said. 

In a similar situation against Penn State, however, Ohio State didn't forget about its freshman phenom altogether. 

Trailing 35-20 with 7:21 to play in the third quarter in that game, Dobbins earned a total of five carries, picking up 24 yards, before Ohio State was forced to throw the football in order to catch up. 

Meyer said the coaching staff has since had conversations about the number of touches Dobbins earned against Iowa. 

"Just the way the game materialized in that third quarter, there wasn't a whole lot of runs after that point," Meyer said. "But those are certainly conversations. J.K. deserves the ball."

Meyer also noted that quarterback J.T. Barrett was forced to keep the ball on certain occasions due to Iowa's defense taking away the running back on zone-read plays. He referred to the quarterback run plays as a "get-out-of-jail-free card" for Ohio State, despite four out of the Buckeyes' last five losses coming when Barrett carries the ball more than the running backs (not including Ohio State's final drive against Iowa). 

"A lot of times when you're struggling, that's your kind of get-out of-jail-free card. I can see that now that you brought that up, that's not by intent," Meyer said. "And a lot of those are scrambles. When you're behind and you start throwing the ball, you're going to get some pressures where the guy's going to run a little bit."

Of Barrett's 14 carries, seven came on zone-reads, five came on designed quarterback runs, one was a sack and just one was a scramble. 

​Zone-read plays are designed for the running back, with the quarterback option to pull the ball if the defensive end crashes down the line of scrimmage. If teams are going to force Barrett to pull the ball, Meyer said that the coaching staff needs to find ways to get Dobbins the ball on plays that do not involve a quarterback read, in order to give their star running back more opportunities to make plays. 

"Those are all things we have to game plan and continue to work and find ways to give handoffs to the tailback," Meyer said. 

Since carrying the ball 29 times in a 49-21 win over Indiana, Dobbins has been a forgotten man of sorts in Ohio State's backfield. He has yet to earn more than 14 carries in a game since the victory in the season opener, and his 51 yards on six carries against Iowa were both season lows. 

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