Stepping up to the mic Monday for the usual press conference, Ryan Day once again looked like a savvy veteran fielding questions from the assembled media.
Such a task probably isn't too difficult coming off a 77-31 win but it is, frankly, quite refreshing to get real, thoughtful answers from the man at the podium.
Of the many questions Day addressed this week, there were a few about Ohio State's talented running backs, Mike Weber and J.K. Dobbins, that drew the most interest from yours truly.
Q. Following Saturday you mentioned the 50/50 split for J.K. and Mike. How necessary is it to make sure you don't need to pull one of those guys out for a series, because you want to keep that tempo? I think it was only one drive when you had the first team in that you switched in between from one back to another, do you need those guys to go that full drive to have that tempo going?
RYAN DAY: Good question. We just talked about that in meetings. Sometimes when you go with a series that there is four plays. They're just rolling. You know, we had a couple of those drives. But then if it gets into six, seven, eight, nine play range, it also depends on what he's involved in. If he just had a run for ten, and he turns around and runs the ball over here for another ten, and now you get to play four and five, and he starts to show fatigue, then that might be a time to get him out.
So we're communicating on the headset, talking about when we can take a guy in and take a guy out, because when you sub, the referees will show you down. When you don't sub, we can go as fast as they can put the ball down, and the referee gets out of the way. But if we sub, they will slow the game down.
Q. Ryan, obviously Mike Weber had a great day. Were you happy looking back on it, the way that those guys, Weber and J.K. were rotating, and is that what we're likely to see this week?
RYAN DAY: It is, kind of like we talked about going in, I keep saying it's a two-headed monster. You've got two guys going there that are really, really talented. Sometimes it is the way that the play was blocked, you know, where we got Mike to the safety a couple of times, but Mike, you know, made those plays count.
He made those safeties miss on several occasions. So he was running downhill, but J.K. played well, as well, so we will continue with that kind of rotation and they need each other. Like we said, same thing. When you are playing -- I think we had 91 plays to film, I don't know how many of those were penalties but it was high. You need the play depth. And then you saw Brian and Master get in there and also run the ball when they had a chance as well, so good group as well.
As fans, it's easy to clamor for one guy or the other to check in from the comfort of our couches but as Day noted, when to rotate is a complicated decision.
There's something to be said for trying to give both backs the touches they deserve but trying to balance that against letting a guy get into a rhythm. The added twist, one maybe not everyone thinks about and Day articulated very well, is how subbing in the middle of a drive will slow down the tempo which if Saturday is any indication, could be a problem knowing the Buckeyes want to play fast.
Examining the stats from the last six games, which is a number I picked mostly because that's when Weber really looked to be 100% following injury, you can see that a fairly even distribution in carries isn't always easy to achieve. In fact, it shouldn't be the number one priority especially in situations where one of the two has the hot hand.
|DATE||OPPONENT||DOBBINS RUSHING OUTPUT||WEBER RUSHING OUTPUT||COMBINED RUSHING OUTPUT|
|9/1/18||OREGON STATE||15 FOR 74, 4.9 AVG, 0 TD||20 FOR 186, 9.3 AVG, 3 TD||35 FOR 260, 7.4 AVG, 3 TD|
|12/29/17||USC||13 FOR 39, 3.0 AVG, 0 TD||5 FOR 18, 3.6 AVG, 0 TD||18 FOR 57, 3.1 AVG, 0 TD|
|12/2/17||WISCONSIN||17 FOR 174, 10.2 AVG, 0 TD||4 FOR 6, 1.5 AVG, 0 TD||21 FOR 180, 8.6 AVG, 0 TD|
|11/25/17||MICHIGAN||15 FOR 101, 6.7 AVG, 1 TD||12 FOR 57, 4.8 AVG, 1 TD||27 FOR 158, 5.9 AVG, 2 TD|
|11/18/17||ILLINOIS||12 FOR 51, 4.3 AVG, 1 TD||11 FOR 108, 9.8 AVG, 2 TD||23 FOR 159, 6.9 AVG, 3 TD|
|11/11/17||MICHIGAN STATE||18 FOR 124, 6.9 AVG, 0 TD||9 FOR 162, 18.0 AVG, 2 TD||27 FOR 286, 10.6 AVG, 2 TD|
As illustrated, at least one of the two went for at least 100 yards in five of the six games with both going over the century mark in the blowout of Michigan State.
Interestingly, just three of the six games, including last weekend against Oregon State, saw the carries between them separated by five or less with a high-disparity of 13 against Wisconsin as Dobbins stole the show.
Typically, it was Weber on the short end of the carries stick as he tallied less than 10 attempts in three of the last six games though the Michigan State game is a bit of an anomaly since he was probably tired from maximizing those nine attempts to the tune of an 18.0 yards per carry clip thanks to touchdown jaunts of 47 and 82 yards.
With the variables Day noted combined with the fact it doesn't appear Dwayne Haskins will come anywhere close to the 165 attempts J.T. Barrett logged a season ago, it will be interesting to watch how the additional carries are managed between two elite running backs.