Skull Session: The Best Use of Mike Weber, Curtis Samuel Invests in His Hands, and the Voice of the Buckeyes

By D.J. Byrnes on June 27, 2018 at 4:59 am
Baron Browning chases the June 27 2018 Skull Session

Michigan last beat a non-interim-coached Ohio State team in 2003, a year that looked like this:

Wild year in American history, for sure.


​Word of the Day: Fractious.

 BEST WAY TO USE A WRECKING BALL? I don't envy Tony Alford and Urban Meyer this season. Mike Weber and J.K. Dobbins both feel they're the best running back in America, and there are only so many runs a team can execute before it becomes a philosophical liability.

Unfortunately for Weber, injuries hampered his redshirt sophomore campaign, and Dobbins went on to prove he can carry shoulder the load.

The question becomes, what's the best way to integrate a healthy Weber back into the offense in a way that booms the team in the optimal way?


The Buckeyes showed only the briefest glimpse of what that two-tailback personnel grouping might look like in the Cotton Bowl, with the play ironically going to H-back Parris Campbell — but gaining 21 yards thanks to the focus on Weber and Dobbins. Ohio State essentially had four different rushing options coming off that one play with the threat of the quarterback thrown in as well, and that’s yet another way this collection of talent Meyer has assembled can toy with defenses.

The other, more traditional way would be to simply rotate in the primary role to keep both Dobbins and Weber fresh and healthy. There’s the age-old debate about riding the hot hand or allowing a rusher to find a rhythm, but Ohio State’s rushing attack was at its best last season with Dobbins in the featured role complemented by the secondary punch from Weber. The Michigan State game is the ideal blueprint for that workload, with Dobbins handling 18 carries and Weber turning his 9 attempts into 162 yards with a pair of touchdowns.

Ohio State should put in a triple-option package featuring Tate Martell, Weber, and Dobbins in the I-Formation. After tantalizing Buckeye fans with a two-back package all year, Meyer may owe us this one. And don't tell me Woody Hayes wouldn't be beaming if Martell, Weber, and Dobbins all went for over 100 yards rushing in a win over Michigan.

 SAMUEL WANTS TO EVOLVE. I predicted Curtis Samuel would have more yards from scrimmage in 2017 than fellow Panthers pick Christian McCaffrey. I, uh, lost that bet.

We haven't heard the last from Samuel, who recently purchased his own JUGS machine to improve his catching.


“The best investment is investing in yourself,” Samuel said of his new mechanical quarterback while walking off the field after the final day of minicamp. “So I had to do it for myself.”

The Panthers didn’t get much from their second-round investment last year. Samuel caught just four passes for 12 yards as he battled a strained hamstring and sore back through his first six games. Then came a healthier four-week stretch where he totaled 11 receptions for 103 yards including a five-catch first half on Monday Night Football against the Dolphins. But Samuel’s season ended on his next target, a perfectly thrown ball from Cam Newton that hit Samuel in the chest. As the ball fell to the turf in the end zone, Miami safety Reshad Jones fell on Samuel, breaking a bone and causing ligament damage in Samuel's left ankle. So just as it appeared he was starting to settle in, Samuel's season was over.

Drops aren’t an official NFL stat, but according to FOX Sports, Samuel had two in 23 targets as a rookie. That’s not a large sample size, so the jury's still out on Samuel’s hands. And because his conversion from running back to wide receiver was cut short last year, he’s still working on one of the basics.

The top people in their professions — and this is blogger advice true about non-sports professions, too — realize they can always improve their craft no matter what heights they've attained.

Unfortunately the human ego derails most people at some point. But nobody has ever accused Samuel of having one of those.

 PAUL KEELS ON BUCKEYE FOOTBALL. I've talked to Buckeye fans that criticize Paul Keels' local calls. None of it holds water with me.

I covered a Luke Fickell presser in 2011 (if that tells you how far Eleven Warriors has come since then). I heard a guy talking behind me in dulcet tones and thought to myself, "That's Paul Keels, baby." It was. 

That's a #brand, and it's one he's built over two decades.


Every big moment in the last 20 years of Buckeye football has been narrated by Paul Keels, and his voice is the first thing that many Buckeye fans associate with Ohio State football games. No one would know the feeling of Saturday mornings in Columbus better than him, and we spent some time talking to him about that feeling, and about what makes college football special.


“It’s not across the board the talent level you see at the professional level but it’s something that allows for more opportunities for the unknown. For the upset that nobody sees coming. For the 16 vs 1 upset that we finally saw in the NCAA tournament this year. I think that college sports really allows people to see some things that, maybe you have a pretty good idea of what’s gonna happen but much more in college sports than in professional sports there’s still the possibility and the atmosphere of a major upset. I think there’s something collegial about it.” - Paul Keels

Upsets can happen in any sport. It's why we love sports.

College football isn't perfect, and I'll be the first to admit it. It's still superior to the NFL because it features state institutions and soul, and it's not controlled by a borderline criminal cartel that could snuff me just for typing that.

 RIP TY HILINSKI. Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski committed suicide in April. Yesterday, Sports Illustrated and NBC dropped a devastating interview with his parents.


Speaking on NBC's "Today,", Hilinski's parents, Mark and Kym, revealed their son had chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) at the time of his death. CTE has been linked to playing football and a recent study found that 99 percent of 202 deceased football players had the condition at the time of death. 

Following Tyler's suicide, the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota contacted the Hilinskis, who agreed to give the hospital their son's brain for autopsy and study. The results stunned the family. 

"The medical examiner said he had the brain of a 65-year-old, which is really hard to take," Mark said on the show. 

I know some folks don't like reading articles like this, but they're necessary. There will only be more of them as science continues to investigate the effect of football on the brain. The good news is coaches and teams continue to make the game, especially practice, safer.

Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. If anybody out there needs to talk about anything, email me for my number.

 MAKE PLAYOFFS, GET RAISE. College football is big business, and schools will reward any coach that takes their pencil-pushing asses to the playoffs for the first time in their career. Coaches can expect a raise north of $1 million dollars.


Urban Meyer, Ohio State: $900,000 raise and six-year extension
To the first champion went the spoils. Meyer was scheduled to make $4.9 million before his deal got re-done. His contract averaged out to $6.5 per year, and the immediate amount in total compensation was $5.8 million for the 2015 season. He was briefly the highest-paid coach in the Big Ten.

The average raise for taking a team to the Playoff for the first time: $1.1 million and a five-year extension.
And this doesn’t even include the performance bonuses every coach has in their contracts for making the Playoff and winning conference titles. 

Players don't go home empty handed. They receive hats and shirts, which are almost as cool as $1 million to 18-22 year-olds.

 THOSE WMDs. A costly kiss: Jury orders man who injured waitress to pay $3 million... A history of modern capitalism through the perspective of the straw... One desperate fan's World Cup odyssey... The neuroscience of pain... The fight for the future of Star Wars.

View 105 Comments