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Football: Two running backs, previewing Maryland from Urban Meyer’s Tuesday teleconference

Ohio State redshirt senior quarterback J.T. Barrett (16) hands the ball off to redshirt sophomore running back Mike Weber (25) in the third quarter against Rutgers on Sep. 30. Ohio State won 56-0. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo Editor

For the first time all season, Ohio State was able to effectively use both redshirt sophomore running back Mike Weber and freshman running back J.K. Dobbins in the same game for multiple drives in Saturday’s 56-0 win over Rutgers.

Moving forward, head coach Urban Meyer said on the Big Ten coaches teleconference he would like to use both of them in the backfield at the same time.

“They’re that quality of players when you put your best 11 up on the board, those two names surface,” Meyer said. “Our obligation is to play the best players and you know, last week we really didn’t get the repetition we wanted with either one of them.”

Weber finished the game with 44 rushing yards on 10 carries and three rushing touchdowns, while Dobbins had only six carries, but totaled 53 yards on the ground.

The team will not always be able to use both running backs at once. When Meyer is forced to choose one over the other, he said the indicator of who is performing the best would be to see what kind of energy level the two backs have and who is displaying the best ball security.

“That’s one position that’s fairly easy to find out a guy’s in a rhythm. Just the demeanor, the way [the running back] handles himself and obviously the production,” he said. “You can tell, like, it’s not much different than if the fan when you’re watching the game and you can feel every time that guy touches the ball, or even you just feel them on the field.”

Here are some additional notes from the teleconference:

On Dante Booker’s improvement: “I do believe he struggled a little bit. Wasn’t so much from the injury, just getting back in the flow of things. The injury was fine, it’s just when you miss that much time and Book is one of those guys that we’ve never had to worry about him going hard or worry about him. He’s a pleaser, he wants to do everything right and sometimes you paralyze yourself because you over-analyze everything instead of just playing four to six [seconds], a to b.”

On Booker being named defensive player of the week: “Oh everybody loves him, including myself and the players respect him because they know how hard he works and how much Ohio State football means to him, so it was a big cheer for him and you know, just the way you want it.”

On Dwayne Haskins: “He went to a smaller, very good high school, but a smaller high school. And I think the competition was not like it was [here]. Sort of took him some time to adjust to the speed and aggressiveness, et cetera. He’s growing up, he’s still growing as a player, a quarterback. Game experience is priceless for a guy like that and he’s really handled it very well.”

On Maryland quarterback Max Bortenschlager against Minnesota: I think he was extremely efficient with the quick passing game, getting the ball out and then obviously he had some big runs. You know Minnesota going into that was one of the top defenses in America and I thought he did excellent. But he was also, now he’s established himself as a starter and you see that, with a talented guy, you see that development work. Our … defense staff has got a lot of respect for him.”

On impressive Maryland players: “I think the skillset of the offensive players, the six-out and their returner [D.J. Moore], he’s obviously very involved in the kicking game. So the skill positions on the receiver and the running back is very patient and great acceleration. And on defense, just another year in the system of coach [D.J.] Durkin and the understanding of that 3-4 style defense they play and the activity of the defensive front. That’s what catches my eye.”

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