As No. 3 Ohio State prepares for a Week 7 game against Minnesota, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said in the Big Ten Teleconference there needs to be something that changes in the running game.
He said the offensive coaches have talked about everything, including placing both sophomore running back J.K. Dobbins and redshirt junior running back Mike Weber on the field at the same time more often.
However, he said that’s not the major issue of why the running game needs to improve. It’s the defensive sets Ohio State running backs are facing.
“Everybody is packed in there on us, so somehow we have to get out of that,” Meyer said. “There’s a variety of ways to do that. One’s throwing the ball a bit more, one’s trying to get on the edge a bit more … as opposed to slamming up in there all the time.”
In Saturday’s 49-26 win over Indiana, Ohio State rushers averaged 3.2 carries, with Dobbins recording 82 yards on 26 touches with a rushing touchdown.
Meyer also said there is no update on the status of freshman running back Brian Snead. Snead has been practicing with Ohio State, but has not been with the team on game days after not traveling with the team to Arlington, Texas, to face TCU on Sept. 15 because of what Meyer referred to as “disciplinary actions.”
Penalties hurt Ohio State
Despite coming out of the first six games of the season with wins, Ohio State has still struggled with penalties in the first half of the season.
The Buckeyes are No. 118 in the nation, averaging 8.5 penalties per game and have recorded 80.83 penalty yards per game, which is No. 119 in the country.
Meyer said this is an area of concern for his team moving forward.
“I’m not one of those guys that goes crazy on penalties, especially when you are playing aggressively, etc., but that is far too many,” Meyer said. “That’s something we have addressed constantly.”
Meyer said the main area of concern is penalties in the kicking game, saying that is the point where he loses his mind because those penalties are “devastating.”
Ohio State to face top Minnesota defense
Meyer and the Ohio State offense will face a Minnesota defense of which the head coach thinks very highly.
Through five games, the Golden Gophers have allowed 23.4 points per game, with opponents averaging 324.2 yards of offense per game, third-best in the Big Ten behind Michigan and Iowa.
Minnesota has been effective in defending the pass game, as one of four teams in the conference to allow fewer than 200 yards passing per game, with opposing quarterbacks completing 57.7 percent of passes.
What makes Meyer the most concerned is what the Golden Gophers do defending what he considers the best part of the Ohio State offense: the big play.
“They don’t, big plays, they are one of the best teams in the country in giving up big plays, they keep it all in front of them,” Meyer said. “We are kind of a big play offense. That’s the biggest challenge I see right now.”
Ohio State will play Minnesota in Ohio Stadium at noon on Oct. 13.