For the past two seasons, Ohio State had a recipe for success in the run game.
Two potential NFL running backs in J.K Dobbins and Mike Weber largely split carries, switching on and off each possession to the tune of 4,036 combined yards.
With Weber heading to the NFL, redshirt freshman running back Master Teague has the opportunity to make a significant impact making plays out out of the backfield as Dobbins’ backup.
Teague seized that opportunity at Saturday’s Spring Game, rushing for a game-high 75 yards on seven carries, including two trips to the endzone.
With a compact 5-foot-11 220 pound frame, Teague’s physical running style has won him favor with the Buckeye front line.
“Master looks great,” sophomore offensive lineman Josh Myers said. “He runs the ball really, really hard and, as an offensive lineman, I love that. I think our run game is gonna be really good.”
That running game will still be led by Dobbins, who rushed for 1,053 yards and 10 touchdowns a season ago and 1,403 yards on 7.2 per carry in 2017.
Without Weber, Dobbins figures to receive the lionshare of handoffs this season, but Weber’s production won’t be easy for one man to make up.
Nearly missing the entire 2017 season with a hamstring tear, Weber still wound up with a team-leading 10 rushing touchdowns on just 101 carries. Last year, Weber almost equalled Dobbins’ rushing yardage on 58 less attempts.
Now Teague, the Murfreesboro, Tennessee native, seems the best candidate to inherit a portion of those touches.
The former four-star recruit played in three games this past season, rushing at a 6.2 yard-per-carry average on his 17 attempts and punching in his first touchdown in Ohio State’s 77-31 demolition of Oregon State on Sept. 1.
His limited playing time behind Dobbins and Weber allowed Teague to redshirt his first year, granting him freshman eligibility for this season and the potential chance to take over the reins as the premier Ohio State tailback if Dobbins decides to go pro after his junior year.
Senior wide receiver C.J. Saunders said, for Teague, supporting teammates is just as important as getting first team reps.
“What I know about Master is that he’s a kid that works hard every single day, a phenomenal teammate,” Saunders said. “He’s always gonna be there to pick you up.”
While Dobbins rested for most of the Spring Game saturday, taking just three carries for nine yards, Teague was able to display both his speed and power on his two touchdowns.
Teague’s first score, the game’s first points after a scoreless first quarter, saw him overpower a strong defensive front on the goalline for a 1-yard touchdown.
In the second half, Teague struck again from 22 yards out without a single touch from the Scarlet defense to put Team Gray up 35-17, which would prove to be the game’s final score.
Both Ohio State quarterbacks looked inconsistent on Saturday, with sophomore Justin Fields connecting on just 4-of-13 pass attempts and redshirt freshman Matthew Baldwin throwing two interceptions.
With two inexperienced quarterbacks vying for the starting spot, the Ohio State offense may rely more on the proven running game.
Saunders said no matter how Teague factors in, his commitment to the team is unwavering.
“I don’t know exactly what the running back situation is gonna be like, but I know he’s going to be a guy that I can lean on in the fall,” Saunders said.