COLUMBUS — Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins was challenged leading into Saturday’s game.
Coach Ryan Day wasn’t pleased with Dobbins’ performance last week against Florida Atlantic. Dobbins knew that, so how did the junior running back respond? With a dominant effort in Ohio State’s 42-0 win over in-state rival Cincinnati inside Ohio Stadium.
Dobbins toted the ball 17 times for 141 yards, his first triple-digit rushing performance since last year’s Maryland game, and he zoomed past defenders for a 60-yard score midway through the second quarter, the second longest run of his career. The big day from one of Ohio State’s most crucial playmakers was just what Dobbins needed to get back on track.
“I think J.K. was irritated all week,” Day said. “Nothing fit right last week, just didn’t feel right. It was one of those strange opening games, but we worked hard this week. [Offensive line coach Greg Studrawa] and the [offensive] line did a great job. I’m not sure if it was one snap, they didn’t blink. They were blitzing from sideways, every which way. The guys were covering it up. They hit us on a couple early on, but then we started to cover them up.
“And J.K., when he got to the second level he was rolling. I thought it was great getting J.K. going and the offensive line did an unbelievable job. Tribute to Kevin Wilson and Stud and all the guys who worked on that this week.”
But even with the corrections in the run game and a more productive day, Dobbins isn’t satisfied. He wants more.
“It’s great,” Dobbins said. “But I have to keep getting better. Maybe next week, I’ll have a longer run.”
Dobbins may have finally put his struggles from both last season and last week behind him. But Dobbins wasn’t the only Ohio State player who had a big day. Lettermen Row has some Buckeye Leaves to hand out for Ohio State and its dominant win.
RB J.K. Dobbins
The thing that Dobbins did well that won’t show up in many headlines: Block. Dobbins delivered a crippling chop block to open a huge hole that Justin Fields could have walked through near the goal line. The block allowed Fields to score an easy touchdown and widen the Ohio State advantage. Plays like that won’t show up in Dobbins’ final line, but it’ll earn him a couple pats on the back and praise during the film sessions this week. He called making a block like that “ecstatic,” and he said it’s just as fun as scoring a long touchdown run. Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but either way, Dobbins showed versatility in the win.
LB Malik Harrison
This award could go to Chase Young every week. But Malik Harrison earned it with his performance in the win over Cincinnati. Harrison seemed to be all over the field. While he didn’t deliver a huge hit over the middle like he did last week, Harrison racked up better numbers than he did against Florida Atlantic. He finished with five total tackles. He assisted on a sack. He had 2.5 tackles for loss. Harrison could have gone to the NFL after last season, but with games like he had against Cincinnati, Ohio State will continue to be lucky Harrison chose to stick around for another year with the Buckeyes.
DE Chase Young
As dominant as Chase Young was off the edge against an overmatched Cincinnati offensive line, his impact was possibly most noticed on special teams. With Ohio State leading 7-0, the Bearcats drove 12 plays and lined up to kick a field goal. But Young preserved the Ohio State shutout with his hands, blocking the 32-yard field goal attempt. If Young didn’t get his hand on that ball, Ohio State wouldn’t have shut the Bearcats out, and the Buckeyes might not be feeling as good about their defensive effort in the win.