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Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins won't have an easy day against Cincinnati. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Question Of The Day

J.K. Dobbins ball security, running style will get tested by Cincinnati

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For all the hype about the offseason success and focus J.K. Dobbins brought with him into this season, the Ohio State running back didn’t have quite the season opener he or the coaching staff probably expected.

His 91 yards on 21 carries weren’t all that impressive by many standards, especially considering 17 of those yards came on one carry. He seemed to be pressing for the big play like he was last season. But that wasn’t the issue Ohio State coach Ryan Day had with the way Dobbins carried the ball in the season opening win over Florida Atlantic.

“[The fumble] is inexcusable,” Day said. “The one that J.K. spins on, the ball pops out. That cannot happen. We have to get that fixed.”

Day’s two principles heading into the game were tackling and ball security, and those came out as a mixed bag. Ohio State tackled well. But the Buckeyes surely didn’t anticipate their back-to-back 1,000-yard running back to be the culprit of a turnover, even more so when starting a first-time quarterback and a new crew of wide receivers.

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J.K. Dobbins and the Ohio State offense struggled in the season opener after the first four drives. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

But when Dobbins spun and tried to make a play, he coughed the ball up, something Day knows Dobbins can correct.

“When he spun out of that, he puts himself at high exposure,” Day said. “Any time you spin, you’re putting yourself in an exposed [spot]. We just teach him on that end. He’s pretty good. For the most part when he was running, that ball was locked away. I think he was crushed when it happened. You could see it in his body language.

“I know J.K. He’s going to bounce right back from that and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

So what does a bounce-back performance look like from one of the Big Ten’s best backs? The likelihood of Dobbins fumbling the ball away again against Cincinnati is low, and he might be on pace for his first 100-yard running performance since last season’s 200-yard game against Maryland.

But Cincinnati’s defense will be a tougher test than Florida Atlantic posed, making the task even more difficult for Dobbins to find room on the ground.

If J.K. Dobbins wants to return to his freshman year form and get back to the way he wants to carry the football, ball security will be a good start. And finding lanes for a big day on the ground against the stout Cincinnati defense could go a long way in determining how Dobbins looks moving forward.

Lettermen Live: Ohio State faces first test against Cincinnati
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