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Challenge to take ‘next step’ starts now for Master Teague

Master Teague-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State football
Ohio State running back Master Teague has the first crack at winning the starting job for the Buckeyes. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Question Of The Day

Challenge to take ‘next step’ starts now for Master Teague

The speculation, debate and conversations about Ohio State never end, and Lettermen Row is always ready to dive into the discussions. All week long, senior writer Austin Ward will field topics about the Buckeyes submitted by readers and break down anything that’s on the minds of the Best Damn Fans in the Land. Have a question that needs to be tackled, like the one today about Ohio State and Master Teague? Send it in right here — and check back daily for the answers.

The hole is unmistakable, so it’s no surprise that the urgency to fill it is already there for Ohio State.

At this time of year still nearly two months away from spring practice, there’s rarely much reason to dive much into the depth chart or for Ryan Day to issue any challenges to specific individuals on his roster. But in his wide-ranging press conference on Wednesday as the Buckeyes start to turn the page to the 2020 season, Master Teague came up a couple times — and it’s no secret why.

Among the early departures to the NFL Draft, J.K. Dobbins certainly isn’t going to be the first or second guy off the board from Ohio State. But he might be the most difficult for the Buckeyes to replace since the defensive line is loaded with talent behind Chase Young and the secondary has Shaun Wade poised to take over for Jeff Okudah. When it comes to an every-down tailback capable of making a case as the best player in America at the position, Dobbins left huge shoes to fill in the backfield.

Teague is going to have the first shot at it. And for most of last season, he looked ready for the challenge as he came off the bench to complement Dobbins with his bruising style, underrated speed and a one-cut approach that allowed him to rack up yardage in bunches. But whether he hit a wall, defenses started to figure him out or he simply wasn’t ready to be the primary threat, Teague faded down the stretch in the biggest games of the season and finished with just 45 yards on 21 combined carries over the last four games — including a zero-touch outing in the Big Ten championship.

Master Teague-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State football

Ohio State running back Master Teague will be looking to build on the positives from last season. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

So, the question during offseason workouts heading into his third year in the program: Are the nearly 850 yards overall last year an indication that Teague is ready for a primetime role or is the door open for Marcus Crowley or Steele Chambers thanks to those late struggles?

“Obviously in the running back room, those guys will be pretty green,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said. “Master played some this year, but we’re going to have to replace J.K. [Dobbins].

“It’s hard with Master because he came into some of those games late in the games and really was a great change of pace. He was downhill. He got through it. And he got to the next level and rolled. But what really didn’t happen for Master this year is in big moments early in the game or — he didn’t get a ton of those carries. J.K. got the meat of those carries. So that’s the next step for Master is now taking on that responsibility and knowing what he’s doing and having some confidence in that, because he does have the ability.”

The Buckeyes have seen that up close and personal, and in the big picture, Teague was one of the most impressive contributors off the bench for a team that was a play or two away from heading to the national title game. But as Ohio State starts building for a return to the College Football Playoff, it obviously knows how significant the challenge of replacing Dobbins is going to be or it wouldn’t already be throwing down a challenge to the next guy in line.

Now it’s up to Master Teague to prove he can handle the job.

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ThojenningsolvBuck68Terry LindquistmcsBrian yakata Recent comment authors
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mc22
mc22

Don’t sleep on Crowley. He is a mix tape of Teague and Chambers.
Seems like it will be more RB by committee early on – and if Crowley’s knee is 100% – look out.

Nick
Nick

Crowley was tough. Master probably doesn’t get caught from behind on that 2nd long run JK broke.

Brunstar
Brunstar

MT3 will run for 1,500 yards next season, mark it down.

Buck68
Buck68

is it “first shot”, over a wall, step up… or about 210 TODAY’s for each RB competitor [and everyone else on The TEAM]?

With opportunities abounding daily, do we first build our box, and then make sure we rep how to stay in it?

nb: the guy with the ‘best size’ for DE… was the first to step out the portal?! One might consider distinctions between a ‘door’ and a ‘portal’.

Brian yakata
Brian yakata

Hope we rotate backs. Do not want to burn out teague. Use our depth on wr, oline, and even qb.

Buck68
Buck68

agree Brian – IF a situational/relative advantaging process, not solely some form of ‘it’s your turn’, or averaging carries among contenders….

Brian yakata
Brian yakata

One of the biggest things that separate us from second tier teams is depth. Lets use it. This way if someone gets hurt next man up won’t be coming in from the cold.

Traptnmi
Traptnmi

Am I the only dude that sees Chambers as the most prolific back on this roster? C,mon people, watch the tape and review his limited carries this season. Najee Harris clone fo sho.

Brian
Brian

as many commentors said below, there is a lot to like about them all. I agree with them all that way. One thing I do like about Teague is how fast he turns verticle, and how strong he is plowing, spinning, churning and beating tackles. Did not know he so fast but good news to hear this also, as the one fellow said. As to Bucks comment, I don’t really think it will be just to pass around the reps, but…just how does a coach satisfy so many good runners?
And with the wear and tear situation that has become more to the forefront lately I do wonder if we could see several of these backs throughout the year. Could that be possible?
Would a team, or Ohio State, Day and company do that? Use several backs all year long?
And what about McCall also?isnt he coming back too? I just don’t know, but in my mind it looks good. Question- do any of our backs have great breakaway speed ? I just do not know, have not heard much on that topic yet.

Buck68
Buck68

agree subs should be based on each situation, relative advantaging in matchups, and tactically considering DECEPTION… the greatest ‘Force Multiplier’.

…and several quantitative factors as well.

mcs
mcs

i have faith in the coaches they’ll figure it out it’s all up to the O line how good the RB’s are

Buck68
Buck68

I “have faith”… in the Perfect.

Be cause… ‘my faith’ is just a tad imperfect.

And I have NEVER ‘avoided & minimized’ my short falls by telling ‘the coaches’ to… “figure it all out” and “it’s up to [__________________] how good”.

;-{)}

Terry Lindquist
Terry Lindquist

One thing often over looked is Teague came in when the game was decided, the other team knew we were just going run out the clock with the run and with 2nd and 3rd team offensive linemen in the game. He may do better with the first team and the pass as a legitimate option.

Buck68
Buck68

Things I often overlook… are legion

…and keep repeating themselves in some celestial Diversity Happening…. LOL

Like… didn’t Archie ‘have’ around 800 yards his frosh season? Were those yards ‘enough’ but MTIII’s not? LOL

Thojenningsolv
Thojenningsolv

I just saw a nice video clip on SSPIN about Eddie George mentoring the Alabama back Derrick Henry from the Titans. His biggest suggestion was to use the power and aggressiveness with force – run inside hard and with speed and power. It will wear on the D and all that pounding will pay off with some big runs. Henry took it to heart and after the George intervention – Henry has led the NFL in rushing and TD’s. Maybe we should call the Big E and have him talk with young Mr. Teague.

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Austin Ward is Lettermen Row's senior writer covering Ohio State football and basketball. The award-winning journalist has covered the Buckeyes since 2012, spending five of those seasons working for ESPN after previous stints at the Casper Star-Tribune and Knoxville News Sentinel.

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