Ohio State’s offense did not revolve around the traditional run game in 2016, but when given the opportunity to block for Mike Weber, the line was more than up for the challenge.
Weber, stepping in for Ezekiel Elliott as the Buckeyes’ starting running back, averaged 6.1 yards per carry a season ago and he owes a lot of that success to the dominant performance of his offensive line.
Using our new heat map tool, we went back and charted where Weber was first touched by the defense on each of his carries in 2016. The heat map below shows the results:
note: map does not include a handful of untouched runs and runs that went untouched beyond 20 yards
The rate at which Mike Weber was allowed to get past the line of scrimmage is remarkable, especially when comparing this performance to other running backs we have charted (check out Nick Chubb and Leonard Fournette here).
But this raises an obvious question, which many Buckeyes fans asked throughout the 2016 season: why didn’t Weber get more touches?
Weber was given 20 carries just once in 2016, and didn’t even reach 15 carries in any of the Buckeyes final six games.
There certainly could have been other factors going on behind the scenes that led to the decision to limit Weber’s work load, but the offensive line was clearly up to the challenge of blocking for Weber in a more traditional rushing attack.
New Buckeyes offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson gave Devine Redding 253 carries a season ago at Indiana. A few years before that he rode Tevin Coleman for 270 carries. So a change in game plan is certainly a possibility in 2017 and the Buckeyes offensive line, which returns four starters, will be ready to pave the way.