Ohio State Football: Steady dose of JK and KJ cure for Buckeye offense

LINCOLN, NE - OCTOBER 14: Running back J.K. Dobbins
LINCOLN, NE - OCTOBER 14: Running back J.K. Dobbins /

It sounds like a simple cure for the Ohio State offense but it may work.

The Ohio State offense was stagnant in the loss to Iowa. A steady dose of JK and KJ may have helped, and could be the cure Saturday against Michigan State. I’m referring to using running back JK Dobbins and H-back KJ Hill early and often.

JK is having one of the finest years an Ohio State freshman running back has ever had. KJ was on a roll going into Saturday’s game having caught 19 passes the previous two with fellow H-back Parris Campbell out due to an injury.

You would have thought these two players would have been featured heavily against Iowa. But that wasn’t the case as JK only ran the ball 6 times for 51 yards, and KJ caught three passes for 41 yards.

It was a head scratcher why the two weren’t used more often. Especially with the way both Dobbins and Hill have performed so far this season.

Hill leads the team in receptions and receiving yards. He has caught 43 passes for 417 yards and three touchdowns.

More importantly, Hill has become JT Barrett’s go-to-guy, and it’s important for a quarterback to have a receiver a QB can trust in a crucial situation.

A guy who will run the correct pass route and catch the ball if you put it on the money. KJ has proven to be that kind of receiver.

As far as what Dobbins has accomplished, it’s really hard to put into words. So I’ll just let the stats do the talking.

JK has rushed for 914 yards and 5 touchdowns on 119 carries and 5 touchdowns. He has also caught 13 passes for 89 yards.

Dobbins is on pace to challenge Maurice Clarett’s rushing and total yards records for a freshman. If he continues on his current pace, the 7.7 yards per carry average would easily be the best by an Ohio State running back during a 1,000 yard season.

But why emphasize Dobbins and Hill in the offense with the number of skill position players on the Ohio State roster? Because finding a player in the running game and another in the passing game, who are consistent and can move the chains, has proven to work just fine in the past. In fact, the concept worked very well for the last two Ohio State national championship teams.

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In 2002, coach Jim Tressel relied heavily on Maurice Clarett in the running game and Michael Jenkins was the featured receiver in the passing game. That allowed a player like Chris Gamble to get free on occasion to make a big play.

It was a similar situation in 2014 with Ezekiel Elliott pounding the ball in the running game and Michael Thomas was the receiver who helped move the chains. When the defense came up to stop the two, Devin Smith often got behind the defensive backs for a long TD reception.

The 2014 Ohio State offense was definitely the more dynamic of the two but the principles were the same. Find go to players in the running and passing game, use them often and work from there.

Just think if offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson begins using Dobbins and Hill more often than he has been, the Ohio State offense may finally develop an identity. It has been sorely lacking in one. It could also free up Johnnie Dixon to make even more big plays and the other wideouts as well.

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Who knows, the answer to the Buckeye offense getting back on track may be as simple as two letters in the alphabet. Let JK touch the ball 20 times a game and throw the ball to KJ 10-12 times. It may not be cure for all of offensive ills, but it may start the Buckeyes on the road to recovery.