Josh Winslow/BSB

Grading Ohio State's 2016 Season: Running Backs

The Buckeye Sports staff takes a look back at Ohio State's 2016 season and gives each Buckeye position group a final grade for the year. Next up, the OSU running backs.

Following in the footsteps of Ezekiel Elliott isn’t exactly the easiest thing to do, but when Mike Weber earned the starting role for Ohio State, he put forth his best effort to fill Elliott’s enormous shoes.

In three of his first four games as the Buckeye starter, Weber rushed for more than 100 yards, and rushed for 92 yards in the win over Tulsa. Over Ohio State's next six games however, Weber was held under 100 yards in each contest. 

Midway through his 11th game as a starter however, Weber became just the third freshman running back in Ohio State history to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season, joining Maurice Clarett and Robert Smith as the only Buckeyes to accomplish that feat. Anytime you can do something the likes of Archie Griffin, Eddie George and Elliott did not, you deserve to get some credit.

Even after having success for most of the year, Weber seemed to disappear in Ohio State’s final two games of the season, collecting just 16 carries for 50 yards and a score against Michigan and Clemson combined.

He carried the ball just once in the first half against the Tigers, but when he finally got his chance to run between the tackles, he fumbled twice, one of which was recovered by Clemson.

Nonetheless, Weber finished his rookie year with 1,096 yards on 182 carries, good for a 6.0-per-rush average, nothing to sneeze at. Combine his 1,000-yard season with the 771 yards on 97 carries collected by H-back Curtis Samuel, and the performance of the Buckeye backs was not the reason Ohio State’s offense sputtered down the stretch.

With the breakout years of Weber and Samuel, it is hard to forget the explosiveness that reserve running back Demario McCall showed when he was inserted into games. The northeast Ohio native touched the ball 53 times on offense in 2016, collecting 354 offensive yards and four touchdowns. With the departure of Samuel to the NFL, McCall could very likely slide into the H-back role in 2017.

BSB Midterm Grade: A-

BSB Second-Half Grade: B

BSB Final Grade: B+

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