Ohio State’s dinged-up Weber expected to play at Maryland
COLUMBUS — Ohio State tailback Mike Weber sprained his shoulder in Saturday’s game against Nebraska but is expected to play when the No. 6 Buckeyes travel to Maryland this week to face the Terrapins.
Weber, a freshman who has compiled 842 rushing yards this season, left Saturday’s blowout in the third quarter favoring his shoulder and didn’t return. He’s fourth in rushing in the Big Ten, averaging 93.6 yards.
“He should be fine for the game,” coach Urban Meyer said Monday. “No contact this week in practice.”
Weber had 11 carries for 72 yards when he left the game, which Ohio State won 62-3 . Demario McCall spelled Weber and picked up 73 yards on 16 carries in the second half.
Meyer said he hadn’t seen the offensive explosion coming against Nebraska, given that the Buckeyes struggled offensively the past few games. He said it was a matter of pushing and cajoling until the young team started clicking again.
Quarterback J.T. Barrett was 26 for 38 for 290 yards, and the offense rolled up 590 yards against Nebraska, then a Top 10 team. Ten players caught passes and Barrett wasn’t sacked, although he had a couple narrow escapes.
“This was a steady climb,” Meyer said. “We were climbing very good early in the season. We plateaued, and somehow you have to get the climb started again. If I thought there were chemistry issues and give-in, then you implode. It wasn’t that at all. Coaches have to do a better job, players have to do a better job, and they did.”
Left tackle Jamarco Jones, whose low point was the Oct. 22 loss to Penn State in which Barrett was sacked six times, said a few tweaks and hard work got the O-line back on track. All five members graded out as “champions” Saturday on Meyer’s in-house evaluation system.
“It was small things we were doing that were fixable,” Jones said.
Ohio State (8-1, 5-1 Big Ten, 6th CFP) takes on a Maryland (5-4, 2-4) team that has lost its last two.
AUDITIONING PUNT RETURNERS
Dontre Wilson apparently has lost his job returning punts after he fumbled one away Saturday in the second quarter. He had muffed one against Wisconsin and clearly has run into trouble lately fielding them cleanly.
Meyer said he’s looking at H-back Curtis Samuel, McCall and wide receiver K.J. Hill.
Speaking of Hill, the freshman caught five passes for 66 yards against Nebraska, and Meyer is singing his praises.
“He’s a really good player,” Meyer said. “He’s earning more playing time. Very reliable guy, good blocker, always in the right place. He’s got good hands.”
In fact, Meyer said, he thought the young wide receiver corps had its best game of the year by far. They are, he said, “just coming into their own a little bit.”
Meyer has faced questions in recent weeks about getting the ball into the hands of Samuel more often. He’s often said that Samuel, a hybrid running back/receiver, is the team’s most dynamic playmaker.
Those questions will stop. Samuel rolled up 173 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns in less than three quarters Saturday, including a 75-yard scoring pass. As a result, he was named co-Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week on Monday.
He caught eight passes for 137 yards and added 41 yards on the ground on five carries. He’s the only FBS player with at least 500 yards rushing and 500 passing.