COLUMBUS, Ohio — The best weapons don’t even have to be used to be effective. And if simply showing off the arsenal is enough to get an opponent to back down, right now that makes Dontre Wilson the ultimate deterrent for a defense.
+ EnlargeKirk Irwin/Getty ImagesOhio State freshman Dontre Wilson has 33 touches for 319 yards this season.Ohio State isn’t afraid to use the freshman hybrid as either a rusher or receiver, and there is already enough destruction on film to prove that he is far more than an idle threat when the spread offense trots Wilson out to line up with an attack that’s already dangerous without him. And while he has been explosive with the football in his hands, lately the No. 4 Buckeyes are finding even more success just by using him as a decoy, and at times they don’t even need to snap the ball to figure out how effective that approach can be. “Dontre is an explosive kid, so they’re really trying to key in on him,” running back Carlos Hyde said. “Sometimes when we’re out there together, the defensive guys try to call out if it’s a run, ‘No. 1 is getting the ball, No. 1 is getting the ball.’
“And that’s not the case at all.”
Defenders aren’t having much luck guessing right after the play starts, either.
The Buckeyes have used him in the play-action passing game to open up acres of space for receivers down the field, sucking safeties up near the line of scrimmage as they bite on fake handoffs to Wilson.
They’ve sent him in motion out of the backfield, using the option of tossing a swing pass his way to distract defenders on the perimeter. Meanwhile, the offense works back the other direction in a package that includes two other proven game-changers in Hyde and quarterback Braxton Miller, not to mention a group of wideouts led by Philly Brown and Devin Smith, who have combined for 13 touchdowns.
Of course, that deception wouldn’t be nearly as successful if Wilson didn’t get a few chances to handle the football himself. Lately he has barely needed them to keep defenses off balance, but three touches on offense were enough in last week’s blowout of Penn State to create a few more reasons for coordinators preparing for Ohio State to worry, since the speedy, elusive youngster turned them into 47 yards and a touchdown.
“He’s learning to be a fulltime member, so he’ll be more and more involved,” Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer said. …
Continue reading this article at ESPN: Dynamic frosh has opponents’ attention