Our positional previews here at Scarlet And Game continue with a look at the Buckeyes’ running backs. We’ll take a look at this rather claustrophobic depth chart and see what kind of an impact the running game will have on the Buckeye’s season.
Heading things off, we’ll start with the player that won’t even be on the field for the first three games of the 2013 season. Senior Carlos Hyde returns after a stellar 2012 campaign. He rushed for 970 yards and 16 touchdowns. His greatest performance was probably his demolishing of the Cornhusker’s run defense when Hyde went for 140 yards and a whopping 4 touchdowns on the day. Unfortunately for Meyer and the Buckeyes, he had to suspend the running back after he admitted to being in an altercation with a woman at a night club this past summer. As I said before, Hyde is suspended for the first three games of the season. But he had a great year last season… right? The job is his when he comes back? Well actually, that’s probably not as a clear as many would like to think.
Enter Jordan Hall. The other senior on the squad. Due to the suspensions of Hyde and Rod Smith. Hall will be running the football against Buffalo on the 31st. Is he just a fill in until Hyde returns? According to Meyer, this isn’t the case.
“Jordan Hall is the best running back on our team right now,” Meyer said Monday at his news conference previewing Saturday’s opener against Buffalo. “And so he’ll have to lose that spot. I’m talking next week, the week after, whenever. He’s a tailback at Ohio State. He’s earned that right.”
Few may remember, but Hall was actually a captain going into last season until an unfortunate injury knocking him out of the starting lineup. Hall rushed for 218 yards on only 40 attempts last season in limited action. Jordan Hall will also see time as the slot receiver this upcoming season, so that could be a possible solution to the log jam once Hyde returns to action.
As if Hall and Hyde weren’t enough, there’s also junior running back Rod Smith to consider. He was suspended for the opening game of the season for violating an undisclosed rule this past winter. Smith was the leading candidate to start in Hyde’s initial absence at the beginning of the season, but due his own suspension, Smith with have to prove something to Meyer to get the start coming Week 2. Beyond that, if Hyde doesn’t get the job at running back upon his return, I think it’s highly doubtful that Smith wins the job over Jordan Hall. However, Smith is a junior, so look for him to get the starting role next season.
After the three top dogs in the system, the Buckeyes are left with sophomore Bri’onte Dunn, who rushed for 133 yards on 25 carries last season, redshirt freshman Warren Ball, and true freshman Ezekial Elliot. Out of these three’s Dunn is the only likely one to see much of any time on the field this season.
Finally, although he isn’t listed as a running back on any roster, quarterback Braxton Miller is sure to be taking quite a few scrambles the distance this season.
The Buckeyes got a lot of their points from the running game last season, and regardless of the suspensions in the beginning of the season, that shouldn’t change come Saturday as the team looks to continue last year’s perfection.
For more in our Positional Breakdown Series: