COLUMBUS, Ohio — Junior running back TreVeyon Henderson was asked during week one of the season if he felt like he was back to his “freshman self.” He was also asked how good a healthy and improved Henderson could be for the Buckeyes this season.
“We’ll see,” responded Henderson with a smirk on his face, hinting that he was back, better, and healthier than ever before, but not wanting to give too much away. On Saturday against Western Kentucky, Henderson secured back to back, two+ touchdown games — the first for him since weeks six and seven of the 2021 season, his freshman year.
Henderson was a violent and hard runner against Western Kentucky, showing his athleticism, shiftiness, strong footwork, cuts, burst, and ability to find his holes.
On 13 carries, he rushed for 88 yards, and two touchdowns, averaging 6.8 yards per carry. Henderson came into the game needing 78 yards to get to 2,000 career yards, and he reached that career milestone, and his 88 yards, early in the third quarter.
After battling an injury in 2022, Henderson finished the season with 571 yards and six touchdowns, a stark difference compared to his freshman season where he racked up 1,248 yards and 15 touchdowns.
While Henderson was never worried about the comments and noise on his play in 2022 because people outside of the Woody Hayes Athletic Center didn’t know what was going on with his health, he added that he has worked hard everyday to sharpen “every tool in his toolkit.”
Henderson hinted that he was back to his freshman self but it’s safe to say that based on his play three weeks into the season, Henderson is back to being the running back that Ohio State knows and needs. While the Buckeyes have a deep running back room this season, head coach Ryan Day made it clear that Henderson is their No. 1 guy.
In the season opener at Indiana, Henderson rushed for 47 yards on 12 carries, with Chip Trayanum getting most of the carries. In week two against Youngstown State, he rushed for 56 yards on five carries, averaging 11 yards per rush.
On Saturday, the Ohio State offense as a whole was firing on all cylinders, especially in the second quarter. Since 8:10 remaining in the second quarter, Ohio State scored 28 points in nine plays, for 221 yards, including two one-play drives and scoring drives of 0:07, 0:10, and 0:20. Henderson scored the Buckeyes’ first two touchdowns.
For starting quarterback Kyle McCord, credits the offensive line and the running backs for the offensive performance, adding that the opening up of the run game was what allowed the Ohio State offense to thrive.
“The biggest thing today was that we ran the ball really well and anytime you run the ball well, I thought we did a good job running it into the tackles and then we did a good job getting it out on the perimeter,” McCord said. “That stretches the defense and opens up shots to take down the field like we did to Marvin [Harrison Jr.] and opens up the drop back passes. They don;y really know what to expect.”
When the offense handled minor miscues, it was Henderson coming in and cleaning up.
On a drive early in the second quarter, wide receiver Emeka Egbuka was called for holding after runs by Henderson and Chip Trayanum got Ohio State in the red zone. Ohio State got another first down after Harrison Jr. was left wide open and gained 29 yards. Henderson led the way to the touchdown after he hurdled a tackler for a gain of four yards, and then carried it seven yards into the end zone for his second touchdown of the day.
His statistics paint part of the picture, but his athleticism was on full display even on the short carries that kept the offense on schedule and kept the chains moving. Henderson hurdled a tackler for the second week in a row and once again looked comfortable navigating his blockers.
While Ohio State’s offense clearly felt the presence of Henderson when he was on the field, the other running backs in the room complemented his game well. Trayanum, including a 40-yard touchdown run on Ohio State’s second straight one-play touchdown drive. Miyan Williams came in at running back in the fourth quarter with quarterback Devin Brown leading the offense.