Luncheon Day Notebook: More Love for Jordan Hall?
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS — There is little question that Terrelle Pryor stands alone as the most famous son of Jeanette, Penn., but one of Pryor’s Ohio State teammates is rapidly climbing the ranks.
Photo by Jim Davidson
After finding Pryor in the end zone for a 20-yard touchdown pass on a trick play late in the third quarter of Saturday’s 73-20 win over Eastern Michigan, tailback Jordan Hall reached paydirt for the first time himself this season.
On the opening drive of the fourth quarter, Hall caught a swing pass from backup quarterback Joe Bauserman and took it 17 yards to the end zone for his second-career touchdown.
While neither of his scores came on the ground Saturday, it hasn’t stopped fans from clamoring to see more of Hall in the Buckeyes’ run game as they begin Big Ten play this Saturday against Illinois.
“He figures into all of our plans. The flow of the game usually dictates what we're going to do from that standpoint,” Tressel said Tuesday during his weekly press conference.
“The more – we like to use Brandon at some semi-receiver kind of things, so the more you do that, the more Jordan could maybe play some pure tailback.”
For the season, Hall is fifth on the team with 72 yards, but his 311 all-purpose yards rank him third behind only Jaamal Berry (403) and Dane Sanzenbacher (324). After averaging over five yards per carry as a freshman last season, Hall is up to 5.5 yards per carry this season, which is second amongst tailbacks with double-digit carries. Only Berry (11.8) is averaging more yards per carry this season, but none of his touches have come during crunch time.
On the contrary, Brandon Saine has managed just 65 yards on the ground in the last three games after rushing for 103 in the opener against Marshall. He has been battling a Turf burn on his left knee, but the Buckeyes aren’t concerned over his lack of production since the season-opener.
“No, nothing different from him. There wasn't that nice hole that opened up that he could run 60 through. Believe me, the next time there's one of those, he'll run 60 through it,” Tressel said.
“But, no, gosh, Brandon Saine is going to do everything you ask him to do.”
makes a touchdown catch vs. Miami.
Photo by Jim Davidson
That might include splitting out wide more often as a wide receiver, in an attempt to get Hall on the field more often. A sure-handed receiver out of the backfield, Saine was the team’s third-leading receiver a year ago with 17 catches for 224 yards and two touchdowns. He is currently fourth on the team in catches (8) this season and fifth in yardage (67), but he has made a number of nice grabs, including a key touchdown catch against Miami.
“Brandon usually gets some extra things out wide,” Tressel said.
“But going into it, all three of them, all four of them have to learn what we're doing in each phase of the game.”
Bucks Healthy for Big Ten Play
The Buckeyes lost starting strong safety C.J. Barnett for the season with a knee injury in week two against Miami, but they are quite healthy heading into Big Ten play.
“I think from a health standpoint we're, after four games, in pretty good shape,” Tressel said.
“We should get Travis Howard back. Dorian Bell should be back.”
Both Howard, the team’s No. 3 corner, and Bell, the backup Will linebacker, missed the EMU game with injuries they sustained covering kicks against Ohio University in week three. Another special teams performer remains questionable for this week.
“Nate Oliver's got a little bit of a hamstring, so he's a question mark,” Tressel said of the junior safety, who did not play against Ohio.
“Those are more aggravating and chronic than most injuries.”
Tressel expects to have starting cornerback Chimdi Chekwa ready to go for Saturday, but the status of starting tight end Jake Stoneburner won’t be known until later in the week.
“I'm expecting that we'll know a lot more Wednesday or Thursday,” Tressel said.
“He claims he'll be fine. Sometimes when you roll those ankles, you can either get back quickly or not, and so we'll just have to see how he works. And knowing our trainers, it will be a progressive thing though. They'll have him doing certain drill things today and tomorrow, if he can do it all, they'll give him the green light.”
Still Blue Over Green
Justin Green was supposed to be a Buckeye, or at least that’s the way Tressel sees it.
Now a starting cornerback for the Fighting Illini, Green was originally committed to Ohio State up until National Signing Day two years ago. That is when he made a last-minute switch to sign with Illinois instead.
“It's sort of not fair, is it,” Tressel asked rhetorically.
“He's supposed to be playing corner for us.”
The younger brother of former Ohio State defensive lineman Marcus Green committed to play for Tressel back in the summer of 2008, but opted for Illinois after coach Ron Zook promised him a chance to play running back.
Tressel and his staff had told the 5-foot-11, 180-pound Green from the start that he would play cornerback in the Big Ten. Today he is a starting corner for the Fighting Illini.
“He's a great kid. What are you going to do? You make decisions and handle the adversity and deal with what comes your way and that's obviously what he's doing and he's got great speed out there,” Tressel said.
After playing a little bit of tailback last season, Green moved to the defensive side of the ball in 2010, where he ranks fourth on the team with 19 tackles through the first three games. He also has four passes broken up and one near interception that caught Tressel’s attention.
“He's got all the things that you would love to have in a corner and he had an interception in the game Saturday or two Saturdays ago against Northern Illinois, spectacular play, but he landed out of bounds,” Tressel said.
“He's a talented kid. It is what it is, I guess.”
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