Hall Provided Lone Spark for Buckeyes
By Brandon Castel
MIAMI — It turns out that Jordan Hall guy is pretty good.
Photo by Dan Harker
After sitting out the first two games of the season, Hall returned the lineup Saturday to resuscitate an Ohio State offense that seemed drained of life against Miami (Fla.) in week three.
Without his return—which had been in question until Hall was reinstated by the NCAA last Tuesday—it is scary to think how bad the offensive numbers might have been for the Buckeyes.
The shifty tailback out of Jeannette, Pa. accounted for 91 of Ohio State’s 209 total yards Saturday and he also busted off a 26-yard punt return that was one move away from going for a score.
“It was definitely exciting (to be back). I don't ever want to miss a game again,” said Hall, who was suspended for the first two games of the season.
“I know just how bad it hurts to watch the game at home.”
The team’s actual starting tailback, Boom Herron, was doing just that. So were receiver DeVier Posey, left tackle Mike Adams and defensive end Solomon Thomas. Without them, the Buckeyes looked like a junior varsity offense, at least until Hall check in at tailback on their third series of the game.
Suddenly, the Buckeyes had life.
Hall’s first carry of the season went for 13 yards. So did his second. His third carry went for 15 yards and his fourth went for 12. All of a sudden he had 53 yards on four carries and Ohio State had some real momentum.
“I feel like me and Jordan were doing a great job on the run game,” said Carlos Hyde, who has started all three games at tailback this year.
Hall’s shiftiness was the perfect change of pace from the bruising style teams had seen from Hyde over the first two weeks of the season. By halftime, they had combined for 129 yards on the ground, with Hall leading the way with 83 yards on 13 carries.
“I thought we should have come out and just ran it, just ran it up and run it straight at them and see if they could stop us,” said Hyde, who had 46 yards on eight carries in the first half.
“I think it would have worked. To me I don't think they were stopping us on the run, so yeah, I think it would have worked.”
It might have worked if Hall been able to stay on the field in the second half. Instead, he was sidelined by cramping issues for most of the third quarter and part of the fourth.
“That's the reason I couldn't play the second half,” Hall said.
“I wasn't too happy about that. I felt like I let my team down a little bit but you can't control that.”
After a three-and-out by Miami to start the third quarter, Hall nearly broke one. The 5-9 tailback fielded a punt at his own 16-yard line. He was swarmed by Hurricanes at ever turn, but somehow emerged from the pack with one man to beat before it was going to be a foot race down the sideline.
Miami receiver Kendal Thompkins might have saved a scored with his hit on Hall at the 43-yard line. It also caused Hall to cramp up.
“We talk about those emotions,” OSU Head Coach Luke Fickell said.
“And he hadn't played in a couple of weeks and those emotions can cause that sometime.”
He wouldn’t touch the ball again until the fourth quarter, and without him the Buckeyes had six yards of total offense in the third quarter. That includes a sack on Bauserman, so a net total of six yards on 12 plays without Hall.
“I couldn't play in the second half until that last drive,” said Hall, who finished with 87 yards on 14 carries.
“I know the team counts on me to make plays and I wasn't out there.”
He returned for Ohio State’s first drive of the fourth quarter, but Braxton Miller coughed up the football and Miami put the game away with a 14-play, 69-yard touchdown drive.
It was as deflating a loss as Ohio State has had in recent years, but the one silver lining was Hall. Despite missing two weeks, he tallied 123 all-purpose yards in his first game back, nearly double that of anyone else on the team.
Now if only the Buckeyes could find a quarterback.
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