Hall Could Play on Short Notice
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Jordan Hall took just two live snaps of full-contact on Wednesday, but that might be enough for Urban Meyer to give him the green light on Saturday.
Photo by Jim Davidson
He has been sidelined since late June with a foot injury, and if the Buckeyes had Carlos Hyde available this weekend against Cal, they would probably hold Hall out for another week.
The Buckeyes will have a light practice Thursday and walk-through on Friday, but Meyer plans to put Hall in the game if he’s ready to go this week.
“Today was his first day back practicing,” Meyer said after practice Wednesday.
“Yesterday was just kind of running, and he was in the pool last week just making sure everything is in order as far as his foot. But I just talked to him and he said, ‘I feel decent.’ We’ll see how it goes as we finish our preparation.”
Meyer and the Buckeyes are preparing as though freshman Bri’onte Dunn or Rod Smith, a redshirt sophomore from Indiana, will be the starting tailback against the Golden Bears. Hyde will miss this week’s game with a sprained MCL suffered in the first half of Ohio State’s 31-16 win over UCF.
With Hyde out, Meyer decided he won’t name a starting tailback until Saturday, just before kickoff against the Golden Bears (noon ET, ABC).
“I’m still going to evaluate how they prepare,” Meyer said.
Photo by Jim Davidson
“I’m very pleased with what they’ve done. You’ve got Bri’onte obviously and you’ve got Rod. We’ve also got Zach Boren and Jordan Hall is in the mix again. I think he’ll play Saturday, I’m just not sure how much.”
A lot depends on how sore Hall’s foot is over the next two days. He’s been running on it for a couple weeks, but that’s different than using it to explode through a hole in the offensive line.
Before Wednesday, he hadn’t carried the football in a live practice since Ohio State concluded spring ball back in April, but Meyer’s only real concern is whether his body can handle the rigors of carrying the football in this offense after only a few days of live practice.
“He’s a veteran, so I’m not as worried about ball security as I would even a young player who has played a lot,” Meyer said.
“He had a great spring in our offense in our offense. He’s a football player. So we’re just making sure his hip flexor and hamstrings are in order because that’s the first thing that happens.
“Kids haven’t played in six, seven weeks and his foot’s fine, but you can pull a muscle. You guys have all seen it. A guy who hasn’t done it, all of a sudden he strains and you get a hip flexor or something. That’s my biggest concern.”
Hall actually had that happen a year ago when he returned from his two-game suspension at the start of the season. He looked like the team’s best playmaker in the first half of their loss at Miami (Fla.), but was limited in the second half because of leg problems.
The Buckeyes need to make sure that doesn’t happen against Saturday, but Hall apparently looked pretty good in his return to practice on Wednesday.
“He looked good and fast,” quarterback Braxton Miller said.
“He’s able to get outside the defensive linemen. He still has the explosion from before he got hurt and stuff. So, he’s still got his power, his speed and everything like that. He hasn’t really gotten any contact yet, so we’ll see how far that goes.”
Meyer wouldn’t set an expectation for Hall in terms of carries Saturday, but did set the over/under for Braxton Miller at 15; meaning he would preferably like to keep his quarterback to a season-low in carries against Cal.
That would mean a whole lot more action for Dunn and Smith, who seems to have apparently turned the corner a little bit this week after fumbling a handoff late in the game against UCF last week.
Photo by Dan Harker
“Rod’s doing a good job. Rod is going to start on punt-block,” Meyer proclaimed on Wednesday.
“Which is, after you get to know our program a little bit, that’s gigantic. That means everything is starting to get in order. When you start on a special team, the next thing is you start playing (on offense).
“You don’t just all of a sudden say, ‘Go play tailback,’ he continued, “that doesn’t happen. You can be on punt block and then we can have a chat about running the football.”
Meyer also plans to get wideout Corey “Philly” Brown more involved in the running game this week, in order to take the pressure off Dunn, who could be looking at the first start of his young career.
“I’m pretty sure he is (nervous),” Miller added.
“Coming into the ‘Shoe as a freshman and starting is just, there’s a lot going on. So, he’s probably got a little bit of jitters.”
Maybe that’s why Meyer isn’t going to name a starter until Saturday.
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