Hyde Emerging As ‘The Guy’
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS — With Jordan Hall sidelined likely until at least the second week of the season, Urban Meyer has had to reshuffle some of his ideas for the Ohio State offense in 2012.
Photo by Jim Davidson
He and offensive coordinator Tom Herman are tinkering with a number of different options for the hybrid ‘pivot’ role Hall was slated to play this season. One thing they won’t have to worry about is who’s going to get the rock out of the backfield.
“It’s time for Carlos Hyde to step up and take the baton and go as hard as he can,” Meyer said of the junior tailback out of Naples, Fla.
“He’s got the tools. He’s a big, strong, fast player.”
Big, strong and fast has been used to describe a lot of players throughout the years, and a lot of running backs at Ohio State. It is certainly not an automatic indicator of success, but coupled with hard work, it can be the key ingredients for a great career.
“Carlos made a huge jump from where he was last year to now,” said senior fullback Zach Boren.
Photo by Jim Davidson
“He’s lost a lot of body fat. He’s faster, quicker and he’s becoming more of a leader. He used to sit back and let things happen, now he’s going out trying to make a difference. He’s taking pride in himself and trying to be the best possible player he can be, especially with Jordan being out the first couple games.”
Hyde was in a similar position a year ago. Both Hall and Boom Herron were suspended for the first two games of the season, and it was No. 34 who stepped into the spotlight for the Buckeyes.
He averaged a team-high 5.3 yards-per-carry as a true sophomore, but rode a roller coaster of emotion when he didn’t see the field much after his breakout performance at Nebraska.
“Sometimes I got in and had good games and others I didn’t play at all,” he said.
“I got down about it, but a couple older guys told me to be patient and that my time would come.”
When Urban Meyer took over the program in November, and then for real in January, there was much uncertainty about how a back like Hyde would fit into the new offensive system.
He was a 240-pound bruiser a year ago, but there was nothing deceptive about Hyde’s speed in the open field.
“I ran a 4.45 this most recent time and ran a 4.43 during the spring,” he said.
“Last year I played at 240 but the coaches want me to get down to 232 before the season begins. I’m at 235 right now and the coaches seem OK with that. I still run a fast 40 so it doesn’t matter (said with a laugh).”
The weight may not affect Hyde’s speed on the field, but it did affect his ability to carry the football 20-25 times a game. Even he admitted he wasn’t in the right condition to be a workhorse each and every week for the Buckeyes in 2011, but it sounds like 2012 could be a lot different.
“He’s perfectly fine now,” Boren said of Hyde.
“He dropped some weight. Coach Mick (Marotti) has him working hard. Carlos will even run extra because he knows conditioning isn’t his greatest attribute that he has. He knows to be in this offense he has to be in shape. He’s taken it upon himself to really get in great shape.”
Hyde showed up for preseason camp in the best condition of his life—he lost his ‘jelly fat’ according to quarterback Braxton Miller—and the difference was palpable for Meyer and the Ohio State coaching staff.
“We’re eight or nine (practices) into it, and he’s really solid,” Meyer said Sunday during Ohio State’s fall media day.
“I think Carlos Hyde is a guy, I saw he had a Wednesday practice in the spring where he was a legitimate tailback. It was a legitimate tailback practice at Ohio State University. Unfortunately he didn’t have a Monday, Friday, Saturday to follow up the Wednesday practice.”
Along with the extra poundage, Hyde was also playing with an injury in the spring. That left him feeling like he still had a lot to prove to the new coaching staff when the Buckeyes reconvened this fall.
“I need to prove (to the coaches) that I am more of a physical runner than they think I am,” Hyde said.
“In the spring, I had a little injury to my ankle so I wasn’t as physical as I should have been. This fall in camp, I’m going to show them what I am really capable of.”
With Hall on the mend, Hyde has all but established himself as ‘The Guy’ in the backfield for Ohio State heading into the start of the season.
“I feel like my time is now,” Hyde told The-Ozone this fall.
“I feel this year I need to get out there and play my game.”
Meyer is not exactly known for featuring a guy like Hyde, but that doesn’t mean he is against the idea of 235-pound tailback getting the football 20 times a game. At least until Hall is back in the mix offensively.
“I’m hoping. It’s been a while since I’ve had one,” Meyer said.
“The body type is Carlos Hyde and the talent is Carlos Hyde. He’s got to stay healthy and go get it.
“It’s not the previous coaching staff's fault, it’s not the offensive line's fault, it's not the dog ate his homework. It’s time. This is the defining moment of Carlos Hyde’s career. It’s either yes or no. There can’t be anymore gray area.”
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