Hyde Gives Buckeyes ‘Smashmouth’ Ability
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Carlos Hyde may have had the defining moment of his Ohio State career on Saturday night, and it didn’t happen on any of his four touchdown runs.
Instead, the play that may come to signify just how far Hyde has come in his career with the Buckeyes came late in the second half. With Ohio State leading Nebraska 49-31 early in the fourth quarter, Hyde fumbled the football at the end of a hard-fought 15-yard run.
Photo by Dan Harker
The Buckeyes were knocking at the door of another touchdown drive, when Cornhuskers safety Daimion Stafford reached in and stripped the ball away from Hyde before he could break away into the open field.
“I hit it and I saw it open and I ended up running into the ref,” Hyde said after the game.
“I ran into the ref and a dude. He held on to the ball, and I had a pretty good grip on it, but it happens.”
It might seem like a nonchalant way to look at a turnover, but Hyde was visibly frustrated with himself on the field after coughing up the ball at the end of an otherwise strong run deep into Nebraska territory.
He threw his hands in the air in disgust, because Hyde knows what happens to running backs when they put the ball on the ground. They typically find their butts superglued to the bench for the rest of the day, and in some cases the rest of the year.
But that’s not what happened Saturday night. Not at all.
“They just told me don’t get down on yourself,” Hyde said.
“It happens, it’s football. You’re going to make turnovers, you’re going to make mistakes. You can’t get down on it, you have to keep going. The next series, they were like we’re going to run the same play and give you the ball, so keep going.”
Part of that was the fact the Ohio State coaches are limited in who they can run out there at the tailback position. Senior Jordan Hall is out with a knee injury and freshman Warren Ball was lost for the year during the offseason.
They tried using fullback Zach Boren back there, and freshman Bri’onte Dunn has showed a little bit of promise this season in a limited role. Sophomore Rod Smith had an eye-opening 33-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter of the win over Nebraska, but there was no question who was going to get the ball while the game was still on the line.
“We have two good runners right now,” Meyer said after the Nebraska game.
Photo by Dan Harker
“We have a quarterback obviously that's kind of ridiculous running the ball, and then Carlos Hyde is a guy that is starting to earn a lot of respect, other than that darn fumble. But he's running hard.”
That darn fumble would usually stifle a running back’s momentum – we’ll never know what would have happened if the game were a lot closer at that point – but Meyer showed a lot of trust in his junior by putting him back in the game.
It was the kind of trust that has to be earned, and Hyde did just that. On the next drive, they gave him the ball on first and second down. He picked up six yards on the first run and then burst through for a season-high 23-yarder behind the right side of the offensive line.
“I want to give all credit to my offensive line,” said Hyde, who finished with 140 yards and four scores.
“If they didn’t do their job, we wouldn’t have those 300 some yards rushing, so give all credit to those guys. They’re just focused. They’re just doing their job. They’re not doing anything different, just doing their job. They’re the reason I got in the end zone, because they’re doing their job.”
With Hyde running hard between the tackles and the offensive line “changing the line of scrimmage,” as Meyer described it, this Ohio State offense has evolved from early in the year when it was all about Braxton Miller.
“We’re not the typical spread team, where you spread out and run the zone (read) play,” Hyde explained.
“We’re more of a straight power team. Our spread is power, when we run zone it’s double blocking the B gap and straight power.”
Photo by Jim Davidson
Until recently, Miller was really the only power runner the Buckeyes had. He was also their speed guy on the outside. The return of Jordan Hall was supposed to make this offense more dynamic, but it’s Hyde who gives them the ability to be exactly what Meyer wants them be.
“Coach Meyer gets classified as a spread guy a lot, but he really loves smashmouth football, running power and running down guys throats,” left tackle Jack Mewhort proclaimed after the game.
“We have the ability to do that here when we execute, and I think he loves it. There’s some other stuff mixed in there, but running the ball down their throat is one of his favorite things to do.”
Which explains why Hyde has quickly become one of Meyer’s favorite players on the team. The 6-1, 235-pound tailback out of Naples, Fla. was the Big Ten’s co-Offensive Player of the Week after his breakout performance against the Cornhuskers. He has nearly 300 yards and six touchdowns this season despite missing the better part of three games with a knee injury.
He has also thrown some big blocks for Miller on the long runs out of the QB counter trey play that has been all the rage over the last few weeks.
“I just do whatever my team needs me,” Hyde added.
“If that’s score touchdowns, make a block, run hard, I just do whatever to help this team win.”
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