Most Important Buckeyes: No. 5 Carlos Hyde
By Rob Ogden
Photo by Jim Davidson
When starting running back Jordan Hall was sidelined with a foot injury prior to the 2012 season, someone needed to step up in the Buckeyes' backfield.
It didn't take long for Carlos Hyde to emerge as that guy. Hyde rushed for two touchdowns in the season opener against Miami University and set the tone for his breakout season.
After sustaining a knee injury in Ohio State's win over Central Florida, Hyde missed the next two games, but returned with a vengeance.
In his second game back, Hyde rushed for 140 yards and four touchdowns in a 63-38 win against Nebraska. He followed that performance up with a 156-yard game a week later at Indiana. In the final seven games of the season, Hyde averaged 116 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
He was named second team all-Big Ten.
What Makes Him Important
Despite a bevy of talent at the running back position for the Buckeyes, Hyde is really the only proven runner the Buckeyes have. Hall has proved to be formidable, but has never shown anything like what Hyde did last season.
Rod Smith and Bri'onte Dunn are both highly regarded runners, as well. Some would argue that Smith is the most talented back on the roster, but his problems holding on to the football are well documented, and coach Urban Meyer didn't exactly give Smith rave reviews when he spoke about the back on Saturday.
Dunn, once a prized recruit, lacks any real experience. The same can be said for redshirt freshman Warren Ball.
Freshmen Dontre Wilson and Ezekiel Elliott elicit excitement, but remain freshmen.
Hyde adds a certain toughness to the offense, and certainly opens things up for quarterback Braxton Miller.
The bottom line is Hyde was remarkable in the final seven games of last season and no one else on the roster has proven that they can be that dominating.
What Can Be Expected Of Him
We know that Hyde will be suspended for at least the first three games of the season as a result of an incident that occurred at a local bar last month.
In the meantime, the rest of the running backs – save for Smith, who's also suspended for the opener – will be given the opportunity to separate themselves from the pack.
Hyde was the Buckeyes' workhorse back in 2012, but with the return of Hall and the addition of the freshmen, chances are Hyde's carries will decrease in 2013.
But if he's able to return from his suspension and produce at the rate he did last season, it will be hard to keep the ball out if Hyde's hands.
What Would They Do Without Him
With Hyde's suspension, this is a question Ohio State coaches are already being forced to answer.
Running backs coach Stan Drayton said earlier this month that Hall will be the No. 1 guy while Hyde serves his suspension. He also said Smith would be in the mix for playing time, but Meyer painted a grim picture for Smith Saturday, saying "It's the 11th hour for Rod Smith. He needs to perform."
Last season, Hyde was irreplaceable. While his experience will be missed in the first three weeks of the season, Hyde's absence gives the Buckeyes a chance to evaluate the rest of the group – a process that Drayton said is still ongoing.
"Who's gonna be the most explosive on the most consistent basis, and that's what it's coming down to right now, and it's a great problem to have,” he said.
“You've just got a bunch of young guys who are not afraid. They're coming out there hungry. They're coming out there competing with the older guys and they're pushing this team to new heights right now."
The loss of Hyde would undoubtedly have a negative impact on the team. Left without Hyde for the first three games, the Buckeyes are just hoping it's not too big of an impact.
Donate by Check :
1380 King Avenue
Columbus, Ohio 43212
Help us bring you more Buckeye coverage. Donate to the-Ozone.
Click here to email this the-Ozone feature to a friend...or even a foe.
(c) 2010 The O-Zone, O-Zone Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, rebroadcast,rewritten, or redistributed.