Hall Makes the Most of his Opportunity
By Rob Ogden
When Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said senior Jordan Hall would be the Buckeyes' primary running back in the season opener against Buffalo, he wasn't kidding.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Even with veterans Carlos Hyde and Rod Smith suspended, the Buckeyes had plenty of options at running back during their week-one win. Instead of distributing the carriers somewhat equally, as many expected, Meyer gave the Bulls a healthy dose of Hall.
The fifth-year senior took advantage of the opportunity as he rushed for a career-high 162 yards on 21 carries and scored two touchdowns.
“I just wanted to be out there,” Hall said. “I knew that coach was going to pull me at some point, so I was just trying to get everything I could while I was in.”
The 'point' Hall was referring to came later than most — even he — expected. Hall remained the Buckeyes' primary rusher deep into the fourth quarter, even recording two carries on Ohio State's final drive.
Freshman Dontre Wilson, the Buckeyes' second leading rusher, had just three carries for 11 yards.
Although Wilson's carries could have been stunted by his second-quarter fumble.
Photo by Jim Davidson
"After that I just told him to keep his head up,” Hall said. “It was his first time being out there and he was just trying to make something happen. I know how that is. So I just told him to keep his head in the game and he did, he got a big return.”
Despite mixed results from Hall in the past, his heavy workload shouldn't have come as a surprise. In the days leading up to the game, Meyer said persistently that Hall had earned the starting job.
“Jordan Hall is the best running back on our team right now,” Meyer said on the Monday before kickoff. “And so he'll have to lose that spot. I'm talking next week, the week after, whenever. He's a tailback at Ohio State. He's earned that right.”
So has Hall done enough to reclaim the starting running back role he relinquished prior to the 2012 season?
Meyer's post game comments weren't quite as convincing.
"I think (Hall) gives us that little bit of a hybrid guy that can do both," he said. "That was kind of the plan with him. So once we have a full stable back, then he's still going to be certainly involved."
One guy who wasn't as involved in Saturday's game as Meyer would have liked was freshman Ezekiel Elliott.
Elliott came into the game late, and finished with one carry for two yards.
(Elliott) didn't do much, did he? I'd like to get him more," Meyer said. "He has a lot of talent."
Aside from Hall, Wilson and Elliott, the only other running back to record a carry was redshirt freshman Warren Ball, who had six yards on two carries. Sophomore Bri'onte Dunn didn't record an attempt.
Hall will have two more games to prove that he's the right guy for the job at running back before Hyde returns. Running back Rod Smith is expected to return this week from a one-game suspension for violation of team rules.
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