Hyde seeks big plays

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Last updated: 04/18/2013 1:49 PM
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Hyde Seeking Big Plays in 2013, Drayton Expecting It
By Tony Gerdeman

COLUMBUS, Ohio — It's a mark of consistency that Carlos Hyde was able to average 5.4 yards per carry last season in Big Ten play without a carry longer than 29 yards.

Carlos Hyde
Photo by Jim Davidson
Carlos Hyde

In fact, his average was third among Big Ten running backs in conference play, trailing only Montee Ball's 5.7 and Venric Mark's 6.5-yard averages.

While it was an indication of Hyde's consistency, it was also an indication that he was capable of so much more. In 2011, being used in spot duty and ending up with 79 fewer carries, he managed three runs of more than 29 yards. He had a 36-yarder, a 47-yarder and a 63-yarder through the course of the season.

Last year, however, those big hits were nowhere to be found. It is those types of plays that Hyde is planning on getting back to in 2013, and he has worked in the offseason to make that happen.

"I want to be better at making the safety miss," he said.

"Coach Drayton has us doing drills where we're making a guy miss. He has a defender during drills who is supposed to be a safety, and we're making a move on him and getting back up the field."

In order to help him hit more home runs this coming season, Hyde is also planning on dropping a little bit of weight in order to make him faster. Keep in mind that he is already the fastest tailback on the current roster.

"I'm 235 right now, but I'm trying to play this season coming up at 230, which would be a little lighter than I played last year. Mentally, I'm still hungry. I feel like there's still more to improve on. I feel like people still have doubt in me, so I want to prove those people wrong."

Stan Drayton
Photo by Jim Davidson
Stan Drayton

The reason Stan Drayton is expecting big things from Hyde this year, however, is because he's finally healthy.

"Last year, if you remember, he had the little MCL sprain, and it forced him to be a lot more straight lined," he explained.

"So we had to really enhance the skill of attacking defenders, getting north-south yards, and not really putting as much strain on that knee considering how it was at that time."

That enhanced skill of attacking defenders saw Hyde average 107.6 yards rushing per game against conference opponents last season, and he did it with most defenses knowing that the run was coming.

With an improved passing game, defenses won't be able to simply sit and wait for Hyde to get the ball. Because of the threat of the pass, there will be more room for him to run.

"We're going to displace defenders," Drayton said.

"We'll get those linebackers out of the box, maybe force the defense to change the personnel, put more defensive backs on the football field as opposed to linebackers. People can't hone in on just a quarterback or just the running backs."

With a more complete offense, and a healthy Hyde, big plays should become much more common in the coming year. Hyde has already shown what he can do in this offense when he has one healthy knee. Just imagine what he will look like with two.

As if an improved passing game and a pair of healthy knees weren't enough, there is also the matter of the increased role of the H-back. Defenses are going to have to account for that position, and it's going to put one fewer pair of eyes on Hyde.

"It pulls that extra linebacker out of the box, it affects that free hitter safety to some degree," Drayton said.

"No doubt about it, it helps. But we just need to have more awareness of where that free hitter is coming from on every given play, and just doing a better job of setting that up.

"We've put a concentrated focus on making the safety miss this year. I would grade us at about a C right now. Leaving spring, it's something that we still need to improve on."

Like every other tailback, Hyde is also hard at work at making the safety miss. It was the number one thing that he wanted to work on between last season and this season. It's beginning to pay off.

"It's not a matter of him not having the skillset, he definitely has the ability to do that," Drayton said.

"It's just a matter of him recognizing, and having some pre-snap indication of where the free hitters are going to be during the course of the game, and once he gets that feel, I think that is something that will come rather naturally to him."

Q and A with Stan Drayton:

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