|Buckeyes’ Carlos Hyde makes up for 3 lost games|
|Thursday, October 31, 2013 8:12 PM|
By RUSTY MILLER
COLUMBUS — It feels to Carlos Hyde as if he’s been here before.
His junior year in high school back in Naples, Fla., he rushed for 970 yards — just like he did a year ago as a junior for Ohio State.
“In my senior year, I just came out on another level,” he said of topping the mile mark with 1,653 yards rushing. “I kind of feel it’s all happening again.”
To be clear, Hyde won’t reach that figure again. After all, he was suspended for the first three games. But he could very well hit 1,000 yards to become the first running back in Urban Meyer’s 12 years as a head coach to top the 1-K mark.
He’s certainly making up for lost time.
Since breaking in with 41 yards in the final regular-season game with FCS member Florida A&M, the 6-foot, 230-pound battering ram with speed has gone for 85 yards against Wisconsin, 168 yards and three TDs at Northwestern, 149 yards and two scores against Iowa and 147 yards and two touchdowns against Penn State.
He’s averaging 118 yards a game, which would be good enough to get him over the 1,000-yard mark if the Buckeyes, as expected, expand their schedule by making it to the Big Ten championship and also playing in a major bowl.
Also, the Buckeyes (8-0, 4-0 Big Ten) play teams with porous defenses over the final four games on the schedule (at Purdue on Saturday, then at Illinois, home to Indiana and at No. 21 Michigan).
Despite all the talk about his cutting-edge spread offense, more than anything Meyer loves jamming a football down a defense’s throat. With a big, burly line and a big, burly tailback, that’s been almost a given this season.
“Having Carlos Hyde back there really makes a difference,” offensive guard Andrew Norwell said. “We’re just mauling people.”
Hyde credits his suspension, surprisingly, for helping turn him around. He was linked to an alleged altercation with a female at a Columbus bar last summer. No charges were filed but Meyer still sat him down for three games.
It was a humbling experience for the senior. But instead of moping around, he threw himself into the scout team, helping to prepare the starters by taking hits from the first-team defense all week.
“Mentally, it was an unbelievable advantage for him,” running backs coach Stan Drayton said. “Having to play a service role to this football team on the scout team made him hungry, made him extremely hungry. It also made him not take for granted the opportunities that he has in front of him.”
Meyer was down on Hyde. Now he’s up on him.
“Every Thursday is called player-development day and we go through every player on the team,” he said. “Our strength coach and academic people and our training staff rate them for me. (Carlos) has been very high on each one’s list, which usually means a fairly mature guy. I like where he’s at.”
Hyde has a blend of power and speed like the best backs. He’s strong enough to run through an arm tackle at the line and fast enough to slip a linebacker or safety rushing into a hole to stop him.
Asked to describe his running style to someone who had never seen him play, he replied, “I’d probably keep it simple and tell them I’m a violent runner that can break away.”
The Buckeyes were tied early in the fourth quarter against Iowa three weeks ago and had the ball at the Hawkeyes’ 19. Hyde took a handoff on a play called “13 dash” and bounced off right tackle. He rumbled to the 7-yard line, where he was hit hard by free safety Tanner Miller, the blow knocking him off balance. He retreated to the 11 before regaining his bearings and then turned up the right sideline. Behind a block by wide-out Corey Brown, he vaulted from the 3 into the end zone. That was the winning TD in a 34-24 win.
After starting the season on the bench, Hyde is now making a case for playing in the NFL.
“I’m doing a good job right now, showing scouts that come to our games that I could be a good back for the next level,” he added.
At least one opposing player has referred to Hyde as a beast.
Meyer was asked about that label.
“What does that mean to me?” he replied with a smile. “Kinda cool, I guess.”
BUCKEYES BUZZ: Since Ohio State is favored by 32 points at Purdue on Saturday, it’s important to once again fall back on the words of Meyer when it comes to the BCS and running up the score.
Meyer was asked on the Big Ten coaches teleconference this week about the balancing act that he faces, trying to impress voters and move up in the BCS with a lopsided win while retaining a sense of sportsmanship.
“I don’t really look at winning with style points; I just want our guys to play,” Meyer replied. “The biggest issue I have is the injury component, that’s why we pull them out in the third quarter. Then there’s also great coaches on the other side. I’ve been on that other side at other times. You take those (factors) all into consideration.”
Some Penn State backers were critical of Meyer for the margin in Saturday’s 63-14 beat-down of the Nittany Lions.
Their basis was three things from the game: Meyer kicked onside with 3 seconds left in the half with a 42-7 lead, he had both quarterbacks on the field as late as the 4-minute mark of the third quarter on a TD play that made it 56-7 and he threw a challenge flag over where the ball was spotted with the game clearly out of hand in the second half.
Someone from Meyer’s camp would argue that the onside kick was merely to avoid a long runback, that starting QB Braxton Miller really didn’t play a major role on that third-period TD drive and that Meyer won the challenge over the improperly spotted ball. So there.
Back on the conference call, it was pointed out to Meyer that, since other schools play the “win big and move up” game, it certainly would help Ohio State’s cause. The Buckeyes are No. 4 in the BCS rankings for the second week in a row and badly need to get around two teams.
“I don’t really listen to that. I’ve heard people say that we haven’t won impressively,” he added. “I don’t read much but I’ll hear people like at a press conference say, ‘Are you worried about people jumping you even when you win?’ We spend very little team time even thinking about that. No, that’s not even in our thought process.”
SMITH STAYING: Ohio State AD Gene Smith on Thursday shot down rumors that he was among those interviewing for the vacant University of Texas athletic director position.
Smith, also an Ohio State VP, issued a statement via e-mail and also on his Twitter account.
It read: “I have the greatest respect for the University of Texas and one of my mentors, DeLoss Dodds. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to be the athletics director at The Ohio State University. Reports of me interviewing at the University of Texas are inaccurate.”
A 7-person advisory panel is searching for a replacement for Dodds, who built the Longhorns into the nation’s richest athletic department with an annual budget of nearly $170 million. Dodds is retiring in 2014 after 32 years at Texas.
LOT OF GREEN IN THE GOLD AND BLACK: Purdue coach Darrell Hazell has an exceedingly young team. That’s part of the reason the Boilermakers (1-6, 0-3 Big Ten) have struggled so far going into their game against Ohio State (8-0, 4-0) at noon on Saturday at Ross-Ade Stadium.
“They’ve got to learn fast,” Hazell said of his first-year players. “There were 34 freshmen of the 70 on the travel roster for our game on Saturday. That’s a lot of freshmen. And a lot of them are playing for us right now.”
Developing that staggering number of young players requires patience and, at the same time, expedience. Purdue cannot afford to let them adjust to Big Ten football at their own pace. So the coaching staff must indoctrinate them quickly.
“We have to do a good job of getting those guys caught up as fast as we can and ready so they don’t hurt the football team,” he added.
THEY’VE HAD A LOT OF PRACTICE: Purdue is near the bottom of the Big Ten in nearly every major statistical category.
Yet the Boilermakers are No. 2 in the nation in net punting (punting average minus return average), thanks to P Cody Webster, at 42.7 yards per attempt.
That’s almost as if Ohio State’s top returner, Corey Brown, is being dared to do something big.
“We know our punt-block team, with the style of punt block that we do, either going after it or returning the ball, is dynamic,” the wideout said. “We know we bring something different to the table and they’re going to have to adjust, just like we’re going to have to adjust. And we’re going to go at it.”
Brown is averaging 14.4 yards per return, 10th best in the nation. The Buckeyes, behind P Cameron Johnston, are 14th in net punting (40.0).