UCF Notebook: Depth at Running Back All But Gone

By Kyle Rowland on September 8, 2012 at 9:18p
67 Comments

Calling all students: head coach Urban Meyer is looking for a running back, and he wants you. Well, not really. But kind of.

With Ohio State’s top two running backs injured and a third out for the season, Meyer knows that an already challenging date with Cal became that much more difficult. 

A sprained MCL has sidelined Carlos Hyde

“We have to find a way to win that game," he said. “And I'm open for any suggestions.”

“Not really,” he added with a laugh.

But it has nearly come to that point for the injury-plagued backfield. Starter and senior leader Jordan Hall stepped on a piece of glass outside his apartment in June as he was cleaning up dog poop. It tore a tendon and sent him to the DL for 10 weeks. He has been jogging for a couple weeks now and is expected to attempt a return this week.

True freshman Warren Ball suffered a foot injury in fall camp and underwent season-ending surgery. He will redshirt.

Hall’s injury elevated Carlos Hyde to the starting position. As a part-time starter in 2011, Hyde gained 556 yards and scored six touchdowns. In the 2012 season opener against Miami (Ohio), he exhibited those same skills, rushing for 82 yards and two touchdowns.

But in the second quarter of Saturday’s 31-16 win Central Florida, Hyde suffered a sprained MCL in his right knee. Following the game, Meyer said he’ll likely be out one or two weeks.

“Offensively, we’re down to our third tailback, and it looked like it," he said. “We have to get better.”

With Hyde sidelined, senior fullback Zach Boren and true freshman Bri’onte Dunn came on, but it was Braxton Miller who took on most of the carries. One week after 17 rushes, Miller had a career-high 27. While he gained 141 yards and scored three touchdowns, one can’t expect a quarterback to take a constant beating week after week.

Boren finished with 16 yards on seven carries. One week ago, he was a little-used fullback with one career carry. Already this season, he’s had nine and a touchdown. Boren did fumble on a reception today. Dunn tallied 29 yards on five carries.

Meyer could tinker with the idea of using wide receiver Philly Brown in a hybrid position. He had 33 rushing yards on two swing passes Saturday and 81 all-purpose yards.

So what’s a coach to do?

“The only answer is it starts tomorrow,” Meyer said. “When we jog the first unit out there (Sunday), someone will jog out at tailback. Our choices are Zach Boren, Bri'onte or Rod Smith. Those are the choices, and maybe some situations Philly Brown.

“We're going to have to really ID who is going to touch the ball. We have to go back to the drawing board and make some decisions on who is going to physically touch that ball and they have to take care of it, obviously.”

That last note is in reference to two lost fumbles on Saturday, something Meyer called unacceptable if the Buckeyes want to be a good team.

Needless to say, it will be an interesting week at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.

Meyer wants more pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

UNDER PRESSURE 

Ohio State was the superior team in each game so far. Games are won, we’ve been told, in the trenches. But against less talented offensive lines, the Buckeyes have a measly three sacks.

Meyer has taken notice.

“We have got to pressure the quarterback,” he said. “(UCF quarterback Blake Bortles) had far too much time to throw the ball.”

Michael Bennett has missed both games, while Nathan Williams sat out Saturday after experiencing soreness in his knee, but Ohio State should still be dominating the opposing line. John Simon and Johnathan Hankins have zero sacks among them.

All three takedowns belong to underclassmen: freshmen Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington and sophomore Steve Miller.

“They blocked us well," Simon said of the UCF O-Line. “That's no excuse for defensive players. It's our job to get through that. That's what we're here for. We're going to start doing that.”

Help could be on the way in the form of the two injured playmakers. Bennett has been hampered by a groin injury that has been aggravated twice and keeps lingering. After not practicing all week and missing the UCF game, Williams could be rested enough to play against Cal.

“He was sore all week,” Meyer said. “It's frustrating for him, and it's frustrating for us. It's a tough injury (microfracture surgery).”

SECOND(ARY) CHANCE

The word that can best describe Orhian Johnson is enigma. The fifth-year senior came to Ohio State as a highly-rated recruit with much expected out of him.

Johnson hasn’t been a bad player, more like underwhelming. Quiet and reserved, he’s a likable person in the locker room and popular among his teammates. Johnson has largely ignored the criticism from fans and let his play on the field speak for him.

Last season he tied Bradley Roby for the team lead with three interceptions. But his mysterious career took another turn in Week 1 when Pittsburgh Brown occupied the star position, leaving Johnson on the sideline.

But after a good week of practice, Meyer urged the defensive coaches to insert Johnson into the lineup. They listened, and Johnson recorded six tackles and an interception. He also tipped a pass in the second quarter that ended up in the hands of Travis Howard.

“I was very involved with that decision because I see he's so talented,” Meyer said. “But he's another guy that's been around here, production hasn't been exactly what it needs to be. He earned that right in practice. He does some really good things for us on special teams, and we felt like we needed more production out of that nickel spot.”

The Buckeyes intercepted three passes today and now have five on the season.

“It felt good to get out there and help my teammates win,” Johnson said. “I felt comfortable being on the field. Just being out there, playing around, running around. It definitely felt good to get my hands on the ball.”

Unfortunately for Johnson, despite the great play, he still has punishment awaiting him on Sunday. Cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs makes his secondary players do 50 push-ups if they drop an interception. Johnson said he’ll split the difference and do 25 since Howard came away with the pick.

Just having the chance to drop a ball was all Johnson wanted, though. Opportunity granted.

67 Comments

Comments

Buckeyejason's picture

How about we just make Dunn THE guy until Hyde and Hall are back. Seems simple enough.

BUCKEYES BABY!

William's picture

Stop trying to make things so simple.

Buckeyejason's picture

* and Boren.

BUCKEYES BABY!

Matthew's picture

Braxton is obviously going to carry it 30 times next game.

Class of 2010

Buckeyejason's picture

MATTHEW ON 8 SEPTEMBER 2012 - 9:52PM #
Braxton is obviously going to carry it 30 times every  game.

Fixed.
 
Class of 2010

BUCKEYES BABY!

Matthew's picture

You're probably right. Thanks for the back up.

Class of 2010

MuraliPatel's picture

IDK, I watched Dunn botch a few playcalls, and then after knocking Braxton over in the backfield, I thought to myself if only Rod Smith could velcro the ball to his jersey...

Buckeyejason's picture

The word that can best describe Orhian Johnson is enigma. The fifth-year senior came to Ohio State as a highly-rated recruit with much expected out of him.

Ah, no he didn't. 
He was a late offer..3 star recruit. Other offers we're Indiana and UCF I believe.

BUCKEYES BABY!

Kyle Rowland's picture

He was still a guy that coaches thought had tons of potential. I think he's proved them right. 

cinserious's picture

He meant highly rated out of all the recruits from the southside of Columbus lol. Kyle, I was hoping you would have explained the meaning of the word 'enigma', I still don't have a clue what that means. Am I an 'enigma' for that?

Life's daily struggle is choosing between saying F--ck-it, or soldiering on with your responsibilities.  

Kyle Rowland's picture

e·nig·ma/iˈnigmə/
Noun:
A person or thing that is mysterious, puzzling, or difficult to understand.
A riddle or paradox

Buckeyeneer's picture

I am a cipher, wrapped in an enigma, smothered in secret sauce.

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes

THE Ohio State University

Buckeyejason's picture

Yes, but he redshirted. Didn't play much in 09 until Coleman got that one game suspension for the Indiana game. They expected alt from him in 2010..didn't really look that great..probably why Bryant was starting in 2011.

BUCKEYES BABY!

SPreston2001's picture

I think its safe to say Rod Smith isnt who we thought he was. I personally never saw him prove it on the field so I was never drinking the kool-aid but man the spot is his for the taking and a true freshman is beating him out?? Wow...

Buckeyejason's picture

I've been saying it since last season..Rod Smith just won't be good here. Looks like people are starting to finally come around.

BUCKEYES BABY!

Joe Beale's picture

I think Hall will be back next week, and Hyde won't be out long. Dunn looked good today. I'm not so worried about this situation. We need a pair and a spare, and once Hall comes back we'll have that regardless of how long Hyde is out.

Kalamazoo Steve's picture

Agreed. Our rushing threat is our QB. I think that is why Coach is so high on Guiton as well. There is enough talent in the RB position to carry out the game plans.

Buckeyejason's picture

^ lmaoo
you win the Internet tonight..along with Denny.

BUCKEYES BABY!

onetwentyeight's picture

We aroused the wrath of AIRBHG somehow ... his rage exceeds state boundaries. 

schooey's picture

Well, NW had their chance. Far from over though. 

pjtobin's picture

I was in b sec 24. I could hear a pin drop. Wth is with the fans this year? I was surrounded by ppl my age(30) and they were as lively as the local cemetery. My wife compared the enthusiasm of the surrounding mutes at the horseshoe today, to those at a major league baseball game. I seen a 65 yr old doing the buckeye bounce ten rows up from us. My wife, that grey haired man , and myself were the only ones " bouncing ". Didn't we get labeled as a quiet stadium by Ucfs coach? On the news, radio, Internet, and the topic of choice at the town pub. I just don't understand? Not to ramble on but why is there not better monitors, tvs, scroll board, or something for us poor folk hidden in the shadows? I have seen many games live. My first time viewing one from a quiet dungeon. With bars made of concrete blocking the view of the north end zone. If this has been a previous topic I do apologize. I am a freshman so to say to this wonderful site. I am sure that a unusually calm shoe isn't. Right?

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

Matthew's picture

The only reason people have to be excited about the first two games are Braxton and it being the new Urban era. The games haven't been particularly good. The opponents have been less than exciting.
 
And our own team hasn't been so great either.

Class of 2010

TheBadOwl's picture

Student section was rowdy as hell today. It's the damn old people who give us the bad rep.

When I walked in this morning and saw the flag was at half mast I thought, "Alright, another bureaucrat ate it." but then I saw it was Li'l Sebastian. Half mast is too high. Show some damn respect.

BuckeyeFanInBoulder's picture

The announcers said as much today.  You could see it on the camera.  I think the fans partially caused the slow start today.  We need a loud crowd next week to make men out of freshmen.

Buckeyeneer's picture

I've harped on this before, but everytime the announcer's made a comment, we were on offense. You don't make noise when your team is on offense because you want the other players to be able to hear the quarterback. The only other time the mentioned it was after a UCF touchdown. You don't hear too many fans cheer when the other team score. The announcer's had their storyline fed to them and they shoehorned it into the game even if it didn't fit.

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes

THE Ohio State University

BuckeyeFanInBoulder's picture

True.  I'd like to think Joey Galloway wouldn't badmouth his alma mater crowd even if spoonfed it, but it seemed like it happened.  The UCF QB said the noise was a problem for them, so that's good to hear.  I wasn't there, but it looked like a lot of sitting and quiet even when we were on D.  Maybe that's what ESPN wanted us to see though.

poop's picture

I have a hard time getting rowdy for noon games though I have no idea why. I should be juiced anytime the Buckeyes play. If you go to the conference games at 3:30 and especially the night games, you'll notice a big difference. Night games have an electric atmosphere that you can't help but get into. I believe Matt Barkley said it was the loudest place he has experienced after the '09 game.

schooey's picture

Come on NW beat SEC team to make up for that miserable school with blue and yellow. You know, the ones with the ugly helmets and stadium. 

Buckeyejason's picture

It gets loud for night games and ranked opponents. Generally a quiet to moderately loud crowd during noon games vs conf USA/MAC opponents. Too many old folks in the shoe I think..no offense to anyone.

BUCKEYES BABY!

MuraliPatel's picture

This 'quiet crowd' thing must end, and quickly.

Buckeyeneer's picture

+1,000,000. You know how you get bullshit to stick. Keep repeating and talking about it.

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes

THE Ohio State University

NCFINN's picture

Can't wait to see the Eleven Warriors coverage tomorrow.  Coffee and the Ipad to get the real scoop!

Findog

zosima's picture

So, I have to confess.... I went to the Shoe for my first game (1998), and I found it a very depressing exprience.  The loudest I heard people around me were when they were telling me to "sit down" so they could see.  It was a noon start, and it put a hold on my Buckeye Football love affair.  I didn't really get back into watching the team until I left school and Tressel brought the MNC.
On the plus side, 'Bama rolled up more points on the sun & blue than Western Kentucky University.

schooey's picture

Wildcats take the lead!

Buckeyejason's picture

A lot of close..exciting games tonight!!

BUCKEYES BABY!

Buckeyejason's picture

Omg this Arkansas game is epic! 

BUCKEYES BABY!

Matthew's picture

ES EE SEE!  ES EE SEE!  ES EE SEE!  ES EE SEE!  ES EE SEE! 

Class of 2010

CowCat's picture

CAN'T SEE Y CAN'T SEE Y CAN'T SEE Y

"We get paid to score touchdowns, not kick field goals"
-- Urban Meyer

schooey's picture

Ugh, need three TVs. 

johnblairgobucks's picture

gotta love SEC home field refs

schooey's picture

Oh yes, at LSU all last year was a real eye-opener as far as SEC refs go. 

schooey's picture

NW: three full seconds is  catch. YEAH!
Who is this BigTen Network announcer that has been talking NW down all night, what a fool?

William's picture

Wow Arkansas just lost...

schooey's picture

YEAHAHAHHAHAHAH!!!

Seabass1974's picture

No Arkansas didn't lose. The ENTIRE SEC just lost. S-E-C S-E-C S-E-C chant it up baby!!!

The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender. - Woody Hayes

flipbuckeye's picture

Well played, good man.

Buckeyejason's picture

DOWN GOES PIG SOEWY!! Tebow Style 

BUCKEYES BABY!

schooey's picture

SEC teams losing. No, that can't be, call the press. 

schooey's picture

Lets go Harvard of the MidWest. 

Joe Beale's picture

Earlier today Mark May was bad-mouthing the B1G because Wisconsin and Purdue lost today. Well, at least they didn't lose to a Sun Belt team!

CowCat's picture

Mark May woke up in a ditch smelling like a Bearcat. 

"We get paid to score touchdowns, not kick field goals"
-- Urban Meyer

UpNorthBuckeye's picture

Bearcats smell like popcorn, so thats not the worst thing you could smell like...

"Love my State, hate the football"

schooey's picture

Figured Vandy would take 'em for granted after they almost beat tha piss poor SC team. 

schooey's picture

Now come on Nebraska, get your ___ together. 

ATXbucknut's picture

I re-watched the game tonight. Orhian Johnson was involved in some critical plays. Not just the interceptions, but a critical pass break-up on 3rd-and-goal in the first quarter and a big TFL (or maybe for one yard).  Who would have thought coming into the season that Barnett and Bryant would be underwhelming us while Howard and Johnson were wowing us. I think the latter two might be the most improved players on defense.

BuckeyeFanInBoulder's picture

I haven't seen many throws at Roby, so he must be doing his job.  I think Howard has been lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.  Not that that's a bad thing - can't complain about 5 INTs in 2 weeks as a team.  The communication mishaps are a bigger concern to me than who's wowing us... let's not look like idiots out there.  Without the few big plays given up by temporary lobotomies in the secondary, our passing defense would look pretty solid right now.

BuckeyeFanInBoulder's picture

Speaking of Nebraska, sort of, we are facing injuries but at least got a win. The collective B1G went 6-6... worst bowl season ever coming up for the eligible ones. I feel like anything less than 11 or 12 wins for Urban against the artists formerly known as Wisconsin, Nebraska, et al that I watched should probably be considered a distaster unless injury bug keeps biting.  Am I wrong?
 
Trying to stay positive, Adolphus.  That dude is a man.

Buckeyeholicwompa's picture

Being that today marked my first time ever attending a Buckeye game live and skull session as well......I felt like the noise in the stadium was about right given it was a noon game and that we weren't playing a big team. I was in B deck section 14B and it was loud for 3rd downs, 4th downs, big plays, and TDs by us. Obviously not hoppin loud like the bigger games. Anybody else go to the game? And what did you think??

BuckeyeFanInBoulder's picture

I remember a time when the RB knew which side of the QB to get the ball from.  Three (or more???) times today, the RB, or possibly Braxton, failed to recall which direction the play was going.  That didn't even happen _last_ year.

cinserious's picture

I expect Dunn to take on Hyde's role with Boren getting his fair share of short yardage situations. I hope we don't have to see Rod Smith too much, he can't hang on to the ball. I can't wait to see the D- line once we have Nate Williams and Bennett at our disposal. Hopefully they make it back on the field this week, as well as Jordan Hall. Good thing John Simon doesn't play in the secondary under coach Coombs, he'd be dropping every potential INT that comes his way as an excuse to 'have' to do 50 pushups.

Life's daily struggle is choosing between saying F--ck-it, or soldiering on with your responsibilities.  

Boom777's picture

I think our d-line under performs, where are the sacks!

Wherever you are, there you be!

footballohiost's picture

Just love that continued "deer in the headlights" look when determining what to call against their run at the goal line.
I got it, you count how many guys are on the field (maximum allowed is 11) and let Vrabel do the rest!!! At least he's got some fire and a plan, Adam. YESCH!! I end up reliving 2011---bad, very bad................

Buckeye06's picture

I don't mind Braxton carrying the ball 30 times if he only gets hit on 10 of the carries, much like he did today.  Often he ran out of bounds or wasn't touched and went down kind of on his own with small hits.  He only had a vew big hits on him, and 1 of them was him scoring a TD. 
 
The D-line hasn't been great yet, but I'm not so doom and gloom yet.  We won convincingly against a team people think is pretty good

buckeyechad's picture

Kind of random, but Braxton might have the loudest clap on the planet.

jkrk's picture

I thought it was pretty loud on key downs.