Ohio State Football Notebook: Meyer Insists Hall is the Man to Beat at Running Back

By Kyle Rowland on August 27, 2013 at 5:00p
Meyer's man at running back.

There was no running back competition in the spring. No need after Carlos Hyde nearly rushed for 1,000 yards last season. In doing so, he ended any doubt who the starting running back was.

When Ohio State needed to run out the clock against Michigan State and Michigan, Hyde finished the job. So much was said about Jordan Hall leading up to the 2012 season, but injuries sidelined him for the year, resulting in a medical redshirt.

Now Hall has been thrust into a leading role once again, and head coach Urban Meyer is the ringleader.     

“Jordan Hall is the best running back on our team right now,” Meyer said. “And so he’ll have to lose that spot. I’m talking next week, the week after, whatever. He’s a tailback at Ohio State. He’s earned that right.”

With Hyde last in line taking reps with the running backs, one has to wonder how long it will take him to catch up. He’s suspended the first three games, putting a major dent in his plans for 1,000 yards. Just getting enough carries for 100 yards in a game could be an issue now.

In the spring, Hall spent most of his time at the H-back spot. He got his feet wet and learned the position, caught passes, ran the ball. When Hyde’s status became the team’s biggest question mark, Hall was ushered to the backfield. His versatility gives the offense the ability to use him at multiple positions.

The running back hierarchy currently reads: Jordan Hall, Bri’onte Dunn, Warren Ball and Ezekiel Elliott. Dontre Wilson will get touches at both running back and wide receiver.

“You feed the guy that needs to get fed, I guess,” said offensive coordinator Tom Herman. “The guy that’s playing the best will get the ball. We'll determine early who that is.  A running back can't play 75 plays a game, so we'll figure out who goes in next and see how he's doing. If he's not having success, OK, let's try Plan C and let's try Plan D. Beyond Jordan, you certainly want to get those guys some game reps and then just kind of see how they do.”

Said Meyer: “It’s really neat to have that many spots, have those choices.”

For Hyde and Rod Smith, who’s suspended for the opener, there’s no need to panic. Instead, it’s time to put the work boots on and grind away.


One week ago, the President of the United State paid a visit to the University of Buffalo. As is custom, he spoke highly of the Bulls’ athletic program, wishing them luck in their upcoming game against Ohio State.

“I also know that everybody here must be fearless, because the football team kicks off against No. 2 Ohio State next weekend,” Obama noted. “Good luck, guys. It’s going to be a great experience. It could be an upset.”

It was the last line that garnered attention. The Buckeyes have lost one game in their history to a MAC program, and that happened during the second Cleveland Administration. For those who aren’t history buffs, the year was 1894. Akron beat Ohio State 12-6.

A loss to Buffalo would register as the biggest upset of the Buckeyes and one of the all-time upsets in college football history. Second-ranked Ohio State is a 35-point favorite. The Bulls have improved under head coach Jeff Quinn, but they’re still coming off a 4-8 season. 

When Quinn was asked a bout the prospect of beating the highest ranked team Buffalo has ever faced, he didn’t shy away from the challenge.

“Our kids are going to line up and they are going to play,” Quinn said. “They know who they are, and I know who they are. We have better leadership. These are young men that have played against Tennessee, Georgia and Baylor. These are young men that have grown in our program. They’re going to go out there and compete. This is a very confident group. We want to be that complete team.

“We’re playing one of the best football teams in the country. They’re a tremendous football team. They’re well coached. It will be a great environment.”

The Bulls ranked in the bottom half of FBS in nearly all offensive and defensive categories for the 2012 season. Both sides of the ball should improve this season, but it’s the defense – and one defender in particular – that piqued Ohio State’s interest.

Meyer referred to Khalil Mack as “one of the best linebackers.” This wasn’t just coachspeak. Mack is one of the top NFL linebacker prospects for the 2014 draft.

“Tremendous player,” Meyer said.

Herman noted the uniqueness of the Bulls’ defense.

“It’s something that is a little bit difficult to prepare for because you’ve been playing against a certain style of defense all fall camp and then you go into your first game and they are a 3 3 stack team that will play three down linemen, three linebackers, three safeties and two corners,” he said.

Going against Mack should provide the Buckeyes’ up-tempo, highly regarded offense with a good first-game test. Quinn admitted it will yield answers for Mack, as well. Braxton Miller is the best player the Bulls will face all season.  How much does Quinn like him? Enough to declare him the top Heisman contender.

“He is a complete player, without at doubt,” Quinn said. "By far one of the best. Braxton Miller is clearly my favorite.”

The offense took four games to get up to speed in 2012.Urban Meyer wants the offense operating at full speed.

Pick Up The Pace

The excitement that accompanied Meyer’s hiring was unprecedented at Ohio State. It brought visions of national championships and even got fans enthusiastic about a season that included no postseason.

However, after one quarter of the Meyer era people were left scratching their heads. Is this really how it’s going to be? Miami (Ohio) was in front of the Buckeyes 3-0 after the first quarter. Then the return to normalcy came. Ohio State allowed seven more points while scoring 56 of its own.

Meyer is hoping for another undefeated record, but he doesn’t want history to repeat itself with a sluggish opening game.

“I want us to play well. I want us to play clean,” Meyer said. “Remember last year the first quarter it was [3-0]. Should have been worse. Could have been worse.  So I just didn't think, really, up until about the third or fourth game that we acted clean.”

No one would argue that after scores of 31-16, 35-28 and 29-15 against Central Florida, Cal and UAB. The Buckeyes undefeated record would lead many to believe they played sound football for 12 games. There was never anything in doubt. That is far from reality, though.

Offense, defense, special teams – they all had their share of struggles.  

“I made this comment, many, many times, that fundamentally we were 12 0 and some really great things happened, some incredible leadership, motivation and a team that got really, really close, which is probably more important than everything. Not probably, it is,” Meyer said.

“But the second most important part is just blocking, tackling and great football position, and all the great things that we work so hard at. I’m hoping that we leave that field Saturday, obviously, with a win, but you feel good about the fundamentals of your football team. If you do that, that’s a real positive. It took us awhile last year.”


Comments Show All Comments

njclebuckeye5's picture

the problem approaching in week 4 of having 6 guys who can do serious damage from the backfield is just about the best problem a staff can have. cannot wait to see ball, eze and dontre get their first shots

Lobs it to the endzone... Touchdown Devin Smith!!

ATXbucknut's picture

I'm still bitter about that Akron loss back in '94.

buckeyedude's picture

If only someone had invented the forward pass and leather helmets before '94, we could've won that game!



OurHonorDefend09's picture

Wishbone, anyone?

Don't give up... Don't ever give up.

Gulfstreambuckeye's picture

Georgia was in a game til the second half vs the bulls Ohio State needs to jump these guys early.  Not sure if im giving the 35 pts yet.

Sometimes you're flush and sometimes you're bust...but life goes on.

TMac's picture

Give The Points!

ONE Not Done!

hit_the_couch's picture

If so many of these guys are supposed to be beasts then try to work as many in the game as possible.

And then I told her...i'm no weatherman, but tonight's forecast is calling for several inches!

BierStube's picture

Heck with it  .. I have the solution .. we just need to have an offensive set where we have Braxton, Dontre, Spencer, Hall, Dunn, Ball, Clark, EZE, Brown or Smith, Fields, and Linsley (gotta have a center).  I can't imagine what a defense might think of that!

"No matter where you go, there you are." B. Banzai

45has2's picture

A 11 offense.

"I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people." -W.W. Hayes

unholy bucknut's picture

I really kind of thought Jordan Hall would get lost in translation this season with what was already in the cupboards and with the new class coming in. I'm glad things are coming together for him. It would have been sad to watch him fade into the background in his last season and until now I honestly thought he would. Im happy for Jordan.

TMac's picture

Urban may not get his 1000 yd rusher this year either, BUT he could have 5-6 guys all with 500+ yards

ONE Not Done!

13THandSummit's picture

"These are young men that have played against Tennessee, Georgia and Baylor." ... " and they only lost by a combined 120-39!"

GoBucksOSU's picture

Miami was winning 3-0 at the end of the first quarter, not 7-0.

Buckeye Knight's picture

Not surprising.  Besides Braxton, Hall was the best fit we had last year for Urban's offense.  He's crazy shifty when healthy.

MN Buckeye's picture

I am counting on great play from both lines to pave the way for a big win.

otrain2416's picture

I'm really happy Hall is getting the start this game with this being his senior season. However, I hope it doesn't continue once Smith and Hyde return and he slides out to the Pivot role. I see the pivot position working well for him and our offense because:

  • He's got good hands
  • He plays his best football in space
  • Has great lateral quickness

I don't think he should be the number one running back because

  • His worst football is played between the tackles
  • He doesn't have breakaway speed 
  • He's not very good at breaking tackles.


We were born to love Ohio State and hate that team up north.

buckeye_heart's picture

I'm hoping Hyde doesn't get disheartened like when he felt he wasn't getting enough playing time and wanted out. Hopefully he takes this as a challenge and gets angry. Angry Angry Angry!

"Guess I'm not good enough. Take myself elsewhere."

Gulfstreambuckeye's picture

We all know it would be Hyde, Smith then hall on third downs if both Hyde and Smith were not sitting this week.  
Hall is a decent back but don't tell me he is better then those two guys.

Sometimes you're flush and sometimes you're bust...but life goes on.

Normal Buck's picture

Agree.  To me, this is a motivational ploy.  I love J. Hall, but he's no Guapo.

RedQueenRace's picture

I don't think he is the best runner.  But he may be the best back when taking in his performance in plays where he doesn't run the ball (carrying out fakes, lead blocking, pass protection, receiver out of the backfield, etc).  That is what I am assuming Urban means.  Of course it could be a motivational tactic as others have noted.  I can see that too.  Don't allow Hyde or Smith to become complacent and assume the position is just waiting for them to come back.

osu07asu10's picture

But, but....Jordan Hall doesn't deserve the touches, "we" already know what he brings to the table.

CJDPHoS Board of Directors // Best friends with Homey Hache

The 0 is silent.

USMC11917's picture

 Some of those carries where Hyde got 2-3 yards last year, Hall would have been TFL. Hall isn't bad but he is not Hyde's caliber nor is he Smiths. This is his last year and I'd prefer to get some game experience for guys who are going to carry us in the near future. Keep him in the slot. Anything I say will be met with resistance if it doesn't align with our coach. He may see a whole lot more at practice that I don't see but speaking from limited game tape I am not buying the Hall hype.

osu07asu10's picture

By "caliber" of Smith do you mean having as many career fumbles as TDs?

The criticism of Jordan Hall is unbelievable. 

CJDPHoS Board of Directors // Best friends with Homey Hache

The 0 is silent.

Oldschoolbuck's picture

I understand the skepticism about Hall. I'm sure HE'S as eager to prove himself as we fans are to see him do so.
Right now we only have the HC's evaluation from practices. I don't know if Hyde or Smith would be starting ahead of Jordan if they were eligible. I DO know that UFM doesn't engage in BS "coachspeak" or give out starting spots to guys that don't deserve them, especially with all the talent at RB this year.
Maybe Hyde, Smith, EZE, Dunn or Ball replace him as tailback further into the season; if so, we'll know they've gotten it "the old fashioned way - they've EARNED it!"

osu07asu10's picture

Yes, if Hyde wasn't suspended it was HIS job to lose much like it is Hall's now.
I trust the staff though, and if they say he is the best back right now and the job is his to lose, then I trust that Jordan is more than capable (when healthy) of being everything we need from a RB at ohio state.
Plus you need to look at the 11 players  holistically. Urban and Herman have said the best 11 will play and they realize that they can use Hall on the field but he isn't as explosive as others at the pivot (Wilson) therefor they will use him in the backfield to be more dynamic.
Don't forget the offense we saw last year was maybe 50% (Urban's words I believe) of the total playbook. Urban prefers a "power running" game but he has never had a back Hyde's size and style so the offense was tailored to our strengths.
Now that Hall (and freshman) are available, it adds an entirely new wrinkle and dynamic to the offense at the RB position.

CJDPHoS Board of Directors // Best friends with Homey Hache

The 0 is silent.

45has2's picture

Mr. Hyde is a freakin' beast. As advertised. He is pure Buckeye through and through. He's an offensive Spiels that would rather run over you than run around you. He should be given number 36 because he would do the number justice. Urb psychologizes as Urb psychologizes.

"I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people." -W.W. Hayes

Young_Turk's picture

Would love to see Hall take the position, make it his for the season.  Let Jordan be UFM's first 1000 yard back.  Rooting hard for Jordan!


USMC11917's picture

If we can get some linemen on their Linebackers then Hall might have a productive day. You start cluttering the box and not so much.

DenBuck's picture

I want to see BALL. In these early games, you gotta share the carries to get the young guys some experience. We know what Jordan brings. I want to see the youngsters. 

Buckeye For Life

cajunbuckeye's picture

No disrespect to Hall, but why carry a knife if you own guns? I'm sure that Urban knows a hell of a lot more than I do, but I prefer the big running backs. There's nothing like pounding a team into the turf on a Saturday afternoon with a vicious ground attack. I look forward to being pleasantly surprised this weekend. Give 'em hell, Hall! Go Buckeyes!

An angry fan...rooting for an angry team...led by angry coaches

cajunbuckeye's picture

C. Hyde, R. Smith, B. Dunn, and W. Ball do not endorse that downvote.*

An angry fan...rooting for an angry team...led by angry coaches

45has2's picture

Effn A, B & C, Tweety.

"I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people." -W.W. Hayes

InHartWeTrust's picture

Urban has said over and over "we want to work in space" primarily this year, namely through short passes -- said before he caught himself and said he didn't want to give too much away.  Hall will be a good RB for this.  He can pass protect, he can catch out of the backfield, he can take the ball outside on an option, and he can work well in space in any of the aforementioned ways he gets the ball.
I am sure Hyde, Smith, Ball, Dunn, and Eze will all have their place in the offense. Hyde and Smih are bruisers up the middle, as is Dunn.  Hyde is a great blocker too.  Ball and EzE are a perfect mix of speed, elusiveness, and power.  We have all bases covered, balls will be spread around.  The options in the diamond formation, once Hyde and Smith are back, are incredible.
With the top two out, Hall knows the playbook and his assignments.  He is a veteran, and he has leadership.  We need all of these things in the opener while we are working the kinks out and settling in.  He is reliable with the ball and knows where he needs to be.  In closing, for Jordan, "let him live."
The #1 on the depth chart, or the "starter", doesn't matter much.  Yeldon wasn't the #1/starter for Bama, and he made a big impact with plenty of touches last year.   Each guy on our team has a role, the coaches will utilize it as necessary....that is what they are paid to do.

Jabba the Hoke's picture

I know Urban wants the ball in space in his offense, but when we need to run out the clock and put away TTUN this year I hope he's feeding Hyde the ball.

45has2's picture

Urban also was quoted last year as saying he liked having a big power back and that he just never had one at UF. Mr. Hyde can punish a tackler, Hall can not. I love Hall but if we're chasing BAMA then you need to look at how they ball.

"I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people." -W.W. Hayes

buckguyfan1's picture

Would love to see fresh backs(studs) come in the game during the 3rd and 4th quarters to help put the games away.
Edit: Not sure the opposing defenses will love it...

ScarletNGrey01's picture

Jordan Hall is a great back to have in Urban's spread offense, hope he finds the seams, scoots around the ends and makes some nice catches and has an awesome senior season.  HOWEVER ... Carlos Hyde is a human bowling ball, he just wears teams down, a bit like Beanie Wells did, in the fourth quarter especially he can pick up a lot of yards.  Smith has that potential also.  The "flash and dash" is great and we all have a need for speed, an exciting new era coming to Buckeye Nation, but a strong, beast of a RB is a great thing to have in most any kind of offense.  Carlos is a hell of an RB.

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

Mirror Lake Jump's picture

It's hard to imagine an offense where seven guys will get a touch at running back. Somethings got to give.

cajunbuckeye's picture

Something will. Carlos Hyde will run like a man possessed, when Urban finally gives him the nod.

An angry fan...rooting for an angry team...led by angry coaches

buckeyedude's picture

I agree 150%, Cajun.
I almost feel sorry for the first guy that has to try to bring El Guapo down. If you think he put a hurtin' on Drayton, you ain't seen nuttin' yet!



buckskin's picture

I have never seen OSU so stacked at RB.  I want to see more of Ball, Dunn, and some Elliot against Buffalo.  Want to see the potential.

avail31678's picture

Does anyone remember LeGarett (sp) Blount when he finally was able to play in the Rose Bowl (against us) after being benched all season?  He looked like a runaway train he was so ready to play.  This will happen with Carlos, and Urban knows it.  Urban is motivating.  Think about it - it's a win-win.  If Hall does do that well at running back and actually meets or exceeds what Carlos would produce...then YAY, right?  If he doesn't, you slide a hungry Carlos right back in to pick up where he left off against TTUN, and Hall gets more touches in space in the slot. 

Gametime's picture

Ugh, Jordan Hall...well the least I'll say, is he is "reliable", but damn it I'm tired of seeing "reliable" running backs at Ohio State, and I think that's a sentiment people feel solely because of the excitement brought on by the newcomers. 
I mean we always seem to go through this cycle of "reliable" backs and "superstar" backs. With our power backs unavailable, people are clamoring for SPEED.
We can be honest with ourselves; despite our knowledge of comparable 40 times & wins over Oregon & Arkansas, that deep down after Urban w/ Florida laid that 41-14 beatdown on us, as much as it hurt, deep down we said to ourselves "Damn, I wish our team played with that kind of aggression, quickness, and speed on both sides of the ball.
Of course we would never take our Buckeyes for granted, but I'm sure we felt similar feelings after the losses to USC as well. "Damn, I wish the coaches would let our guys play more loose and attack on both sides of the ball."
In a strange twist of fate, we're sitting on the cusp of that after an inaugural 12-0 season and the first full recruiting class has been baptized by the fires of Marotti.
A lot of fans are eager to complete the transformation and in some weird cosmic way, J.Hall is the anti-thesis of Dontre Wilson and they both figuratively represent a changing of the guard.

Between goals and achievement is discipline and consistency. That fire you have inside to do whatever you love is placed there by God. Now go claim it. ~ Denzel Washington