Buffalo Notebook: Hall's Day Finally Arrives

By Kyle Rowland on August 31, 2013 at 7:45p
Jordan Hall had a career day.

COLUMBUS - Jordan Hall has been at Ohio State for five years. He came with high hopes, along with high school teammate Terrelle Pryor, but had all of six starts to his name prior to Saturday’s season opener versus Buffalo.

By the end of the first quarter, Hall had a new career-long rush – 49 yards. By halftime, he surpassed his previous career-high rushing total of 105 yards. In the first 30 minutes, Hall carried the ball 12 times for 126 yards and two touchdowns.

“I gotta give the offensive line a lot of credit,” he said. “I was just trying to get everything I could while I was in.”

With Carlos Hyde, the projected starter, and Rod Smith, his presumed backup, suspended, Hall played like the back head coach Urban Meyer praised leading up to last season. Hall exited fall camp as one of the biggest success stories. That prompted Meyer to proclaim him the starting running back regardless of the week.

Hall did his best to add separation between him and the other running backs, finishing with 159 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries in the second-ranked Buckeyes’ 40-20 victory. Smith returns next week, with Hyde coming back for Florida A&M on Sept. 21.

Could that mean a position change for Hall, possibly to H-back?

“I’m just going to go wherever they tell me and try to make things happen,” he said. “We’re all brothers on the team. Whatever we can do to get a win, that’s the main focus.”

Game day may have brought focus to Hall, but the night before brought tossing and turning. Hall said he woke up every hour and finally stayed up for good at 5:30 a.m.

“I was just ready to be on the field,” he said. “I knew I was starting at tailback and Coach Herman said he was going to give me the ball a little bit.”

Hall’s focus may have been good. One has to wonder, though, what Buffalo saw. On both of his long touchdown runs – 49 and 37 yards – Hall burst through the middle of the line and ran almost untouched to the end zone. The path on his first score was so wide that he did a double take.

“I was like, ‘Wow,’” Hall said. “I didn’t know if [the Buffalo defense] messed up or the O-line did what they do. I saw [a hole], and I took it.”

For Hall, the performance was a year in the making, maybe even longer. He got stuck behind Brandon Saine and Boom Herron in 2009 and Herron in 2010 and 2011. Last year was going to be his chance to start an entire season and etch his name alongside a long list of great Ohio State running backs.

It ended up being his most trying and forgettable season in Columbus. A deep cut on his foot caused him to miss the first two games before suffering a season-ending knee injury. As Hall was rehabbing and cheering on his teammates, they were busy winning and Hyde assumed the starting running back position with nearly 1,000 rushing yards.

“It was tough,” Hall said. “It wasn’t as tough because we won every game. If we had lost a couple games, it would have been even tougher because I would have felt I could help. We won every game, so I was happy for my teammates.”

Now Hall’s waiting game is over.

“In my mind, I thought it was going to come,” said Hall, about a big-time performance. “I just had to be prepared for when it came, and it came today. I was doing what I knew I could do.”

The new Braxton Miller.

Action Braxton

The improvement of Braxton Miller has been talked about for months. On Saturday, college football fans were finally able to see how far the third-year starter has come. He didn’t disappoint, but he also didn’t wow.

For a time, though, it looked like he was going to deliver a masterpiece. Miller completed seven of his first eight pass attempts and 12 of 14. Ohio State led 23-0 and then 23-7 when Miller got the ball back in his hands.

Looking to make something happen, Miller attempted a screen pass to Dontre Wilson. What he didn’t see was Buffalo’s All-American linebacker Khalil Mack entering the picture. Instead, the only vision Miller saw was Mack running 45 yards in the opposite direction, straight into the end zone.  

“That one I wish I could get back,” Miller said.

It made the score 23-13 in favor of the Buckeyes, but the momentum was stalled – both for Miller and the team. He only completed three more passes the rest of the day.

His final stat line read: 15-of-22 for 178 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He ran 17 times for 77 yards. Miller’s longest rush of the day was a 40-yard scramble.

Where Miller showed marked improvement was staying calm under duress and allowing the passing game to set up runs. Ohio State’s offensive line did not look like the unit that powered the offense a year ago. Center Corey Linsley only played one quarter because of a nagging foot injury and tackles Jack Mewhort and Taylor Decker were not up to par.

Mack’s interception was an example of the line’s less than stellar play. Mewhort missed his assignment, which was to take out Mack. That allowed Mack to escape, stay out of Miller’s path but remain in the passing lane. The final product showed how disastrous one missed block or assignment can be.

“[Mack] did a great job of playing off the cut,” offensive coordinator Tom Herman explained. “If it had happened a split-second sooner, Braxton probably wouldn’t have thrown it. Had it happened a split-second later, the ball is out already. So it was a helluva play by [Mack], but obviously a missed technique by [Mewhort].”

Miller said he didn’t see Mack, assuming instead that Mewhort made the block. But that wasn’t the case.

“I just threw it and by the time the ball got out of my hands, I was like, ‘Dang, the guy’s right there,’” Miller said.

Meyer went one step further, saying Miller never should have thrown the ball in that direction. He should have just thrown it away, according to the coach.

“That should never happen,” he said of the interception.

But one play doesn’t ruin an entire day. Herman and Meyer both said they saw vast improvements, noting that Game 1 still means there’s more room to grow. Spending a day as a primary passer as opposed to a do-it-all magician meant Buffalo wasn’t selling out completely. That’s how Miller was able to rip of some big gainers in the fourth quarter – because the first, second and third quarters saw proficiency in passing.

“It felt good,” Miller said. “I felt good about my fundamentals and how the guys were getting open. It’s a big improvement from last year.”

That said, Miller’s legs also provided Meyer with a big complaint. The speedy, shifty quarterback was sacked four times.

“That’s unacceptable, completely unacceptable,” Meyer said.

Shazier's cramps sent him to the locker room.

Don't Doubt Defense

Much was made of Ohio State’s defensive performance. But a closer look at the box score revealed an adequate game.

The Buckeyes only allowed 258 total yards  - 73 rushing – and 13 points to Buffalo’s offense. The main concern is depth. A bulk of those who played Saturday were backups a year ago. They were also missing two starters, though.

Cornerback Bradley Roby was suspended and safety C.J. Barnett was injured. Linebacker extraordinaire Ryan Shazier missed more than a quarter with cramps. Still, the totals don’t show a bad defense. 

“I see the framework of a good defense,” Shazier said. “I feel like we’re going to get a whole lot better by next week.”

They’ll have to with San Diego State coming in. The Aztecs are coming off a nine-win season, including victories on the road at Boise State and Nevada. San Diego State running back Adam Muema will be one of the best Ohio State goes against all year. 

Only yielding 73 rushing yards and stuffing Buffalo on the goal line showed Muema and the Aztecs might have to get creative.

“Last year we felt like we were one of the best red zone teams or goal line teams in the nation,” Shazier said. “This year we feel like we're going to be the same.”


Comments Show All Comments

FROMTHE18's picture

Big issue today was also complacency. The team basically went into cruise control after the 3rd score which IMO is ridiculous. Didnt really see the same intensity/focus the rest of the game. SDSU is no joke and we gotta get these mistakes fixed, especially the tackle position on the line and better coverage in the secondary (thankfully Roby Island returns). Most of today I have thought about the game with utter disappointment but have since settled in (especially watching Bama have similar issues with inexperience). We are a long way away from where we want to be but the foundation is definitely there. Get to work coaches.

buckeyelinus's picture

I completely agree. Where was the fire in the belly. Very poor tackling again. 


vitaminB's picture

Especially on the first drive on Defense.  Seemed like at least two or three guys were spearing again. RDS included.

ih8rolltyde's picture

Far from perfect, far from bad. I say a good enough start to a long journey.

****igan smells like old water that hot dogs were boiled in.  FACT

BuckeyeSouth's picture

So we put up 40 points but only played 1 good quarter on offense and our defense only gave up 13 points.  I'll take that any day.  I know there are adjustments to be made so when they put together 4 good quarters of offense and correct some mistakes on D, look out.  I sure feel better after this game than I did after we played 4 games last year.  This is gonna be fun.  

Champions.  Undisputed.  

Killer nuts's picture

I'm interested to see how Curtis Grant grades out. I thought he looked better than last year and had his nose around the football a fair amount

yrro's picture

He blew the coverage on their first touchdown, but he was in the mix on a few other plays. The one where his helmet penalty cost us was just a good play two years ago :P

HotSauceCommittee's picture

Helmet penalty wasn't his fault, it happen a split second before Spence hit the qb. Man, Grant and their RB collidide on hat play. 

DefendYoungstown's picture

he needs to fasten all 4 buttons of his chinstrap

What we can't do in the air we'll do on the ground.

buckeyeboy31's picture

I may be wrong on this, but if my memory serves me right, didn't Pitt Brown leave his designated zone?  He was trailing the deep in and let that zone stand free......I'm not disputing Grant missing his coverage, but I thought Pitt was the deep zone in that area of the field

Will in Arizona's picture

It's hard to know for certain, but it appeared to be a zone that Grant should have been in, and Grant appeared to be lost in coverage.  Since we don't know the responsibilities, can only go off what it seemed.

NitroBuck's picture

It would be interesting to get Ross's analysis on the breakdowns on that play.

Ferio.  Tego.

osubuck57's picture

Very happy for J. Hall. No one deserved it more and he had a very nice game. Gotta get the line protections better, but still a work in progress.


BuckGuy003's picture

“I gotta give the offensive line a lot of credit,” he said. “I was just trying to get everything I could while I was in.”
kids got a great attitude. Can't ask for more than what he gives!

buckeyedude's picture

I agree. J. Hall has a very good attitude. He's had some bad breaks.



UrbanCulture's picture

I texted my buddy last night that I hope meyer sends a message to the country and drops 100. In the first quarter I thought, "Wow...could this really happen?" 

gumtape's picture

Maybe Hall is showing that he should be a captain too.

High and tight boo boo

Will in Arizona's picture

Any idea why Bri'onte Dunn didn't get in the game?  Seemed like every active RB on the team had a carry, except Dunn.

denner's picture

Agree.  I thought Zeke would get more touches/pt as well.  Jordan Hall looked great, though. 

Gulfstreambuckeye's picture

Bingo. What the hell was that? Hall took what he was given. YAC was maybe 5 yards all day not on bama level.

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

J.Mo's picture

I agree. I don't know why Urban didn't give him or Ball more touches on the last drive in the 4th quarter.

DannyBeane's picture

If we could have had all quarters as good as the first one we could have easily put up a 100 points. Just ridiculous once this team reaches its full potential. Yeah there were a lot of flaws but a lot of this was correctable.

pcuzz1's picture

My biggest concern was decker. He got beat a couple of times and seemed to struggle. However, I am.confident he will pick it up next weekend

pat cozzens

J.Mo's picture

Decker looked like Antonio Underwood did against Purdue in 2011 - not good. He has a lot of room for improvement on pass protection.

Gulfstreambuckeye's picture

Decker looked really slow vs #46 that guy is a player but damn he got beat bad twice.

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

buckeyedude's picture

I was thinking Decker looked more like Alex Boone 's liver vs. Florida in the 06 NC game.



Poe McKnoe's picture

Decker got introduced to the QB more than the snap...if that give you an idea.

Bucks13's picture

Most people will tell (and I also believe), that the biggest improvement comes from week 1 to week 2. I am confident we will make the necessary adjustments. We get a couple more guys back next week which will help. Also todays play calling on both sides was extremely vanilla, expect to see more looks and variations in the weeks to come. O-line had some bad moments, but they also allowed us to rush for >200 yards so I wouldnt be as critical as some to their performance. One player I noticed who not many are talking about is Michael Hill #77. In the time he saw he looked to be quite disruptive, I think he may have a very bright future as a silver bullet.
Go bucks.

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

I do agree that they will get better by week 2.  You will also have some players back.  The D got a chance to harden in battle which is good. Buffalo does have some good players, so let's not get too worried yet.  I think we are okay for where the team is at in week 1.  We do need to get better as San Diego State is no joke as they have the ability to beat OSU, which Buffalo it would have been a massive upset if they would have.  I look for OSU to come out and play crisper and the D to be even better next week! 

faux_maestro's picture

San Diego State is no joke as they have the ability to beat OSU


Your mom told me she wants a Dicken Cidar.

Blindsquirrel's picture

New on this board but have lurked for a long time. So good to see Jordan Hall have a great game. He has paid his dues with interest. Go Bucks!

Go Buckeyes!

awlinBrutus's picture

Paid his dues? that's debatable.  the problem with hall is staying healthy, he hasn't so far in his career. Good that we are deep in his position. he doesn't have the wheels like smith & hyde.


J.Mo's picture

My take-away...
1. Taylor Decker has a lot of room for improvement
2. Curtis Grant I think will get better week to week and finally live up to his hype. Was pleased with his performance.
3. Washington and Spence are really talented but Joey Bosa is going to push for playing time - that kid can flat out play.
4. Armani Reeves has a lot of room for improvement too - glad Roby is back. With the size match-up and while inside the redzone I wanted to see Gaeron Conely come in and take Reeves spot. Decker had a rough day but Reeves probably had the worst. He should have had that INT!
5. Philly had some butterfingers today. Can't muff those punts. He did make a great attempt at that incompletion (I think that was a borderline call).

Gulfstreambuckeye's picture

Where was eli apple? Bell had a tackle on special teams then never saw the field.

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

ChicagoBuckeyeFan's picture

I've been saying for weeks that Hall is a solid back. But I still miss Hyde on those 3rd and short. He's a beast in those situations, Hall seems to be very stoppable in short yardage situations when they know it's coming. 
Also, WTF is up with Taylor Decker? Three of the sacks were on him, he needs to step it up.

Firmthyfriendship's picture

LOL, did you forget to use sarcasm font or does this : "Please don't tell me he's going to be the primary tailback for the first three games, that was painful to watch last season." mean solid to you. Anyway, congrats.

smartfootballrankings's picture

There were a lot of good things to take away from the game and a lot of bad.  I'm not panicking but I wasn't super pleased.  Braxton looks great.  He was running a crippled playbook to avoid injuries, but still had his explosiveness.  His passing is much improved.  Hall looks great.  Defense had a bend but not break mindset and had a few dumb penalties, but nothing too crazy.  A bit of carelessness with the ball that needs to be addressed.
This team has a tremendous amount of potential.  They need to get their head ons straight and stop making dumb mistakes.  The schedule is incredibly forgiving and we have a great shot of running the table.  While a very good team, we are not ready to take on the top teams of the country.  In another 4 months, that answer could change a lot.  But it will take work.

BuckeyesMJ's picture

Dunn can not be happy. Didn't even see the field! With the depth at RB, the hype of Wilson and Eze, I could see Dunn transferring. He's too talented to just sit and be content.

Edit: It's only gonna get worse for Dunn when Hyde and Smith return.

Gulfstreambuckeye's picture

Hurt. Dog house or red shirt?...that said san diego state is terrible so ohio state has one more easy before cal. Need to get all the starters back in the mix.

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

UrbanCulture's picture

Yeah what happened to SDSU? Didn't they have a 9 win season last year? And now they lost to an FCS team by 22

Eph97's picture

What about the "new and improved" Curtis Grant? Didn't hear his name called often. Not sure if its a good sign or not. The lb corps was pedestrian when Shazier was out.

saltybuck61's picture

I thought he played well today. Didn't see him screw up too often, with the possible exception of one play. He looked good against the run and much better than he did last year in my opinion. Hopefully he continues to improve next week.

Poe McKnoe's picture

If you want to latch your wagon to Hall's horses, go ahead.  I just don't see it.

vitaminB's picture

I agree.  Good for him, but if you take away those two carries where he didn't get touched and he had an average day.  Can't wait to see Smith.
Dontre looked good, with the exception of the fumble.  Hopefully he's got that out of his system.  I'm glad coach put him back in after that and gave him another chance.

Mirror Lake Jump's picture

I think we can put to rest the conversation about all 7 running backs getting touches.

buckeyedude's picture

The sky definitely isn't falling. These Buckeyes have the talent to put it together to make a run for the B1G and even the NC, IMHO.
But one thing that drives me NUTS, is how our DBs play 10 yards off the line of scrimmage, thus allowing the opposing receivers to make easy catches and pick up 5-8 yards(or more, if our DBs miss a tackle, which they do quite often it seems). I realize this was Buffalo and they were playing a bend-don't-break D, but it just drives me nuts. I also realize being the first game that they don't want to show all of their cards, but man, I sure would like to see a more AGGRESSIVE defense out there for these Sillver Bullets. More blitzes and tighter coverage on the opposing receivers would please me greatly.
If our young defensive line can't get pressure on Buffalo's QB, then pass-happy teams are going to pick apart the OSU secondary. Having Roby back next week will certainly help.  
One other thing: I was watching a bit of the Clemson/Georgia game last night, and noticed both teams throwing what seemed like a lot of screen passes to their wide outs. When is the last time Braxton threw a screen pass to one of our wide receivers? I thought the key to Urban's spread offense was to "spread the field"? Maybe it's because the opposing DBs are playing closer to the line of scrimmage than our DBs do when on the field, making an INT/pick 6 more likely?
I'm not being overly critical of the game plan, because I am obviously no expert. Just curious.



Will in Arizona's picture

He threw that one to Dontre Wilson that went for a touchdown....

MN Buckeye's picture

 It felt like at times we played great, but in the 2nd and 3rd quarters Buffalo was the aggressor. I was impressed with Bosa and have high hopes for him this season.