Hall Hiding in Plain Sight

By Kyle Rowland on October 3, 2013 at 9:15a
Jordan Hall was all but invisible in the Wisconsin game plan

History keeps repeating itself in the Ohio State backfield.

In 2011, it was Carlos Hyde who benefited from a suspension to another running back. Boom Herron missed the season’s first six games. During Herron’s sideline sequester, Hyde ran wild.

The week before Herron’s return Hyde rushed for 108 yards at Nebraska. One week later, Herron was back, and Hyde received three carries. Herron didn’t have to work his way back. Instead, he was simply handed the starting running back position.

Disgruntled and baffled, Hyde went to Twitter and threatened to transfer. Cooler heads prevailed, but Hyde’s carries still plummeted.

The next season featured a new head coach and new offensive gameplan. Jordan Hall was pegged as the Chosen One at tailback, meaning Hyde would once again have to prove himself through an unwavering work ethic. That is until a freak accident in late July thrust him into Braxton Miller’s running mate.

Miller-Hyde 2012 won in a landslide, rattling off 12 wins to complete just the sixth perfect season in Ohio State history. Perhaps a shard of glass to Hall’s foot changed everything.

The roles changed in 2013. Spring practice did not include a competition at running back, not after Hyde gained 970 yards and scored 16 touchdowns. He was fine-tuning his skills and technique in hopes of becoming Urban Meyer’s first 1,000-yard running back. This time it was Hall who would be pushed to the background.

Everything changed in the early morning hours of July 20 when Hyde was involved in an altercation with a female at a Downtown Columbus bar. He was suspended for the first three games of the season, relinquishing his starting role to Hall. 

In four games, Hall scored a Big Ten-best eight touchdowns and rushed for 427 yards. He ran for a career-high 159 yards against Buffalo and topped it two weeks later at Cal with 168 yards. Hall touched the ball on 32 percent of the Buckeyes’ offensive plays in the first three games. The numbers were too good for Meyer to ignore, plus he’d always held Hall in high regard.

But his carries fell to four against Florida A&M, Hyde’s first week back, and one versus Wisconsin. Hyde received 22 total carries in the two games.

“Jordan Hall has got to be involved,” Meyer said Monday. “That was a decision we kind of made. We thought and we knew it was going to be very hard to run in there the way they play their defensive line. Those are our top two backs, and we are working on that now. So I want to make sure we get Jordan Hall involved.”

The depth chart tells that story. Hall was first on the all-important document last week and remains so this week. The coaches were certainly thrilled to see glimpses of the old Hyde; he gained 85 yards on 17 carries against Wisconsin. But offensive coordinator Tom Herman said he fell back into old habits calling plays, those of 2012 when Ohio State rode Miller and Hyde to 12 wins. With a double-digit lead, the Buckeyes opted to curtail the passing game, throwing just eight passes in the second half. Those carries went to Miller and Hyde.

Ohio State faces another ranked opponent this week in No. 16 Northwestern, and according to Meyer, Hall will be part of the gameplan. The Buckeyes could use Hyde and Hall as a 1-2 punch and sprinkle in Dontre Wilson while also letting Miller use his legs. The options on offense are multiple, with a loaded backfield and plethora of receivers.

“Is it difficult? No, it’s actually awesome,” Meyer said. “It’s not as difficult as the other one where you don’t have the puzzle pieces of the checkerboard that you like. We have several.”

The season opener showed that Hall and Miller can coexist on the field. A majority of Hall’s success did come with Kenny Guiton on the field, though. Guiton is a facilitator of the football and gets most of Ohio State’s offensive weapons involved. With Miller at quarterback, the need for Hall in the backfield declines because of Miller’s dynamic running ability. A power runner becomes the back of choice.

Still, Hall’s versatility makes him a valuable commodity in the offense. Wisconsin’s defense just didn’t present the right opportunity for him. Hyde’s wrecking ball style fit the bill. But not every Big Ten game will be played with the physicality of the 1970s and 80s.

“The plan was to increase Carlos’ role, there’s no doubt about that,” Herman said. “I don’t think we went into the game and said, ‘Hey, Jordan Hall’s going to get one carry.’ That’s not what we intended. That’s my fault.

“He’s such a good kid. He’s not going to stand there and say, ‘Put me in, coach.’ We’ve got to do a better job [this week] of making sure that we chart how many plays he’s in, how many times he’s touching the football. Because he’s good enough and he deserves that. We failed him a little bit there. But it certainly wasn’t by design.”

As Herman alluded to, Hall isn’t a guy that’s moping on the sideline or in the locker room. You won’t see him post negative remarks on Twitter or gripe to the media. He’s a senior leader whose sole focus is winning football games and being a contributor in practice, meeting rooms and games.

“Jordan is a veteran guy. He’s doing a great job of showing us that he is handling it well," offensive lineman and captain Jack Mewhort said. "That's the great thing about Jordan. I'm not worried about him doing any of that negative stuff in the locker room, because he's a great guy.”


Comments Show All Comments

Baroclinicity's picture

Hate seeing Hall get squeezed out like this, but given the two backs, I think Carlos has a bit more.

When you're holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

InHartWeTrust's picture

I am excited to see Hall and Hyde as a one-two punch.  I think Herman explained it well, and I think the mistake on the staff's part will be resolved going forward.
Can't wait til Saturday night!  Go Bucks, O-H!!

bucks_4_life's picture


The juice is worth the squeeze

ibuck's picture

Moved to below.

Our honor defend, so we'll fight to the end !

If you can't win your conference, just quietly accept your non-playoff bowl game.

mmontell's picture

Too many very good running backs is definitely more of a blessing than a curse, but I can't help but feel bad for Hall. Unfortunate luck sees him lose his starting job last year and then after an incredible start this year, we see him back to the bench basically.


ibuck's picture

Braxton HAS TO PITCH THE BALL for the running game to be more effective, even on his own keepers.  It's easier to defend a running QB if he rarely pitches the ball to the trailing back. This is one area where Guiton is superior to Braxton: Kenny gets all the playmakers involved, and it makes Guiton's own runs more productive.

Our honor defend, so we'll fight to the end !

If you can't win your conference, just quietly accept your non-playoff bowl game.

InHartWeTrust's picture

Agreed, but against Wisc, he made the proper read in keeping on all speed options ran.

FitzBuck's picture


Fitzbuck | Toledo - Ohio's right armpit | "A troll by any other name is still a troll".

CowCat's picture

Hyde, Hall, Wilson and Miller. Hooo-Boooyyyy

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

buckeyepastor's picture

No doubt that against Wisconsin, Hyde had to be the feature back.  Looking at the tough yards that he fought for after contact the other night makes that obvious to me.  NW, on the other hand, presents a different type of defense, a defense that I think Hall and Wilson can better attack on the ground.  
Ideally, the other night could have/should have involved more of Hall, at the very least as a "change up" to Hyde's punishing between the tackles running.   But the offense we ran netted 31 points, and I'd argue would have netted 45 or more if needed, because we did button things up a bit in the 4th quarter.  

"Woody would have wanted it that way" 

Poison nuts's picture

I don't know...Hyde looked good early on, but looked a little sluggish later on in the game when he was stood up on a number of carries. Notably the 4th & one. I was surprised they didn't put Hall in more for some fresh legs & a bit more shifty running. Hall is good & he proved that he should play - so I'm eager to see him more this week.

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

Earle's picture

Agree.  I think the staff wanted Hyde's power to grind out the game, but he did seem tired in the 4Q and I think Hall's quickness would have given him the opportunity to hit some big runs late.
Having said that, not having seen Hyde play much for a while, I had forgotten how good he really was.

Have you tried Not Your Father's Root Beer?  It tastes just like the real thing, but it packs a punch (5.9%ABV).  It's a little sweet for me though.  Two is my limit.

Poison nuts's picture

Yeah - a few of those early runs were a thing of beauty. I suspect as the season progresses, he'll have some huge games. I expect there will be a few teams that they just let him run over throughout the game (I'm talking to you Indiana).

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

13THandSummit's picture

That 4th & 1 stop may have been in part due to Hyde being sluggish, but I think it was more about a strong d-line push and a LB making a perfect tackle.

Poison nuts's picture

Yes - Borland played lights out for sure, but more often than not, against any LB in the country - Hyde can get a yard when needed. I think he was a little overworked at that point, but I understand the staff's thought process after having seen him run through UM at the end of that game last year. 

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

Bamabucknut's picture

I'm sorry...5 years in the program.....has some extra ordinary games when you bench Hyde...and "my bad" from the coaches is supposed to make it all better.
Scripting who you want in the game is NOT part of the game planning?

BeijingBucks's picture

I love Hall but Wisky seemed to only give up yards after contact. Hyde seemed to always break the first tackle and often turned a TFL into a moderate gain.
Dontre provided the true change of pace... Hall something of a curve ball in the middle.
i think it was good to go smash mouth on Wisky. We hadn't really practiced that this year.  Hall is better suited for NW with more cut and wiggle room.
i for one am delighted he's fresh 

None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license. ~ John Milton

johnny11's picture

I would really like to see Smith get involved too. I think it will be Hyde more then Hall the rest of the way though. The staff has shown that they will ride a hot hand in a game and stick to their strengths. Stan Drayton I believe actually mentioned this at the beginning of the year too.

throttlefinger's picture

I would too. And hell, I'd even like to see Easy E Elliot get a few reps. The more to keep the defense guessing the easier it should be for Braxton, Inc.

throttlefinger's picture

Think Hall and Hyde bring a different dynamic in the game. Mixing it up would keep defenses on their heels...as if they aren't already with Wilson and a quickly developing receiver corp. 

gobucks96's picture

I love Hall and his running style, but Hyde is a bigger back and Wilson is a speed demon. With Braxton getting a ton of touches, they don't have enough footballs to go around..

BuckWylde's picture

It seems like Woody's ghost still roams the hearts & minds of the Buckeye faithful. From what I'm seeing in some of these posts, Wisconsin's "O" couldn't possibly run against their own defense since their backs are much closer to Hall's size than Hyde's. This logic also suggests that Boom Herron, Antonio Pittman, Giovanni Bernard or even our all-time golden boy Archie Griffin would all have been too small to succeed against the mighty "Whiskies!"  Did anyone notice the size of the rbs that were shredding the #1 Buckeyes defense in our NC game verses Florida?
Please forgive my venting, but what I'm pointing out is that while the game of college football has taken on a more wide-open "speed centric" flavor, the traditional B1G mindset remains too popular among Buckeye fans, despite what we should have learned against SEC teams in our last couple of championship matchups. IMO Hall would probably have helped us win by 2 TDs rather than 1, against the badgers, since he's always run with attitude, which coupled with the intangible benefits of his recent success, might have produced another score or two.

All progress has resulted from people who took unpopular positions. -Adlai Stevenson, governor, US ambassador

Bucksnut13's picture

Thank you, great post. Speed over size every damn day of the week. Also, I think that a speed player with fresh legs is going to be able to break tackles more than the tired big backs. Florida could legitimately run 3 or 4 rb's. Harvin, rainey, demps and moody. The great part about it is all the backs would run like it  was their last carry on every play, and could do so because they would get rotated in and out so much. I think we should do this with hall, hyde, smith and elliott.

It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog

45has2's picture

Average weight of 4 deep RB roster of the top six SEC teams Bama, LSU, T A&M, UGA, USC & UF is 225 lbs. At a 205lb average, T A&M is 20lbs lighter than the next lightest team. T A&M is also the only true spread team in the top six. Hall is listed at 191lbs Hyde at 235. 235 is closer to 225 than 191 is. Hall is faster, no doubt but Hyde had plenty of 20+ yd runs last season. As for the '06 NC game, I submit that it was more like our lines were shredded by their lines. The Gaytards were on Troy Smith before he could say WTF (the letters not the words) much less, effectively hand off or pass and our D line couldn't keep UF's O line off our LB's. Little scat backs can make you look foolish when they begin their run at the second level of your defense.
"What did you do to beat Alabama today?" Bama's backs average 226lbs and they run a pro style offense not a spread. However, if I'm Bama I am real nervous about JoJa. They have played a far tougher schedule than UA, their backs average 238lbs and them Dawgs can hunt. A good friend of mine is a UF season ticket holder and his father played for Florida. As he says: "What many people outside the SEC don't realize is that speed and size are not mutually exclusive. The SEC has big backs and big linemen but they are also fast." Which is exactly where DickRod went wrong, with his 2751b fast linemen that "don't have to really block, just get in the way", in weaselville.
 As someone that grew up watching Arch and Corny run over, around and through opponents I have no longing for "the good ol' days". TOSU could have beaten Wiscy by a larger margin if UFM and Herman hadn't put their sweater vests on and gone turtle. Many teams, and damn sure Sconsin, can stop the run game when they know it's going to be off tackle every down. I don't care how fast you are, if the hole isn't there you aren't going anywhere.

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

saevel25's picture

Here's what I would like to see, put Hall and Hyde in the same backfield. Hyde has been shown to be a great blocker downfield on Braxton's counter plays. Why not have him be a fast fullback. You can hand it off to him for a quick strike, or have him block a linebacker for hall. You can have hall go out into the flat for a pass. you can also have braxton run it.

Him1stftballl8er's picture

This would be awesome to see. You could rotate Hyde and Smith while rotating Jordan and Dontre. But having both Jordan/Dontre and Carlos/Rod in the same backfield means you take out either Spencer or Heuerman. So who do you take out? So many options! If its me, I pull Spencer seeing Dontre or Jordan are almost as good at receiver, but bring alot more versatility. 

The wise shall inherit glory, but shame shall be the promotion of fools. 

Gametime's picture

I would've liked to see Hall run more than Braxton did that night if they're going to use him. And what's the deal with our off tackle running? Do we not have the conditioned studs up front to get some power running going off the edge?
Let our guards get to the second level and start mauling some guys!
I'd love to see Hall, Wilson, &/or Elliott get more opportunities on the edge. 

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

scrotieMcboogerballs's picture

I think if I had my way to break down offensive plays for the NW, it would go something like this:
Assuming 75 total offensive plays:
Miller-10 'carries', 25 passes
Hall-15 carries
Hyde-20 carries
Wilson/Brown-5 carries (reverse, misdirection, etc.)
But as a disclaimer, what UFM and Herman decide is probably better than me coaching from my leather couch...

"Who do you think you are?!?!...I am!!"  -Pete Weber, bowling legend and dominator of the English language

Him1stftballl8er's picture

Not much of a difference in opinion here but I would say if I were game planning (considering my extremely unqualified opinion)
Braxton - 8 carries, 30 passes
Carlos - 15 carries
Jordan - 8 carries, 1-2 screens
Rod - 8 carries
Dontre - 3-4 carries, 2-3 screens
This would keep bodies fresh, and keep the ball in talented hands. All these numbers are figurative as well. 

The wise shall inherit glory, but shame shall be the promotion of fools. 

ChillitownBuck30's picture

I would like to see Hall used in the H-back position as a receiver.  He has great hands and is able to make people miss.  He may not have breakaway speed, but he can gain ten yards relatively easily if he beats the first man.  Use him for screen and/or sweep passes.  Our receivers have proven they can block down field pretty well.  Let's take advantage of that.  (As I sit in my armchair).  

“Show class, have pride, and display character. If you do, winning takes care of itself.”

ABrown07's picture

The bottom line is as good as Jordan Hall is he reminds me of Lydell Ross as a runner but just a little faster. When I say that I mean that if the wind blows just right, he will fall down. He runs with little to no authority and you just can't play football like that at this level against elite competition. Carlos Hyde blasts guys and does all he can to fight for yardage. I'm in no way questioning anyone's effort, I love Hall as a back but I feel like he needs to be utilized differently because really, unless there is a hole large enough to drive a UPS truck through it's a pretty safe bet he won't be making it through.

I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people.

-Woody Hayes

ScarletNGrey01's picture

Good posts by people here.  Yeah, Hyde did look tired in the second half, if he and Hall had shared the load some more in the first half he may have been able to pick up a couple of those just-missed third downs and the game would have been less of a nail biter.  Also, I've posted several times that I'd like to see Braxton learn to pitch the ball more like Guiton does so well, totally agree with IBUCK on that one.

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

YellowBelly's picture

We'll see how the ball is distributed Saturday night.  I'd go full on Tressel ball and pound the hell out of 'em with our stable.

hey hey hey

hetuck's picture

Look for package with Hall as the hybrid. Can shift to the backfield for a split back look or start with Brown/Wilson in the diamond. 

Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.

Vince Lombardi

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

THey have got to get Hall back in the action and they will.  He'll prove to provide some big plays as the season continues. 
Go Bucks!

pig4skin's picture

BM, CH, JH, and DW in the same backfield.....with a comfortable lead by the 4th quarter, put in KG, RS, WBall, and EZ. Get the tight ends involved too. Don't forget to get the future OL in there too.  Go Buckeyes!!

As much as I like Urban, his coaching left a lot to be desired in the Wisconsin game. W had a game plan to shut down Miller, thereby 70% of the offense, by assignment defensive personnel on him throughout the game. OSU should have made them p