Ryan Day Expects Dallan Hayden to Be “A Big Part of This Bowl Game,” Says TreVeyon Henderson Health Update Coming “In The Next Few Days”

By Griffin Strom on December 13, 2022 at 4:14 pm
TreVeyon Henderson, Dallan Hayden
Adam Cairns – Columbus Dispatch

Immediately after the Michigan game, there was one eminent question about the Ohio State running back rotation. And it had little to do with TreVeyon Henderson or Miyan Williams.

Why didn’t Dallan Hayden get more touches?

Injuries to the Buckeyes’ two top options rendered Hayden the most viable rusher in Tony Alford’s backfield for most of the final two contests prior to the rivalry game, and the freshman made the most of his opportunities. Hayden rushed for 102 yards and a score on 19 carries against Indiana, and followed that up with 146 yards and three touchdowns on 27 attempts the next week at Maryland.

Then, against Michigan, Hayden received just two handoffs for seven yards while Chip Trayanum – who spent the first half of the year at linebacker – handled most of the running back duties. Of course, Ryan Day had bigger questions to answer after his second straight loss to Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines, after which the Buckeyes landed a backdoor College Football Playoff berth the following week. 

But when asked about Hayden at Tuesday’s press conference, Day said the rotation was Alford’s call and that the Buckeyes required better pass protection as they began to trail the Wolverines in the late stages of the game. Day said Hayden’s scant workload in The Game won’t necessarily impact his potential role in the Peach Bowl, but added that Trayanum’s 83-yard performance against Michigan was impressive.

“Just kind of the flow of the game. And Tony makes that decision based on how things are going. And I thought in The Game that Chip ran well,” Day said. “I thought he did some really good things, especially for his first game getting put into that environment. So certainly looking forward to getting some health back in that room. But Dallan is gonna be a big part of this bowl game. … It's just kind of the way the game went. It just got a little, down the stretch, a little more protection. And so I let Tony handle that part of it. But Dallan wants to play, and he's gonna continue to play.”

Perhaps Hayden’s performances behind closed doors had more to do with his lack of playing time against Michigan. After all, when discussing Hayden on multiple occasions late in the regular season, Day made a habit of stressing the importance of holding onto the ball. That seemed to suggest Hayden may have turned it over a few times in practice, given that he never fumbled during a game this year.

But Day said Tuesday those comments were meant in a more general sense in regards to the entire running back room.

“The ball security is just something we talk about all the time as running backs. It's just the number one thing is when you hand the ball off, they gotta do a great job with that,” Day said. “So no, that didn't play into the decision at all.”

In a perfect world for Day and Alford, neither Trayanum nor Hayden would be RB1 come Dec. 31, when Ohio State tries to knock off No. 1 Georgia in Atlanta. Ever since the Buckeyes got their postseason placement, Day has hinted that the five weeks in between games will give numerous Buckeye players ample time to recover from lingering injuries.

Given the state of the running back room by the end of the regular season, that seemed to be an endorsement of the possibility that both Henderson and Williams could be back at close to 100% by the CFP.

“I think that the running back position, especially those guys, it was hard for them. There's nobody that wanted to play, get on the field more than Trey and Miyan,” Day said on Dec. 4. “But they just had some things that were just limiting what they could do. And I give them a lot of credit for keep trying every week, but it was just, there's two things: There's one, you can get bruised or you can get kind of hurt, then there's things where you get injured, that you just physically can't do it, and it gets frustrating. 

“This allows us some time to heal from those, so that we can hopefully get some of this stuff behind us so we can have a full-strength team going into it. It's a lot of different positions. But I give those guys a lot of credit for trying it every week and getting out there and grinding through it. But it'll be nice to be at full strength.”

But on Tuesday, Day didn’t double down on the notion that Henderson – who tweeted after the Michigan game that he’s dealt with torn ligaments and broken bones in his feet – would be healthy for the Peach Bowl. Day said there’ll be an update on Henderson coming in the next few days, and while that doesn’t confirm anything one way or the other, it doesn’t sound too promising.

“I'll probably give you an update on Trey here probably in the next few days. I don't really have an update on where he is right now, you know, as we kind of get off the road (recruiting),” Day said. “So it's kind of like that with everybody. And I'm not sure exactly when we'll give an injury update on this, we'll have to talk about that. But as I get off the road, we'll get back to you on that one.”

UPDATE: On Tuesday evening, Henderson indicated in a tweet that he will not play in the College Football Playoff. The sophomore running back will reportedly undergo surgery on his foot, which was initially injured in the Toledo game.

Given that news, Hayden may end up having the role many expected him to have in the Michigan game – or at least a bigger workload than he had last time out – against Georgia. But even with Henderson unavailable, Day still sounded hopeful that the running back room should be in better shape health-wise than it was just a couple of weeks ago.

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