TreVeyon Henderson Provides Needed Spark for Ohio State’s Offense in Return to Action Against Wisconsin

By Dan Hope on October 29, 2023 at 12:47 am
TreVeyon Henderson vs. Wisconsin

Ohio State ran for less than four yards per carry in all three games that TreVeyon Henderson missed due to injury against Maryland, Purdue and Penn State. With Henderson back in the lineup against Wisconsin, the Buckeyes’ rushing offense got moving in the right direction.

While the Buckeyes’ game-ending average of 4.2 yards per carry still doesn’t jump off the page, and Ohio State’s offense as a whole performed short of expectations in its 24-10 win in Camp Randall Stadium, Henderson’s final stat line certainly stood out. In his first game in a month, Henderson ran for 162 yards on 24 carries – highlighted by a 33-yard carry that iced the victory for the Buckeyes – while he also caught four passes for 45 yards out of the backfield, accounting for more than half of Ohio State’s 407 yards of offense in the process.

On a night where Henderson and Marvin Harrison Jr. combined for more than 81% (330 of 407 yards) of Ohio State’s total offensive output and never had a comfortable lead until Henderson’s touchdown run with 5:15 left to play, it’s no sure thing the Buckeyes would have even left Madison with a victory if not for Henderson’s exemplary efforts out of the backfield.

“You can just see the difference he makes when he's out there; the explosiveness, the speed,” Ryan Day said after the game. “I thought he ran hard tonight. And he's a weapon out of the backfield … You can do so much with him. Because he has such a great skill set.”

While Henderson did not specifically address what his injury was that kept him out for the past three games, he said he suffered the injury when he “took a cheap shot at the beginning of the Notre Dame game.” The injury didn’t keep him from continuing to play in that game, in which he had a 61-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, but Day said the Buckeyes chose to be cautious with their starting running back over the past three weeks because they felt it was more important for him to be healthy for the season’s stretch run.

“We held him out last week, and it was close. But we felt like, we wanted to make sure that he was 100%,” Day said. “And he's one of the more competitive guys we have, so nobody wants to be out there more than him.”

After playing through a broken foot for most of the 2022 season, Henderson said it was hard for him to have to watch from the sidelines for the past three weeks. But he felt it was best for him to get healthy so that he could play up to his full ability when he returned rather than trying to play injured for the second year in a row.

“I feel like God just kept having me look back at last year what happened when I tried to go my own way, keep dealing with the injury trying to go out there instead of just trusting him. And this time, I just put my trust in him,” Henderson said. “Even though I couldn’t see where he was leading me, I knew it was gonna be somewhere special, and today, it showed.”

“He's the most explosive back in the country. Anytime he touches the ball, he can take it for six. And I think that definitely puts a lot of pressure on a defense.”– Marvin Harrison Jr. on TreVeyon Henderson’s impact

Henderson and the Buckeyes reaped the rewards of that patience at Wisconsin as he looked as explosive as he ever has against the Badgers. His 162 rushing yards and 207 yards from scrimmage were both the second-highest totals of his career behind his third game as a Buckeye against Tulsa in 2021, when he broke Ohio State’s single-game freshman rushing record with 270 yards on the ground.

Harrison, the other offensive Buckeye who had a big night in Madison, said it made a “big difference” having Henderson back on the field against the Badgers.

“He's the most explosive back in the country. Anytime he touches the ball, he can take it for six. And I think that definitely puts a lot of pressure on a defense,” Harrison said. “A lot of attention sometimes goes to the passing game and the receivers, but when you have a dynamic back like that in the backfield, you have to account for him as well. So you can't really not load the box with numbers. So having him back was great. And he's the best back in the country.”

Even with Henderson back, Ohio State’s offense wasn’t at full strength against Wisconsin. Although he wasn’t listed on the pregame injury report, Emeka Egbuka missed his third game in a row with the ankle injury he suffered against Maryland. Kyle McCord was dealing with an ankle injury of his own on Saturday night that did not force him to miss any plays but seemed to hamper him for much of the game, particularly in the second half.

Day said after the game that the Buckeyes still “haven’t put a complete game together on offense,” and another such incomplete performance against Wisconsin led to another tight game for Ohio State on Saturday night. But Henderson’s performance on Saturday night made it clear how much of a difference-maker Ohio State’s top running back can be, which leaves the Buckeyes still feeling confident about what they can do if they can get their offense firing on all cylinders.

“When we’re all healthy and clicking with the defense that we have right now, I think we’re a national championship team,” Harrison said. “We just gotta prove it each and every week.”

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