Ohio State Football: Why the Buckeyes' Running Game Will Be Even Better in 2013

Tim Bielik@bielik_timSenior Analyst IMarch 15, 2013

COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 24: Quarterback Braxton Miller #5 of the Ohio State Buckeyes hands off the ball to Carlos Hyde #34 of the Ohio State Buckeyes against the Michigan Wolverines at Ohio Stadium on November 24, 2012 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Urban Meyer's first season in charge of OSU's offense would have made Woody Hayes proud as his Buckeyes ran all over opponents in 2012, rushing for an average of 242.3 yards per game, good enough for No. 10 in the country.

With a deeper, more experienced group of runners back in the fold, there's no reason to think the Buckeyes' explosive ground attack won't be better this season.

The obvious thing that will be crucial to the OSU running attack is the health of Braxton Miller. He was knocked out of several games for at least one play, but always bounced right back up.

Miller was lucky to go through the 2012 season without missing a game, but took quite a lot of hits throughout the year, which he needs to learn to avoid.

What he will have is a wide array of backs to get the ball to with experience in seniors Carlos Hyde and Jordan Hall, junior Rod Smith and sophomore Bri'onte Dunn.

Hyde will be the main ball-carrier with Hall moving to the hybrid position. Both players struggled with injuries, as Hall missed most of the past season and Hyde missed two games early in the season.

Even missing two full games and part of the game against Central Florida, Hyde came close to rushing for 1,000 yards and rushed for 16 touchdowns, finding the end zone in each of his last seven games.

Hall played in just three games as he struggled throughout the year with foot injuries and was granted a medical redshirt so that he can come back for the 2013 season. He has not quite had the opportunity to show what he is capable of playing behind Beanie Wells and Dan Herron, then struggling to get on the field in 2011 after being suspended to start the year.

Hall's motivation this season will likely come because he has no more chances. This is it for him, and he has to produce.

Smith and Dunn each run very similarly to Hyde, and should get a few more opportunities after each showed flashes of brilliance a year ago.

But not only do the Buckeyes return all but 39 yards of their 2012 rushing offense—33 yards from FB Zach Boren and six from punter Ben Buchanan—they also added plenty of explosive talent in recruiting like RB Ezekiel Elliott and slotback Dontre Wilson. The two freshmen add an element of pure speed that no one on the depth chart has at this moment.

They will each have a hard time moving up the depth chart because of the experience in front of them, not to mention Warren Ball, who redshirted in 2012. But it's tough to imagine Elliott and Wilson won't see the field because of their home run ability, something only Miller has at the moment.

With all of those things put together, the Ohio State Buckeyes could have an even better run game than their No. 10 unit from a year ago. The experience their veteran players bring back plus the explosive playmakers coming in as true freshmen form a group that could make opponents' lives miserable on the ground.


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