October 5, 2010

Is it Hall's time?

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COLUMBUS, Ohio - Going into the 2010 season fans and critics alike were trumpeting the amount of depth that Ohio State had in its running back group and circled it as one of the main reasons that the Buckeyes would make a deep run this season. Now the critics have been quick to point out the depth is not being utilized and that Jordan Hall and Jaamal Berry's time is now.

The Buckeye rushing offense has not been bad this year by statistics alone with the team rushing for 234.80 yards per game, good enough to rank 14th in the nation. Quarterback Terrelle Pryor leads the team in rushing but even if you were to take his numbers out of the equation the Buckeyes are still averaging 5.0 yards per carry. But Dan Herron and Brandon Saine have yet to have a defining game with only Saine eclipsing 100 yards in one game and Herron not reaching 100 yards as of yet.

But is change the answer? Both Hall and Berry have looked impressive in mop-up time when they get an opportunity but would carries earlier in the game be a jolt to the rushing offense or would it be more of the same?

There will be plenty of opportunity for Ohio State to run the ball on Saturday with the Hoosiers bringing in the No. 108 rushing defense in the nation to Ohio Stadium. But don't expect to see any drastic changes in the rotation based on groundswell support for change alone.

"We've got a lot of receivers we like to get the football to," Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel said. "We've got a quarterback we'd like to run seven to 10 times, and a couple tailbacks who we think are very good. So there just aren't that many balls left and I guess we could take all those balls this season that we've thrown to tight ends and give them to Jordan, then we'd be having the opposite discussion."

Saine has seen his production on the ground fizzle the past couple of weeks with 11 rushes for 25 yards versus Eastern Michigan and Illinois. But there is no denying Saine's impact as a receiver with a touchdown catch against the Illini and nine catches for 75 yards during the season.

"He hasn't had the running yards. I'm not sure who would have in the situations he just happened to be in, but Brandon Saine adds a dimension of speed and versatility that we have to absolutely use," Tressel said. "So have we figured out exactly how to maximize that? Probably not. But that's what you do during the course of a season, you know, who's available, who's healthy, what do they do, how can we -- what's some good match-ups, so I'm sure it will change every week."

Herron's impact was felt during the stretch drive of the Illinois game when he saw most of his 23 carries on the day. Before that game he did not break the 70-yard mark however and only hit pay dirt three times on the season. But does all of that fall on the running backs, does it fall on the play calling or are there even more moving parts that are involved when it comes to being a successful runner and part of a successful run offense?

"We're always going to get loaded boxes until we show that we're going to threaten them elsewhere, but sometimes the circumstances in a game or the weather condition in a game or whatever, sometimes that box gets loaded up and nothing you can do but fight for every inch and that's why I thought our guys did a pretty good job," Tressel said.

Even with the glowing endorsement of the two current starters however the door certainly is not closed on seeing an increased role by Hall however. He has Berry both have been a factor in the return game and have shown flashes of what can happen when they get out in space. Hall has an extra year on Berry when it comes to game experience however and seems to be the next player on deck to be the guy.

"I have one million percent faith in Jordan Hall. He's going to make a difference this season, he already has," Tressel said. "I wish we had more carries available, but you're going to see Jordan Hall."


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