Ohio State will run a version of the spread offense under new football coach Urban Meyer, stretching the field with multiple receivers.
But that doesn’t mean the Buckeyes will be a pass-happy finesse team the way Purdue was under former coach Joe Tiller when he confounded defensive coordinators with his aerial schemes.
“Purdue changed the Big Ten. That was throw it, throw it, throw it,” Meyer said. “We want to be 50-50. We want to be physical.
“That was (known as) basketball on grass. I told my coaches, ‘You won’t be coaching here very long if I ever hear that come out of your mouth.’ It’s power football from spread sets.”
To make that style work, the Buckeyes need a punishing running back, and they think they’ve found that with the rejuvenated Carlos Hyde.
The 6-foot, 235-pound junior averaged 5.3 yards per carry last season and 5.9 as a freshman. He wasn’t a consistent contributor, though — and he may have no one to blame but himself.
“To be honest, I thought he was a lazy football player a year ago,” running backs coach Stan Drayton said.
The difference between Hyde then and now, though, is “night and day,” Drayton said.
Despite his bulk, the Naples, Fla., native was clocked in the 40-yard dash at 4.43, which would make him as fast as most safeties.
“Last year I played at 240, but the coaches want me to get down to 232 before the season begins. I’m at 235 right now and the coaches seem OK with that. I still run a fast 40, so it doesn’t matter,” he said.
Hyde’s sporadic workload last season left him bewildered. He rushed for 566 yards and six TDs on 106 carries.
“Sometimes I got in and had good games, and in others I didn’t play at all,” he said. “I got down about it, but a couple older guys told me to be patient and that my time would come.”
His time has arrived. He’ll be the starting running back going into the Sept. 1 opener against Miami, while sophomore Rod Smith and true freshman Bri’onte Dunn are fighting for the No. 2 spot.
All-purpose back Jordan Hall will be utilized in a variety of positions — including being teamed with Hyde — once he returns from a foot injury.
“He’s a guy who has really grown up,” offensive coordinator Tom Herman said of Hyde. “He’s got more speed than probably you’d think in the open field and is very elusive with good hips.
“I think the thing about Carlos is he’s really stepped up his mental game in the last couple months. He’s really kind of taken ownership of that meeting room and position group. With Jordan out, he knows: ‘This is going to be my time to shine.’ “
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