Ohio State football: Breaking down Carlos Hyde's 2012 season

Andy Lyons

Hyde started slow for the Buckeyes in 2012 and when he was carted off the field week two with an apparent knee injury, fans did not know what to expect out of the running back position for the rest of the season. But when he returned two weeks later, he had opposing defenses wishing he stayed on the sidelines.

Ed. Note – The Land-Grant Holy Land editorial staff grows once again. We're beyond thrilled to welcome the excellent Christopher Jason to the fold. Chris will help us be a bit more analytical in our approach to coverage, plus assist in a wide variety of other aspects. We're super lucky to have him. You can follow Chris on Twitter at @cjason112

In Hyde's absence, Jordan Hall came back from his own injury and played well versus Cal, rushing for 87 yards then versus UAB, rushing for 105 yards on only 17 carries. The following week, Hyde came back against Sparty and it was the first game of the two headed monster backfield that everyone was waiting for, with Hyde's bruising running style mixed with Hall's speed and elusiveness. Ultimately, Hall went down again, this time for the rest of the season, and Hyde mustered a season low 49 yards on 11 carries. Would Braxton Miller have to carry the running game on his back for the rest of the season?

Hyde responded under the lights and on national television versus Nebraska with his most impressive performance of the season, a 28 carry, 140 yard performance in which he reached pay dirt four times in a season defining 63-38 victory. His dominance extended through the rest of the season, gaining 672 yards in the final six games, including 146 tough yards against Michigan in "The Game".

When looking through Carlos Hyde's situational statistics on cfbstats.com, he became a stronger runner as the game went on and was also given the ball more as the defense began to wear down. Compared to Miller's 61 carries for 300 yards in the first quarter of games, Hyde carried the ball only 35 times for 162 yards in the first quarter. If Coach Meyer is looking to tire out the opposing defense with Miller's speed early on, then he looks for Hyde to pound the tired defense into the ground to finish the game.

Based on the statistics, it seems as though Miller takes advantage of the space that the defense is giving him in the first half, (130 carries for 734 yards in 12 games compared to Hyde's 85 carries for 405 yards in 10 games) then the defense adjusts at halftime and tries to focus on Miller in the second half (97 carries for 537 yards in 12 games), leaving Hyde open rushing lanes (100 carries for 565 yards only 9 games).

Think Hyde is just a "three yards and a cloud of dust" type running back? Think again. Using the advanced statistics from over at FootballStudyHall.com, where they created "highlight yards", Hyde actually ranks in the top 10% out of all of the FBS ball carriers in the category:

Highlight Yards: The portion of a given run that is credit only to the running back; after a certain number of yards, the line has done its job, and most of the rest of the run will be determined by the running back himself. Once the line has allowed the runner to reach five yards, the rest of the run is basically on the running back.

Out of Hyde's season total of 184 rushes for 980 yards, the offensive line successfully allowed Hyde to run for at least five yards 76 times (41%). Out of those 76 carries that reached five yards, he gained an additional 310 yards down field, using his own running ability. When highlight yards are divided by highlight opportunities, Hyde finished the season ranked 169th in the country out of over 1000 ball carriers, not too shabby for a "power back".

With a full season and off-season under their belts, there is reason for optimism in Columbus regarding their backfield. The amount of film that is watched by Miller will determine how scary this running game could be. In an offense like Meyers, we should all expect two, one thousand yard rushers...let's just hope the injury bug stays away long enough to make that a reality.

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