Ohio State football: Carlos Hyde returns, adds to a crowded backfield

Rob Leifheit-US PRESSWIRE

Didn't think the Buckeyes could get better on offense? Guess again. With the return of Carlos Hyde to the already-explosive Ohio State offense, who's going to get the majority of the carries?

The Ohio State Buckeyes offense is good. Damn good, in fact. The Buckeyes were able to score 40 or more points in their first three games, most recently dropping 52 on the road against Cal this past Saturday. All the rest of the offense's success aside, the Buckeye backfield has more than answered every question thrown their way following he injury to quarterback Braxton Miller and the suspensions of running backs Carlos Hyde and Rod Smith.

But now, with the return of Hyde from his three-game suspension, a new question surrounds the offense: who's going to get the majority of the touches at running back?

Ohio State's running attack has been the perfect balance to their aerial component of their spread offense assault. The Scarlet and Gray have averaged 285.3 yards per game (13th in the FBS) on the ground thanks to the back-up, Thunder-and-Lightening dynamic duo of senior Jordan Hall and true-freshman speedster Dontre Wilson.

The "Better Call Hall" movement has swept across Buckeye Nation, and rightfully so; Hall has led the attack on the ground, rushing for 402 yards and six touchdowns on 64 carries. His six touchdowns lead the B1G Ten, and his average of 134 yards a game is good enough for ninth in the nation.

Last season, it was week six before Hyde eclipsed 100 yards in a single game. Meanwhile, Hall has rushed for more than 100 yards in two of his first three games as the go-to back.

In his weekly press conference this week, Coach Meyer said that Hall has "earned his touches" even with Hyde returning to the backfield. However, Meyer also talked about Hyde's return, saying that Carlos has "been taking care of everything in the classroom and on the practice field."

Hyde runs like a thoroughbred but has a touch of fullback in his game as well (6-0, 235) whereas Hall is more of a quick-ish running back at 5-9, 191 pounds. It's a fact that, regardless of who plays quarterback, the power read-option spread offense will be run by the Buckeyes. Who's the best option to run a fast-paced hurry-up offense?

You also have to take into account that Ohio State also has two more than capable ball carriers at the quarterback position. Kenny Guiton, yes, back-up quarterback Kenny Guiton has rushed for 181 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries during his two games leading the Scarlet and Gray Brigade. It's safe to say that Guiton is nowhere near the runner than Miller is, and if Urban Meyer does decide to start him on Saturday, then that's another option at his disposal.

And on top of all that, there's Wilson lingering in the discussion. Arguably the fastest Buckeye, it seems as if Wilson was born to play the H-back position in Coach Meyer's spread offense. Wilson played the position to perfection on Saturday at Cal, catching the corner and hitting the down field lanes for big plays. In his freshman campaign, Wilson has rushed for 121 yards and a touchdown on just 13 attempts. Receiving, Wilson has 72 yards on seven receptions playing in the slot.

Though his production and targets have been small, expect to see big things from the young Buckeye as the season progresses. And for all the hyperbole about Urban Meyer, Mark Pantoni, and company selling young speedsters on being utilized in the (and forgive us for beating the dead horse) so-called Percy Harvin role, Wilson is the first to actually look the part.

There's no doubt that Hyde will be a major factor in the game this weekend. However, if you take anything away from what we've seen so far, it should be that the Buckeyes have endless options at their disposal on offense. With the possible return of Miller and the definite return of Hyde, it very well could be bad news bears for the Rattlers of Florida A&M this weekend at Ohio Stadium.

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