Throughout his eleven years as a head coach, Ohio State's Urban Meyer has never had a 1,000-yard rusher at running back. In fact, it wasn't until last year's undefeated season that Meyer had any position reach that plateau, when quarterback Braxton Miller rushed for 1,271 yards. As Hyde closes in on that mark, let's take a look at the top efforts from the running back position under Meyer's watch, as well as why having a 1,000-yard rusher is not critical to his team's successes.
Urban Meyer’s top running backs:
Brandon Warfield (RB-Utah) – 976 yards
In Meyer's first season at the helm in Salt Lake City, the Utes running back produced most yards by a running back under the coach's watch. Warfield rushed the ball 230 times, piling up 976 yards. The senior's stellar play led the Utes to a 10-2 record, including a win over Southern Miss in the Liberty Bowl, and was a springboard for Utah's 2004 undefeated season.
Marty Johnson (RB-Utah) – 802 yards
During Coach Meyer’s first ever undefeated season as a head coach, running back Marty Johnson pounded out 802 yards and was able to reach the endzone 14 times. Johnson and the Utes finished the 2004 season 12-0, with an impressive win over Pittsburgh in the Fiesta Bowl and a ranking of 4th in the AP Poll.
Joe Alls (RB-BGSU) – 801 yards
Running back Joe Alls collected 801 yards on the ground during Meyer's 2nd year at the helm for the Bowling Green Falcons. Alls was able to hit the 800 yard mark on only 122 carries. The Falcons were able to end the 2002 season with a 9-3 record.
Other notable rushers:
Braxton Miller (QB-tOSU) – 1271 yards
In Urban’s first season at the wheel for the Ohio State Buckeyes, quarterback Braxton Miller racked up over 1,200 yards on the ground. This yardage is even more impressive as Urban was quoted saying that the offense was functioning at only about 60%. Despite the fact that the offense was not fully firing on all cylinders, or perhaps because the Buckeyes had to rely on him so much as a playmaker, Miller was able to become Coach Meyer’s first and only player to reach the 1,000-yard rushing mark. Braxton Miller helped lead the Buckeyes to an undefeated season, as you may recall.
Tim Tebow (QB-Florida) – 910 yards
After the 2009 season at Florida, Tim Tebow found himself to be Meyer’s top rushing quarterback and nearly became Urban’s first 1,000 yard rusher. Gaining over 900 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground for Florida, Tebow led the 2009 Gators to a 13-1 season record and a win over Cincinnati in the Sugar Bowl.
Percy Harvin (WR-Florida) – 764 yards
Percy Harvin, who made Urban Meyer’s "hybrid position" famous, racked up over 764 yards rushing. Harvin averaged an unheard of 9.2 yards per carry during the 2007 season for the Florida Gators, who went on to win nine games that season, ending with a loss to "that team up north" in the Capital One Bowl. College football players must be compared to Harvin at least a dozen times a telecast.
As a coach, Urban Meyer has amounted 125 wins, including seven bowl victories and two National titles. Amongst all of this success, not one of his running backs has gained 1,000 yards in a single season. This isn’t due to a lack of talent at the running back position, but more due to the scheme of offense Meyer runs. Meyer runs a balanced attack. Rather than having one or two go-to-guys on offense, the goal is to spread out to multiple different players. This causes much trouble for defenses who now have to be accountable for every player who steps onto the gridiron. Not having a 1,000-yard rusher doesn’t necessarily mean there is a lack of a run game, but could mean there is a surplus of talent to spread the wealth to. Clearly with the success Meyer has had despite a 1,000-yard running back, having a 1,000-yard guy isn’t critical to win football games.
As the college football season reaches its final weeks, Coach Meyer has a running back on pace to become the first 1,000-yard rusher from the running back position. Carlos Hyde, who was only 30 yards short in 2012, looks to reach this milestone in the remaining weeks of the 2013 season. Hyde has rushed for 947 yards on just 120 attempts, averaging 135.3 yards per game, through only seven games (missing weeks 1-3 due to suspension). One of the Buckeyes last two regular season opponents feature a rushing defense allowing over 200 yards on the ground (Hi Indiana!). It seems as if things are setting up perfectly for the 235-pound senior out of Naples, FL to reach the 1,000 yard mark. Whether or not Hyde reaches this milestone, it is certain the Hyde has been a substantial part to what could be another undefeated season for the Buckeyes.