lEverybody knows that one of the best parts of being a sports fan is debating and dissecting the most (and least) important questions in the sporting world with your friends. So, we’re bringing that to the pages of LGHL with our favorite head-to-head column: You’re Nuts.
In You’re Nuts, two LGHL staff members will take differing sides of one question and argue their opinions passionately. Then, in the end, it’s up to you to determine who’s right and who’s nuts.
Today’s Question: What major records do you foresee TreVeyon Henderson breaking while at Ohio State?
Context: This really isn’t as much of a debating topic as our normal “You’re Nuts” columns are, because, let’s be honest, we’ve had enough negativity so far in this short season, and we wanted to focus on something excited and optimistic and perhaps a bit unlikely. I’m sure Matt and Jami will be back to snidely arguing about something next week, but for now, they are just going to wax poetic about the potential of the Buckeyes’ new No. 1 running back.
I think it’s safe to say that most Buckeye fans are all-in on freshman running back TreVeyon Henderson. Based on his performance in the first few games, it’s not a matter of whether the 18-year-old will continue to break records at Ohio State, but rather which records he will break (all of them, I hope). Ultimately, I’m most excited to see him shatter J.K. Dobbins’ 2,003-yard record for total rushing yards in a season.
I don’t think it will happen this year, though he could certainly beat Dobbins’ program record for most rushing yards by a freshman at 1,403. But 2,000+-yard seasons are hard to come by, and I think Henderson will get there only with another season or so of experience under his belt.
Still, he is putting up spectacular numbers already. Currently ranked 12th in the NCAA in rushing yards, he’s totaled 346 yards and four rushing touchdowns over three games; three of which came last week against Tulsa. He’s also averaging 9.1 yards a carry.
In fact, he’s already breaking records. His performance in Saturday’s game shattered a freshman rushing record for yards in a single game that had stood untouched since two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin ran for 239 against North Carolina in 1972.
And while Henderson’s 54 yards in the loss against Oregon might seem meager in comparison to the win over Tulsa, it was a solid performance given that OSU’s run game was pretty sorely lacking against the Ducks. He gets better each week, and I expect that to continue.
Henderson has the it-factor. He can burst through holes with impressive speed, in large part because he has good instincts and can dissect plays quickly. He’s also able to change direction and adjust as needed, which is going to be important as this season goes on. All of this, and he’s only three weeks into his college career.
Henderson has a little bit of catching up to do if he’s going to beat Dobbins’ freshman year record, but it is well-within reach with a few more games like he had against Tulsa last weekend. At the same point in Dobbins’ freshman year, he had logged 425 rushing yards with three touchdowns (Ohio State lost the second game of that season as well, that time 31-16 to Oklahoma). I expect Henderson to rack up decent yardage again this weekend against Akron as well and stay in the mix for this record.
But it will be in Henderson’s sophomore or junior season that he reaches his full potential, and I think he has the ability to not just become the second Buckeye to break the 2,000-yards mark in one season, but also log a few more yards than Dobbins.
This is a massive undertaking for any running back, because the position can be fragmented — the wealth is often shared among several guys. When you start to go off like Henderson has, you wind up with a target on your back. But Henderson has been a force unmatched, blowing even seasoned Buckeyes like Master Teague out of the water. Teague, a two-time All-Big Ten selection and steady presence for OSU during his time in Columbus, logged 62 yards in 14 carries against Tulsa, for comparison. And Henderson doesn’t seem like the type to scare easy.
Dobbins’ 2019 record was so impressive in large part because he was playing some of the most challenging defenses in college football. It remains to be seen what Henderson will do against the likes of some of the tougher competition that lies ahead. But if his impressive instincts can continue to create some tremendous plays, he will only get better with experience.
He said himself after the Tulsa game, “I got plenty more, so I got to keep working.” As he develops further and his confidence continues to grow, expect his playmaking to grow with it.
He’s coming for Dobbins’ record. I believe that wholeheartedly. The real question is what other records he’ll break along the way.
You’re reading it here first, it’s not what records TreVeyon Henderson is going to break, it is that he WILL break THE record at Ohio State. Much like Jami discussed with the true freshman breaking Archie Griffin’s freshman, single-game rushing record, I believe that Trey is going to break another long-standing Archie record before he hangs up his scarlet and gray duds for the NFL.
I believe that by the end of the 2023 season, the new all-time leading rusher in Ohio State history will be TreVeyon Henderson. The all-time rushing mark is currently at 5,589, which Griffin set in four seasons from 1972-75. That number is 1,130 yards more than the man behind him on that list, the aforementioned J.K. Dobbins.
But, despite the enormous numbers that Archie put up, and how ridiculously unchallenged they have been for four and a half decades, I legitimately believe that Henderson is going to break them.
Let’s look at this from two perspectives: math and opportunity.
Griffin put up his total over four seasons, playing 46 games. With the expanded college football regular seasons, and the chance to play even more in the playoffs, Henderson could play 45 games in three seasons, assuming that he turns pro as soon as he is eligible. Thanks to the 12-game regular season, a Big Ten Championship Game, a bowl game, and a College Football Playoff Title Game, even if Henderson leaves after only three seasons (which I assume he will), he could be within one game played of Griffin’s total.
Now, of course, I don’t expect Ohio State to make the CFP in all three years that Henderson is on the team (though I would obviously love it), and heck, it might even be a stretch to presume that they make it to the B1G Title Game all three seasons, but for poops and chortles, let’s just say they play for the conference crown twice in his career, and make the national title game once during his three years.
In that scenario, that would bring Henderson’s theoretical baseline number of games played (presuming he doesn’t miss any for injury or discipline) to 42, just four shy of Archie.. Now, if for some reason he pulls a Chris Olave and comes back for his senior season, then all bets are all, and he’s gonna be pushing for 8,000 yards!
But, back to the only two-time Heisman Trophy winner. Those 46 games played means that Archie averaged 121.5 yards per game. Currently, Henderson is averaging a few yards behind that at 115.33. Now of course, Trey would need to actually average more than Griffin over his career to make up for his presumed early departure.
So, with our assumed 42 games for Henderson he would need to average a staggering 133.071 yards per game to beat the current record (the current OSU career ypg record also belongs to Griffin at 121.5), so, again, no small task, but hear me out.
As Jami said, Henderson was not fully utilized against either Oregon or Minnesota, and — admittedly — the Tulsa defense is far worse than that of the Ducks and Gophers, as will be that of Akron this evening. But, If he can pull off something similar to what he did last weekend in every game against really shitty defenses in his career, then he’s actually a lot closer to breaking that record than you think.
Even if we round down his 277 yards against Tulsa to a totally random and arbitrary number that has no other meaning that I will reveal in the next paragraph and say that Henderson averages 207 yards against the worst of the worst defenses that he faces every year. So, on average, do you think there are three of those types of defense on the schedule every season? Two out of conference and one piss-poor Big Ten team?
Ok, me too. So, if he averages 207 yards in those games, that means that he will wrack up 1,863 yards in just those nine games alone. Meaning, that he is exactly 1⁄3 of the way to Archie’s 5,589 yard with 31 games left to make up the other 66%, or 3,727 yards, to break the record. So, if we agree on the healthy average against the worst competition (which I am assuming that you do since you haven’t spoken up to disagree as I’m writing this), all you have to believe is that Henderson will average 112.91 yards per game the rest of his career.
Now, again, even that number (without the benefit of the games against bad defenses) would rank second on Ohio State’s all-time ypg record list, so it will be a Herculean effort, but has there been anything that you’ve seen from or heard about Henderson that would lead you to believe that he is not up for the challenge?
So, the other part of this equation is opportunity. In his four years as a Buckeye, Griffin — and the entire OSU offense — had the benefit of being paired with elite defenses. In Griffin’s sophomore season, Ohio State led the country in points allowed, and in three years finished in the top-10. And during his entire career as a Buckeye, Griffin’s defenses never allowed more than 15.5 points per game.
Ohio State Defensive Stats 1972-75
|Year||Opp. Pts./G||Opp. Pts/G Rank|
|Year||Opp. Pts./G||Opp. Pts/G Rank|
While the way that offense and defense are played in college football barely even resembles how they played in the early to mid ‘70s, the fact remains that those defenses were outstanding, which meant that Woody Hayes’ offenses — though notoriously near rushing-exclusive — did not have the pressure to score as often as the current Buckeyes do, with a defense that over the past two seasons has been porous at best.
While I get the feeling that nearly all Buckeye fans believe that someone from the OSU quarterback room will eventually step up and be the type of offensive leader that we’ve gotten use to in Columbus, I don’t feel like that same optimism for the defense. So if we assume that the Buckeye coaching staff can’t fully get the defense turned around during this season, we can also assume that Henderson won’t be getting pulled from too many games because of blowouts.
We can extrapolate from there that Henderson will continue to be fed the ball as he is obviously now RB1 and one of OSU’s most dynamic playmakers. While the lack of a functional defense is not good for the team as a whole (or the psyches of their fans) it is clearly gonna be good for Henderson’s rushing totals. Will Day make a defensive coordinator change following the season? Will next season’s defensive coaching staff be able to completely overhaul that side of the ball in a single offseason? If the answer to the latter question is “No,” then it looks like we might be seeing even more of Henderson next year too.
The other issue to consider here is the aforementioned uncertainty at QB. Like I said, I have confidence that eventually someone will emerge as a steady playmaker behind/under center. But, even if that’s as quickly as a backup stepping up this week or Stroud returning to 100% after a week off, all of the quarterback options are still going to be young and inexperienced; and while so is Henderson, it is much easier to rely on a young and inexperienced running back than it is a quarterback.
So, I think that opposing defenses will be getting a stead stream of TreVeyon all season, and potentially even next season depending on how the quarterback battle shakes out; 1) because the offense is going to need to score points thanks to a lackluster defense, and 2) because the best friend of a young quarterback is a running back who can pick up chunks of yards on the ground.
I thought about really going nuts and saying that Henderson would tie the record for most Heisman Trophies won by a single person, but even I don’t believe that’s possible for a running back to do that in today’s college football. So, in my true hyperbolic, prisoner of the moment nature, I went for the next best thing.
I realize that it would take a near perfect career to break Archie Griffin’s career rushing mark in just three seasons. I realize that I am putting a lot of expectations on a very young man who has only played three games of college football. I realize that there are currently four other very talented running backs in that room that could all be difference-makers for this team.
But I don’t give a rat’s patootie about any of that, because when I watch TreVeyon Henderson I see all of the best attributes of Maurice Clarett, Ezekiel Elliott, and J.K. Dobbins, the best of OSU’s 21st Century running backs, and I believe that when all is said and done, Henderson will be better than all of them.
Which prediction do you think is most likely to happen
This poll is closed
Jami: Single-season rushing record
Matt: Career rushing record
Neither is going to happen.