Ohio State fans live in the extremes, whether good or bad. As they say, we have no chill. So, I am going to give voice to those passionate opinions by running through my completely level-headed, not-at-all over-the-top, 100% unbiased takeaways from Saturday’s win over the Maryland Terrapins.
Dallan Hayden must be the starting running back against TTUN
I had a lot of reactions to yesterday’s game, some more irrational and “over” than others, but I am going to stick to just the two most important for today’s column, first and foremost, I love TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams. I think that the former is one of the most talented backs to come to Columbus in decades. I think that he has shown elements of Maurice Clarett, Ezekiel Elliott, and J.K. Dobbins wrapped up into one explosive package.
And don’t get me started on Miyan Williams! I think that he is the quintessential Ohio State running back. A bruiser who looks for contact, but who can also make people miss in the hole. Williams has one of the most important talents that you want to see in a running back, the ability to turn a two-yard loss into a three-yard gain; the ability to turn being stuffed at the line into five yards; the ability to turn five yards into 15.
So, I say this with no malice toward either of those immensely talented backs, but they shouldn’t play in The Game this weekend, or at least shouldn’t start. True freshman Dallan Hayden, considered by many an afterthought in the 2022 recruiting class, has proven that he deserves the opportunity to carry the ball in crunch time with Henderson and Williams not 100%.
I understand why Ryan Day has been running out his top-two backs despite them not being completely healthy; they are really good ball carriers, they are experienced, they are tough, and they have undoubtedly been doing everything that they need to do during the week to get back on the field, the gap between a banged up Trey or Chop and a healthy Dallan has not only closed considerably, but the full-strength Hayden is now clearly the best option at running back while the two ahead of him on the depth chart are still recuperating.
This will be even more important on Saturday when the Corn and Blue come to town. The Harboys have the No. 2 rush defense in the country allowing only 79.55 yards per game. Now, I don’t expect Hayden to run for 150 or anything like that against them, but having the best possible option out of the backfield will allow the Buckeyes to keep the Skunk Bear defense on its toes.
I think based on what we saw against Maryland, there’s no reason to believe that Henderson will be 100% by Saturday, and if I had any reason to believe that Williams could be back to full strength following the injury that put him on crutches against Indiana, maybe I would hold out hope for either of their returns, but I can’t foresee a situation in which either of them has healed enough to be better than Hayden this weekend, or, frankly, in time for the Big Ten Championship game should OSU survive The Game.
Dallan Hayden is not just the next man up, he has earned the right and responsibility to be Ohio State’s starting running back against their rival, and I, for one, believe that he gives the Buckeyes their best chance to win... I just hope Ryan Day agrees.
I don’t care about anything else from the Maryland game, it’s Beat Michigan Week
Yesterday’s game was ugly, it was painful, it was annoying, it was frustrating, it was confusing, it was maddening, it was obnoxious, it was scary, it was disappointing, it was demoralizing, it was (at times) thrilling and exciting, but most importantly, it is over.
What happened in College Park, and during the first 11 weeks of the season as a whole, no longer matters, because it is Beat Michigan Week. That is the only thing that matters this week; hell, for many people that is the only thing that matters all year. It is very clear that it has been the thing that’s mattered most for the Ohio State football team since they lost a year ago.
So, while there were other things to irrationally overreact to from the Maryland game (both starting linebackers playing with broken hands, Zach Harrison ending the game on back-to-back sacks, more Julian Fleming drops, continued play-calling issues, why can’t they get the play in to avoid delays of game?), I’m over it; I am choosing to consciously uncouple from all thoughts of that game. It’s time to focus on doing Woody Hayes proud and beating That Team Up North.