Jordan Hall and Carlos Hyde, in slightly different and more prominent roles, are the underrated keys to the Ohio State offense in 2012.
Hall has never cracked 100 rushes in his three-year career with Ohio State. He and Hyde split carries with Dan Herron, Rod Smith and quarterback Braxton Miller, who led the team with 159 rushing attempts.
While Miller is the unequivocal key to the success of the Buckeyes this season, Hall and Hyde mostly shoulder the running load, which will be the focal point of the OSU attack.
With Urban Meyer at the helm, the spread will be implemented in Columbus, an offense typically run to put an onus on the passing game and yield tremendous numbers through the air.
That won't necessarily be the case in 2012 for the Buckeyes.
Their most productive returning receivers, Devin Smith, Corey Brown and Jake Stoneburner each had a mere 14 grabs in 2011.
What the spread does is, well, spread the field, which can open gaping holes in the running game.
That's where Hall and Hyde come in.
First, let's start with Hall, the 5'9'', 185-pound speedster.
Meyer worked wonders with a similarly built Percy Harvin at Florida in the spread system. In 2007 with the Gators, Harvin had 83 rushes and 59 receptions for 1,622 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Many of his touches came at or near the line of scrimmage. Meyer successfully utilized his most dynamic playmaker in the best way possible—by getting him the ball quickly with plenty of space around him.
Expect Hall to play a similar role for Ohio State this season.
Now, there wasn't a running back with the talent or menacing size as Carlos Hyde on that 2007 Florida Gators team, but Meyer won't be foolish to neglect the 6'0'', 235-pound bruiser who ran for 566 yards and six touchdowns at 5.3 yards per carry in 2011.
With opponents spread nearly from sideline to sideline against Meyer's offense, defenses won't have the luxury to "stack the box" in the traditional sense.
Hyde will have fewer defenders to elude on inside hand offs, and will be able to gain more steam with more of his carries coming from the shotgun.
He hasn't drawn Beanie Wells comparisons yet, but he could after being placed in a more noteworthy position for the Buckeyes this season.
Because Meyer has two drastically different, but immensely talented running backs and a receiving corps that's significantly unproven and unestablished, Jordan Hall and Carlos Hyde will be the two-headed running back monster that'll lead OSU in 2012.
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