When Jordan Hall went down with a freak foot injury in July, one of the biggest concerns was how his role in the Buckeyes offense would be replaced. Sure, the Buckeyes aren't exactly hurting for tailbacks, but Carlos Hyde, Rod Smith and incoming freshman Bri'Onte Dunn are all bigger backs, and Hall's elusiveness can't easily be replicated by a hulking, 235-pound man-beast.
Carlos Hyde might be that guy, however—and in the process, he just might take some playing time away from Hall even after Hall's healthy again.
Here's more from Eleven Warriors:
Carlos Hyde is still your starter at running back and he was another player Meyer singled out, saying he has been one of camp's biggest surprises. Center Corey Linsley told us that Hyde worked hard on his agility and juke moves over the summer and the hard work is showing up in Hyde's confidence as he's now claiming to have the best hands on the team. Linsley backed his claim up, saying Hyde's hands were good enough to belong to a tight end.
That should make Urban Meyer squeal with delight, or whatever Urban's equivalent would be. Perhaps just raising his voice. Anyway, versatility is hugely important in the Urban Meyer offense, and the more things Hyde shows that he's capable of doing, the more reason Meyer has to keep him on the field.
“It’s time for Carlos Hyde to step up and take the baton and go as hard as he can,” Meyer said of the junior tailback out of Naples, Fla.
“He’s got the tools. He’s a big, strong, fast player.”
“The body type is Carlos Hyde and the talent is Carlos Hyde. He’s got to stay healthy and go get it.
“It’s not the previous coaching staff's fault, it’s not the offensive line's fault, it's not the dog ate his homework. It’s time. This is the defining moment of Carlos Hyde’s career. It’s either yes or no. There can’t be any more gray area.”
How many yards will Carlos Hyde have in 2012?
The good news for Hyde is that's eminently doable. It's not as if Meyer's asking Hyde to do anything he's not physically capable of, and Hyde's emergence in practice shows that the lessons are sticking.
So whenever Jordan Hall comes back—and he's slightly ahead of schedule, so we're talking a couple games before he's back on the field—as long as Carlos Hyde keeps producing, we're going to have a legitimate running back battle on our hands. At that point, in a competition-based system like Meyer's, all bets are off.
It'd be great to see Hyde succeed and establish himself as a starter. Per Cleveland.com, he quite noticeably spouted off on Twitter after seeing limited action against Illinois, and to go from that to being in line to be a feature back for at least the first week or two is an impressive personal transformation. It's worth celebrating.
But, as Meyer said, it's still up to Hyde to make the most of this opportunity. We'll see if he does.