Ohio State Football: The Evolution of Buckeyes Running Back Carlos Hyde

David RegimbalFeatured ColumnistOctober 9, 2012

COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 6:  Carlos Hyde #34 of the Ohio State Buckeyes looks for running room as Sean Fisher #42 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers closes in during the first half at Ohio Stadium on October 6, 2012 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

This time last year, Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde wasn’t happy.

Hyde had spent the first six games of the 2011 season splitting carries with Jordan Hall, but he saw his role in the offense diminish greatly when senior running back Dan “Boom” Herron returned to the team after serving a six-game suspension.

Buried behind Herron and Hall on the depth chart and seeing close to no playing time, it appeared as though Hyde wanted out of Columbus.

It wasn't a lack of talent that kept Hyde on the sidelines. He was just in the unfortunate situation of being the odd man out in a crowded position on the depth chart.

Hyde's lack of experience combined with his raw talent showed itself in abundance last year. His bruising, downhill running style allowed him to get the tough yards between the tackles. But it was his lack of patience in the running game and an inability to wait for holes to open up that hurt his production the most.

Just one example of that can be viewed in this clip of Ohio State's loss to Nebraska last year. Instead of waiting to see if a hole would open up on the line, Hyde blindly follows his lead blocker into an impenetrable wall of linemen. A patient runner would have much rather taken the gigantic hole on the left side of the line—and a possible one-on-one matchup with a linebacker—over the path Hyde took on this play. 

This year, though, Hyde is running with much more patience. It's a big factor in Hyde's early success this season and an even bigger reason why Ohio State is still undefeated.

A More Patient Runner

Late in the fourth quarter against Michigan State, Ohio State was clinging to a one-point lead with just over two minutes left in the game. The Buckeyes needed just four yards on third down to kill the clock and claim a victory.

Urban Meyer called for a simple dive play and put the game in Carlos Hyde's hands.

As the enormous red arrow points out, Michigan State sent a cornerback on a blitz to try and stuff whatever play Ohio State had called in the backfield. You can see wide receiver Devin Smith at the top of the screen trying to make Braxton Miller aware of the blitz, but his warning goes unheeded. 

When the ball is snapped, you can tell Hyde initially wanted to run left, directly into the blitzing cornerback. Running directly at a blitz, much like running directly at a lightning bolt, is a bad idea. If Hyde shows good patience, he'll follow the green arrow to the hole opened up by fantastic blocks from Zach Boren and Reid Fragel.

Hyde—circled in red—does make the correct read and hits the hole. Unfortunately, defensive end Marcus Rush is shedding Boren's block and linebacker Chris Norman is on his way to meeting Hyde in the hole. Both defenders make a great play on the ball and are in position to stop Hyde short of the first down.

Unfortunately for Michigan State, Hyde had picked up too much steam before Rush and Norman got their arms around him. Hyde was able to pick up five yards when Ohio State needed four. Without displaying the patience he has shown running the ball recently, this play wouldn't have been made. Instead, Hyde delivered and Ohio State was able to kill the clock and get the victory.

Watch the entire play here.

You can see how much this upset Chris Norman. This image was not photoshopped at all—he was so angry, an actual conversation bubble displayed his words on national television. 

Carlos Hyde is only going to get better. His 140 yard, four-touchdown performance against Nebraska last week only speaks to his growth, and his future in Urban Meyer's system looks bright.

Follow David on Twitter @davidreg412