The Ohio State Buckeyes have suspended senior running back Carlos Hyde after he was named as a person of interest in a recent assault against a woman at bar in Columbus, according to USA Today's Paul Myerberg on Monday.
Hyde's future remains up in the air. For now, though, his absence from the team has resulted in the derailment of Ohio State's vaunted ground attack, which racked up more than 240 yards per game a season ago, ranking 10th in the nation.
Sure, dual-threat quarterback and leading rusher Braxton Miller will be back under center in 2013. But there's a good chance that one of the best running backs in all of college football will be absent from the Buckeyes backfield when the season kicks off this coming fall.
Hyde, who rushed for 970 yards and scored 17 total touchdowns as a junior last season, has improved each season since his freshman year in 2010, averaging well over five yards per carry and proving to be an excellent red-zone and short-yardage option.
With a game built on power, the 6'0", 240-pound rusher has an undeniable nose for the end zone. He finished second in the Big Ten with 16 rushing touchdowns last season, behind only Wisconsin's Montee Ball.
|Year||Rushing Yards||% of Team's Total Output||Rushing TDs||% of Team's Total Output|
But with Hyde no longer in the picture, second-year head coach Urban Meyer will be forced to turn to less experienced backs like Jordan Hall, Rod Smith and Bri'onte Dunn, who combined to carry the ball just 97 times in 2012. That was a little more than half as many times as Hyde, who ran it on 185 occasions.
Where will Ohio State's ground attack rank in 2013 if Hyde doesn't return?
Although the three combined to rush for more than 550 yards and five touchdowns, it's asking a lot for any of them to fill Hyde's shoes as the No. 1 option behind Miller.
In addition to his impressive production, Hyde has proven to be a durable back for Ohio State over the past three seasons. He has held up physically and delivered big performances game after game despite taking a significant pounding each and every weekend.
Miller may be the Buckeyes' leading rusher coming into the 2013 season, but Hyde was the heart and soul of Ohio State's ground attack. With fall fast approaching, Meyer and the Buckeyes coaching staff must go back to the drawing board in order to maximize on the backfield talent at their disposal.
But with a third of last season's rushing production potentially lost, that task will be much easier said than done.
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