Carlos Hyde is not completely gone from the Ohio State roster, but he could still be out for some time after Urban Meyer suspended him indefinitely on Monday pending the result of an investigation into an assault on a woman at a Columbus bar.
That means, if Hyde is cleared, he should be able to come back to the team like Storm Klein did last season.
The good news for Ohio State is that the running game should be okay if Hyde is out of the lineup for a portion of the season. Bringing back Jordan Hall is a big part of that.
A healthy Hall can give the Ohio State running game added dimensions that Hyde can't on account of Hall's quickness and elusiveness in the open field. Hyde is more of a downhill runner, whereas Hall is more elusive and capable of making big plays.
Youngsters Rod Smith and Bri'Onte Dunn are very similar runners to Hyde, though Smith has more speed than his counterparts.
Smith can be more of a big-play threat than the other two, but he still needs to overcome a fumbling issue which has limited his playing time early in his college career.
Dunn is a bit of an unknown even though he had 25 carries for 133 yards and two TDs in 2012. He will fight Smith for playing time as long as Hyde is out.
Redshirt freshman Warren Ball could also see some snaps if the team's depth is tested any further.
Two true freshmen in Dontre Wilson and Ezekiel Elliott could find their way into the rotation and steal snaps away as well. Both backs are pure speedsters, although it seems Wilson could play immediately after putting up big rushing and receiving numbers in Texas 5A football at Desoto H.S.
The point is that Ohio State has a tremendous amount of depth at the tailback position to help soften the blow of Hyde's suspension.
In reality, his indefinite suspension means he may only miss a few weeks of fall camp and be ready for Week 1 against Buffalo.
But should he miss any significant time, Ohio State should have no worries about being able to run the football at all. There is enough experience behind Hyde to make up for his absence, however long it will be.
Don't forget about Braxton Miller at quarterback, who is a pretty good rusher himself.
Hyde was certainly a star last season, but not the biggest reason why the Buckeyes finished No. 10 in the nation in rushing offense. He will be missed during his suspension, but the team around him should do just enough to be successful in his absence.
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