Those were Urban Meyer’s words to his offense in the fourth quarter of last week’s unexpected slugfest with a very game Iowa team. If his Twitter is to be believed, Buckeyes center Corey Linsley responded to Meyer’s Hayesian wisdom by saying, “Coach, we have a turf field.”1
The quip is funny, but Meyer’s point was clear. Ohio State had let the Hawkeyes hang around too long, and now it was time to grind them down to the atomic level and secure the victory. With that goal in mind, there was only one man on the Ohio State roster to call upon.
At this point, everyone knows about Carlos Hyde. In spite of Braxton Miller and the effective Ohio State passing attack, everyone in the stadium knew that the fourth quarter, which began tie at 24 and later saw the Buckeyes clinging to a lead, would feature a diet heavy on the punishing runs of the 235-pound bruiser from Naples, Florida who they call “El Guapo.”
The fans who packed Ohio Stadium knew it. The national audience watching on ABC or ESPN knew it. And Kirk Ferentz and his Iowa defense knew it. But still Hyde broke through time and time again.
First came the impossible 19-yard touchdown run that saw Hyde take the ball on a stretch play, stick his right foot in the ground and make a decisive cut up field, take a hit that caused him to stumble back four yards before regaining his footing and dashing down the sideline for a score. To top it off, Hyde took off from the 4-yard line and Supermanned over a prone blocker and would-be tackler. He seemed to hang in the air for an eternity, but when he landed in the scarlet end zone the Buckeyes had a lead they would never relinquish.
While that run will be the one that gets hundreds of thousands of YouTube hits, Hyde’s four carries for 40 yards on the next Ohio State possession that helped to set up a Drew Basil 25-yard field goal were just as important. That three points put the Buckeyes up two scores with under six minutes remaining, taking some of the pressure off of the much-maligned Ohio State defense that had been bruised and battered by the physical Iowa attack all day2.
In all, Hyde carried nine times for 73 yards in the decisive fourth quarter for an 8.1-yard average. Those 73 yards represented just under half of the 149 yards that he totaled on the day (6.2 average). He added a second touchdown from one yard out on the first drive of the second half.
This isn’t the first time Hyde has been instrumental in salting a game away for the Buckeyes. Just two weeks ago, he racked up 168 yards and three touchdowns (all in the second half) on 26 carries to help Ohio State rally and defeat Northwestern. Last year he preserved the perfect season by pounding the Michigan defense into submission in the fourth quarter of the Buckeyes’ 26-21 victory. In that game Hyde carried the ball 26 times for 146 yards and a touchdown.
In spite of a three game suspension to begin the year, Hyde has a real shot to be Ohio State’s first 1,000 yard running back since Boom Herron rushed for 1,196 in 2010 after missing that total by just 30 yards last season. Hyde has 443 yards in the four games he has played for an average of almost 111 yards per contest. With a minimum of five regular season games and a bowl game (plus a likely Big Ten Championship Game) remaining on the schedule, Hyde will easily reach a four digit rushing total if he stays healthy and continues at his current level of production.
With Braxton Miller’s continued improvement as a passer as well as the constant threat that he breaks the pocket and gashes the defense with his running ability, having a player who can pound the ball between the tackles is essential in keeping the Buckeyes from becoming the Braxton Show. Hyde provided that dimension at times last season, and this year he has been an even more consistent performer.
The next time Urban Meyer needs those three yards and that cloud of (metaphorical) dust, the fans, officials, and opposing defense will know that the ball will be in the hands of number 34 in scarlet and gray. Like Meyer, I’m confident that he’ll get those three yards. But Buckeyes opponents should be wary. Even if he only needs three, Carlos Hyde is a legitimate threat to break one and take it to the house at any time. Just ask Iowa.
(AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
- Caveat: The Twitter account purporting to be Linsley is believed by some to be a fake. While that may very well be true (the account only boasts 615 followers as of this writing), I’m employing my artistic license and choosing to believe its authenticity for the purposes of this story. [↩]
- This is all I’m saying about the defense, I swear. [↩]