Ohio State coach Urban Meyer had hoped to go to his bench a little more than he did in the win over Wisconsin. But during the heat of a game, he’s going to stick with the players he trusts — and worry about hurt feelings later.
It’s college football, not Little League. And running back Jordan Hall found that out as he went from being the Buckeyes’ workhorse back to an afterthought against the Badgers, getting one carry for five yards.
The 5-foot-9, 191-pound senior was 13th in the nation in rushing and had gained 168 yards on 30 attempts against Cal and 159 on 21 lugs against Buffalo.
But Carlos Hyde, in his second game back from a suspension, was given the bulk of the carries and rushed for 85 yards on 17 totes.
Meyer said he wants Hall to have a bigger role at Northwestern on Saturday, but he’s making no promises.
“We’re going to do the best we can,” Meyer said. “He’s earned it.”
Meyer said the coaches didn’t need to do any ego-massaging with Hall afterward.
“He’s a guy who’s a team-first player. He was disappointed, but he understood,” Meyer said.
Hyde earned second-team All-Big Ten honors last season, and the 6-foot, 235-pound senior gives the Buckeyes the power back they need to complement their spread attack.
“The plan was to increase Carlos’ role, there was no doubt about that. But Jordan Hall only getting one carry, that’s not what we intended,” offensive coordinator Tom Herman said. “That’s our fault — my fault — for that happening.
“We’ve got to do a better job next week to make sure we chart how many plays he’s in and how many times he’s touched the football. He’s good enough and deserves that, and we failed him a little bit.”
Though less of a shock, supersub Kenny Guiton went from being a cult hero to a clipboard carrier with Braxton Miller’s return.
He’s still seventh in the nation with 13 passing TDs. But he didn’t squawk about returning to a back-up role, and the coaches don’t feel as if they have to worry about his morale.
“Maybe with other kids, you do. But he’s a real dude,” Herman said. “He bleeds scarlet and gray. He’s going to do whatever this football team needs.”
Still, wouldn’t it be hard for anyone to give up the spotlight and shift back into the shadows?
“For me, it would be. For you, it would be. For him, it’s not,” Herman said. “He’s that kind of kid. I’m telling you, anybody out there looking to hire an unbelievable human being needs to hire Kenny Guiton. He’s the most amazing human being I’ve ever been around.”
Bryant’s replacement: Fifth-year senior Corey “Pitt” Brown, who is tied for fourth on the team with 21 tackles, will move into the starting lineup for Christian Bryant, who is out with a fractured ankle.
Redshirt freshman Tyvis Powell and true freshman Vonn Bell also will rotate into that spot.
But Bryant won’t be easily replaced. He had made 27 career starts and was perhaps the team’s most vocal leader.
“That’s my partner,” said senior safety C.J. Barnett, a Northmont High School grad. “His fierceness and tenacity — he’s like a little pitbull out there, and that’s needed on defense. He brings a lot of energy and leadership, which is the most important thing we lost.”
Dual threat: Northwestern’s Venric Mark, a 5-8, 175-pound senior, was a second-team All-Big Ten choice last season and is expected back after missing the last three games with an undisclosed leg injury.
He’s the NCAA active leader in career punt return average at 16.3 yards. A year ago, he rushed for 1,366 yards to become the first Wildcat to top 1,000 since Tyrell Sutton in 2006. He finished with a school-record 2,166 all-purpose yards.
Ohio State (5-0, 1-1 Big Ten) at Northwestern (4-0, 0-0), 8 p.m. Saturday, ABC, 1410 AM