Urban Meyer’s decision to suspend Ohio State leading rusher Carlos Hyde, who was named a person of interest in the assault against a woman, should open the door for Bri’onte Dunn to get a bulk of carries this season.
Dunn is a former high four-star recruit out of Canton’s GlenOak and is similarly built like Hyde at 6-foot-2, 220-pounds. If Hyde is dismissed from the team as the Columbus Dispatch reports, Dunn could rush for at least 750-yards.
Jordan Hall returns after missing all but three games in 2012. Heisman candidate Braxton Miller should once again have no problem eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark, but it’s Dunn that could prove to be the x-factor in the backfield.
Dunn only saw carries in three contests last season. But in his most extensive action against Illinois, he ran for 73 yards on 13 carries and a score. In his limited role as a true freshman, he showed me he can be a quality starting running back in the Big 10.
Hall entered 2012 as the team’s starting tailback. But after foot and knee injuries derailed his season, he could see a reduction in carries as the team tries to preserve his health. Don’t get me wrong, Hall is a talented back, but at 5-foot-8, 187-pounds, he profiles as a change-of-pace back to a bigger back like Hyde or Dunn.
Miller ran for 1,271 yards on 227 carries to lead the team in both categories, but I believe that’s too many carries and Meyer wants to reduce that number to closer to 175 for his long-term health. Miller is dangerous with the ball in his hands. But each time he opens himself to being hit by the defense, he has Meyer and Buckeye fans holding their collective breath.
Ohio State had a top-10 rushing attack in 2012 with more than 240 yards on average per game and this year should be no different. The only difference will be the second-leading rusher to Miller, and the Buckeyes are in good hands with Dunn.
It hurts to lose Hyde for any amount of time after he had 16 touchdowns — 14 in the final seven games — but to think it eliminates the Buckeyes from potentially appearing in the BCS Championship Game are shortsighted.
Each year, every team has players emerge from relative obscurity and take advantage of the opportunity presented to them and makes the most of their chance to impress. This year, Dunn is that player on offense for Ohio State. Regardless of the outcome of the investigation into Hyde, Dunn should be a major component of the Buckeye ground game.