Hyde seeks, finds time in backfield

COLUMBUS – There comes a point in many athletes’ careers when that light just flips on.

That point was this season for Ohio State junior tailback Carlos Hyde.

Hyde put the finishing touches on a brilliant campaign Saturday afternoon in helping to lead the Buckeyes to a 26-21 victory against Michigan, capping an undefeated 12-0 season in grand fashion.

Just a week after openly talking about wanting to get his hands on the ball more, Hyde had his number called 26 times for 146 yards and the game’s first touchdown. He also got the ball late after an OSU interception on the game-sealing drive.

Talent was never the issue for Hyde as he continually battled his way up the depth chart and for playing time. Being caught behind Boom Herron and expectedly Jordan Hall this season, it didn’t appear that this would be the season either for Hyde.

However, Hall battled a myriad of injuries before taking a medical redshirt, ensuring his return next year.

Thus, Hyde, who missed two games himself early in the season due to injury, was thrown into duty, and boy did he respond!

Hyde’s message after the win against the Badgers must have got across to Urban Meyer and offensive coordinator Tom Herman.

“Part of our job is to, when you come out of a game win or lose, to figure out what you could have done better,” Herman said. “Obviously, he deserved the ball more in the Wisconsin game, so we made a concerted effort to make sure he got the football.”

Before the season, there was thought that Hyde might not fit Meyer’s spread attack since he was more of a powerful, downhill runner and not a speedy kind of scatback. As it worked out, the system fit Hyde extremely well because Meyer’s spread calls for a lot of running between the tackles.

Plus, Meyer isn’t dumb. He adjusted his schemes – to an extent – to fit his personnel.

“He’s proven to us that he merits a lot of carries,” Herman said.

Hyde’s ability to keep defenses honest did nothing but help sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller, who had his lowest rushing output of the season Saturday.

“When you find a guy that you can count on for 18, 20, 22 carries, that takes some of the load off the quarterback, who really, early in the season, was our only option when it came to the running game.”

So what was it for Hyde?

“There’s no secrets,” Herman said. “He practiced better. His practice habits weren’t great, and finally, he started practicing his tail off, which allowed us to trust him more.”

For Meyer and company, it’s about earning your touches of the ball. That’s something he talked about all season.

Obviously, based on his 185 carries and 970 yards this season to go along with 16 touchdowns, the practice paid off.

“As he earned the trust on the practice field, then we get him the ball in the games and he starts building on that because of how he performs in the game and it’s just a snow-ball effect.”

His performances also earned the trust of his offensive line. Junior lineman Jack Mewhort was highly complimentary of Hyde because of how he keeps his legs churning after initial contact.

In earning all of the trust, gaining all of the yards and finishing 12-0, it’s caused a re-energized player in Hyde, who already can’t wait for the 2013 campaign.

“The guys who are coming back start thinking about next year immediately,” Hyde said. “I can’t wait.”

Well, Carlos, neither can Buckeye Nation.