Is there a rushing issue at OSU?

For the first four weeks of the season I have heard, week after week, from my fellow Buckeye fans the same questions and concerns. What is wrong with the run game? Why doesn’t Berry get more carries? What is wrong with Saine and Herron?

My answer to my fellow Buckeyes is complex lol no it isn’t it is simple. Here goes nothing:

This is nuts. We are 14th in the nation in rushing offense — ahead of MSU, which is a rush first offense. We average 240 yards a game rushing. This is not a RB issue. We are a team and we use a stable of RBs to get the job done. We have a feature back in the Eddie George/Beanie Wells type players in Terrell Pryor. We have scat backs and power backs and receiving backs. Who cares if it isn’t the same person doing all that. As a TEAM the rushing game is just peachy keen, better than most in the Big 10 and Country. If and when we get in a tough game where we need a big running game to help us win there is no doubt we will see a heavy load of Saine and Herron. We just haven’t needed to do that and hopefully never will. We are a pass first offense this year but the rushing game isn’t being ignored. A well balanced team is the best you can hope for — 266 yards a game passing and 240 a game rushing seems pretty awesome to me.

This brings up the point of the day for me — OSU fans nitpicking and never being happy and expecting the worse to always happen. Most OSU fans are glass half empty people. Smile, OSU fans, enjoy the season be happy. The problems that people seem to have with the team are mostly unfounded blown up small situations. Yet some of you week after week act like this team is as bad as Minnesota or Purdue. Step back and look at the big picture of this team and maybe you will find your happy place.


  1. So what you are saying is that it’s really the special teams I should be worried about. I kid I kid. I think…

  2. My pick to nit wouldn’t be with the production, which has been outstanding….on paper. Most of those yards have come against 3 teams from C-USA and the MAC with a combined record of 2-9.

    Here are the rushing defense ranks (yards given up per game) for OSU’s four opponents:

    Marshall: 97th
    Miami: 100th
    Ohio: 108th
    E. Michigan: 110th

    My issue with the Ohio State running game is not the production but the personnel. Boom Herron has been very average his entire Buckeye career. This year, against some of the worst rushing defenses in the entire country our leading rusher at tailback is averaging 4.6 yards per carry. He is what he is.

    Brandon Saine is averaging 4.7 yards per carry but that was bolstered by his game vs. Marshall when he galloped into two holes my grandmother could have with. Since the Marshall game Saine has averaged .6(vs. Miami), 4 and 3.7 yards per carry. This is our starting running back.

    With the Big Ten season coming up I worry that our two starters are simply not the best two options on the team. The only game both Saine and Boom played the entire way they were both unimpressive running the ball.

    I’m fine with the production that Boom as given…he’s solid. But when you look at the younger guys like Hall and Berry…these guys need to play more. Hall averages 5.5 yards per carry…some of that with the first team, some with the second. Berry averages 11.8 yards per carry….with the 3rd string team. Hall looks like the most complete runner on the team and always seems to get positive yards and Berry….ummm….can we get this guy in with the ones to see what hell he can unleash on a defense?

    I love that OSU is a pass first offense that gets their rushing yards mostly from Superman, but I think they could do a little better when it comes to the tailbacks. Shoot me. Shoot me in my hateful face for wanting OSU to have the best players out there.

    For fun:

    1. Start Boom
    2. Promote Hall to 1B
    3. Feature Saine as a receiver and reduce his carries big time
    4. Bring in Berry 1 or 2 series a game

    Not huge changes…just a matter of giving the younger guys more opportunities with the ones.

  3. You have to take in acct that those 4 teams rush defenses are ranked so bad BECAUSE of what OSU did to them.

    As soon as Buckeye fans realize that our best RB is Pryor and that the rest are just complimentary backs to fill in to give him a rest they will understand the rushing game better from this teams standpoint.

    As for production it is hard to put up decent numbers when you only rush 3 times in a game or even 15 times.

    Any RB needs 20-25 touches to put up big numbers and none on our team has gooten that so far this season but if you put them all together though it shows as a group they are doing what say 1 stud back does like a John Clay.

    Once Big Ten play starts and we need to run the ball 50+ times you will see Herron and Saine get 20 carries a game each like last year and their production will go back up like last year. If we need it I should say. This is a different offense than last years. This is the Troy Smith offense when he was a JR. and SR. in 2005-2006.

  4. I will say next year wont be much different for the running game….. Pryor will be our best runner and Hall and Berry and Hyde and Smith will split carries like we do this year.

  5. Rambo-

    I do agree that all four of those teams have poor rankings based on what Ohio State has done to them. With that said, when given the opportunity Boom and Zoom have been outplayed by Berry and Hall (nicknames on backorder).

    I think everyone knows Pryor is the best option to run the ball right now, BUT that isn’t what I’m talking about. I’m saying the production could be better from the actual running back position. No reason to be average, or below average. Play action passing will take a major hit if safeties and LBers aren’t biting on the running game. All those passes to TE’s that Buckeye fans love will be reduced.

    All I’m saying is, Hall deserves more carries, Berry as well. That is the bottom line for me.

    I’m tired of watching 6-1, 220 pound Brandon Saine run into the line blindly and fall down. Saine requires an enormous hole to run through, while Hall needs a crease.

    And I agree with you about next year…with the exception of one thing. Herron is only a junior this year and he will be back, unless his 4.6 yards per carry is enough to warrant him leaving early.

  6. I like Johnny’s words of wisdom, some good thought on how to feature Saine. Heck if Saine is the “best” receiver to come out of the backfield, then voila, there you have it! Feature him as the 3rd receiver and let’s move up Wham Bam thank you Ma’am Herron, and switch out with Hall & Berry. I don’t know about you all but could you see Saine on a wide receiver screen…that would be sick! Posey/SB4/Saine as our receivers! Are you kidding me! Ridiculous.
    Now about JB, I know he’s come in on mop up duty, but c’mon. By now you have got to see this kid has the goods, he reminds us of what the SEC employs in their backfield. Oh wait, that’s right this is the Big Ten, what was i thinking?!?!? C’mon Tress! Make the move! You’ve already showed us what TP can do and that SB4 is the most under appreciated receiver in the game (Case in point, Bleacher report about 10 top receivers in the Big Ten) Tress you have an incredible front four and the defense is playing well. If we could move Saine to the #3 and just get JB & Hall some touches, shouldn’t that be crystal clear my friend?

  7. Maybe Herron will pull a Brian Hartline and quit the team and say he wants to focus on family and school and then get drafted and turn into a decent NFL player 😉

  8. I guess my main point is that the rushing game while “not perfect” right now is really really good and it is working for the team concept.

    If or when they adjust to run more though Tressell will go to running Saine and Herron more and not going with the younger guys. That is just who he is. If that happens the numbers for both Saine and Herron will increase and most fans will jump back on their bandwagon.

  9. Yeah…because Tressel has never picked a younger player over upper classman who is underachieving.

    Cough, cough….Terrelle Pryor….cough, cough.

    Yes, he picked a true freshman to start at quarterback over a 6th year senior who the year before was an all Big Ten quarterback who lead his team to a National Championship game.

    Actually, I believe Tressel is currently in the process of getting more carries for Hall and less for Saine. Hall got more time with the one’s last week and because of his play could see more and more time.

    The bottom line…against teams like Miami you can’t have your starting running back average .6 yards per carry.

  10. It is true about Pryor ….but Hall and Berry arent significantly better.

    I love Hall and El Kaiser will tell you I think he is our best RB on the team. I would love for him to get the start and become a feature back. I just dont think Tressel will do that.

    We dont have a RB on the team right now as talented as say Eddie George or Beanie Wells or even errmm Clarett lol I said his name. That is the issue right now none of the RB’s are top tier all are complimentary RB’s.

    We just got verbals from the no.1 and no. 2 RB’s in OHIO to commit to the 2012 class. Hopefully one of them is the next Beanie/Eddie/Clarett.

    Until then it would be nice if Tressel did let the others get a start or more carries with the 1st team but it seems unlikely at this point.

    We could use a better 4th receiving option behind Sanz, Posey, and Stoneburner. Maybe Saine can switch to WR and play a little wildcat too. Heck the options are endless for this team.

  11. If Jordan Hall is the best running back on the team, he should be playing more.

    The wildcat on the team should be Hall too…as he has shown he can throw the ball.

    It will be interesting to see how the offense does come Big Ten play.

  12. The problem with “best RB on the team” is that fans generally are only talking about their ability to carry the ball. Certainly that’s important, but blitz pick-ups, pass routes, pitch-relationship on the option, etc. Are all also important.

    That’s why, especially early in the year, the younger guys don’t get as much time as the older guys. Herron and Saine have been extremely solid blockers, and you know that’s important to Tressel.

  13. The problem I see is if they were going to give Hall or Berry a chance to win the job it would have happened already. That is what those MAC games are suppose to be for. I just dont see Tress doing the change during Big Ten season do you?

  14. The Buckeyes need a big back who can punch the ball in when they get inside the 20. I like what Herron has done the last couple of games but a bigger back like Hyde or Smith is ideal.

  15. Steve- that is mostly my point. I hear it a lot OSU needs a big Back ala Eddie or Beanie. I say we have him in Terrell Pryor.

  16. WHOA WHOA WHOA, SYR. I love Hall, but I have been singing Berry’s praise for months. I still stand by my prediction that he will be the #1 back before the end of the season. But I do think you’ve made some good points here. Our running game is humming along fine and it’s been overshadowed by our nascent passing game. This is a trend I want to see continue.

    @MikeLew – very good point. Herron plays bigger than he is and is an excellent blocker. Hall and Berry are both undersized for taking on a big blitzing LB or DE.

  17. You read what I wrote wrong El Kaiser….. I said you will back me up the I have said for 2 years that Hall is our best back. We all know you have a man crush on Berry 😉

  18. Well i’m glad Keith over at Eleven Warriors has written a piece about this. Long overdue. The more attention this gets, the more it will be discussed amongst us, and hopefully reach up to the powers that hold the interest of our Senator. Keep it up guys, let’s see that a change at RB will occur this weekend and see how Hall & particularly the wonder from down under, Mr. Jamaal Berry perform come Big Ten play. A lot of good points raised on this site, kudos to the folks at MSG for publishing this article and getting the debate going. My vote is for a steady dose of Berry & split time with Hall & Boom. Get Saine on some WR screens & playing slot to keep those defenses thinking. Bottom line, if you go with Berry, all the kid does is tear it up. He reminds me of that excitement every damn time a McFadden, or a Wheatley, or a Clarett would touch the ball, it’s like instant offense. No matter the play, they find a way to make an impact for positive yards. Keep an eye on how quickly he accelerates when a hole opens up. His burst is unlike we’ve seen in the OSU backfield in quite sometime and that’s the difference between a good back and a great back. Having tremendous top-end speed is great, but it is his quickness to gain separation or burst through the hole that gets Brent to grab his beer and sing the gospel. What’s ironic though with this year and last is how the leading rusher on the team doesn’t run like a traditional back he’s more like a track n field star, think long jumper, think Carl Lewis…now shift away and combine that with Berry’s burst on let’s say an spread option…scary. Berry reads his blocks so well and with his speed, once he gets the corner, he’s gone! You don’t have that with the other 3 backs, only with Berry. Now, with Pryor and Berry, they would hit those spots on the field faster than anyone. That’s the difference between a good & great team in any sport. If we can define the best possible odds to put a defense at a disadvantage, then i strongly suggest that Tress go with JB.

  19. I just re-watched the Miami game.

    I freely admit that I have no life and am a football junkie.

    Brandon Saine has no business getting carries over Jordan Hall. I also re-watched the E.Michigan game and saw Saine blow a blitz pickup that almost got Superman killed.

    Going back to the Miami game…when Saine struggled to hit the hole early on, he was pulled and Boom was THE feature back and did some good things.

    The writing is on the wall…Saine IS getting slowly fazed down…not out…but down. His role is changing…slightly.

    I look for Boom and Hall to 60-40 it at some point this year. I’m afraid Berry will be kinda left out this year and only used in mop up and/or spot situations.

    Berry is a game changer and he has shown that on special teams and offense.

  20. couple of things people are missing…one OSU has not even tried to establish the run in any game….they are establishing the pass….two…because they are establishing the pass the oline men are in pass block mentality rather then run mentality….it is a different mindset. On takes finesse one takes power. Linemen would rather run block. When or if OSU DECIDES to run…I got a feeling they will and can just like last year.

  21. One huge issue is also the fact that teams are selling out to stop the run. When teams have 8-9 players in the box it makes it hard for anyone to run the ball.

    This is one of the reasons OSU is a pass first team. They are taking what the defense gives them and the overall reseults have been outstanding.


    OSU is averaging 5.6 rushing yards per attempt, and 8.6 passing yards per attempt. If you want rushing numbers to go up, you have to pass MORE.

    Right now, based on OSU’s recent half-dozen games (going back to last year), teams are selling out to stop the run. Defensive coordinators know that any success against OSU will have to come from forcing Pryor to go to the air. Historically, that’s been his weakness, but since things have started to “click” for him, it hasn’t worked.

    Pryor (and Tressel) will continue to take what opponents give them – currently that’s passing. Load up the box and that leaves passing lanes open. If the passing numbers keep increasing, then opponents will switch to guarding against that and Saine/Herron will take over.

    Keep in mind also a change in offensive philosophy – for the first time, OSU has a TE running routes on most downs. One less blocker than what we are used to seeing.

    I do agree that Saine should be used as a slot receiver more often, though. Not because he isn’t a good back, but because it’d give defensive coordinators headaches knowing that there was another good 4th receiver running routes.

  23. Great points sportsmonkey!

    Another issue with the running game is the tight end position. While Jake Stoneburner has been a weapon in the passing game, his run blocking leaves a lot to be desired.

    Bring on the Big Ten!

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