No, there’s no rushing problem

Look, it’s easy.

At this point, five games into the season, OSU is 14th in the country in rushing offense, averaging 235 yards per game. The fact that the load is being shared by at least three players is irrelevant.

As a way of explaining my point, consider this: OSU is leading the conference in TD passes. Yet the team’s best receiver (Sanzenbacher) isn’t even one of the top three receivers in the league. Why? Because those TDs are spread across 6 different receivers.

Therefore, would anyone claim that OSU has a “passing problem” because one of its WRs isn’t getting the majority of the yards and TDs? Then why would the team have a rushing problem, just because more than one back was being used successfully?

Finally, consider what happened against the Illini last Saturday. It was reported that after Pryor returned from his injury late in the 3rd quarter, Tressel pulled him from the running game for safety reasons. At the same time, Saine was either on the sideline or being used as a slot receiver. At that point, the Buckeyes went into full Tresselball mode and did nothing but rush Herron over and over again, the line kept pounding away, the offense kept converting 1st downs, milking the clock, until Boom sauntered around the corner for the backbreaking TD.

The point being, when put in a position to rely on only one back, the team marched right down the field, averaging 4.1 yards per carry, and scored with what appeared to be relative ease.

Having said that, I agree with Saine’s critics in that he’s been dropping off a bit over the last couple of weeks, particularly with what seems to be “vision.” A few times I wondered if Lydell Ross was back on the field. Hopefully, he’ll get past this small slump and improve his consistency. No matter what, though, the Bucks are deep and talented enough to keep what is obviously a solid rushing game going.

Comments

  1. Since when is it acceptable for a Buckeye starting tailback to average 4.1 yards per carry vs. a team ranked 75th against the run?

  2. My issue with the Ohio State running game is from a tailback standpoint. They are moving the ball on the ground with Pryor running it, however as we found out OSU may not be able to count on that all year.

    Just getting average production out of your #1 tailback can hurt the offense elsewhere. A defense can drop a player out of the box to help out with the pass. It also will have an impact on the playaction passing game. LBers and safeties bite as much as they would if OSU is having success running the ball from the tailback spot.

    Top Ten Teams in the Country and YPC (Top Tailback)

    Alabama
    Richardson-7.4
    Ingram-7.9

    Ohio State:
    Herron-4.4

    Oregon:
    James-8.0

    Boise State:
    Martin-7.2

    TCU:
    Wesley-7.1

    Oklahoma:
    Murray-4.2 (9TD)

    Nebraska:
    Helu Jr.-7.1

    Auburn:
    McCalebb-8.0

    Arizona:
    Grigsby-5.6

    Utah:
    Wide-5.3

    Every single one of these teams have a more productive player at tailback.

    We are five games into the season and this is what we know about OSU’s two tailbacks:

    Herron-Average….getting the job done.

    Saine-The only thing he has shown consistently is the ability to catch the ball and run blindly into blockers and defenders….then fall down.

    And while OSU has piled on the yards against 4 really bad run defenses…better defenses are on the way…

    All I’m saying is it’s really, REALLY obvious that Saine needs less carries and Hall needs more. See what Hall can do and take it from there.

  3. doesn’t that 235 per game factor in Pryors Rushing yards? That would make that statistic very misleading as to how well we are running the ball.

    My only complaint about our running backs is that they seem to be getting tackled to easily. Arm tackles are bringing these guys down. Maybe I’m just used to the SAOJ (stiff-arm of justice) Beanie wells.

  4. Pryor accounts for 74.6 yards of the 235.

    Herron accounts for 57.4.

    Saine accounts for 36.6.

    After that it’s all the backups mostly during scrub time. Hall has gotten SOME meaningful carries with the one’s, but not many.

  5. I kinda don’t understand your point about the passing game…

    You said that:

    “OSU is leading the conference in TD passes. Yet the team’s best receiver (Sanzenbacher) isn’t even one of the top three receivers in the league. Why? Because those TDs are spread across 6 different receivers.”

    Sanzenbacher actually leads the Big Ten in TD receptions, is a respectable 7th in total receptions and is 3rd in receiving yards.

    I would say that all facets of the offense, from the QB play, to the line, to the RB’s to the WR’s could improve in some way.

  6. @manny:
    >>doesn’t that 235 per game factor in Pryors Rushing yards? That would make that statistic very misleading as to how well we are running the ball.<< Yes, but that's the entire point... for some reason, folks are focusing on tailbacks as if they are the only ones rushing. Pryor happens to be the best rusher on the team... the fact that he's better than Saine or Herron does not make the OSU rushing game weak. @JU - I understand that you're trying to limit the discussion to only the tailbacks... but again, that's like limiting a discussion on the passing game to just the WRs, when Pryor passes to the TEs and tailbacks just as often. It's a bigger picture. >>Just getting average production out of your #1 tailback can hurt the offense elsewhere. A defense can drop a player out of the box to help out with the pass. It also will have an impact on the playaction passing game. LBers and safeties bite as much as they would if OSU is having success running the ball from the tailback spot.<< You're correct and incorrect. Whether teams have to put an extra man in the box to cover Saine or Pryor makes no difference. In fact, as has been analyzed ad naseum in articles over at ATO and Smart Football, this is precisely what teams are already doing to OSU - which is precisely why the passing lanes have been so open this year. My main point is that it doesn't matter if Pryor is the team's leading rusher. One reason the other guys have lower numbers than in years' past is precisely because teams are loading up the box to stop Pryor. So far, it's been sufficient. Is 4.1 as good as Beanie era? No, but Pryor's rushing YPC are better than Beanie's, plus we have Herron and Saine on top of that. And Pryor's rushing numbers are in the same ballpark (6.9) as the other players you mentioned. One final point: OSU this year is averaging more than a yard per carry more than the 2006 team, and that team was good enough to go undefeated in regular season play and get to the NC game.

  7. You won’t be able to count on Pryor being the Bucks leading runner all year. Case in point was against Illinois.

    The more Pryor runs the more contact he takes and the more he could get hurt.

    1. A hurt Pryor means Joe Bauserman comes into the game…we all saw why that is bad. The Ohio State offense cannot afford to have Pryor get hurt. Because of this I think Tressel will be far more causious with him.

    2. A hurt Pryor means he will be limited throwing the ball if he is still in the game.

    3. A hurt Pryor means he will not be allowed to run if he is still in the game.

    4. All of the above means the running backs will become the main option on offense.

    I think Hall is better than Saine and maybe better than Herron. Many close to the situation have said that Hall is the best running back on the team…and that was last year. Those people still stand by those words today and don’t have any idea why Tressel is so stubborn.

    Tressel was supposed to work Hall in last week but his butt tightened up with the bad field position and Pryor’s injury.

    This is kinduv an odd argument. Herron by ALL accounts is average at best. Saine has been terrible running the ball this year.

    So why not give Hall more carries?

  8. I largely agree with letting the lower guys on the totem poll tote the rock a few more times, but why are we stopping with Hall? Why not give Berry some more carries?

    More importantly, why do we not have someone with “WELLS” across the back of their jersey? That strategy seemed to work well enough in the past.

  9. Hall is a complete back and knows the whole offense while Berry an Hyde are behind a bit on things like pass protection.

  10. sportsMonkey says

    @JU – I completely agree with your point on the dangers of putting so many eggs in a single basket. If Pryor goes down, then the team will suffer and probably lose a couple of games.

    Anymore, though, this is becoming the case in modern football. The elite teams anymore have so much parity, and often the addition of a stellar player can push them over the edge. The converse of that, though, is if the player goes down, the team suffers correspondingly (see Colt McCoy in last year’s NC game).

    The question is: which is better coaching – risking a potential few losses by keeping Pryor reigned in due to fear of injury, or risking a potential few losses should he actually get injured? IMO, you play the percentages. Put the ball in the hands of the best player on the field. Should the unthinkable happen, at least you tried.

    BTW, the same thing applies to McElroy, or Kellen Moore, or Martinez… all those teams would likely not compete for a NC without their starting QBs. Any team/coach who wants the conference or national title can’t afford to play scared. The ones that do never make it.

  11. Oh, hey one more thing I just noticed, @JU:
    >>Since when is it acceptable for a Buckeye starting tailback to average 4.1 yards per carry vs. a team ranked 75th against the run?<< Not sure where you got 75th... but Illinois has a far better rush defense than that. Before playing OSU, they were averaging 102 ypg allowed on the ground, good enough for 22nd, or about as good as Wisconsin and Michigan State. After giving up 213 to OSU, they've dropped down to 42nd overall...

  12. I really don’t remember where I saw that, but I did. 87% of statistics are made up on the spot…but on 40% of the time.

    I still can’t help but think 4.1 YPC is just not good enough.

  13. All due respect, but you set up a straw man that’s easy to knock down. The issue isn’t that Ohio State has a rushing problem, it’s that Ohio State has a rushing problem when TP is not in the game. The appropriate analogy would be Ohio State has a passing problem when TP is not in the game. Uh-oh.

  14. Check out http://www.cfbstats.com/, one of my favorite sites.

  15. what sources Johnny Utah…the voices in your head?

  16. Sick burn jaxstor….sick burn.

  17. Hey I just found the split stats, just in case anyone still cares.

    In the 2nd half, after Pryor’s injury, OSU went to a two-back look and Herron carried 19 times for 89 yards, or 4.7 ypc. For whatever that’s worth…

  18. It’s worth a lot, because it means two things — if OSU needs to, it can ice the clock and it means the Herron should assume the role as the #1 back.

    Not to rehash a lengthy discussion I had with Johnny Utah off-line, but a 4+ ypc average is solid and means we can keep the chains moving. It’s not elite and flashy, but it’s Tresselball ALL THE WAY.

  19. I’m not worried about the running game vs. Eastern Michigan or Illinois…I’m worried when good teams come calling…

Trackbacks

  1. […] went into turtle mode. It’s a credit to Herron that he was able to carry the load. As monkey pointed out, Herron carried the ball 19 times for 89 yards. 4.7 yards a carry is exactly what Tresslball calls […]

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