OSU Looking For Better Ground Traction

After struggling to move the ball on the ground against Toledo, the Ohio State football team is hoping for more success Saturday against Miami (Fla.). The Buckeyes will have the benefit of having Jordan Hall back in uniform, but the Hurricanes do boast a large defensive line.

There was no misconstruing J.B. Shugarts' answer. He wasn't happy.

The senior right tackle was not displeased with the final score when he met with the media following last weekend's 27-22 victory for the Ohio State football team against Toledo. He was disappointed, however, that the Buckeyes' ground game struggled.

"We didn't run the ball at all like we'd like to," he said. "They were giving us some hard looks with some of their inside stunts and some of their blitzes.

"They were extremely prepared for us and did a good job, but we definitely have to move the ball better."

For much of the game against the Rockets, it seemed like Buckeye rushers were running into a brick wall. Toledo often times stacked the box by bringing their safeties down and sending more men to the line of scrimmage than the Buckeyes could block.

The Buckeyes finished with 112 yards on 34 carries, an average of 3.3 yards per attempt, and the Rockets held OSU to short gains more often than not. Ohio State had seven runs of 5 yards or more, but one came on a scramble by quarterback Joe Bauserman and another happened on an end around handoff to receiver Verlon Reed.

When the Buckeyes lined up to run right at the Rockets, sledding was tough.

"It was a battle," senior center Michael Brewster said. "There was a lot of movement (among the defense) and a lot of guys in the box. We were really just trying to get outside. We had some success, but we didn't have too much success running up inside."

Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, things won't be much easier Saturday night when they face Miami (Fla.). The Hurricanes will be well-rested, having 12 days to prepare for the game, and feature plenty of size on their defensive line. The bulk of UM's bulk comes from its defensive tackles. The pair listed as starters on Miami's depth chart both have listed weights above 300 pounds. Micanor Regis is listed at 305 pounds, and Darius Smith checks in at 360.

The Hurricanes will also get a boost from returning lineman Marcus Forston, who returns from a one-game NCAA suspension. The 300-pounder was listed as a backup on the depth chart but was battling with Regis and Smith for a starting spot according to Miami coach Al Golden.

"They have some outstanding players," Ohio State offensive coordinator Jim Bollman said. "They're really big inside up front, really big and strong."

Boosting Ohio State's hopes for a better rushing performance is the return of tailback Jordan Hall. The junior, along with junior cornerback Travis Howard and sophomore safety Corey Brown, missed the first two games of the season because of an NCAA suspension. Hall will see plenty of action and will likely start, according to Bollman.

Sophomore Carlos Hyde started the previous two games, rushing for 93 yards on 19 carries against Akron and 76 yards on 20 carries against Toledo. He also scored the first two touchdowns of his collegiate career against the Rockets.

Still, Hyde said he could have done more.

"If I had been a little more patient I probably could have broke a couple of runs," said Hyde, who added that he received some advice from fifth-year senior tailback Boom Herron about patience while breaking down film of the Toledo game.

In addition to Hall and Hyde, the Buckeyes will also have redshirt freshman Rod Smith and sophomore Jaamal Berry as options to carry the ball. Smith had run for 98 yards on two games but lost two fumbles, including a crucial fourth-quarter giveaway against Toledo. Berry missed the Akron game and worked solely as a kick returner a week later.

Whoever is carrying the ball for Ohio State this weekend, the Buckeyes are looking for better rushing results.

"Obviously we have to do a better job," Fickell said. "We have to block better. We have to run it better. But sometimes it is like pounding your head against a brick wall when there's ten guys in there."

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