At his final press conference before the game against the Hoosiers (7 p.m., Big Ten Network), OSU head coach Jim Tressel said an ankle injury suffered on Herron's second touchdown run last week against Illinois will keep him out of the starting lineup. In his place step Saine and true freshman Jordan Hall, who will share the bulk of the carries.
"I would say (Herron) was probably 85 percent yesterday," Tressel said. "We'd like to have him at 100 percent, but he'll be with us and ready to go. Today's just Thursday."
Tressel did not rule Herron out of action but did not say he would play, either. Herron suffered the injury on his 2-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and did not return to action. He was attended to by trainers on the sideline, who removed his left shoe and began working on the ankle.
In addition to Saine and Hall, redshirt freshman Jermil Martin could be a candidate to see some time in the backfield as well. Last week, the converted fullback was named the scout team offensive player of the week and has impressed Tressel with his play now that he is fully healthy. He has gotten more reps during practice this week as a result of Herron's injury and will make the travel squad.
Herron holds six career starts to his name.
True freshman Jaamal Berry will not be a candidate to help fill the void. Tressel said the speedster from Florida remains at least a week away from being able to play as he continues to nurse a hamstring injury, and the freshman might not even make the trip to Bloomington.
Whether or not Berry makes the travel roster might be determined by who is healthy on the roster. Tressel said six or seven players have been sidelined this week with the flu but added that no one was seriously ill as of Thursday morning.
Sophomore quarterback Terrelle Pryor leads the team in rushing with 235 yards on 39 carries, but Herron has taken the bulk of the reps this season to the tune of 64 rushes for 233 yards and five touchdowns. His streak of eight consecutive games with a touchdown could come to an end this weekend.
In the last two games, Saine has out-rushed Herron.
"Brandon, it was six of one and a half-dozen of the other whether it was he or (Herron)," Tressel said of earlier decisions for playing time. "They're both good. There's not one thing that one does that the other can't do. They've all got the whole package."
Hall did not record a carry until the third game of the season and now has 14 carries for 66 yards in two games.
"The more he gets work and the more he gets opportunities, he continues to grow," Tressel said of Hall.
As for Berry, Tressel said they are still planning on using the running back at some point this season provided the team has a need for him.
Asked when he would consider redshirting Berry, Tressel said, "I think if you got into the back half of the season and you were very, very healthy with all the others. What we always say about redshirting is it's what the team needs. We've taken redshirts off guys in game nine before because we had to have them.
"Our intentions are not to redshirt him."
On defense, junior linebacker Ross Homan did not take part in contact drills Tuesday but was full-speed from then on after suffering an injury against Illinois. With senior safety Kurt Coleman suspended for the game, Tressel said redshirt freshman Orhian Johnson will be the fifth defensive back in nickel situations while senior Anderson Russell will earn the start in Coleman's place.
"Orhian really has been highly thought of ever since his freshman year," Tressel said. "(Safeties coach) Paul Haynes is very high on him. We're expecting that he will do a great job."