COLUMBUS – Carlos Hyde didn’t fumble his opportunity.
Given the chance to be Ohio State’s No. 1 running back – an opportunity he thought was unfairly denied him a year ago – the 235-pound junior has delivered in a big way for the 10-0 Buckeyes.
After running for 137 yards on 18 carries in a 52-22 win over Illinois on Saturday, Hyde has 737 yards rushing and 14 touchdowns despite missing 2 ½ games with a sprained knee.
OSU coach Urban Meyer has a seemingly endless supply of stories about guys who have made big improvements in their performances and adjusted their attitudes since January. But few of those makeovers can match Hyde’s.
Hyde’s frustration boiled over last season when he was buried on the bench after Dan Herron returned from a six-game NCAA suspension.
He got only three carries at Illinois in Herron’s first game back and carried the ball just 13 times in OSU’s final four games, though he did have 105 yards against Indiana on a day when Herron rushed for 141 yards.
The Illinois game came one week after he gained 104 yards against Nebraska and led to him going on Twitter to tweet, “Guess I’m not good enough. Take myself elsewhere.”
That tweet was quickly removed, and this season Hyde has removed any doubt that he can play.
“Last year I didn’t get the playing time I thought I deserved,” Hyde said. “I moved past that. This year I have all the playing time I want. I have the opportunity now and I’m not going to let it pass by.
“A year ago, it was just a different coaching staff. We got a new coaching staff and they have trust in me that I OVERSET FOLLOWS:can be that guy, that starting running back,” Hyde said. “It just worked out in my favor and I’m able to showcase my ability.”
Hyde did not win Meyer over immediately after he took over as OSU’s coach in January, though.
“He was kind of a guy that didn’t have a great reputation,” Meyer said. “I’d say our first month was not pleasant. He’s a genuine guy. I’ve actually grown to appreciate who he is as a person. I think the perception on him was incorrect.”
Hyde remembered his early days with Meyer this way:
“I didn’t know Coach Meyer and Coach Meyer didn’t know me. Basically, it was two strangers meeting. He probably heard about last year – how I wasn’t into it. When he came here my attitude changed. I felt I wasn’t going nowhere and he wasn’t going nowhere so we were going to make this thing work no matter what.”
Hyde also gives credit for his turnaround to running backs coach Stan Drayton, who was OSU’s receivers coach last season. “Best position coach I ever had,” Hyde said.
Hyde has helped Ohio State average 39.9 points a game on offense, which would be the second-highest season average ever at OSU if it holds up in the next two games. The 1969 team set the record by averaging 42.7 points a game.
Hyde and the Buckeyes get this week off before finishing the season with two big games – at Wisconsin on Nov. 17 and at home against Michigan on Nov. 24.