Ohio State senior running back Carlos Hyde may have a hard time finding his way back into the lineup once he makes his return from a suspension laid down by coach Urban Meyer.
Hyde was involved in an incident at a Columbus bar on July 20, but he ultimately was never charged in the case.
Many of the Buckeye faithful, myself included, thought three games seemed like a harsh suspension when the tailback seemingly did not even break the law.
Regardless, a three game suspension only meant missing games (against Buffalo, San Diego State and California) that OSU was or is still heavily favored in. I figured Hyde would slide back into the lineup against Florida A&M to give the running game a boost.
While I still believe Hyde will find the field in week four, I do not think he will have the role many expected. Frankly, I do not think he should.
Even though Hyde is very talented, OSU’s running game has not lacked in his absence. Redshirt-senior running back Jordan Hall stepped in and rushed for 159 yards and two touchdowns in a season opening 40-20 win against Buffalo.
I knew Hall was talented, but I never expected him to look like the feature back he was against Buffalo.
Through two games, Hall now has 34 carries for 234 yards and three touchdowns. Freshman running back Dontre Wilson has eight carries for 62 yards and looks like he might score every time he touches the ball, while fellow freshman running back Ezekiel Elliot has seven carries for 38 yards and looks just as dangerous as Wilson. Redshirt-junior running back Rod Smith returned against Buffalo and looked good in limited action.
With a seemingly endless stable of effective running backs, why should Hyde be allowed to step back into a leading role when none of these players put themselves in a situation to be suspended for three games?
Should a player who put himself in a bad situation be allowed to take carries away from those who have been on the field all along?
My answer is no.
This does not mean I think Hyde should sit the bench, but he certainly should not be the No. 1, or even the No. 2 option when he returns to the field. Hall, who is in his sixth year with the program, has earned the right to be the starter. Even if he moves to the H-back position when Hyde returns, the younger players behind him should be given the first crack at carrying a heavier load.
Hyde will see the field, but he should have to earn every carry he gets by proving himself on gameday instead of being handed the keys because of what he was able to do last season.