EDITOR'S NOTE: The following story is written by our new writer here at Bucknuts, Chris Britt. Chris has spent the last four years as a student assistant in the Ohio State athletics communications department and brings with him a vast knowledge of Buckeye football and basketball.
Junior Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde is determined and confident that he and his fellow Buckeye teammates are going to have a successful season even with the transition to a new coaching staff and having to deal with the consequences of having a postseason ban.
“Our goal is to go 12-0,” the Naples, Fla., native said. “We can’t go to a bowl game but we still have to go out there and play. It feels like we have a chip on our shoulders without a bowl game.
“We’re going to let the world know who the Buckeyes are this year.”
That type of attitude is exactly an ingredient first-year Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer wants instilled in his new Buckeye offense. It is sure to feature a productive running attack, where Hyde will look to prove he’s worthy to get the bulk of the carries, something he wish would have happened last year.
(Check out the video interview segment with Hyde embedded above with comments on his progress as a tailback and more.)
Hyde described his sophomore campaign as a “roller coaster” and something he can “build off of.”
“Sometimes I got in and had good games and others I didn’t play at all,” he said. “I got down about it, but a couple older guys told me to patient and that my time would come.”
Well, with Meyer’s new offensive attack and running back Jordan Hall set to miss multiple games at the onset of the 2012 season (Hall, a senior, due to a foot laceration sustained over the summer) Hyde will have a golden opportunity to prove he is capable of being a featured back this season.
Hyde has dropped a few LBs, but is still large and in charge
“I feel like my time is now,” Hyde stated after discussing everything he’s been through so far as a Buckeye. “I feel this year I need to get out there and play my game.”
In what can be taken as a sign of good things to come, the normally relatively-quiet demeanor of Hyde enthusiastically proclaimed: “I can’t wait to get out there and play our first game! I’m excited and can’t wait.”
In addition to his improved confidence and outlook, the junior tailback has also dedicated a large portion of his offseason to getting in better shape. Having new strength coach Mickey Marotti around sure hasn’t hindered Hyde’s ability to tighten his frame and add to his speed.
“Last year I played at 240 but the coaches want me to get down to 232 before the season begins,” Hyde said. “I’m at 235 right now and the coaches seem OK with that. I still run a fast 40 so it doesn’t matter (said with a laugh).”
The junior did clock in as the fastest running back in camp, both in the spring and the summer.
“I ran a 4.45 this most recent time and ran a 4.43 during the spring,” he said.
The coaches aren’t the only ones that are getting the chance to notice the changes in Hyde’s physique. Even sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller had some positive words to say about Hyde and what he brings to the huddle.
“He’s slimmed down a little bit and got all of the jelly fat off of him, Miller said. “He has more muscle tone this year. I think he can be really good. It’s how you practice and how you take it in.”
The slimmed-down Hyde praised Meyer’s new offense and how it looked during the first practice of camp Friday morning.
“We came out and executed and had a much better feel for what we were doing,” Hyde said. “It was a big improvement from the spring. On the first day of spring practice, we had no clue what we were doing. But we really looked sharp today.”
That’s something Hyde didn’t think would happen so quick after first glancing at the new playbook.
“I was confused when I first saw the playbook,” he said. “Coming from the offense we ran last year to this seasons, I was like I don’t know how I’m going to learn this but I had to. But in the spring, I caught on pretty quick and it worked out fast. It wasn’t as tough as I thought. This offense is actually pretty easy as a running back. They tell you which way to go and when to go, so it’s up to us to just do it.”
Hyde, whose 5.3 yards-per-carry average last season was the best on the team, seems overtly optimistic after picking up on the playbook and developing relationships with his offensive line and fellow teammates. (Hyde was third on the team last year in rushing yards with 566.)
“I’m excited for the new offense,” he said. “I’ll be out in the open and in one-on-one situations more. I won’t have to worry about two or three guys chasing me anymore. I’ll just have to worry about the one [defender] and having him miss so I can be off to the races.
Hyde, who will be competing with redshirt sophomore Rod Smith, and true freshmen Warren Ball and Bri’onte Dunn for carries while Hall is out, seems to think with a faster-paced offense he can build off his six-touchdown performance in 2011, which was most for all running backs and only second to Miller (seven) for the team high.
“The offense is quick,” he said. “We snap the ball and go-go-go quick. About the time the defense reacts I’ll already have the ball and making moves.”
But even with his optimistic outlook on the new offense and his improved mental state of mind, Hyde realizes he still has things he needs to work on and show the coaching staff if he still wants to maximize his touches this season.
“I need to prove (to the coaches) that I am more of a physical runner than they think I am,” Hyde said. “In the spring, I had a little injury to my ankle so I wasn’t as physical as I should have been. This fall in camp, I’m going to show them what I am really capable of.
“I feel like I can play any position. If I can learn the skills necessary, I believe I can execute anywhere. I feel like I have the best hands on the team and that catching is strength of mine.”
Hyde did catch 10 passes for 73 yards as a sophomore.
However, no matter the circumstances, as the Buckeyes enter their 90th season of action in Ohio Stadium and their 100th year of competition in the Big Ten, Carlos Hyde is ready to show the country it’s not just his time that is now, but with Meyer and his teammates beside him, it’s the Buckeyes’ time that is now, once again.