Andrew Holleran / Photo editor
When Urban Meyer first met Carlos Hyde, he was not impressed.
After Saturday’s game against Illinois, the first-year Ohio State coach was all smiles when talking about the Buckeyes’ redshirt junior running back.
Hyde had just rushed for 137 yards and three touchdowns in OSU’s 52-22 win against the Illini – his third 100-yard game in five tries – and averaged 7.6 yards per carry, his best mark of the season. On the year, Hyde has totaled 737 yards and 13 touchdowns – tied for the team led with sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller – in eight games of action.
He’s done enough to change the opinion of his head coach.
“(Hyde) was kind of a guy that didn’t have a great reputation,” Meyer said. “I’ve actually grown to appreciate who he is as a person. I think the perception on him was incorrect.”
Hyde has admittedly come a long way since his first meeting with Meyer, which the tailback described as a “man-to-man conversation” with “two strangers meeting each other.”
He’s come even further since OSU’s game against Illinois last season.
After OSU’s 17-7 victory last October in Champaign, Ill., Hyde, who carried the ball three times for eight yards in the win, wrote from his Twitter account, @king_hyde34, “Guess I’m not good enough. Take myself elsewhere.” Hyde later deleted the tweet.
Frustrated with his lack of playing time in 2011, Hyde has gotten all the carries he could ask for in 2012.
With senior running back Jordan Hall out for most of the season with injuries, Hyde has been the Buckeyes’ de-facto starting running back this year.
“I was just disappointed last year. I felt I didn’t get the playing time I deserved,” Hyde said. “I moved past that and this year I have all the playing time that I want and I’m loving it.”
Hyde missed two games in September because of a sprained MCL, but in the eight games he has played in, Hyde’s averaged just more than 92 yards per game on 18 carries.
“I run with a passion, and I run with aggression. I run with attitude. I feel like I can’t be brought down. I run with that in my mind. That allows me to run hard,” Hyde said.
Hyde, arguably, has been one of the best players on an OSU team that is 10-0 and two games away from its first undefeated season since 2002, but he deflects most of the credit he is getting elsewhere.
“I wouldn’t just say it’s me, it’s my offensive line,” Hyde said. “When those guys go out there and do their job, it makes it easy for me. The offensive line did great (Saturday), so it was easy for me to do my job.”
The offensive line, comprised of redshirt juniors Jack Mewhort, Corey Linsley and Marcus Hall, along with junior Andrew Norwell and senior Reid Fragel, has made big strides, too.
OSU co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Ed Warinner attributed his unit’s solid play their “camaraderie.”
“They hang out together. Now they act like brothers,” Warriner said. “You know how brothers tease each other, joke around, but if anyone else messes with them, watch out.”
While Hyde wouldn’t be having the success he is having without his offensive line, he wouldn’t be having it without his new coaching staff, either.
Meyer is responsible for the redshirt junior’s upward trend, sure. Hyde’s position coach, Stan Drayton, might be more responsible, though.
Hyde and Drayton sit down with each other every day, talking about more than just football.
“He’s the best position coach I’ve ever had,” Hyde said. “I feel like coach Drayton understands me well. He understands where I’m coming from, he understands the situations that I’ve been through pretty well.”
Meyer has noticed the impact Drayton has had on Hyde as well.
“They’re very close. And there’s a great, there’s good, energy in that running back room right now, really good, if you just watch him play,” Meyer said.
Since Hyde arrived at OSU in 2009, all he has wanted was a chance to prove his doubters wrong, Meyer included.
If it is indeed Hyde’s time this season, the running back said he’s not going to let it go to waste.
“I have the opportunity now and I’m not going to let it pass by,” Hyde said.
OSU has a bye this week before traveling to Madison, Wis., Nov. 17 to face Wisconsin.