Jeff Simpson / The Lantern
What’s better than one backfield threat?
Dan Herron and Brandon Saine are trying to confirm that the answer is indeed two backfield threats.
In replacing Chris “Beanie” Wells and his career collegiate numbers of 3,382 yards and 30 touchdowns, “Boom” and “Zoom” have created a complementary approach in the Buckeye backfield. Wells was selected by the Arizona Cardinals in the first round of April’s NFL Draft.
“With losing Beanie, those are big shoes to fill,” Herron said. “With me and Brandon, with the talent that we have, if we continue to work hard, and just do the little things right, and continue to listen to our coaches, I think we’ll be just fine.”
The duo served as Wells’ supporting cast in 2008, but Saine was hampered by a nagging hamstring injury for much of the season and Herron was just a freshman.
“We always say that you never want to evaluate a freshman or a guy that’s injured,” coach Jim Tressel said. “If you think back to when Brandon’s been healthy, he’s been very solid.”
Tressel said that the coaching staff could never truly gauge what it had behind “Beanie,” since “Boom” and “Zoom” were limited by inexperience and injury.
The tandem was thrust into the fire last year when Wells missed three games with a hurt foot.
“You just have to be ready to go in,” Saine said. “Before the game, you’ll know who’s starting but that’s about it.”
This season, without the broad shoulders of “Beanie” to rely upon, the group of backs has struggled to find a rhythm during games. Saine and Herron have split time, but no Buckeye back has topped 75 yards in any game.
The duo has shared the running load with quarterback Terrelle Pryor. The sophomore, a threat to opposing defenses with both his arm and legs, leads the Buckeyes with 176 rushing yards through three games.
Still, Saine’s renewed health and Herron’s progression give the offense more versatility than it’s had in recent memory.
“We have a lot of options with whatever we want to do with the offense,” Herron said. “It’s a great thing to see that Brandon’s healthy now. He’s been banged up a little bit the last two years, but now that he’s healthy it brings a lot more options to our offense.”
While the Bucks have yet to establish consistency in the running game, Saine and Herron have served as extra targets for Pryor in the passing game.
Wells accounted for just 15 receptions during his three-year stint at OSU. “Boom” and “Zoom” have already totaled 11 catches through three contests in ’09.
“We definitely feel more comfortable doing it,” Saine said. “Terrelle makes good decisions out there, so hopefully we’ll see it a lot more.”
Though Herron and Saine likely won’t approach Wells’ gaudy rushing numbers from the past two seasons, they prefer their complementary attack.
Herron’s score against Toledo marked his seventh consecutive game with at least one touchdown.
“Every time we’re in, we’re fresh, so we’re able to give 100 percent,” Saine said. “We have different running styles, so it keeps the defense on its toes.”