Cody Cousino / Photo editor
After six weeks of abysmal passing and an inexperienced, by-committee backfield Week 7, the Buckeyes’ offense welcomed back a familiar face and rode him all the way to victory.
Senior running back Daniel “Boom” Herron returned to the field Oct. 15 against then-ranked No. 16 Illinois after serving a pair suspensions for violating NCAA rule and the Buckeyes wasted no time in incorporating him back into the offense. Herron carried the ball 23 times for 114 yards and what proved to be the game-winning touchdown. He was also able to provide the Buckeyes with a consistent option on offense, something they have sorely missed in his absence.
Running backs Jordan Hall and Carlos Hyde have filled in admirably, but what Herron brings to the huddle is invaluable. With 458 carries, 2,194 yards and 29 touchdowns to his name, he certainly has all the credentials numbers-wise. But it is his leadership, experience and ability to make big plays which go unnoticed when looking at statistics alone. This was never more evident than on Oct. 15.
Herron was in from the start, running tough and physical through the Illini defense all afternoon, and proved to be the catalyst in the Buckeyes’ ground-and-pound 17-7 victory.
With Herron cementing his place as the Buckeyes’ starter at tailback, the future for Ohio State football looks considerably brighter than it did when he was serving his suspension.
With a consistent rushing threat in the backfield, the offense can now cater more to freshman quarterback Braxton Miller’s strengths and provide more big plays down the field for the wide receiving corps. Opposing defenses now must account for Herron and place a larger emphasis on their focus of run defense. Should we ever see Miller in a passing funk, the coaches will have no problem putting the ball in Herron’s hands and letting him dictate the flow of the game. A quality tailback is quite a luxury to have when dealing with the physical play of Big Ten defenses and the timing of Herron’s return couldn’t be any better with the Buckeyes starting 0-2 in conference play before he suited up this year.
With five weeks of Big Ten opponents left on the schedule, the offense needs to remain consistent and continue to do what they do best: run the football.
Last year against Wisconsin, Herron had 19 carries for 91 yards and two touchdowns. Herron looks to be an important factor against the Badgers this Saturday as well. The Badgers give up an average of 121.14 rushing yards per game, which is 34th in the nation.
If the Buckeyes hope to climb back into a position among the nation’s best, they’ll have to do a little bit more than make some noise. They’ll have to go out with a boom.