Coming into Ohio State’s season opener against Buffalo, the question was, “Who was going to step up as running back?”
After OSU’s 40-20 victory, though, the question is, “Who can stop Jordan Hall?”
The redshirt senior running back was named the starter in the week leading up to his team’s season opener, but there were some doubts about his ability to perform as the main running back.
Hall quelled any doubts that the fans had by halftime, tallying 126 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground in the first half. He finished with 159 yards on the day, a career high.
Both of his touchdowns came on big runs in the first half, one of which was a career-long at 49 yards. The other, a 37-yard sprint, came one play after Buffalo had cut the lead to 10 points and all but dashed any hope the Bulls had for a comeback.
Junior quarterback Braxton Miller said that Hall’s second touchdown helped to keep the momentum in Ohio State’s favor as the game was starting to slip away from the Buckeyes.
“It slipped a little bit. But Dontre (Wilson) came back with a nice kickoff return, we got up a little bit and then Jordan scored a nice little run,” said Miller.
Hall credits his touchdown runs to the holes that were created for him by the offensive line.
“I just was like wow, I don’t know if they messed up or the O-line just did what they do and I just (saw) it and I took it,” Hall said.
It was a long journey back for Hall, who, despite being named a captain in 2012, missed 9 of 12 games because of two separate injuries.
“It was tough, it wasn’t as tough because we won every game, so I feel like if we had lost a couple of games it would have been even tougher because I would have felt like I could’ve helped,” Hall said when asked about his time spent on the bench last season. “But we won every game so I was happy for my teammates.”
During the offseason, it was believed that Hall would fill the H-back role in Meyer’s offense, but senior wide receiver Chris Fields started at the position Saturday, due to his ability to both run and catch the ball.
Hall said he spent time preparing to be the H-back, but was also ready if he was needed as a traditional running back.
“I was going to be the H and coach told me I had to learn both positions, so wherever they put me, I’m going to do what I have to do to help the team win,” Hall said.
Hall finished the game with three catches for 14 yards to go along with his rushing total, but also caught a pass for a two-point conversion from senior quarterback Kenny Guiton.
The two-point conversion was the second in a row for OSU, with Guiton being in on both conversions.
“The first one we had a guy over to the right…basically Drew called it for me. He was like ‘You want me to block ‘em?’ and I said ‘Go ahead.’ I ran it in. And then the next one they had about four guys there, and I’m like they don’t have enough to hold Jordan and the offensive line. So I just threw it out,” Guiton said.
Hall was glad to see the team come out to a fast start, taking a 23-0 lead after the first quarter, but felt that after that the team got complacent and slowed their pace.
“Coach (offensive coordinator Tom Herman) Herman challenged us to come out fast, get things going, and I think we did that,” Hall said. “In the second half we slowed down a little bit, but we’ll be better next week.”
Senior running back Carlos Hyde, the expected starter heading into the season, will return from suspension on Sept. 21 against Florida A&M. With Hall’s performance in the opener, it will be interesting to see what Meyer decides to do in the backfield.
Hall isn’t worried about the return of Hyde, saying it’s about the team, not his individual stats.
“We’re all brothers on the team, whatever we’ve got to do to get a win and do what our goal is this year, that’s our main focus,” Hall said.
OSU next plays host to San Diego State at 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 7 at Ohio Stadium.