Thursday, July 16, 2009

Buckeye Backfield: Will Three Backs Be Better Than One?

by Kyle Strittholt
BlockONation Contributor

Last season there was one Buckeye player that was certainly a problem for opposing defenses, and his name was Chris "Beanie" Wells.

This season would be Beanie's senior season, but he decided to go to the NFL and make his millions.

Without Wells, it is easy to think that the Buckeyes won't be as effective in the running game, but that is not the case for this season.

Dan Herron had a very productive season filling in last year, rushing for 439 yards and six touchdowns.

He was really effective in the Michigan game last season, rushing eight times for 80 yards and galloping to a 49-yard touchdown in the Buckeyes 42-7 victory over their rivals.

In the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, Herron had a late, go-ahead touchdown that nearly won the game for Ohio State, if not for the last-minute heroics of Colt McCoy.

It would appear as if he will be the starter this season, and although he isn't Chris Wells, he will cause some problems for opposing defenses.

Wells did not have another player besides Herron to step in and take some heat off him, but Herron now has two other players that will make the Buckeyes' backfield effective.

Not only do they have an athletic quarterback who can run in Terrelle Pryor, but they also have Brandon Saine returning from injury and the young freshman Jaamal Berry who was the Buckeyes' star recruit of the 2009 incoming class.

Brandon Saine has been plagued with minor injuries that have caused him to sit much of the last two seasons, but when he did play, he was a threat in the passing game.

His biggest strength is his catching ability out of the backfield, and he can also line up in the slot if needed. This opens up the potential for a few trick plays here and there.

In 2007, he rushed for 267 yards, and like Herron last season, he was the backup to Wells during his best season in Columbus. He added 160 receiving yards in the '07 season, and he averaged 13 yards a catch.

He has not lived up to the high expectations Buckeye fans had for him as of yet, but this is the year he can show it—It's now or never!

He will not be a backup to one of the best running backs in the nation, so he should get plenty of play-making opportunities.

With the recent news about Carlos Hyde, I don't know if Jaamal Berry will redshirt this season, but it's unlikely and he would certainly be a valuable asset to the backfield.

He is a back that explodes with speed and has power to back it up. He has great vision, toughness, and power. He's essentially a smaller, faster version of Chris Wells.

Will Berry be as good as Wells was ultimately?

Maybe not, but time will tell.

Wells was a very gifted and talented back, and that kind of player is not generally so easily replaced.

The bottom line is that this year in Columbus will mainly be about Terrelle Pryor.

Teams will be focusing on Pryor and how they can hope to contain him. In a weeks time, it will prove difficult for teams to game plan for how Pryor moves in the pocket and around, and down the field.

Then there are the three running backs who all add a unique part to this offense.

I think a key to the Buckeyes' offense is to immediately take advantage of their opponents' lack of familiarity with the new Buckeye backfield.

If they make defenses fear the running backs, it opens up everything for this offense and if Pryor can replicate his Spring game performance passing the ball, watch out!

With Pryor, a preseason Heisman candidate pick by most prognosticators, and three running backs to have to prepare for, and a young, but talented crop of receivers, it will prove to be a great challenge to any and all defenses that will face the 2009 Buckeyes.

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