Beanie's injury tests Buckeyes' depth, creativity

September, 4, 2008
9/04/08
3:07
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Ohio State coach Jim Tressel officially confirmed what was plainly obvious several days ago: star running back Beanie Wells will sit out Saturday against Ohio because of a right foot/toe injury. This is a no-brainer for Ohio State, which already has drawn some criticism for having Wells in the Youngstown State game after halftime.

You don't risk further injury to a big toe, which, last I checked, most running backs need to do their jobs. You especially don't risk further injury to Wells against Ohio when top-ranked USC is up next on the schedule. And this is a player who has faced injuries before, so keeping him as healthy as possible for as long as possible should be the priority. Who knows how Wells responds from the injury, but it's better to find out in L.A.

Wells' injury allows the Buckeyes to see what they have from their other running backs. Maurice Wells is a veteran who can contribute, but what about Dan "Boom" Herron and Brandon Saine? How will their performance Saturday against Ohio impact the way the coaches use them for USC? Saine's versatility is well documented, but putting him in a traditional tailback role for 15-20 carries could be greatly beneficial, especially since Ohio State doesn't know how effective Beanie Wells will be next week. Herron might be the Buckeyes' back of the future, so let's see how he handles the spotlight

I've gotten more than a few e-mails from Buckeyes fans criticizing a lack of creativity among the coaches, particularly offensive coordinator Jim Bollman. Well, here's a chance to experiment a bit, see what Mo Wells, Herron and Saine provide. Put two backs in or try the pistol offense a little bit more. Terrelle Pryor appears to have leapfrogged Joe Bauserman for the backup quarterback spot. Will Pryor be used differently without Wells on the field? Coach Jim Tressel doesn't think the two situations correlate, but Saturday is the last chance for Ohio State to see what it has from Pryor before USC.

No one wants to see a star player sit out right before a huge game, but Ohio State has to use this game as an opportunity.

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