Ohio State coach Urban Meyer confirmed Thursday that senior running back Jordan Hall tore a tendon in his right foot that required surgery last week.
Meyer called Hall a "warrior" and expects him to "come back rather quickly, if he can" -- perhaps even by the start of the season. But Ohio State also has to prepare to be without quite possibly its top offensive skill player for at least several games and possibly more. According to Meyer, Hall suffered the initial cut and received stitches, but when doctors discovered a tendon had been severed, they decided to operate.
"That was a tough injury," Meyer said on a conference call to promote his upcoming appearance in the American Century Championship, a celebrity golf event at Lake Tahoe. "He's on my leadership committee. He's come so far. The guy's tremendous."
"We're not exactly loaded at that position right now, the offensive skill, but some guys have to step up and play," Meyer continued. "... I was so excited because he had an excellent spring practice, had a lot of skills we look for in that hybrid position."
The hybrid position is part running back, part wide receiver and best executed by former Florida star Percy Harvin. Hall separated himself this spring as the best man for the job, and he had already started the "mental part" of his preparation this summer, studying plays where the hybrid spot is featured in Meyer's spread offense.
"Who's going to take his place? I don't know," Meyer said. "We're not loaded at that spot. I'm hoping maybe [Corey] 'Philly' Brown continues to improve."
Brown, who was a bit banged up this spring, recorded 14 receptions for 205 yards and added two punt returns and a 44-yard kick return. He had no carries but boasts good speed.
Aside from Brown, Ohio State lacks many obvious candidates who can fill the hybrid role.
"It's one of our dilemmas right now," Meyer said.
Meyer is excited about the playoff coming to college football and the fact it will remain in the existing bowls, although he liked the BCS system. His main concern is the logistics, specifically how much time teams will have between their semifinal matchups in bowls and the national title game. "How much time do you prepare? How much class are they going to miss?" he said. "And then for the coaching staff, that's going to be a tremendous grind. I'm just anxious to see how it all finishes up. I'm excited for college football. The fans wanted it, and we got it."
Meyer said he and athletic director Gene Smith continue to discuss scheduling philosophy going forward. The playoff selection committee will place a premium on schedule strength and some teams are already re-assessing how they approach the non-league portion. Ohio State's approach has been to play one marquee non-league opponent each year and three regional opponents. "That's going to all play out," Meyer said. "If you compete in the Big Ten Conference and you win the championship game and you've got a good football team, you'll be in that playoff."