Thursday, November 3, 2011
Jordan Hall doubtful for Buckeyes
By Brian Bennett
Ohio State's depth at tailback -- and maybe even more importantly, its kick return game -- has taken another hit. Head coach Luke Fickell said Thursday that Jordan Hall, the team's No. 2 running back, is "probably doubtful" against Indiana because of an ankle injury.
If Hall can't go, that would be two running backs unavailable for the Buckeyes. Jaamal Berry was suspended this week after he was charged with assault.
But tailback depth shouldn't be too much of a problem for Ohio State. Dan Herron has been terrific since returning from his suspension, rushing for 274 yards in two games. Carlos Hyde, who ran for more than 100 yards against Nebraska before Herron came back, will be elevated to the No. 2 back. Hyde voiced his displeasure over his reduced role on Twitter and did not play last week against Wisconsin, but Fickell said Hyde has "kept his mind right."
"This could be a very good opportunity for him," Fickell said.
Rod Smith, who has been working out some with the Buckeyes' linebackers, will also be available at running back.
The bigger issue if Hall can't play might be on special teams. Hall ranks third in the Big Ten in kick returns at 30.2 yards per attempt. Last week, he returned a Wisconsin kick 42 yards to help set up the game-winning score.
Fickell said Corey "Philly" Brown, Chris Fields and Devin Smith could chip in on kick returns in Hall's absence, and Herron might get some work there, too.
The Buckeyes are heavy favorites to beat 1-8 Indiana at home this week, but Hall could be a key player down the stretch as they contend for the Leaders Division title.