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Saturday, September 6, 2008
Buckeyes survive life without Beanie -- barely


Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Chris "Beanie" Wells spent the afternoon in sneakers and sweats, but he still found a way to help his Ohio State teammates.

Unable to contribute with his feet, Wells used his mouth. After a sluggish first half from the Buckeyes' offense, the normally subdued Wells tried to spark his teammates.

"He was actually pretty intense there a little bit," quarterback Todd Boeckman said. "Just getting after us, yelling at us, just trying to cheer us up a little bit."

Buckeyes redshirt freshman Dan "Boom" Herron and the other backs filling in for Wells had him in their ears all game. His message was clear.

"Just keep on running," Herron remembers hearing. "Something's going to open up."

It took the better part of three quarters, but Herron and teammates Maurice Wells and Brandon Saine finally saw some daylight in a 26-14 win against Ohio. The three reserves combined for 113 yards on 26 carries.

Both Herron and Saine found the end zone, and Maurice Wells finished with the best yards-per-carry average (5.3), but it took time for all three to get going. Ohio State finished with just six rushing yards in the first quarter. Then after a Malcolm Jenkins interception put the offense in scoring position, Wells was stuffed on fourth-and-1 at the Ohio 29-yard line.

Between-the-tackles runs were a struggle most of the game, and the Buckeyes seemed to have more success on the edges.

"We probably performed maybe B-minus-wise," Maurice Wells said. "We ran the ball well and we protected well when our chances came, but as far as the running backs, it's not really so much what you do. It's the whole offense. The O-line has to block well, we have to run well and hit creases and break tackles. We did well, but not as well as we could have."

Would Chris Wells have made a difference?

"We just didn't execute," center Jim Cordle said. "I don't think having him in there would have made that big of a difference."

Herron expects Chris Wells to be "very good" next week against USC, but if the junior is limited by a toe injury, the Buckeyes' reserves are ready to step in.

"He's a very important part of our offense," Herron said, "but you can't just say that we're done [if he doesn't play]. We have a ton of great athletes on our team and in our offense. Beanie is a big part, but we have a team."