COLUMBUS, Ohio -- All Carlos Hyde needs is a little momentum.
It's obvious that at 235 pounds, the Ohio State running back would be tougher to bring down once he gets that big frame moving forward, which he has done often during his tackle-breaking, pile-moving opportunities in the last couple of weeks.
But sometimes getting started can be the hardest part for the junior. And while Hyde hasn't exactly been the fastest getting out of the blocks lately, the Buckeyes have had their patience rewarded by continuing to feed him carries until he haa full head of steam -- and opponents get tired of trying to wrap their arms around him.
"He's a load; he's a load," running backs coach Stan Drayton said. "He uses all 235 pounds, and I think people underestimate his speed at times. You know, when he gets into the mindset and the rhythm of anticipating where the runs and the seams are going to be, he can really become a very effective, productive back.
"I would assume that's a thorn in people's sides on defense, no doubt."
The Buckeyes have other ways to prick teams with their rushing attack, starting with quarterback Braxton Miller. But Hyde has seemingly opened up the floodgates for the offense since returning from a knee sprain in time to replace Jordan Hall in the starting lineup two games ago, and his ability to grind for yardage between the tackles has provided a dangerous complement to Miller's mobility on the perimeter.
The only catch for Ohio State is that it might have to wait a few carries on Saturday against for Purdue before Hyde starts having an impact. While he has rushed for 296 yards and five touchdowns over the last two weeks, in the first quarters of those games he has carried for a total of 27 yards on seven carries -- essentially using those early periods to warm himself up and wear down opponents.
"I'm just trying to take some pressure off Braxton," Hyde said. "Teams are keying on Braxton, trying to stop him, and that just gives me an opportunity to showcase my ability. Whenever I have that opportunity, I just try to take advantage of it.
"You know, as the game goes on, I just get stronger and stronger. I just run harder from the beginning to the end, run harder as the game goes on."
His tough running style on the interior and the way he has finished games might make it difficult for Hall to reclaim a starting spot when the senior is finally ready to return from a partially torn ligament in his knee, particularly since at least part of Hyde's success comes from his ability to withstand and deliver punishment with a large volume of attempts.
Certainly figuring out a way to use both of those tailbacks would a be a problem the Buckeyes would welcome. But for now, they're just trying to figure out a way to perhaps get Hyde and the ball rolling a bit more quickly.
"As [rushers] get a feel for certain reads with the defense they're giving us and the formations, you start to get a rhythm," Drayton said. "They get a feel for how linebackers are fitting, they get a feel for how safeties are fitting and supporting the run, so they can anticipate more the longer the game goes on. That's definitely true, especially for Carlos.
"And we've always been a power, inside-zone outfit no matter where we've been. Just down in Florida we were doing it with guys who weighed 185, 190 pounds. Now you're doing it with a 235-pound back, and when this guy hits it, he can break a tackle or two."
Depending on how late in the game it is, Hyde might have enough momentum behind him to break more than that.