Buckeyes run game relies on Elliott, Smith, Samuel

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Without brawny Carlos Hyde and his 1,521 yards rushing, many Ohio State fans expected the worst out of the tailback position this season.

So far, it’s been a bright spot.

”Last year, we had a guy who was a 20- or 25-carry guy,” Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer said. ”We have some pretty capable players. We also don’t have that body type to go just slam it in there so many times. We’re going to wait and see.”

Rather than one power back to shoulder the load, Meyer has at least three players he can count on at tailback, not to mention speedsters such as Dontre Wilson and Jalin Marshall at the H-back spot.

Linebacker Chase Williams, who will lead Virginia Tech up against the Buckeyes on Saturday night, doesn’t believe No. 8 Ohio State has lost much without the graduated Hyde and with the season-ending injury to QB Braxton Miller.

”It seems like a similar offense. They’re fast. They’re athletic,” he said. ”They’ve always got somebody they can plug in who can go out and make plays.”

The Ohio State coaching staff was pleased with the job done by all of the backs in Saturday’s 34-17 win over Navy, starting with Ezekiel Elliott, who gained 44 yards on 12 carries including a 10-yard touchdown run.

Elliott, a sophomore out of St. Louis, is the team’s leading returning rusher after gaining 262 yards in 11 games last year. He’s roughly 10 pounds lighter than the 235-pound Hyde and less of an inside-the-tackle runner. But he’s still trying to copy aspects of what Hyde gave the Buckeyes.

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