TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams provide the 1-2 punch Ohio State football has been looking for since 2018: Stephen Means observations
Columbus, Ohio — Three observations of Stephen Means after Ohio State football 52-21 against Wisconsin Saturday.
1. Ohio State has been trying to find a way to incorporate multiple running backs for years and it’s finally working in 2022.
Ask JK Dobbins what he thought about splitting up racing with Mike Weber in 2018 and he’ll admit it wasn’t his favorite thing in the world. When the Buckeyes tried again in 2020, neither Sermon Trey or Master Teague seized the opportunity for most of the season until Sermon randomly started putting on historic performances at the end of the season. Now, it looks like OSU has found a couple that clicks, and that’s because the two have bought into the idea.
“When you have two guys, you can go back and forth who are selfless, who understand what it means to be a team, that’s key,” head coach Ryan Day said. “If it starts to become like what are my runs, what are my touchdowns, what are my runs, then it’s not working. Tre Veyon (Henderson) and Miyan (Williams) both were excellent.
Day mentioned that Henderson’s energy before the game was “off the charts,” which earned him a 121-yard day against the Badgers. Williams complimented that with 101 yards and two touchdowns, but Henderson set the tone for the day where everyone is behind.
“He is stepping into a major leadership role,” donovan jackson said. “He lets his voice be heard, telling the offensive line that we could dictate this game and we can get it. Having that voice of one of your running backs telling you, ‘I’ve got you all if you’ve got me’, really pushed us to go above and beyond on the pitch.
So what makes this dynamic different from years past, when it didn’t work?
That’s partly because there’s been a clear desire from both players to be a part of that in a way that wasn’t apparent in 2018. Henderson signed up to start in a 2021 two-back class , so he was still okay with sharing the load, even though at the time he thought it would be with Evan Prior. Williams was a lower rated guy than most would have ever predicted he would top his rating as much as he did. Both are playing at such a high level, it’s easier to agree to walk off the field in favor of the other person touching each other.
“It definitely relieves you of your worries,” Williams said.
The other big part of why it worked so well has nothing to do with either back. Rather, it’s about how those around them have created holes for them to pass through. It starts with the offensive line getting a push at the line of scrimmage and extends to skillful players doing their bit on the perimeter. The result is a balanced day on offense of 281 passing yards and 258 rushing yards.
“We have the right mix right now,” Day said. “Their approach was excellent. I think it’s probably a combination of them, the offensive line, the tight ends (and) our wide receivers.
“You see a physicality on all levels. It’s not just upstream. It’s everyone.
2. There were a few times Day dug deep into the playbook to revisit things that worked in the past, a first-half touchdown pass being the most recent example.
Here’s a piece where Stroud connects with Cade shorts for a 13-yard touchdown to take a 14-0 lead against Wisconsin:
Now here is a player where Justin Fields connects with Jeremy Ruckert for a 17-yard touchdown to take a 21-14 lead against Clemson in the 2020 Sugar Bowl:
In either situation, the quarterback knows his first read is the tight end. But he also knows it’s going to take a while for this path to develop since the whole point of delaying it is to make sure everyone’s attention on defense is elsewhere. Then he comes out quietly and should have plenty of grass in front of him to score. Both were properly executed and both resulted in a touchdown.
In both cases, the score was part of a touchdown garage that highlights what can happen when Day gets into a groove against a quality defensive coordinator. He was educated Brent Venables in the sugar bowl. Saturday evening Jim Leonhard was the one who was upgraded.
But it’s also a testament to the ongoing development in the narrow room. OSU beat Clemson that year because Ruckert and Luke Farrell had proven to be valuable weapons capable of doing more than blocking. This season, Stover has turned into one of the team’s best weapons, especially with Jaxon Smith-Njibga out. But he is joined by Mitch Rossi – create training opportunities I for the offense – and Gee Scott Jr. like guys who have proven they deserve to be involved in what’s going on.
3. Donovan Jackson is one of the nicest people you will ever meet.
He’s polite, has the sweetest voice, and his interactions with the media are a lot like what it was like to talk with Nicolas Little Brother. He’s so nice you can often forget you’re going after a 6-foot-4, 315-pound man whose job it is to run through defensive linemen.
Then he says things like this that quickly remind you, “It’s a very gratifying feeling to move a man from point A to point B. But doing it with your brothers is the most gratifying thing.”
The point Jackson was making is that an offensive line is only as good as its individual parts and so far all five starters are doing that. But it’s still fun to hear someone who’s so nice away from football talk about their violent job description.
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