COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Priority number one for Ohio State heading into its game with Indiana was improving on its ground-and-pound mentality.
Even though the Buckeyes averaged over six yards per carry against Northwestern, the ground attack really didn’t get going until the second half. Too often OSU linemen were knocked backward and running backs were stopped in their tracks.
“I think we all need to do better,” Day said. “Going back and watching the film, we gotta block better, we gotta run better, we gotta do a better job equating the numbers. … We know we can do a better job.”
Consider the coach’s challenge answered.
Led by 147 yards by Miyan Williams, the Buckeyes rolled up nearly 200 yards on the ground in the opening 30 minutes. Dallan Hayden added 26 yards on five carries and the Buckeyes pretty much had their way with the Hoosiers front seven for most of the half.
The Buckeyes were especially lethal running inside, netting six gains over 10 or more yards between the tackles. lndiana got some defensive traction when the Buckeyes attempted to run the ball outside, so Day was wise to concentrate his squad’s efforts between the hash marks.
Williams touchdown run personified this approach — he took the handoff behind right guard Matt Jones, made an immediate cut to the inside and was off to the races for a 48-yard score. Williams left the game late in the half with what appeared to be an ankle injury after getting rolled up on a tackle.
The slow going against Northwestern masked the fact that the Buckeyes entered the Indiana game second in the conference in yards per rush at 5.45 and third in rushing touchdowns with 23, behind Minnesota and Michigan.
“The passing game works so much better when your running game is humming,” offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson said earlier this season. “Defenses can’t commit to one thing if you’re good at both, and that’s what we are trying to be.”
The Buckeyes averaged 7.9 yards per carry in the first half against the Hoosiers and had 377 yards of total offense.