Herron claims starting tailback job Saine stars at receiver

Ohio State rushed the ball 32 times against Indiana on Saturday. First-string running back Brandon Saine had no carries. “I think the way it worked out, I was more of a receiver today,” Saine said. Saine was second on the team in receptions and receiving yards and recorded a touchdown through the air. “We definitely switched that up this week,” fullback Zach Boren said. “I think we changed it because Brandon is great out in space. That’s what he is best at, and (Dan) ‘Boom’ (Herron) is best back in the ‘I’” formation. Herron has established himself as the team’s featured running back. He led OSU in carries for the third consecutive game Saturday. Saine lining up at receiver also allowed reserve Jordan Hall to see playing time early. “I was in in the first quarter,” Hall said. “The (coaches) just said, ‘be ready.’” It was the first time this season that Hall saw playing time while the game was still in doubt. Saine’s struggles on the ground might have been a contributing factor. Saine had rushed for just 80 yards and no touchdowns in the three games before Indiana. Giving him less carries and more receptions was a way to get him more involved in the offense. “We said going into the game we were going to try to figure out more ways to get him the ball,” coach Jim Tressel said. Players agreed that the team was playing to Saine’s strength. “He’s really dynamic,” center Mike Brewster said. “It’s hard for guys to cover him when he is running routes. No linebackers are going to keep up with him.” Saine agreed. “I think that it’s a great way to get mismatches with linebackers and safeties,” he said. Those mismatches have resulted in four receiving touchdowns for the running back this season, twice his number of scores on the ground. The team has confidence in Saine regardless of his role. “Brandon is such a good athlete; he can play receiver, running back, anything,” offensive linemen Justin Boren said. “He is going to make plays.” The team won’t be surprised if the roles of the running backs continue to change as the season goes forward, Hall said. No matter how the repetitions are divided up in the backfield, Saine is happy to be contributing. “Whatever I’m doing, it’s to help the team, and that’s what matters,” he said. “I’m just excited to be able to get out there and run around with this jersey on.”

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