Bri’onte Dunn

Will OSU QB Braxton Miller run the ball less this season?

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During his first three seasons as a member of the Ohio State Buckeyes, quarterback Braxton Miller ran the ball 557 times for 3,054 yards. Miller is one of the premier dual-threat quarterbacks in the nation, but he’s also suffered numerous injuries caused by his scrambling.

Miller emphasized better conditioning during the off season, and he expects those injuries to be far less problematic this fall.

The Buckeyes can also help Miller by relying less on him as the one of the team’s primary ball carriers. Unfortunately, they may not have that luxury.

Miller is the team’s leading returning rusher despite missing two games last season.

There is plenty of talent in the Buckeyes’ backfield with Ezekiel Elliot, Bri’onte Dunn, and Rod Smith, but it’s largely unproven. The Buckeyes desperately need one of these running backs to take over the role vacated by Carlos Hyde, who led the team with 1,521 rushing yards last season. This year’s backs don’t need to be as productive as Hyde was, but they have to take the pressure off of Miller to prevent the quarterback from becoming the team’s primary rushing threat.

Miller may not get much of a reprieve even when he drops back to pass. Four starters along the offensive line graduated and are no longer on the roster. And Taylor Decker is switching from right tackle to left tackle. This unit is going to need time to gel.

Miller is now physically ready to take the pounding which comes during the Big Ten’s regular season, and he’s going  to need it.

Buckeyes might be down to two healthy RBs

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As Ohio State continues its march toward an unbeaten but postseason-less 2012 season, the Buckeyes could find themselves with one fewer backfield option against Wisconsin.

Head coach Urban Meyer confirmed during his radio show Thursday that running back Bri’onte Dunn suffered a knee injury during practice this week.  The injury leaves Dunn questionable for next Saturday’s game with the Badgers.

It would also leave the Buckeyes with just two healthy backs — leading rusher (non-Braxton Miller division) Carlos Hyde and Rod Smith.  The good news, though, is that the Buckeyes are off this weekend, which will obviously give the freshman extra time to receover.

Dunn is currently third among OSU running backs in rushing yards, and was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week for his play last weekend in the win over Illinois.

Starting RB out for Buckeyes vs. Cal

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When Ohio State takes the field for its “toughest” test of the young season this weekend, they’ll do so without a starting member of its backfield.

Carlos Hyde suffered a knee injury late in the first half of Saturday’s win over UCF and didn’t return.  The injury was subsequently diagnosed as a sprained MCL, with head coach Urban Meyer acknowledging Monday that the running back has already been ruled out of this Saturday’s game at Ohio Stadium against Cal.

Whether Hyde misses any game beyond this weekend is an unknown at this point.

Hyde is second on the team to quarterback Braxton Miller — who’s fourth in rushing nationally, incidentally — with 109 yards rushing and two touchdowns in two games.

Even as Hyde is out, there’s also a chance that the projected starter throughout the offseason could return for the Bears.  Jordan Hall, who has missed the first two games of the season as he recovers from a freak offseason foot injury, may be a go for the third game.  A decision on that, though, likely won’t be made until later in the week.

If Hall is out as well as Hyde, true freshman Bri’onte Dunn would likely get the start.  Dunn is third on the team in rushing with 60 yards.