Sunday, September 14, 2003

Buckeyes' backs trip yet again


Ohio State notebook: Running game lags against N.C. State

By Neil Schmidt
The Cincinnati Enquirers

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Ohio State linebacker A.J. Hawk (47) returns an interception away from North Carolina State wide receiver Brian Clark (87) in the fourth quarter Saturday.
(AP photo)
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North Carolina players question the referees standing over tailback T.A. McLendon who lies motionless on the field after he was stopped short of the goal line during the third overtime.
(AP photo)
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COLUMBUS - Three yards and a cloud of dust, this wasn't. This was 3 yards total. On 17 carries.

That was the total of Ohio State's tailback production Saturday. Apparently, Maurice Clarett is missed.

"It's not looking good right now," Maurice Hall said of the running game.

The hangover from Saturday's thrilling victory will come today in film sessions, when the Buckeyes will see themselves totaling 44 yards on 32 carries. Records were not immediately available, but it was OSU's lowest number of rushing yards in a game in at least four years.

Hall, the starting tailback, totaled 2 yards on 13 carries. Backup Lydell Ross had 1 yard on four attempts.

"In a game, it's a self-perpetuating thing. If you're not having success, it's hard to keep going to it," offensive coordinator Jim Bollman said. "By the time overtime came, I can tell you the running game was on the shelf."

OSU is averaging just 102 yards rushing per game this season. Its struggles Saturday were against a North Carolina State defense that allowed 202 rushing yards last week to Wake Forest.

"Everybody's off at different times," Hall said. "One play I might be off and the line's on, and the next I might be on and the line's off.

"I don't know what to think. We'll step up and get on track."

LOCALS STRONG: Two Cincinnati products had big plays for the Buckeyes. Sophomore tight end Ryan Hamby (Moeller) caught a 2-yard TD pass in the second overtime - his first career score - and senior B.J. Sander (Roger Bacon) punted five times for an impressive 49.4-yard average.

"It helps my confidence a lot, knowing coach (Jim) Tressel has the confidence to go to me at a time like that," Hamby said.

THIS AND THAT: In its past two games, OSU has totaled 26 penalties for 253 yards. ... The 38 points ties the most OSU has allowed to a non-conference opponent in Ohio Stadium. Washington had that many in a 38-22 victory here on Oct. 1, 1966.




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