If you had stopped watching the Buckeyes this past Saturday night at halftime, you might be asking why anybody would be touting the Ohio State running game right now.
After all, through two quarters of play, starting running back TreVeyon Henderson had carried the ball just five times for 36 yards, and “backup” Miyan Williams had managed just four rushes for 20 yards.
But it’s not like the Notre Dame defense had shut the Buckeyes down, there just weren’t all that many snaps. And as head coach Ryan Day said afterward, he maybe went away from the run too early in the first half.
In the second half, however, Day stuck to his running guns and Henderson and Williams carried the ball 10 times each in the second half. Henderson went for 55 yards on his 10 attempts and Williams went for 64.
They were even better in the fourth quarter when the game was on the line. Williams rushed for 49 yards and Henderson posted 36 yards. Both players were running hard and taking tacklers to task on every key carry. Together, they allowed Ohio State to hold the ball for nearly 11 minutes in the fourth quarter, including a drive that went 14 plays for 95 yards in just over seven minutes.
The Buckeyes’ final drive began with 3:42 on the clock and they never ended up giving the ball back. They picked up a pair of first downs on the ground and essentially stopped, dropped, and rolled, snuffing out the last embers of Notre Dame’s hopes.
In total on the day, Henderson rushed for 91 yards on 15 attempts, and Williams went for 84 yards on 14 attempts. This game not only showed that the two of them could close out a game, but that they could split carries and both be key components in getting a win.
Overall, it was a very encouraging sign for a Buckeye squad that is coming off of a season where the tough runs weren’t something they were all that known for.
But that doesn’t mean carries are going to be this even every single week. As running backs coach Tony Alford has said, they will ride the hot guy to a win. Sometimes that means carries might not be even at all. Every game will be different, but the Buckeyes have two starting running backs who can help this team win.
You saw it against Notre Dame.
Williams, whose nickname is ‘Chop’ — as in ‘Porkchop’ — provided a spark throughout the game, but so did Henderson. They complemented each other well and fed off of each other’s performance. And they did it when they absolutely had to have tough yards. Notre Dame saw the run coming and all they could do was wrap their wrists around the frayed railing of a failing rope bridge and hang on until they smashed up against the serrated crags of a cliff wall.
Without putting too much stock in one game, it does appear that we might want to make friends with the idea that “pass happy” doesn’t mean “run sad.” The Buckeyes were split evenly with 34 passes and 35 rushes. The 34 pass attempts for quarterback CJ Stroud were only three under his average from last season.
Stroud will certainly throw more than that in many games this year, but Miyan Williams and TreVeyon Henderson showed that there is room for the both of them in this offense. So much so that it might be time to come up with a nickname for the two of them.
Given Williams’ ability to fight off tacklers and Henderson’s ability to avoid them, there will certainly be some “Thunder and Lightning” suggestions. But a more accurate name for the two of them would be “Thunder and Lightning and Thunder and Lightning,” because each of them embodies explosion and power.
But weather nicknames are outdated anyway.
Speaking of outdated, if Williams had played 15 years earlier, we could have gone with Pork and Beanie, but unfortunately this current timeline we’re all saddled with has no sense of symmetry.
With Henderson’s penchant for popping big runs, how about “Pop and Chop?” (Or “Chop and Pop,” because I have no dogs in this fight.)
And in the ultimate irony, if the Buckeyes are ever struggling on offense and Ryan Day desperately needs to light a fire under his team, he’d just need to Pop, Chop, and roll.
But even without a nickname, TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams are going to make themselves known to everyone this year.
First name, last name, nickname, it doesn’t matter. We already saw their signature this past Saturday night.