We continue our rankings of the top 10 offensive playmakers on this year’s Ohio State football team. The No. 4 player on this year’s list led the Buckeyes in rushing last season.
No. 4 – Miyan Williams, Redshirt Junior, RB
Injuries were a part of the story last year for a number of Buckeyes, and Miyan Williams was no different. He missed two games in 2022, but was banged up in several others. He left some games early, and tried his best to get through others. He carried the ball just three times against Georgia, and just eight times against Michigan. When he was healthy, however, he was effective.
Williams had four 100-yard rushing games last year, but only carried the ball more than 15 times twice. He had a combined five carries in games against Penn State and Georgia because of injuries. His best outing came against Rutgers, where he rushed for 189 yards on 21 carries, scoring five touchdowns.
Last season, 21% of Williams’ carries went for at least 10 yards. For comparison’s sake, JK Dobbins rushed for at least 10 yards on 16.9% of his carries in 2019. Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor went for at least 10 yards on 19.1% of his carries that same year. As a true freshman in 2021, OSU teammate TreVeyon Henderson’s 10-yard number was 21.8%.
One could choose Miyan Williams’ 27-yard touchdown run in the third quarter last year at Northwestern. With no ability to throw the ball, Williams’ touchdown gave the Buckeyes a 14-7 lead and a little bit of breathing room. Instead, let’s choose Williams’ ninth career carry as his biggest play. It was second-and-4 against Clemson in the 2020 College Football Playoffs. Williams took the hand-off, made a defender miss at the line of scrimmage, then cut right and dodged another tackler near the sideline before lowering his shoulder and using a Tiger defender like a post hole digger. It was only a 15-yard run, but it announced to the country that Miyan Williams could play on this level. Two snaps later, quarterback Justin Fields found receiver Chris Olave deep down the middle of the field for a 56-yard touchdown to give the Buckeyes a 42-21 lead.
The longest play of Miyan Williams’ career came in the first start of his career. The Buckeyes opened up the 2021 season at Minnesota with a brand new backfield of Williams and quarterback CJ Stroud. Williams’ first carry went for eight yards. His very next carry on second-and-2 from the OSU 29-yard line went 71 yards up the right sideline. Perhaps the most amazing part about the play is that Williams was supposed to follow the blocking to the left side. Instead, he took the ball and went with his own flow to the right side. It was a case of excitement and possibly jitters, but it worked.
What He Does Well
Miyan Williams makes the first man miss as well as any running back at Ohio State in the past 20 years. He’s more Maurice Clarett than JK Dobbins, but has a unique lateral quickness that defenders continue to have trouble with. Head coach Ryan Day talks about the need for running backs to get three yards instead of one, or five yards instead of three. Williams does just that. He is adept at getting the absolute most out of a run, and then getting more. Nobody on this Ohio State team gets free of the line of scrimmage the way he does. He may not have a large number of longer plays, but the intermediate playmaking that Williams does keeps the offense ahead of schedule. That being said, he is one of just four active college running backs with a 70-yard run in each of the past two years.
Expectations For This Season
Miyan Williams is going to share the load for the Buckeyes in whatever fashion running backs coach Tony Alford sees fit. It’s a role that Williams is accustomed to. He’s also perfectly capable of being a workhorse, which he has done once or twice. The most important thing is simply staying healthy, especially with a new starting quarterback and three new starters on the offensive line. If he stays healthy, the plays will come.
Having Williams’ ability to make the first man miss is key when breaking in a new offensive line. And with the way OSU spreads out a defense, this allows Williams to find open areas. His vision and balance allow him to get through tight creases and take hits, and his feet keep him moving to the next line of defense.