COLUMBUS Contrary to the alarms sounding in the background, Ohio State without Chris Beanie Wells does not mean the Buckeyes have to forfeit, install an all-passing offense or try and defeat Ohio University today by scoring six defensive touchdowns.
The Clydesdale is being kept in the barn, but this team has other horses.
Wells, the 6-1, 240-pound Heisman Trophy candidate, is still gimpy after injuring the big toe on his right foot in the season-opening win over Youngstown State. He has not practiced this week and has been wearing a protective boot on his foot and taking a series of treatments on the injury.
But Ohio State coach Jim Tressel says come down off the top of the bridge, put away the razor blades and step back from the panic button. The Buckeyes have other options senior Maurice Wells (no relation to Beanie), sophomore Brandon Saine and redshirt freshman Dan Boom Herron.
We can t change our offensive game plan with the change of one or two people, even if it s your tailback, Tressel said. I mean Brandon Saine, Mo Wells, Danny Herron they run the same plays that Beanie Wells runs. They know how to run them. They know how to do them, they know how to pass protect routes, so we re not going to change things that the other 10 guys have been working on forever when there s someone not in the game.
The rest of the Buckeyes took advantage of every contact with the media this week to express their confidence in that trio. Ohio State tight end Rory Nicol said the Buckeyes other options are viable and more than adequate.
Mo Wells has a ton of game experience, Nicol said, alluding to the fact the other Wells played in every game the last two seasons and in nine his freshman season.
Maurice Wells had filled a role as a kick returner and a back-up tailback.
Brandon Saine is arguably one of the fastest backs in the country. We run the same plays with those guys as we do with Beanie, we run the same pass protections so I don t know that we feel any different. Beanie is obviously a great player and we want him back, but we don t want anything to become serious.
Maurice Wells and Saine would likely fit into the category of slash, and then burn running backs, while Herron did not earn his nickname by avoiding contact. Maurice
Wells, who came to Ohio State draped in huge expectations, said he does not consider all of the fuss over Beanie s injury to mean that Ohio State s fans have no faith in the other three running backs.
Not at all, because Beanie is a major part of the offense, Maurice Wells said. This past season, he was the MVP. He s made some big plays in big games. A lot of the fans really haven t seen too much of the other running backs, so it s an unknown. They don t know what they can do, but I don t take offense to that at all.
Maurice Wells was regarded as one of the top running backs in the nation at Sandalwood High in Jacksonville. He had gaudy numbers 5,955 career rushing yards and 55 touchdowns and led the state of Florida in rushing as a junior with 3,076 yards, scoring 31 touchdowns. Wells set the single-game rushing record as a junior, with 429 yards in just two and a half quarters of play in a rout of Stanton Prep.
Any time a player goes down, especially a starter, it can be difficult for a team, Maurice Wells said. But with any team, you have to learn how to bounce back. We ll have to go with what we ve got. Everybody has practiced and prepared, so we re ready to play.
Tressel said he expects to start Maurice Wells against Ohio but hoped to see each one of his trio of backups get a dozen or more carries. He also said one of his primary concerns regarding Beanie Wells was making sure the injury had time to heal.
When you re a big back like he is, you re going to get whacked around a lot and your wheels have a big load on them.
He s a 240-pound load on those feet, Tressel said. He s passionate about playing the game, but we re also going to be smart and medically sound and understand the need for practice and all those other things.
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