COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The first crack at the starting job for Carlos Hyde didn't do anything to persuade Ohio State he didn't deserve it.
Now the Buckeyes will be getting an evaluation that is potentially much more meaningful for the running back.
Miami (Ohio) made Hyde work for his yardage, and he fought through enough tackles that coach Urban Meyer estimated 70 percent of the junior's production came after contact in the opener. But those initial hits might come closer to the line of scrimmage against Central Florida's stingy rush defense, which should offer a better indication of how much work Hyde will get when Jordan Hall returns from injury.
"This will be a much firmer defensive front," Meyer said during his weekly appearance on the Big Ten teleconference Tuesday. "This is a Big Ten outfit on defense. I mean, they led their league three years in a row, they’re big, they’re strong and two 300-pound-plus defensive tackles. We’ve got our hands full just trying to move people at the line of scrimmage.
"But he played well (last week), and Carlos about maxed out as far as yards after contact. I was real impressed with that."
An encore performance against a unit that ranked No. 16 in the country in stopping the run last season would surely get Meyer's attention even more this week.
Hyde finished with 82 yards on 17 carries against the RedHawks and pounded in a couple touchdowns, an important first step for a player who Meyer suggested was facing a critical juncture in his career during the preseason.
Either way, the Buckeyes will still be incorporating Hall into the attack after his rehabilitation from surgery to repair a torn tendon in his foot. But that won't be this week against the Knights.
"I saw (Hall) jogging today on the treadmill, and he’s pushing as hard as he can," Meyer said. "I keep asking the same question the rest of you are, but he will not be available this week."
Some other quick hitters from Meyer's Tuesday media appearance:
On Devin Smith's one-handed touchdown catch: "Devin has made some good plays, but I finally saw some still-shots and that was as good a catch as I’ve ever seen. Every great athlete has a moment in their career where they go from being average to good or good to much better than good. I’m hoping that’s one of his moments."
On the offensive line: "Above average, I guess my expectation level with them the way they practiced is a little better than the way they played. I think a few of them played pretty good, but we need to do better."
On preparing for UCF quarterback Blake Bortles: "He’s a big athlete, and the guy that can’t pull it down and run, they better be great throwers. The guys that pull it down and run and extend drives and keep them alive, those are the guys that usually beat you. He can do that, and he’s got very good personnel around him. Anytime you face a guy, they didn’t show much of the spread, quarterback-run stuff last week because they didn’t have to. We’re in a little dilemma, we’re preparing as if they’re going to run some of that this week."