Rusty rusher: Hall returns, ready to improve

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The projected starter was healthy enough to play, and Ohio State gave him his job right back.

The coaching staff never even turned to a backup after that first snap, either, rolling with Jordan Hall in his first game back from start to finish.

The senior wasn't perfect in his return from surgery to repair a torn tendon in his foot in June, and at times he looked unsure of where to go with the football in his hands. But he was effective enough in a 35-28 win over California that the Buckeyes gave him every rushing attempt that went to a tailback after a week of uncertainty at the position.

"There was certainly, I don’t want to say rust, but some issues with Jordan seeing where plays should go," offensive coordinator Tom Herman said. "But at the same time, he hadn’t played a whole lot of football since spring practice. That’s to be expected, and I’m sure he’ll come out and play better."

At a minimum, Hall was able to help ease the burden on quarterback Braxton Miller by taking the ball 17 times and chipping in when needed in pass protection. He also was productive by averaging more than 5 yards per carry on the way to 87 against the Golden Bears, a total that looked like it could be improved as he gets comfortable again in the offense thanks to a potentially dynamic combination with Miller in the option game on the perimeter.

The Buckeyes didn't even try tinkering with other pairings against California, leaving both Bri'onte Dunn and Rod Smith without carries despite being listed as the top two running backs on the depth chart all week until Hall officially reclaimed his position.

"It felt great, felt good being back out there at practice with the guys, my brothers," Hall said. "I just want to get back to work. I had a little rust, and I just want to get back to work and get better."