MADISON, Wis. — During his weekly press conference on Tuesday, Ryan Day was asked about the state of his running game and its ability to find some traction over the final five weeks of the regular season. In response, Day alluded to the return of TreVeyon Henderson after a three-game absence as a potential boost that would go a long way in righting at least some of those wrongs.
On Saturday, Henderson delivered emphatically on his head coach’s prediction, running for 162 yards and a critical fourth-quarter touchdown to help Ohio State secure a road win and remain unbeaten. Ohio State needed every one of those yards from Henderson, too, as Kyle McCord struggled mightily, tossing two interceptions that allowed Wisconsin to hang around deep into the second half.
For good measure, Henderson added four catches for 45 yards, displaying a level of versatility in the backfield Ohio State has been lacking since losing him.
Following the game, Day said Henderson was close to playing last week but was ultimately held out to ensure he was 100% for the stretch run. The decision proved a good one as Henderson reminded all who tuned into Saturday’s game that, when fully healthy, he is a real weapon for an offense that must find different ways to move the ball consistently beyond a heavy reliance on Marvin Harrison Jr.
“This is a big run we’re about to go on, and you can just see the difference he makes when he’s out there,” Day said. “The explosiveness, the speed, and I thought he ran hard tonight … You can just see when he’s out there, the impact he’s having on our offense. To get that run there in the fourth quarter was big.”
Day later added, “The thing about Tre is you can do so much with him because he has such a great skill set. And he’s one of the more competitive guys we have, so nobody wants to be out there more than him. You can see when he’s out there, he has that drive. He hadn’t played a game in a few weeks, so there at the end (of the game), he was toughening it out because he was a little winded. He hadn’t had that many carries in a while, and he also had a couple of receptions and was running routes, as well, and I thought he handled it well.”
Henderson noted the injury that’s kept him out the past three games was sustained early during Ohio State’s Sept. 23 win at Notre Dame on what he called a “cheap shot.” Having come out for pregame warmups prior to each of Ohio State’s last two games, outside speculation was rampant about the nature of the injury and why he wasn’t playing.
Asked if there was any frustration over the past few weeks as people threw around baseless claims, Henderson said those opinions have been the furthest thing from his mind.
“I don’t pay attention to any other comments or none of that stuff,” he said. “Shoot, I don’t even see them most of the time. I’m living to please the Lord and not anyone else.”
Henderson said he learned valuable lessons from last season when he continuously tried to play on an injured foot that ultimately forced him to miss Ohio State’s regular-season finale against Michigan and the College Football Playoff semifinal matchup with Georgia before later requiring off-season surgery.
“Last year, I kept going out there knowing I wasn’t healthy, knowing I wasn’t ready,” he said. “But God told me this year to stay patient and that ‘I got you.’”
As for his ability to stay on the field and build on his big night, Henderson said he’s now “very healthy.” With the type of effort Ohio State got from those blocking for him against Wisconsin, Henderson believes a revival of sorts may be in order for the Buckeye rushing attack as the calendar turns to November.
“When they take care of business like that, we’re dangerous,” Henderson said.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.