COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -Even though the injured Chris ``Beanie'' Wells will not play for No. 3 Ohio State against Ohio on Saturday, the Buckeyes have plenty of other options.
Really. They do.
For instance, Maurice Wells is more than just those droopy dreadlocks that hang out the back of his helmet. Brandon Saine and Dan Herron are both scatbacks who can turn a slit of an opening into a long touchdown.
``Any time a player goes down, especially a starter, it can be difficult for a team,'' said Maurice Wells, who is not related to Chris. ``But with any team, you have to learn how to bounce back. ... We'll have to go with what we've got. All the guys have practiced hard and prepared well.''
Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel confirmed on Thursday afternoon that Beanie Wells would not play against the Bobcats. He declined to speculate about the Sept. 13 game at No. 1-ranked Southern California.
Asked if he was worried Beanie Wells might not be able to play against the Trojans, Tressel split the difference.
``No, not at all. Not at all,'' he said. ``But that's easy to say today.''
In the meantime, the Buckeyes are preparing for a Beanie-less game.
``I met with the guys today and I said, 'I'm sure that our goal is to get you all a dozen to 15 carries and it just isn't set yet how that's going to happen. But as soon as we really come to grips with what the situation is going to be we'll let you know''' running backs coach Dick Tressel said after Wednesday's practice.
Wells injured the area near the pad below his right big toe at some point during Saturday's 43-0 win over Youngstown State. He later took a handoff at the YSU 2, tried to plant his foot and then fell back in pain, fumbling away the football.
After being helped off the field before a stunned and silent crowd, Wells was taken to the locker room. He returned later, walking carefully while wearing a protective boot on his foot. On Tuesday, he could be seen walking gingerly around Ohio State's training facility, carrying the boot and with nothing but a sock on his foot.
Jim Tressel cited Wells' inability to practice as one of the reasons he would be held out of the Ohio game. Another unspoken reason is that the Buckeyes are five-touchdown favorites in the game, so why risk making any injury worse?
Here's a primer on the candidates to fill in for Wells:
-Maurice Wells, 5-foot-10, 196, senior: has the most experience. Has had an erratic career, seldom wowing anyone when he has gotten in for Chris Wells and Chris Wells' predecessor, Antonio Pittman. Has just 242 career yards rushing.
``I'm quick. I'm more of a slasher-type running back,'' he said. ``I might not break 10 tackles on a play but I might make a guy miss here and there.''
-Brandon Saine, 6-foot-1, 217, sophomore: rushed for 267 yards and scored three touchdowns a year ago. Also good as a receiver out of the backfield. He runs a 4.35 40-yard dash and was a high school state champion in the 100 and 400.
``(He is) arguably one of the fastest backs in the country,'' tight end Rory Nichol said.
-Dan ``Boom'' Herron, 5-10, 193, freshman: redshirted last year but has climbed the depth chart this spring and summer. Fast but also physical.
``Everyone says Boom's so small, but that's why we call him Boom - because he can hit you,'' offensive lineman Alex Boone said.
To hear some Ohio State fans talk, you'd think the Buckeyes will go to an empty backfield if Beanie can't play. Despite being overlooked now, as he has for much of his career, Maurice Wells isn't offended by such slights.
``Not at all. Beanie is a major part of the offense. This past season he was the MVP,'' he said. ``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. I don't take offense to that at all.''
Besides, the biggest concern for the Buckeyes isn't necessarily Ohio this week so much as that looming presence of USC a week later.
The coaches don't feel the same doom and gloom as the fans. In fact, they're excited to see what the new guys will do.
``This is an exciting week (if we) take those three to war,'' Dick Tressel said. ``Everybody here is saying, 'Wow, what are you going to do?' Well, we're going to have a ball.''
Then, in a week when there hasn't been much laughter around Ohio State, he laughed.

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