One of the biggest questions that remains unanswered – and perhaps for now unanswerable – regarding the Ohio State football team for this fall regards the offense.
The Buckeyes face the prospect of five games without All-Big Ten performers at left tackle and running back, not to mention their best wide receiver. The three-year starting quarterback is gone, too, and he isn’t coming back.
Everyone wonders what the loss of head coach Jim Tressel, who had a heavy influence on the game plan and the play calls, will mean, but don’t forget the absence of Darrell Hazell either. Depending on who you talk to, Hazell had an increased influence on the offense the past couple of years, and he will surely be missed after accepting the head coach position at Kent State in December.
While there are many uncertainties, they also have some great pieces if they can figure out how to utilize them.
Since Fickell opted to replace the linebacker coach position he vacated as opposed to addressing the spot in the offensive brain trust Tressel once held, let’s take a look at what we know about the remaining staff.
- Years at Ohio State: 10
- Spent three years in the NFL (two with Chicago and one with Philadelphia) before joining Tressel’s first staff at OSU in 2001
- Three years on Nick Saban’s staff at Michigan State
- Spent five years with Tressel at Youngstown State, where he coached on both sides of the ball
- Also coached for George Welsh at Virginia
- The offensive coordinator for all of Tressel’s time in Columbus, Bollman seems to prefer a pro-style, power attack but has shown a willingness to do a lot of different things at Ohio State
- His comments on balancing shotgun and pro-style sets can be seen here
- Tressel declared last year “everyone knows Jim Bollman likes to line up with twins to the field and run the ball.”
- First year at Ohio State
- He replaces Hazell as wide receivers coach, although Drayton has never specifically held such a position on a college staff
- Spent four years total coaching running backs on Urban Meyer’s staff at Florida. Learned to coach running backs in the slot in Meyer’s unique spread option offense but expressed some frustration at the lack of emphasis on the position there
- Also had single years with Doug Marrone at Syracuse, Phillip Fulmer at Tennessee, Sylvester Croom at Mississippi State and Gary Blackney at Bowling Green
- Has three years in NFL (where he did work with wide receivers for the Green Bay Packers) as well as much experience at smaller colleges in the 1990s
- The one wild card in this deck. He spent a lot of time working within Meyer’s spread offense but he was exposed to the West Coast Offense under Mike McCarthy in Green Bay
- Years at Ohio State: 6
- Spent two years at a BFE college in North Carolina before Tressel called him up to the majors
- Worked with Tressel as a student at Youngstown State in the ’90s
- Also had two years with Bob Stoops at Oklahoma (2000 and ’01), but he was not an on-field coach there
- He’s talked about the situational usefulness of putting the quarterback under center (Better play-action fakes) and in the shotgun (easier drops), but it’s tough to tell exactly how of his own philosophy has had a chance to show through as he’s been the low man on the totem pole in Columbus
- Years at Ohio State: 10 (counting three years as associate director of football operations)
- Spent 23 years as head coach at Hamline College in Minnesota previously
- Started career as grad assistant at Florida State in 1970
- Seems to be big fan of two-back offense but has explained value of both compact and spread situation in terms of trying to move the football relative to personnel and game situation
- Only slightly tongue-in-cheek declared the fullback will never die at Ohio State a couple of years ago (Link – $$)
- Years at Ohio State: 7
- The Buckeyes’ tight ends coach previously spent four years working in spread offense with Terry Hoeppner at Miami University, where he had title of run game coordinator there
- He also coaches the offensive tackles now
- Also spent two year on John Cooper’s staff as GA along with stops at Cincinnati and Akron
- Played offensive line at Ohio State from 1987-90 under Cooper and Earle Bruce
What does all that mean? Well, there should not be a problem with overall football knowledge. The remaining staff benefits both from its years working with Tressel and Hazell as well as a variety of outside experiences earned from the MAC to the NFL as well as the SEC, Big 12 and Big East.
The familiarity of the majority of them should help ease the transition, but Drayton could bring some interesting new ideas that might help freshen things up.
For more on that, check back next time.