So…. what of the offense at Ohio State this fall? Maybe the Buckeyes will take a cue from the Black Keys.
What I wonder is if there will be less of an attempt to go overboard in scheme.
I don’t see any lack of knowledge. The guys who have been here a while all have worked with both spread and pro-style principles, and the same appears to be true of the new guy, Stan Drayton*.
But with one less mind in the room, will there be less brainstorming? Could that be a good thing?
I’m inclined to think the answer is probably yes after the Terrelle Pryor era was marked with ups and downs as much attributable to his inexperience and volatility as it was a tendency for the staff to seem to want to prove just how many ways it could use its unique weapon. The results were sometimes spectacular, but there were also days that it looked like plays were being called via roulette wheel.
Fickell said definitively there will be no change in offensive procedure, although that could be construed as intentionally misleading.
It’s no secret Jim Tressel had a major influence on the offense, and Darrell Hazell (now the first-year head coach at Kent State) was regarded as helping diversify the passing game during his six seasons in Columbus.
I doubt Tressel took the playbooks out the door with him when he resigned, so there should not be any trouble reviewing what all they’ve done as a staff.
Conservative or not, Tressel’s playbook didn’t lack diversity even if the game plans and play calls sometimes did. Any play you’ve ever seen on a football field probably was run at least a time or two at Ohio State during Tressel’s 10-year tenure.
If memory serves correctly, the first touchdown of the 2002 national championship season was scored out of the Fullhouse “Robust T” formation, and they used a modified form of the wing-T in short-yardage situations the past couple of years. They weren’t afraid to empty the backfield beginning with the early days, either, and we often saw just about everything in between save for maybe the Maryland Triple ‘I’ or the true Wishbone.
Troy Smith and Terrelle Pryor were known for running various kinds of option at Ohio State, but they weren’t the first to do so under Tressel. The most famous example of that would come from Craig Krenzel in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl victory that brought Tressel’s his national title. They ran a traditional option play for the winning touchdown in the Michigan game that season, and there were a variety of designed QB runs throughout the season, even the QB version of “Power” (a.k.a. the “Dave” play) that Rich Rodriguez often called for Denard Robinson last season.
As for 2011, I think Ohio State’s best bet is to take a page out of the 2010 Michigan State playbook* and commit to a pro-style running game with a talented offensive line and a deep backfield, but we’ll have to wait and see if they agree.
Who ends up at quarterback probably will make a difference. I’ve said in the past I think the top two candidates are the youngsters, true freshman Braxton Miller and redshirt freshman Taylor Graham, and they bring drastically different styles as Miller is a great scrambler and Graham is more or less a statue.
Miller’s adjustment to playing under center – they did a lot of things during his career at Huber Heights Wayne High School, but he flourished in a spread passing game last season – might be a stumbling block, but that should not be a major issue if he becomes the starter. A seventh-grader can go under center and run a bootleg, so I think Miller should be fine as far as that goes, and no matter who is quarterback they will most likely be in the shotgun on passing downs either way.
Hints of what is to come have been few and far between, but BuckeyeSports.com insiders offered a hint of what is to come with the nugget that Jordan Hall has become a wide receiver (Though tight ends coach John Peterson denied such a move occurred, I have few doubts Hall is at least going to see more time at wide receiver or in the slot than the typical Ohio State running back).
Putting the undersized and shifty Hall in the slot would be a nod to the influence of Drayton, who should have some new ideas for how to use a player like Hall in the slot thanks to his days working under Urban Meyer with guys such as Percy Harvin at Florida.
Hall and Harvin aren’t really similar players, but I think Hall could thrive in a hybrid role as a slot receiver who can motion into the backfield to help with protections and take handoffs. That’s something Ohio State has allegedly tried to do in the past but with little to no success going all the way back to the days of failed five-star prospect Maurice Wells. Hall, though not in Harvin’s league in terms of explosiveness, has better feet and instincts than Wells.
Removing Hall from the backfield would also speak clearly of the depth in the backfield and the lack of same in the receiver room. It could be an indication of the coaches’ growing confidence in redshirt freshman Rod Smith as well as third-year sophomore Jaamal Berry, a classmate of Hall’s who fell behind him on the depth chart first because of a bad hamstring in 2009 and then because he was slower to embrace doing the little things the staff demands of its backs. Carlos Hyde is a viable option, too, but this staff has never seemed to figure out a way to involve more than three (usually not more than two) backs at once, so moving Hall out of the mix makes sense.
With Hall in the slot and Jake Stoneburner at tight end, there are two nice potential weapons for the quarterback to utilize on the inside against linebackers who want to hug the line of scrimmage too much.
That would help in another area that lacked during the Tressel years: Constraint plays. Those are two potential constraint play weapons that seem suited for both pro and spread sets.
Whatever happens, I am excited to be closing in on the time to find out. This hasn’t been a fun summer for anyone, but I had to chuckle at myself when I went through my Instapaper folder a few weeks ago and noticed a theme common to most of the things that had been aging in it for a while: They were all football related without a single NCAA issue among them. That reminded me what I’ve been missing since spring football ended. But, hey, the annual Big Ten Football Media Days begin two weeks from today, so let’s get Hank Williams Jr. warming up, shall we?
*By the way, MSU’s offensive coordinator last year? Don Treadwell, who played wide receiver Tressel for two years when Tressel was an assistant coach at Miami (Ohio) and later spent six years on Tressel’s YSU staff, when he would have also worked with Bollman.