I had the pleasure of watching the Ohio State jersey scrimmage yesterday with Bill Greene of ohiostate.scout.com. Bill will have all kinds of good information regarding the offensive and defensive personnel and looks, but I wanted to extrapolate on five offensive schemes that stood out yesterday.
1. The Continued Expansion of the Rollout Play-Action Game
As I've previously touched on, OSU clearly wants to continue with the success they have had with the outside play action passing game, based off their patented inside run game. The beauty, of course, is that it both constrains the defense and puts Terrelle Pryor on the edge where he is the biggest threat.
Ohio State is looking to build on this with the bootleg. Yesterday's scrimmage featured numerious naked bootlegs off the inside zone fake from under center.
The top-left hand diagram is essentially what you would see. The fullback comes back to block backside and then releases into the flat. The nice feature of this play is that it looks precisely like the inside zone action. The pattern off of this was generally a weak flood:
Though this bootleg has long been an offensive staple for many teams, it has been relatively underutilized by OSU and will be another successful way to both constrain defenses and take advantage of Pryor's abilities.
2. The Outside Toss
Another new edition to the play book looks to be an outside toss. OSU ran this play from one-back '11'
formations to either a tight wing or trips' side. One time they ran this into an unbalanced trips formation. OSU blocked this as an outside zone play.
The goal was to establish a seam through the wingback and TE getting outside leverage and hit it upfield quick. Again another example of OSU trying to do more to get outside the tackle box.
3. Sprint Draw Series
Ohio State continued to expand on their use of the sprint draw run and play-action pass. The OSU QBs and Oline did a very good job selling pass. For instance, if they were running the sprint draw play to the left the QB would drop back and at the last moment reverse around and hand-off, rather than fronting out left after receiving the snap. In one instance Pryor pumped faked a quick pass and then handed off, as has become so prevalent in the NFL. The play was best on display on a 20 yard pass from Pryor to Stoneburner. OSU ran the sprint draw pass with 3-verticals and Pryor hit Stoneburner on a perfectly timed cut where Stoneburner split the two deep safeties. It again demonstrated the effectiveness of this play action pass at getting big plays out of the passing game.
4. Shallow Crossing Routes
OSU also continues to expand on its horizontal dropback passing game by featuring a large number of shallow crossing routes. Specifically, OSU repeatedly ran what is known as a 'drive' route in West Coast nomenclature. Here, courtesy of 'Smart Football' is a diagram of the key two man route:
Essentially, the outside receiver runs a shallow cross while the inside receiver (or tight end) on the same side runs a shallow-in. The QB can have several progressions, but my assumption based on what I saw yesterday is that the QB is reading shallow cross to square-in. As Pryor progresses it is clear that OSU is more comfortable attacking the middle of the field.
The coaching staff also continues to use unbalanced looks to challenge a defense's soundess and keys. In particular, as previously mentioned, OSU likes using the unbalanced twins I-look. From this, one of OSU's favorite plays continues to be the fake sprint-draw to the lead side, then hit the FB on a quick weakside flat route.
The play's simplicity belies it's effectiveness. A defensive secondary is generally going to roll to the unbalanced twins side, leaving the backside corner back responsible for the weakside. But the backside corner must deal with the most immediate threat, namely a releasing tight end. This leaves the full back flooding into the flat with only the linebacker to cover that zone. But that linebacker is held by the play fake, and generally a linebacker is subconsciously going to think run when he sees unbalanced. The play is very effective for picking up yards and takes advantage of Zach Boren's talents as a receiver.
In sum, OSU continues to expand on where they were at the end of last season, featuring the inside run game and play action and roll-outs off of those fakes, and a quick, horizontal drop back pass game. The coaching staff is clearly continuing to expand the offenses possibilities with a veteran unit.