Sunday, January 17, 2010

Rose Bowl Review: Ohio State's Offense

I must admit that I did not predict this.  I thought that Ohio State's goal would be to control the clock, make first downs and keep the ball away from Oregon.  Ohio State succeeded on each account, to the tune of nearly 42 minutes of time of possession..  What I did not expect was that OSU would do so through an mix of quick dropback and playaction passing, the inside run game, and Terrelle Pryor's legs.  When one reviews the tape, though, it becomes clear that OSU had a great gameplan for what Oregon was trying to do.

1.  This game contained a great chess match.  As expected, Oregon showed a variety of looks at OSU.  But it can effectively summed up as follows:

--Against Ohio State's pro formations, Oregon largely employed a 4-3 "open plus" (3 and 5 technique strong with their strongside Lber over the TE and other Linebackers stacked) with their backside safety walked up as the 8th man.  Oregon also heavily favored the strong-side of the formation.

--Against OSU's shotgun looks, Oregon mixed in heavy doses of 6 and 7 man blitzes with soft man coverage behind it, with looks where they would rush 3, leave their 4th linemen 'spying' Pryor, and play Quarter-Quarter-Half coverage behind it to try and double Posey.

To break this down, Oregon brought multiple blitzes, but their favorite was a favorite for them all year; what some call a "Florida" blitz, where two linebackers come off the weak edge with the line then stunting strong (though Oregon generally ran this with man coverage behind it). (H/T: Smart Football).


Oregon's goal, as they made clear during the run-up to the Rose Bowl was to rattle Pryor.  They then tried to mix in the Quarter-Quarter-Half coverage.  This coverage, among other things, rolls towards one side of the field, allowing a team to 'bracket' the offense's best receiver.

Oregon mixed in this coverage, likely in the hope that Pryor would be rattled from all the blitzing and try to force balls to Posey.  Oregon's ultimate goal was to take away OSU's inside power running game first, and make Pryor beat them with his arms and legs.

2.  Ohio State did a very effective job attacking these looks and had a great gameplan.

--First, Ohio State just wore Oregon out by running one play that had a simple yet multifaceted coverage beater to each side.  It was a five man pattern featuring double slants to one side and a 'snag' combination to the other.  Snag is a 3-man route where the outermost receiver runs a snag or scat route, the inner receiver running a flag, and the back releasing to the flat. 

Here is the play in full (you can also see above)

This play provided Ohio State multiple benefits.  First, it was part of the quick passing game so it allowed Pryor to throw before the blitz came.  Second, putting these routes to each side actually provided '3' coverage beaters.
  • It provided a man coverage beater in the double slants and a zone coverage beater in the snag.
  • Against zone, it had both a cover 2 beater in the slant and a cover 3 (or other 4 man underneath zone) beater in the snag.
  • Finally, it provided quick hot routes to either side against the blitz.  
Ohio State  gameplanned very well in designing this play against the myriad of blitzes they knew Oregon would show.  The double slants were particularly effective against the loose coverage Oregon was playing behind their blitzes; sometimes it was like stealing.

This was the primary play OSU used to control the clock passing.

--Second, OSU also did a nice job utilizing play-action.  The next two primary plays they utilized fall into this category.  First, out of shotgun, they used a quick half-roll off of zone read to hit the inside receiver on a quick out following under a fly route.

--Third, Ohio State then looked to make 'big' plays off their I-formation play action passing game, particularly their 2-man smash routes off the 'Dave' play-action rollouts.  OSU thus used their 'shotgun-spread' passing game to control the clock and their I formation play-action passing game to make big plays.  While this may seem paradoxical at first, it is a tried and true rule for two reasons.  First, in a pro-formation the offense has more pass protectors to give the QB more time to hit plays downfield.  Second, the safeties creep up to stop the run, opening holes.  As can be seen here, OSU was able to draw up Oregon's safeties who were continually playing run against OSU's I formation, allowing big plays. 

Ohio State was also able to design plays to take advantage of Oregon's blitzes; for example the wheel route to Saine is one where they guessed correctly that Oregon was running their 'Florida blitz, leaving Saine streaking down the sideline past the dropping Defensive End.

--Finally, Ohio State was able to get positive plays for Pryor running on the edge due to Oregon's emphasis on stopping the inside running game.  Oregon's safeties were playing hard downhill, allowing Pryor get to the edge.  The last drive was perhaps the best example with the called Dave rollout runs, but Ohio State was able to do so in the zone read game also.  Oregon was selling out to stop the give, leaving the keep open in key situations. 

In all these instances, Ohio State perfectly gameplanned for what Oregon likes to do.  Oregon could not get a pass rush with their defensive front, so they knew they needed to blitz.  But to try to avoid giving up big plays, they played loose man coverage.  OSU moved the ball up and down the field hitting quick slants and outs in front of that coverage, eating up chunks of yards and clock.

2.  It goes without saying that Pryor played a very good game.  Perhaps most impressively, he did a very nice job diagnosing Oregon's coverage and blitzes, stepping into the pockets and hitting the quick routes.  In addition, what sometimes gets overlooked--because he makes it look so easy--is just how important some of his individual efforts were running the football.  Time and again he would pick up critical first downs.  He did his best job yet of running North and South and running physically.  That is very demoralizing to a defense and sustained multiple drives.

3.  Posey took his game to another level.   I have at times been critical of the Wide Receiver's this year, particularly in being physical off the line of scrimmage, running crisp routes, and concentration.  But Posey really showed marked improvement--he was extremely physical and went up and made plays.  Because of this, as noted, Oregon went to quite a bit of quarter-quarter-half coverage.  This opened things up for Dane on the quick outs and slants.  Though Dane was still getting bottled up too often off the line against press coverage, he did a nice job making plays.  The improved wide receiver play was nearly as important to the offense's success as Pryor.

4.  The offensive line played very, very well.  There is no doubt that they became the strength of this offense by the end of the year.  Oregon had no chance of getting pressure without blitzing.  And, for all the exotic looks they saw, the Line largely did a good job of picking things up, other than Cordle and Shugarts occasionally getting beat off the edge by stunting linemen.  They dominated Oregon in run blocking--Shugarts, Browning, and Ballard were particularly impressive; I think this was Ballard's best blocking game this year.   And it was great to see the offense pick up every third and fourth and short.  Oregon knew we were going to run the 'Dave' play but could not stop it.  Everyone could see how pumped Tressel was about this on the last drive  and it cannot be considered anything but a big step forward from where things started with the Navy game.  The offensive line cannot be considered anything but a strength as OSU heads into next year. 

5.  I hate ending on a negative note, but my one real critique is the tailback play.  Though they did well in the pass game, they had bad games running the football.  I cannot tell you how many big run plays were left on the field by Herron and Saine missing holes--it was disappointing to see (one example is on the 'Dave' play in the first video clip above-rather than following his Z. Boren kicking out in the 'C' gap where the play is supposed to go he runs right into the frontsides down blocks).

I have seen them have better games, but vision is neitherof their strong suits and I do not know whether that is something you can really 'develop.'  To me, this is the major area that, as of now,will hold back OSU's offense going forward next year.  It really puts a lot of pressure on the OLine to be perfect and Pryor to be a major factor with his legs. 

Putting that aside, though, this was a very good performance by the coaching staff and offensive unit.  OSU perfectly dissected what Oregon's scheme and devised a gameplan to both attack it and control the clock.  Then, Pryor and the offense played at a high level throughout the game and repeatedly made key plays.  A great victory and a good omen going forward.  The Play-by-Play below.

First Possession:  0-0.  OSU 25
1st-10:  Gun Ace right strong.  Oregon 4-3 tight under.  2 high.
Dropback.  OSU runs a snag/in combo.  Oregon cover 2.  No one open.
Good protection.  Pryor tries to force the ball, incomplete.
2d-10:  Gun trips right weak.  Or3 3-4 Half Eagle 2 high.  Fake zone
left, bubble screen right.  Nice block by T. Washington stalemating
his man, letting Dane gain 5.
3d-5:  Gun.  Ace right-H-back right weak.  Or:  Eagle, 0 high.
Dropback.  Ore twists up front, cover man robber.  Browning pancakes
DT, giving Pryor a running lane.  Completely outruns the robber
linebacker, then breaks the DBs ankles.  24 yd gain.  Great run.
Posey pancakes guy at the end.
1st-10:  Ace trey right:  Fake zone left, half roll right.  Oregon
Q-Q-H coverage.  Nice block by Ballard to establish the edge.  Quick
out to Posey for 5.
2d-5:  Gun-Ace right strong-Stoney as a tight flanker right.   Oregon
eagle weak 1 high.  DT twist nickel blitz.  Cover 1.  Double slant to
the left.  Perfect call against the nickel blitz.  Great throw by
Pryor.  8 yd gain.  Nice job by Cordle picking up and driving the
nickel back inside, letting Pryor step up.
1st-10:  Ace trips right weak:  Ore-Eagle to the TE 2 high.  Ore only
had 2 guys on OSU trips.  Bubble screen to Sanz, good blocking, 7 yd
gain.  Unlike USC punished them for not covering up our WRs.
2d-3:  Gun trey left strong.  Oregon Eagle strong.  1 high.  Zone
right.  Great blocking by Shugarts and Browning at the POA.  Shugarts
manhandled the DE, establishing the edge, and then Browning locked up
the LB.  Very nice cut by Saine off of Browning.  6 yd gain, first
down.   Ore constantly aligning to TE, so we attacked to the weak
1st-10:  Gun, ace right stron.  Oregon:  4-2-5 strong 2 high.
Droback.  Coverage beaters.  Double slants to left side, ‘snag’ combo
to right.  Cover 4.  Not a very good pattern by Sanz, not a great
decision by Pryor-had Washington or Posey open.
2d-10:  Gun ace trey right strong.  Ore Eagle trong.  1 high.  Oregon
double backer weakside blitz, slant strong.  Man coverage.  Fade stop
to Posey (man coverage beater).  Great throw, needs to be caught.
3d-10:  Gun tight trips right strong.  Dropback.  All curl route.  Ore
cover 2.  Great protection.   Cordle and Brewster lock up their man.
Very nice job by Pryor checking down to Saine.  And then great run by
Brandon bowling over the DB for the TD.
1st-10:  Tight I left.  Ore-4-3 under.  2 high.  Dave left.  Ore’s
safeties came up immediately, nice job by Boom bouncing it outside.  8
yd gain plus a facemask.
1st-10:  I twins right.  Ore-3-4 strong.  0 high.  Dave right.  Pryor
checked into it going the way where they had a 3 technique and a LBer.
 Big downblocks by Shugarts and Browning.  Nice job pulling around by
Boren, huge hole.  9 yd gain.
2d-1:  Gun tight trips right.  Ore 3-4 under.  Zone right left.  Pryor
should have kept.  Ore slanted hard on the zone action, Brewster got
beat across his face, 2 yd loss.
3d-3:  Gun double tight halfback left.  Ore-nickel under 2 high.  Zone
read right.  Ore scrape exchanges-they had the right call here, but
Pryor just owns the LBer with a stiff arm and takes him to the ground.
 Nice block by Boom to get Pryor the first down.  5 yd gain.
1st-10:  I twins right:  Ore-4-3 under nickel:  1 high.  ISO right.
Decent blocking at the POA, but not much movement, limiting to a 3 yd
gain.  Ore’s safety walked up at the last minute, stopping the play.
2d-9:  Gun ace right strong.  Ore 4-3 under nickel.  Fake zone right,
double slants high, snag underneath.  Cover 1.  Pryor great throw to
Dane on the inside double slant.   12 yd gain.  This route beat Oregon
like a tom-tom here.  Offered Pryor a lot of options.  Versus man it
has a coverage beater-double slants versus cover 2, snag versus cover
3.  Versus man has two man beater routes in the slant and the snag.
And also gives two-easy hot routes to each side versus the blitz.
1st-10:  Gun tight trips right strong  Ore nickel over 1 high.  Zone
read left.  Cordle and Boren didn’t sustain their blocks well, and
Boom missed the hole.  3 yd gain.  Offsides, though.
1st-5:  I twins right.  Oregon 4-3 over and LBs shaded strong.
Safeties at 10 yds.  Dave right.  Blocked perfectly to bounce it
outside except the safety came up.  I still think Boom should have
bounced out instead of shoving his head in the hole.  2 yd gain.
Oregon’s safeties were playing so aggressively when we were in the I.
2d-5:  I twins right.  Ore 4-3 over.  9 guys within 7 yds.  Sprint
draw pass right. Shugarts got his pads down and got beat on the speed
rush.  Pryor tries to scramble around.  If Cordle and Ballard stay
with their guys Pryor has a big play but gets tripped up.
3d-15:  Gun ace right:  Dropback.  Flood left, option routes
underneath.  Cordle gets beat inside by Rowe.  Pryor rolls right,
somehow gets the ball off.  Dane was open but he needed to come
horizontal as he should on the ‘scramble’ drill.  Incomplete.

Third Possession:  7-0  OSU 49
1st-10:  Gun split twins left.  Ore 3-4 nickel strong.  1 high.
Dropback.  Oreg brought 6.  “Florida blitz”—two off weak side, slant
to strong, drop off the strongside.  Cover 1.  3 verticals route with
a HB wheel route.  Saine against the DE in man coverage down the
sideline.  Great job by Pryor sliding in the pocket and hitting Saine
on the fly.  45 yd gain.
1st-Goal at the 4:  Gun split unbalanced left, H-back otion right.
Ore 4-4.  Was going to be an outside zone away from the unbalanced,
but bad snap by Brewster trying to reach block.  Nice job by Pryor
minimizing the damage.
2d-6:  Gun unbalanced double tight-H-back motion to the weak side.
Ore Eagle 2 high.  Fake outside zone bootleg right.  Not a great block
by Cordle establishing the edge.  If Pryor is patient, Z. Boren comes
wide open, but he forces the issue, 2 yd gain on a scramble
3d-4:  Gun unbalanced right, twins left stron.  Ore-4-3 under.  Load
option right.  If Pryor runs the play and actually options the
playside linebacker Saine walks into the endzone untouched.  But he
danced too much with it trying to make a play.  2 yd gain.
Fourth Possession:  OSU 10-3.  OSU 16 yd line.
1st-10:  Gun split backs left.  Ore 4-2 under nickel.  2 high.  Load
option left.  Ore’s safeties come flying up-Pryor needs to pitch the
ball but instead gets strung out.  Need the playaction off of that.
2d-8:  Gun ace left strong.  Ore Eagle weak to field 2 high.
Dropback.  Same double slant/snag combo.  Ore did a DT around stunt,
double weakside blitz, Adams and Boren got caught in no-man’s land,
letting the stunter come around unscathed.  Ore likes bringing 2
backers to one side, move the line the other way.
3d-7: Gun ace left weak.  Or-3-3-5.  7 man blitz.  Dane gets
manhandled at the line, so he doesn’t come free for the hot route.
Protection was not terrible, Brewster did not maintain his block but
Pryor forced it a hair too early.  Dane was wide open if he is
patient.  1 yd loss.
Fifth Possession:  10-10.  OSU 33
1st-10:  Gun trips right.  Ore-3-4 to the field.  Dropback.  Double
stunt twist blitz.  OSU picked up the blitz, Dane did not turn around
for the ball, though.
2d-10:  Ace bunch left.  Ore-4-4 under to bunch.  1 high.  Dave left.
Big hole.  Nice kickout by Ballard and pull by Browning.  Boom ran
outside the hole, then worked hard for 6 yards.
3d-5:  Gun split right.  Ore 3-4 2 high.  Dropback,.  Ore drops 8,
plays Q-Q-H.  Pryor forces the rush upfield.  Facemask.  15 yds.
1st-10:  Gun ace tight trips right strong-Ore 4-3 uneder.  False start.
1st-15:  Gun motion to tight trips right, stron.  Ore 3-4 to field.
Fake zone left, Smash right.  Pryor delivers right away to Posey on
the snag route.  4 yd gain.
2d-11:  Ace right weak.  Ore-4-3 over to field.  2 high.  Dropback.
Inside screen.  Bad luck.  Called a screen when Oregon dropped 7 into
a cover 4.
3d-11:  Gun split backs right.  Ore-3-3-5.  Dropback.  Ore rushes 2
and spies Pryor.  Ore drops into Q-Q-H.   Doing it to double Posey.
Great play by Pryor and Boom-Pryor moving to buy time, Boom by coming
back inside when he saw him scrambling.  15 yd gain.
1st-10:  Gun ace right stron.  Ore-Eagle to strength.  0 high.
Favorite play-double slants, snag.  Ore double backer blitz, and
stunt.  Pryor hits Posey before the stunt man comes around on Cordle.
Ore favorite blitz-Double LBer blitz to weak side, 3 technique to that
side stunt around.  9 yd gain.
2d-1:  I left.  Ore 4-3 under 2 high.  Dave left.  Big hole where the
play is called-Ballard and Cordle collapsed down Oregon’s line.  Saine
hit it up inside for whatever reason.  Still got the first down 2 yd
1st-10:  Did not get set.  5 yd penalty.
1st-15:  Gun split backs right—Ore 4-4 under-Ore stunt left.  OSU fake
zone right, boot left.  Flood right.  Ore’s LB blitzed off the edge
unblocked.  Nice play by Pryor stepping up and great grap by Posey on
the cross, using his strength to grab the pass.  8 yd gain.
2d-7:  OSU gun split left.  Or-Eagle to the field.  1 high. All curl.
Ore double LB A gap blitz, stunt.  Cordle came inside to pick up the
backer, letting the stunt man come around free.  Pryor could not find
anyone open.  Kept it straight up the middle.  Coverage sack.
3d-7:  Gun trips right.  Ore-3-4-5.  Ore stunt.  Nice pick-up by
Saine.  Good job by Shugarts on the edge.  Pryor gets outside and
outruns 5 Oregon players and then runs over Ore’s DB.  6 yd gain.
4th-1:  Double Tight I-fly motion right.  Ore goaline 4-4.  Dave
right.  Great POA surge by Ballard and Shugarts opening a big hole.
Shugarts dominated the ‘5’ technique.  Nice lead blocks by the Borens.
 5 yard gain.  Dominating statement.  1:51
1st-Goal:  Gun Ace right strong.  Oregon 4-3 under 1 high.  Dropback.
4 man rush.  Q-Q-H coverage.  Post corner routes.  Good
protection-Oregon could not get pressure with just 4.  No opening,
threw it away beyond Posey.
2d-Goal:  Gun 5 wide, trips lef.  Ore nickel shift strong 2-high.  Ore
had no one over Dane, Pryor tries to get a quick snap to throw the
bubble.  By the time Brewster snaps Oregon had re-aligned and shifted
a man over.  Then Dane tried to string it out.  2 yd loss.
3d-Goal:  Gun split back right.  Ore-3-3-5.  Ore rushes 2, plays a
cover 1 robber with a spy on Pryor.  Dropback, shallow cross, snag
combo.  No one open, Pryor tries to force it to Posey.  Incomplete.

1st-10:  Gun split back right.  Ore-3-4 2 high.  Dropback.  Roll into
Q-Q-H.  Good protection, nice job by Browning and Ballard.  Pryor
holds the ball a long time, could have run for yards.  Threw it away
2d-10:  Gun trips right.  Ore 3-4 2 high.  Dropback.  ‘Drive’ crossing
route combo.  Rowe beats Shugarts spinning inside, but great pickup of
him by Browning.  Pryor does a very nice job stepping up in the pocket
and throwing a crossing route to Sanz.  16 yd gain.
1st-10:  Spike
2d-10:  Gun split back twins right.  Ore 3-4.  2 high.  Ore brings the
‘Raider’ blitz.  Stunting DT gets around Cordle, flushes Pryor in
pocket.  Throws it away.

1st Possession-Ore 17-16.  OSU 20
1st-10:  Gun ace left.  Ore-4-3 overshift.  1 high.  Motion to tight
trips.  Zone read left.  Nice blocks at the POA.  Brewster does not
sustain his block quite long enough, but Cordle  lets his guy go
upfield and Boren gets to the second level and stalemates the LB.  5
yd gain.
2d-5:  Gun trips right.  Ore 4-3 over shifted a gap further strong
(something they do often).  1 high.  Bubble screen.  Nice run by Dane,
setting up the cut inside.  7 yd gain.
1st-10:  I twins left.  Ore 4-3 open plus.  Dave right.  HUGE hole
right where the play is supposed to go.  Great kick out by Z. Boren
and down blocks by Ballard and Shugarts.  But for whatever reason
Saine does not follow his lead blockers and instead runs inside into
traffic.   Could have been a big play, instead only 2 yards.  The TBs
left a lot of yards on the field.
2d-8:  I twins right.   Ore Eagle 1 high.  Fake Dave rollout left.
Smash combo.  Ore safeties bite on the fake.  Pryor does a great job
setting his feet and throwing a perfect ball over Posey’s back
shoulder.  36 yd gain.  9:15 3d quarter
1st-10:  Gun tight trips right stron.  Ore-Overshifted 4-3 over.  1
high.  Fake zone left, roll right.  Smash route.  Ore squeezes to the
run, great job by Pryor delivering the ball before Ore’s OLB recovers.
 6 yd gain.  Great use of playaction on this drive.
2d-5:  I twins left.  Ore-4-2-5 look.  1 high.  Stretch left.  Really
nice job by Cordle and Brewster locking their men and getting hats to
the play side.  Saine turns it up and gets 4.
3d-1:   Double tight I right.  Ore 4-4 pinch 1 high.  Dave left.  Big
push by Ballard on the frontside DE, great kickout and pull by Boren
and Browning, and then really nice job by Saine sticking his nose
right up the field for the first down.  Ore had 9 guys in the box with
their playside DE sitting in C gap and still did not stop it.
1st-10:  Gun motion to tight trips right stron.  Ore-4-3 double A gap.
 Zone read left.  Brewster gets tossed by the playside 1 technique,
who blows up the play.  Pryor should have kept the ball.
2d-13:  Gun tight trips right stron.  Ore-3-3 2 high.  Dropback.
Flood left Ore brought 7-3 off the right.  Dane and Ballard wide open.
 Dane had it but laid out and dropped it.  Nice job getting rid of the
3d-13:  Gun ace left.  Or-3-4. 1 high.  Ore brings 7.  Nice job by the
right side of the line picking it up.  Dane open on skinny post,  but
Pryor throws the hot route and Dane runs his route-miscommunication.
Dane needed to cut off his break.
Second Possession:  OSU 19-17.  OSU 20
1st-10:  OSU I left.  Ore 4-3 under 1 high.  Fake Dave left.  Ore bit
hard on playfake.  Nice job by Boren kicking out the end, Pryor
stepped up in the pocket and delivered a strike to Posey on the out.
Ballard ran a shallow cross.  First time I’ve seen them run this play
from a non-twins set.    15 yd out.
1st-5 (offsides):  Gun split backs left.  Ore 4-3 over strong.  2
high.  Outsise zone right.  False start
1st-10:  Gun split backs left.  Ore 4-3 under 1 high.  Fake outside
zone left, boot right.  May have had Ballard on the delay route, but
Rowe stayed home and made the play.  5 yd loss.
2d-15:  Gun empty.  Ore 3-3 shift to field.  1 high.  QB draw.  Nice
initial set-up.  Ballard did not have a good stalk block of Rowe, but
Pryor drills him with a stiff arm that knocks a DE down.  6 yd gain.
3d-8:  Gun ace right.  Ore-3-4.  1 high.  3 man rush.  Cover 1 robber.
 Nice protection.  Pryor has Posey going down the sideline but lofts
it up and leaves it short.  Interception.   Herron’s guy had slipped
but Pryor did not see him.
Third Possession:  OSU 19-17.  OSU 12
1st-10:  I right.  Ore 4-3 under 2 high.  ISO right.  Good blocking by
J. Boren on the backside completely locking his man down.  Nice cut by
Saine and then runs over the safety and knocks his helmet off-their
safeties were flying down all game.  5 yd gain.
2d-5:  I twins left.  Ore-4-3 over 1 high.  Dave right.  Great
kick-out by Z. Boren-huge hole outside by Saine missed the cut and ran
into the defense.  2 yd gain.
3d-3:  Gun ace left.  Oregon brings 7.  Double slants left.  Just a
tad beyond Sanz’ reach.
Fourth Possession:  OSU 19-17.  OSU 21
1st-10:  Gun ace left.  Ore-4-3 over. 2 high.  Dropback.  Nice initial
job by Cordle and Shugarts on the edges.  Then amazing run by Pryor
through an arm tackle for 12 yds.  12:10 4th.
1st-10:  Gun tight trips right strong.  Ore 4-3 tight.  1 high.
Corner blitz.  Zone read left.  Ore backside end did not respect the
keep and ran Boom down from behind.  Too bad because very good push
from Shugarts and Browning.  3 yd gain.
2d-8:  Gun tight trips right.  Ore 4-3 over tight.  1 high.  Fake zone
read left, boot quick out to Sanz.  5 yd gain.  11:25.
3d-5:  Gun ace left strong.  Ore-3-3-5.  2 high.  Giving Dane a 15 yd
cushion.  That is stealing.  Double slant, snag combo.
1st-10:  I left.  Ore 4-3 tight.  1 high.  Dave rollout right.  Boren
and Boom run into each other.  Pryor takes off back across the
field-huge hole except Rowe is able to trip him up from behind for a 1
yd loss.
2d-11:   Shift to Gun tight trips strong.  Ore 3-3-5.  Sprint option
right.  Pryor had the cutback, but slipped.  1 yd loss.
3d-12:  Gun ace right.  Ore-3-3-5 2 high.  Dropback.  Double post,
flood right.  Ore 3 deep.  Cordle gets beat off the edge, Pryor rolls
outside, hits Ballard as he releases deep off the scramble.  Amazing
catch.  25 yd gain
1st-10:  Gun twins left.  Fake zone right, boot left.  Smash.  Hits
Dane on quick out.  Incomplete.
2d-10:  Ace tight bunch left unbalanced.  Ore 4-3 open plus.  Dave
left.  Nice frontside blocking blocking down and locking up the
frontside.  Herron tiptoes a bit, gets 4.
3d-6:  Gun ace right.  Ore 3-4 2 high.  Ore all blitz-brings 7.  Zone
read left.  The backside safety bit down enough for Pryor to get the
edge and stiffarm him.  He’s then able to outrun everyone else for a
first down.  Huge individual play by him.
1st-10:  I twins left.  Ore-4-3 open plus.  1 high.  ISO right.  Huge
hole on the right side.  Shugarts pancakes the DE and Browning drove
his guy down.   Z.  Boren then pancakes the LBer.   Herron completely
misses the hole and runs up Brewster’s back.   I saw this WAY too many
times this game.  2 yard gain.
2d-8:  Gun split back rights.  Dropback.  Ore Cover 2.  Nice
protection.  Ore had no hope of getting a pass rush without blitzing.
Stop-fade to Posey.   Perfect throw and great catch.  TD.

Fifth Possession-OSU 26-17.  OSU 27
1st-10:  I twins right.  Ore 4-3 open plus. 1 high.  Stretch right.
Browning gets beat but for whatever reason Saine cuts inside.  If he
follows Boren he makes a positive play.
2d-12:  Motion to Gun tight trips strong.  Ore-4-3 over.  1 high.
Load option right.  Pryor makes the pitch—should have done so earlier.
 Nice blocking by Washington on the edge.  10 yd gain.
3d-2:  Gun double tight strong right.  Ore 4-2-5.  1 high.  Load
option right.  Great run by Pryor getting up the field and running
physical for the first down.  5 yd gain.Very nice job at the POA by
Shugarts and Browning creating the hole.  Shugarts kept his head
playside and ran with the DE, and Browning wheeled and turned his guy
1st-10:  Double Tight I left.  Dave right.  Saine again misses the
hole.   This play is a C gap play.  The FB kicks out the pulling Guard
seals.  The TB needs to follow those two and run between them.  It is
a hole to bounce play.  Again and again the TBs would run up inside
right where the down blocks are taking place and miss big holes.  2 yd
2d-8:  Double tight I left.  Ore 4-3 open plus.  1 high.  3 min left.
Fake Dave called run rollout left.  Great job by Boren on the edge
locking down the playside corner allowing Pryor to get around the
edge.  7 yard gain.
3d-1:  Double tight I right.  Ore 4-3 open plus.  Dave left.  Nice job
by Browning pulling and sealing off the traffic  and of Saine sticking
his head in there for the first.  3 yd gain.
1st-10:  Double tight I right.  Ore 4-3 open plus.  1 high.  ISO left.
 The safety filled immediately and made the play for a 1 yd gain.
2d-9:  Tight I right.  Ore 4-3 over tight.  Dave fake keep right.
Great blocks by the Boren brothers-pancacked the playside LBer.  Big
space for TP to run 13 yd gain.
1st-10:  Tigh I left:  Ore 4-3 open plus 1 high.  ISO right.  Nice cut
by Boom in traffic around Browning taking his guy inside.  4 yd gain.
Victory Formation.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Rose Bowl Quick Game Thoughts

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I will have a lot more to say after reviewing the film, but for now these are the things that jumped out at me.  All in all a great victory--OSU did exactly what they had to do--set the tempo, controlled the clock, and controlled the line of scrimmage--and did so through their passing game.  Very impressive

  1. What a gameplan.  I thought OSU would try and control the clock, which they did to the tune of nearly 42 minutes.  I thought that Pryor would be called upon to make some big plays with his legs, which he did.  In particular, the fake Dave rollout play was highly successful in the second half, both as a pass and called run.  But I had no idea that OSU would control the clock through ball-control passing.  Pryor continually moved the chains through short to medium drop back and half roll pass plays and OSU was highly successful doing so.
  2. For those that complain that OSU does not have a 'sophisticated' passing game, or run 'sophisticated' routes, this game was the perfect tonic.  True to form, Oregon play an aggressive blitzing style with soft man coverage behind it.  So what did OSU do???  Run underneath man-coverage beater routes all night.  Double slants were the most prevalent.  Again and again OSU moved the chains by hitting the inside double slant before Oregon's man coverage could converge.  OSU also featured bubble screens, running back arrow and wheel routes out of the backfield against man-coverage linebackers, seam routes, quick outs off the zone read fake, and fade-stop routes, most famously on the last TD pass to Posey.  OSU did a great job controlling the ball and moving the chains by featuring these routes.  
  3. From there, OSU did a nice job balancing by mixing in shotgun-spread type runs with Pryor picking up some big third downs on the zone read, traditional I formation football, and the heretorefore mentioned called fake- Dave run plays. 
  4. Perhaps most importantly, Ohio State stayed aggressive.  On first down, Ohio State was extremely balanced, going 10-16 passing for 107 yards.  They then did a great job on the game-clinching drive of using play-action called runs to get big first downs. 
  5. All that can be said about Terrelle Pryor is wow.  Just a great, great game.  Stepped up in the pocket, did a great job hitting the slants on time, and buying time with his feet to chheck down and hit the RBs on key underneath routes.  Also did a nice job of checking to the bubble screen when it was there.  Then when he ran, he largely ran the ball hard and sniffed out the first down market multiple times, and how about those stiff arms!?!?  He deserves every accolade for this game, and I think it represented a culmination of all the little improvements I saw throughout the year--taking what the defense gives you both running and throwing, better mechanics, checking into the right play, and not forcing throws.
  6. Posey and Sanzenbacher deserve as much credit as Pryor.  I have been hard on them at times this year, but they took their games to the next level.  Posey played very physical and caught balls in traffic.  Oregon started cheating their coverage towards him and Dane came up big over the middle.  Both did a nice job getting off the line, running precise routes, and reading the blitz.  Big steps forward. 
  7. The Offensive Line also played a very big game.  For the most part they handled the multidude of blitzes and stunts Oregon threw their way, giving Pryor time.  OSU also time and again picked up critical short yardage conversions, never getting stopped on third and short.  It was great seeing Tressel's reaction on the last 3d and 1 Dave play where OSU gained 4.  Oregon knew it was coming and could not stop it.  The line took a big step forward this year.    
  8. Brandon Saine and Jake Ballard also had critical catches.  Saine again showed the threat he is out of the backfield, showing great hands and nimbleness.  Ballard's catch was highlight reel-esque, a great contribution from someone who is mostly called on to block.  All in all it was a great team effort and execution on the offensive side of the ball of a very nice gameplan.

  1. Just an amazing performance by the defense.  To deal with a short field most of the game, and hold Oregon to 17 points and 13 first downs is quite an accomplishment.
  2. Schematically, OSU did a great job of mixing coverages and looks.  We brought a lot of zone pressure, played quite a bit of cover 4 and quarter-quarter-half coverage, and kept Oregon guessing.  Up front, we lined up primarily in an over front to limit Oregon's reads.
  3. The key to OSU's defensive success was winning first and second down.  And OSU did that by limiting Oregon's primary play, the zone read.  In fact, Oregon did not have success running this play all night.  Instead they had to turn to their fly sweep and WR screens on the outside to move the ball.  
  4. OSU did so by doing what they have done all year--dominating the line of scrimmage.  Heyward, Gibson, Worthington, and company came up huge controlling Oregon's offensive line and limiting Oregon's running lanes.
  5. In so doing, OSU limited to Oregon to 3d and medium and 3d and long.  And this was critical.  Rather than letting Oregon go to their offensive identity, which is their running game, Oregon had to pass.  And they largely had no success doing so against OSU.  OSU's back seven's mix of coverages controlled Oregon's wide receivers and TE, and Masoli could not read coverages.  Even when he had time he had no idea where to go with the football.  Oregon had to rely on bubble and jailbreak screens to pick up third downs, which was only successful for so long.
  6. What is particularly impressive is that the OSU defense did this defending essentially half of the field.  The kickoffs and coverages were terrible and were effectively the equivalent of one or two turnovers.  But the defense made up for it and held Oregon in check.
A great all-around game on both the offensive and defense, both in terms of scheme and execution.  OSU controlled the clock, set the tempo of the game, controlled the line of scrimmage, and came up with big plays when they needed to.  These are the things that win games against good teams and OSU succeeded at all of these tonight.  I will have much more to say about this game as I review the tape, but for now lets enjoy the win!
For further discussion, go to's Ohio State's 'Ask the Insider's' Board.

Rose Bowl Preview: Final Thoughts

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Gameday...and some last minute thoughts before the Rose Bowl:

Special Teams
  • I never focus enough, relative to its importance, on special teams.  I believe that special teams could be a factor in multiple ways today.
  • Oregon's kick-off return unit has been fairly successful this year, averaging 24.5 yards per return.  Ohio State's kick coverage unit, by contrast, has been susceptible to allowing long returns, most notably against Iowa.  Ohio State must do a better job containing Oregon's kick-off returns--the last thing you want to allow a dynamic offense like Oregon have is the equivalent of 1 or 2 less first downs to make per possession.
  • On the flip side, Oregon has been susceptible to giving up sizable kick-off and punt returns.  Ohio State, without Ray Small, must find a way to take advantage of this and get some positive plays out of the return game.  Even if they cannot get a play as impactful as Small's first return against Penn State, they must get their offense a few free first downs.
  • It will be interesting to see whether OSU uses Aaron Pettrey or Devin Barclay to kick field goals.  Oregon has been highly successful in the kick game this year, and Ohio State must be able to match them. 
Final Thoughts
  • I have said it before, but I will say it again:  turnovers will be critical.    In particular, Oregon has been susceptible to fumbling and Ohio State's defense must force turnovers.  OSU's defense has been successful all year at causing turnovers and they need to continue that trend today.  By contrast, OSU must protect the football.  OSU's defense can be successful against Oregon, but they must be kept out of unwinnable situations.
  • As Nebraska and Wisconsin reaffirmed this week, physical, dominant defense can stop good offenses, especially if they control the line of scrimmage.  Ohio State has the chance to do exactly that today.  Everything for Oregon starts with the zone-read play, and if Ohio State controls the frontside of that play they can stymie everything else Oregon does.  The zone read is not a true option play, so Oregon's line must still establish the front-side zone play to be successful.  Or as Chris Brown states:
[On the zone read] the initial read is of the backside defensive end; but even if he stays put, the success of the playside inside zone play still depends on however the blocks turn out, as opposed to the true triple, where you know it will be a success because you have double teamed everyone and the only threat is the man you're optioning off of.
 Therefore, if Ohio State can stalemate Oregon's line and control all the gaps on the line of scrimmage,  Ohio State can shut down everything Oregon does, because everything is predicated off that initial zone action.
  • Offensively, Ohio State must stick with their gameplan and not panick, even if they fall behind a score.  Wisconsin got down early 7-0, but did not let that change their plan coming into the game against Miami, which was to hit them in the mouth, run the ball down the field, and hit play-action off of it.  
  • Look for Ohio State to take advantage of Terrelle Pryor's health by getting him on the edge fairly often, and by using schemes that take advantage of Oregon overly focusing on Pryor. 
  • Ultimately, this game may come to the intangible factor of who establishes their tempo, their style, and controls the football game.  We saw Wisconsin impose their will and dictate against Miami.  Ohio State has a similar opportunity today and must establish their will. 
For further discussion to Ohio State Scout's 'Ask the Insiders' Board.