The Offense With No Face

By Alex on June 6, 2011 at 1:00p
BOLLMAN'DBollman's Q Score needs work

Defense has always been a staple of Ohio State football and with Luke Fickell at the helm, that likely isn't going to change anytime soon. In fact, many feel the renewed aggressiveness the defense has shown since the "Massacre in The Coliseum" in 2008 is a direct result of Fickell getting more say in the defensive play calling and schematic planning heading into game week.

While it makes sense that the Silver Bullets are going to be on point under the former defensive coordinator's rule, the question far too few are bringing up about the post-Tressel era is what happens to the offense? Jim Bollman may own the title of offensive coordinator, but if you know anything about Ohio State football, you know that Jim Tressel was the brains behind the offensive play calling in Columbus. Even when JT decided to shell out a little offensive love elsewhere, he turned to Darrell Hazell first before bringing Bollman into the fold for anything more than game week preparations.

The answer to the question of who will take over the offense is unknown right now, but what is unlikely to change dramatically in the upcoming year is the style of play the Bucks will employ when they have the ball. There will be many doses of Tresselball with some of Fickell's aggressiveness sprinkled in, but once again, if OSU football history repeats itself, the foundation of the offensive philosophy will be based off running the football. It won't take some sort of innovative genius like a Gus Malzahn to win ball games for the Scarlet and Gray this year, but there does have to be a mind behind what you see executed on offense for the Buckeyes this season, and it sure won't be Luke Fickell stepping into JT's role as commander in chief of the unit.

It doesn't look like there will be any shocking news of a new offensive coach hired, so the choice at hand will likely come from the inside. The coaches currently placed on that side of the ball are Bollman, John Peterson, Stan Drayton, Nick Siciliano, and Doc Tressel, and there could be a case made for all of those coaches sans Doc, as well as Fickell to be the man for the job. Let's take a closer look at some of those candidates to take over the offensive play calling duties after the jump.

Jim Bollman

I know, the sound I just heard was all of you groaning about the thought of having to stomach Bolls calling the plays for the entire year. I don't want Jimmy calling the plays either, but we have to look realistically at the fact that he is indeed the offensive coordinator by name at the least and has had input in the past in terms of preparing the week's game plan.

What you will get with Bollman is very vanilla play calls. The team will rely on the stable of running backs to carry the team on its shoulders while running enough play action and pro-set passing formations to keep opposing defenses just off-balance enough to come back to the run again. This certainly isn't the sexiest of choices, but you have to think that with his experience, seniority, experience with the offensive personnel, and the official title that the odds have to be in favor of Bollman getting the nod to call the shots. At least by title again anyway.

John Peterson

Peterson is also a veteran of the Tressel regime and currently holds the title of tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator. I would say his chances to get the offensive play calling gig are slim to none and quite frankly I don't think he'd even want the opportunity if it came his way.


Peterson's strengths come in the ability to get the most out of his tight ends (especially from the blocking standpoint), as well as the tackles, whom he took on more responsibility with over the last year or so. In fact, many think Mike Adams' growth at the position can be attributed to his work with Peterson, especially on his footwork, quickness, and agility.

Like Bollman, Peterson would likely call a "plain and simple" offense that revolved around the run and would not take the opponent by surprise very often at all. His temperament is definitely a bit more aggressive than Bolls, but his lack of a desire to be more involved with the offensive strategy in the past leads me to believe that Fickell will be looking elsewhere to find his play caller.

Stan Drayton

Guy is a BOSSDrayton isn't quite ready to call the shots yet.

Maybe the opposite of Bollman and Peterson, Drayton brings some youth and energy to the coaching staff, coming from Florida where he spent two stints as the running backs coach. Drayton will coach the wide receivers at OSU this year, a new gig for him, and the knock on him to get the job will be his lack of experience with the Buckeyes, as well as the adjustment he will need to make in coaching a new position.

While I don't think Drayton will get such a great responsibility handed to him in year one, I do think if retained in the future, that he could make a good offensive coordinator. He has been exposed to a multitude of offenses including Urban Meyer's spread at Florida, a more traditional pro-style style with the Green Bay Packers, the pro-spread at Tennessee, as well as other styles at Syracuse, Mississippi State, and others. Those experiences will allow him to take what he liked from each of those styles and combine them with his own philosophies to create a pretty exciting brand of football.

Once again, I don't think Drayton is quite ready for these responsibilities, but I do think Fickell needs to find a way to begin to get him involved in the offense more than they originally thought he would be. Drayton is a coaching star in the making and if he can one day call an offense as well as he recruits, he's going to make a very good play caller.

Nick Siciliano

Coach "Sis" is the dark horse in this race, despite past criticism that Tressel hired a video coordinator to coach the quarterbacks. Not many people have been around practice to see him go to work, but we have been fortunate enough to get a chance to see Siciliano in action, and to be honest with you I was quite impressed with what I have seen.


Siciliano is well liked by the players, not just because they can more closely relate to him in age, but also because he's very knowledgeable of the game. As a former video coordinator he has the chance to study plenty of film of teams on both sides of the ball and has gotten a good grasp and understanding for how the game works. More importantly he has been able to find the right ways to turn the things he takes away from film study into a message delivered to his players on the practice field, something many young coaches in the business struggle to succeed in.

Coach Sis is another coach who may not be quite ready to fully take over play calling duties, but his experience working with the quarterbacks over the last few years, coupled with his past experience as a video coordinator could possibly lead to him taking some sort of ownership with the offense this season.

Luke Fickell

Click Here To Join The MovementFickellball. Yep, I said it, Fickellball. It will be a craze that has Buckeye Nation on their feet, waiting to see what the OSU offense will bring next. Well, maybe it won't exactly go like that, but now that Luke Fickell has full reigns of the team without Jim Tressel breathing down his neck, expect things to be a little different. And by different, I mean finally unleashing the offensive arsenal of weapons that has been held back constantly throughout the days of Tresselball.


Don't get me wrong, The Vest won a lot of games during his time at Ohio State doing things his way, and because of that, a lot of things won't change in Columbus in order to keep winning practices intact. What will change is the mindset of the team, something that fans have been waiting to see for all of these years. As former co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach, Fickell has always been known for his desire for the team to be more aggressive, and now he'll have that chance to go for the kill over and over again in a way Tressel would never display. The Buckeyes' new head coach has the chance to truly put his mark on this team, especially on the offensive side of the ball, and for a man coaching this season as an audition for his future job, what better opportunity can you ask for?

I personally think Fickell will run the show just like Tressel did. While his experience has been on the defensive side of the ball, this is a guy who clearly knows all the ins and outs of the game and is a smart enough football mind to be able to take on such hefty responsibility. I firmly believe Fickell will use all of his offensive staff to prepare the week's game plan and may even have Bollman remain as the guy "calling the plays" from the coach's box, but I think when push comes to shove that the final say on each and every play will be owned by Luke. This is his opportunity to shine and there's no way I can see him giving way to someone else who has the chance to throw everything away for a rising star in the coaching profession that has one of the most desired jobs in college football on the tip of his fingers.



Maestro's picture

With JT gone and no additional hires being made yet, don't we have some room to bring in an offensive coach?

vacuuming sucks

Alex's picture

We do but who is coming on board for the risk of losing their job at seasons end? I've heard walt Harris or Glenn Mason as possibilities which could be interesting but remember they couldn't fully run an offense the way they want as there's not enough implementation time

SouthBayBuckeye's picture

No Glenn Mason thanks.

Banned from ATO since June 3rd 2PMish PST

Maestro's picture

Right.  For this season it's just too late for that I suppose.

vacuuming sucks

Jason Priestas's picture

I've heard walt Harris or Glenn Mason as possibilities

Ah, I remember fondly the winter of 2000-01.

SouthBayBuckeye's picture

This is what "some people" have been asking for for years now. To those people I say, be careful what you wish for.


Persoanlly, I'm with you. I don't think anything will really change on offense for the time being. I'm fine with that. Maybe down the line, when things aren't so in flux, they'll hire an OC that will open up the playbook and start dropping 60 a game on ppl. We did that before, I think it was under some guynamed "John Cooper" though.

Banned from ATO since June 3rd 2PMish PST

yrro's picture

Personally I don't really care how many points we score as long as it is more than the other guy.

SouthBayBuckeye's picture


Banned from ATO since June 3rd 2PMish PST

BuckeyeSki's picture

But, if you dont score at least 60 pts a game, then you dont belong in the Texas-Plus Conference anyways!

Banned from BlackShoeDiaries since 2008. Crime: Slander/Defamation of Character Judgement: Guilty

Irricoir's picture

I agree with that statement to a degree but I would still like to see our team aggressive all four quarters or at least until we are up by 28 in the forth. This leashing the dogs at half time bit has lost us a few games. (I know, we have won so many more though) USC and almost Arkansas come to mind. I know we have to nurse a lead but evil lurks around the corner when you run three times and punt every series with 2 quarters left winning by 18. (Arkansas) What did we do? Attempt 4 passes in the second half? I am all for more unpredictable play calling at that stage in the game. If our games versus LSU (First Quarter) and Arkansas (First half) has taught us anything, it is to keep pressing. I just chose some games and concede that the number we won far surpasses the ones we lost. The media in the college world are quick to discount games against Purdue or even Wisconsin to a lesser degree, but USC and the SEC and even Miami are games that they will remember and point the finger at. Then again, the media will continually hate on us. It just became apparent to me; are we the most hated team in the NCAA? I say we run with it and give cause. Kick their ass Buckeyes.


I don't always take names when I kick ass but when I do, they most often belong to a Wolverine.

Irricoir's picture

Thats the thing that confuses me most about Arkansas. We hear the rumors of a fired up, emotional Jim Tressel but was that display soley for his defense?

I don't always take names when I kick ass but when I do, they most often belong to a Wolverine.

SouthBayBuckeye's picture

That was not Jim Tressel. It was a futuristic Tressel-bot sent back in time by skynet to potentially put OSU on probation.

Banned from ATO since June 3rd 2PMish PST

Irricoir's picture

Like this?

I don't always take names when I kick ass but when I do, they most often belong to a Wolverine.

SouthBayBuckeye's picture

Buckeyecommentary.... fotgot about that site completely.

Banned from ATO since June 3rd 2PMish PST

741's picture

Honestly, I would be psyched to see this dude (Troy Smith) on the sidelines with a clipboard signaling in plays to our QB. No joke.

DarthSweaterVest's picture

Just have to express my admiration for your quote tag at the bottom.  Classic


Irricoir's picture

I saw this look in tressel's eyes on that final game day in Novemeber. You may be on to something.

I don't always take names when I kick ass but when I do, they most often belong to a Wolverine.

SouthBayBuckeye's picture

*terminator sound*

dun dun d-dun

dun dun dun d-dun

Banned from ATO since June 3rd 2PMish PST

Nappy's picture

Judging from some comments I've read on various other message boards, yes, we are the most hated team in the NCAA and I dont even think it's close.

I never saw a football player make a tackle with a smile on his face

SouthBayBuckeye's picture

to that I say:


Ahhhhh middle school

Banned from ATO since June 3rd 2PMish PST

741's picture

Re: "Watch out what you wish for" - True dat.

Kurt's picture

...if OSU football history repeats itself, the foundation of the offensive philosophy will be based off running the football.

I'm pretty certain the vast majority of OSU fans think that establishing a ground game and protecting the ball equates a 'dave' oriented offense.  I couldn't disagree more.  Tressel and Bollman's multiple offense is just too complicated for a young qb like Miller or Guiton to step into right away and excel, not to even mention how predictable it is.  Just look at the 2nd half of the Arkansas game, the defense knew what was coming nearly every down.

The spread zone-read teams are generally run-first offenses that create safe, easy and lethal passes which are set up by running and mis-direction.  Was Tebow a great passer?  No.  Was his passing well-timed and lethal?  Yes.  Same for Newton?  Pretty much (better passer...about equal with TP).  That's exactly what we need given our extreme youth at qb and receiver and great depth at running back: a simple run-first offense, that spreads the field, utilizes all of our incredible talent and speed, and keeps a defense off-balance.

I'd like nothing more than for Drayton to have a crack at OC.  Nothing to lose, everything to gain.


SouthBayBuckeye's picture

This has been talked about ad-nasuem.


"utilizing skills and speed" AND SO FORTH(still  using this) but it never really happens. Well not until 3.5 years in to troy smith and TBD with Pryor.


File this under I'll believe it when I see it.

Banned from ATO since June 3rd 2PMish PST

Kurt's picture

Yes, it took that long with those guys because of the offense.  Too complicated, requires a ton of learning and predictable. 

Believe it beacuse you've already seen it: Newton never lost a game in his first year in the spread zone-read. 

SouthBayBuckeye's picture

my question with the spread zone-read type of offense is whether or not OSU will be able to sign big name QB prospects that want to be ready to play in a "pro style" systems some day, like in the NFL. I don't want a DURR-Nard type.


Honestly I don't care what we run as long as we can recruit and win.

Banned from ATO since June 3rd 2PMish PST

Is it Saturday Yet's picture

I'm not sure where I fall on this topic. I think I'd like to see the pro style offense continue. They can mix in wildcat, triple option, zone read plays as needed or just for the fun of it. I did like seeing the quick pace, no huddle! I want more of that.

Kurt's picture

It's absolutely possible to recruit top athletes to play qb in these offenses.  But I don't think it's even necessary, and that's the brilliance of it.  You can take a Masoli, and go to the Rose Bowl, then take his back-up and go undefeated in consecutive years, for one example.  These offenses make athletes with an ability to pass very successful.  Athletes of this nature are far easier to stockpile than pocket passers because the pro-style offense requires the qb to make more difficult reads and execute more difficult passes.  

So as for recruiting NFL prospects I don't care, first and foremost it's about OSU's success.  But ultimately, I think the future is the athletic qb and that the NFL will eventually be running offenses more akin to what we see in college today.

phxbuck's picture

Can someone please help me understand why I always have to hear people talking about f'ing Glen Mason.  Can we never talk about him ever again or bring his name up to be some sort of coach at OSU.  What in the hell has Glen Mason ever done to warrant a prestigious job or any type of recognition.  1 time in in his 8 year reign as O coordinator the bucks won more then 10's driving me nuts!

JakeBuckeye's picture

I'll say this once: If Glenn Mason is hired as our head football coach, I will drop dead.

SouthBayBuckeye's picture

So will Glenn Mason.

Banned from ATO since June 3rd 2PMish PST

USAFBuckeyefan's picture

Pretty simple really.....all we need to do is come out and have the offense look exactly like it did in the Fiesta Bowl against ND!  Who can argue with 600+ yards!  

poop's picture

Definitely helps when you have Ted Ginn galloping all around the field. I still can't believe the score wasn't much worse.

Doc's picture

Teddy Ballgame was fun as hell to watch.

I'm hiding baby and I'm dreaming
I'm riding down your moonlight mile

GoBucks713's picture

Is it me or does that pic of Bollman scream the word "Diabetus"????

-The Aristocrats!

Scott K's picture

Bollman and Brimley.  Seperated at birth...

"There's a fine line between stupid, and....clever.  David St. Hubbins/Nigel Tufnel

Kalamazoo Steve's picture

Did anyone notice the field position in the 2nd half of Sugar? You start inside the 5 that much and the playbook shrinks. Special teams dictated the vanilla play calling.

cal3713's picture

No shit.  Tressel called plays to win, not to look flashy and score as many points as possible.  Everyone and their mother thinks they can outcoach the guy who was making 3.5 million.  I guess we'll see how well that goes over the next two years as people call plays with the players he trained.  I'd like to see Vegas put odds on that shit.

madhatterhater's picture

Is there anyone out there who is really good at offense and special teams!

go bucks

buckeyedude's picture

So Alex, you think it may be the experience combination of Bollman/Bauserman that wins out? **sigh**



SouthBayBuckeye's picture

*walks out of office, buys gun and one bullet. writing note as we speak...



"if you're reading this, then it's too late..."

Banned from ATO since June 3rd 2PMish PST

nickma71's picture

You mean there were brains behind Tressell Ball and close games that should have been curb stompings?