Herman Pleased with Progression of Ohio State Offense

By Kyle Rowland on August 25, 2013 at 6:00a
Tom Herman: Ohio State's offensive sensei.

Tom Herman was a relative unknown when Urban Meyer reached out to the then-Iowa State offensive coordinator late in the 2011 season. Ohio State fans quickly learned who he was due to the Cyclones’ upset of second-ranked Oklahoma State. Mixing Meyer and Herman’s offensive genius would ensure points galore and yardage totals that would require calculators.

The Buckeyes ushered in their new era with an undefeated season, thanks to a do-it-all quarterback and dynamic offense. Herman’s play-calling earned him positive reviews from all corners of the state after 10 years of an offense that harkened back to the Eisenhower Administration.

But even with zero losses and Braxton Miller’s record-setting performances, the offense left a lot to be desired. Meyer and Herman admitted as much. With less than a week remaining until the 2013 season opener, there’s a unanimous opinion among coaches and players that this year’s offense will be more inline with the expectations that accompanied Herman when he came to Ohio State.

Miller and the wide receivers are improved, the offensive line returns four starters, freshmen playmakers provide an added dimension and the tight ends free Miller to be more creative.

“He’s head and shoulders better than he was and farther ahead,” Herman said of Miller’s progression. “The more he learns, the more fluent he gets. It just kind of snowballs a little bit."

The Buckeyes averaged eight more offensive snaps per game in 2012 than the 2011 season with Jim Bollman as the offensive decision maker. Ohio State had 70 snaps per game last season, which was the middle of the road in FBS.

Herman, a statistics guru, said there is no number in mind when it comes to the number of plays he would like to run. The ultimate goal is to win, whether the Buckeyes run 50 or 100 plays. An efficient no-huddle offense could mean fewer total plays and a lot more points than the opponent.

An element missing last season was gamebreaking players. There is no shortage this year, but it doesn’t act as a guarantee of moving up and down the field. Herman indicated he won’t let the newcomers cloud his judgment on deviating to what made Ohio State one of the top teams in the country.

“We’re going to do what we do and plug those pieces of the puzzle in when we need them,” he said.

There’s never an urge to inject Meyer and Herman with truth serum. Both coaches are straight shooters. Ask them to analyze the team, and they will give you a description filled with adjectives, either positive or negative.

Prior to the 2012 season – and during and after – both had little problem with putting down the offense to the point where it verged on demeaning. It’s been the complete opposite as the 2013 season looms, giving many the impression that an offensive onslaught is six days from beginning.

“We’re much faster,” Herman said, sending chills up the spine of Buckeye Nation. “We’re much more well-oiled, if you will, with our jet pace and our up-tempo stuff. It’s running a lot smoother. I sleep a lot easier at night than I did last year at this time.”

Perhaps the most underrated aspect of the offensive philosophy is the tight ends. Meyer and Bill Belichick have made the position in vogue in recent years. Each coach has won championships in their sport due to tight end utilization.

Jeff Heuerman and Nick Vannett have been referred to as the top duo Meyer’s ever had and among the best on any team in the country. They’re athletic, fundamentally sound tight ends who can block or catch the ball over the middle.  

“It allows you to have more freedom in the run game and pass game,” Herman said. “The good thing about us being no-huddle is that we don’t have to take those guys off the field. We don't have a blocking tight end and a pass-catching tight end. We've got two tight ends that can line up and do both things. It allows us to play faster and keep the entire offense in out of one personnel group.”

All told, the 2013 finished product likely won’t even resemble what Ohio State considered its offense one year ago. It starts with Miller. Despite finishing fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting, by all indications, he’s a changed player.

Herman said he’s like Miller to improve upon his 58 percent completion percentage and raise it to the 67 to 70 percent range. Combined with his elusiveness running the football, an ability to be accurate throwing the football would put Miller into elite status.

“The quarterback helps,” Herman said. “When he’s going and leading the charge, it certainly helps. But all the other guys are certainly faster and they’re not thinking, they’re just playing, which certainly helps.”

As does the presence of Herman, a savior after a decade of anguish with runs up the middle on 3rd-and-5.


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740buckeye's picture

6 more days. 
6 days, 5 hours, 50 minutes and counting.
and they can't pass soon enough.

DannyBeane's picture

This Saturday needs to be here now. I'm tired of imagining what our team looks like and want to see it perform in all its glory.

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

I agree with that.  I can't wait for this Saturday to get here just so we can get a view of what the guys can do.  Over the next few weeks we will see some amazing offensive play it sounds like. Can't wait to see what the guys can do.  Hopefully we'll get more amazing displays of athleticism like this, but with other players making the plays as well too. 

ToTheHouse's picture

Kyle, how can we forget when Nebraska set a record come-from-behind victory over tOSU, they used the 'diamond formation'...as you know we haven't heard hardly ANYthing about it in practice so far from 11W. What's up if you know ? Even in your report here, nothing is mentioned about how effective this pro-style system can be effective for a run or pass play ? 

To the NC House...Repeat gonna be Sah-weet!

omahabeef1337's picture

Don't get too caught up with formation names. If OSU lines up in the diamond they will still be running the same plays they usually run, just with some extra wrinkles. You'll still see power read/IV, inside zone, outside zone and counter. A formation is just where you stand before you run your play. It's not an offense and its not a play.

ToTheHouse's picture

In total, the diamond formation was used three times resulting in two Nebraska touchdowns and a positive gain. The formation isn't anything new, it's been used since the earliest days of football. For Nebraska it's just another wrinkle offensive coordinator Tim Beck uses to confuse the defense. It can be effective for a run or pass play. Texas, Oklahoma, others use it.
Thanks 1337.

To the NC House...Repeat gonna be Sah-weet!

Kyle Rowland's picture

It'll be used this year, no doubt. But I don't think you'll see it a whole lot till Big Ten season arrives. Carlos Hyde and Rod Smith being out play into that. So, too, does the fact that coaches won't want to tip their hand too soon.

ToTheHouse's picture

Been sensing the subject has been ''hush'' for sometime now....from not only the coaching staff, but from 11W...thank you for this follow-up confirmation.

To the NC House...Repeat gonna be Sah-weet!

thatlillefty's picture

Soooo ready for some football.

Oldschoolbuck's picture

Peyton and his up-tempo had 30 plays ... in the FIRST QUARTER last night! (Laurinaitis was a beast again last night, Dierdorf called him "a tackling machine")!
I'm not sure Walrusball had 30 plays in a GAME (ok, I exaggerate but you guys know what I mean).
This is going to be an offense unlike any we've seen on the banks of the Ol' Olentangy!
As some commentator said about the team Urban was building, "Oregon's offense and LSU's defense." I'm saying, UGM's-Herman's offense and an upgraded Silver Bullet D!

SOF_Buckeye's picture

UGM? Isn't it UFM... Regardless, I too like to keep analogies in house!

"The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender." Woody Hayes

Oldschoolbuck's picture

Sorry. Hit the wrong key on my iPhone. Thanks for the catch.

OldColumbusTown's picture

Very excited to finally see this offense on the field. Oh, and by the way... it's GAME WEEK!!

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

Hearing everybody say Miller is head and shoulders above where he was last year is a frightening statement when you think back on what he accomplished last year!  It most certainly paints a very good picture for this year's offense!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

awlinBrutus's picture

I just hope he runs smart, take 8 yards instead of 10 and go out of bounds or slide. He doesn't need to take a lot of unnecessary hits like last year.


Oldschoolbuck's picture

Preach it, BRUTUS!

Matt Gutridge's picture

Herman on the offense:

I sleep a lot easier at night than I did last year at this time.

If Herman is feeling like this:

I'm feeling like this:


cinserious's picture

Our defense will help our offense stifle opponents and vice versa.

One day I will valiantly become a political prisoner of 11W jail.

oh_dad55's picture

I hope the excitement carries over into the stands next Saturday.  Let's have a loud and noisy crowd welcome the 2013 team into the stadium and throughout a performance that lives up to expectations.


toad1204's picture

Makes me smile every time I think about it...

Nothing like dancing on the field in 02... 

LadyBuck's picture

The ultimate "Sparty, NO!" moment.

Idaho Helga's picture

I'm rooting for Sparty to do well this year but this picture is representative of why...
Sparty gonna Spart

BeijingBucks's picture

Ironically I'm pulling for Sparty a bit. Would be hella amusing for them to take out the piss n blue for bragging rights (for a pretty lame state but ohwell).  They do have a protected crossover, right? Or wait... Are they in the same division now? Almost forgot about the whole division change up got so focused on the Bucks the rest of the B1G ceased to exist 

None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license. ~ John Milton

cwerph's picture

Division change is not until 2014.  tOSU in the same division with scUM this year, so it is a rare opportunity to beat the wolverweenies twice in 1 season.  That is, if scUM can win their division.

AndyVance's picture

I find it hard to root against Sparty (when we're not playing them, obviously). Dantonio was one of our finest coordinators in recent memory, and Bollman, while a fun target for our abuse, was part of some great Ohio State teams. Once a Buckeye, etc.
Moreover, they have that same blue collar, gritty, scrappy underdog thing that you like in a Midwestern, Big Ten type team.

Scarlet_Lutefisk's picture

I find it very easy to root against Sparty. Dantonio encourages dirty play. It's not a coincidence that the Robert Reynolds incident happened during his tenure.
It utterly escapes me how anyone can support Dantonio, especially after the Gholston incident last year.

pjtobin's picture

I hope that we aren't hyping these young men up to much. A solid game plan that is executed is all I ask. ( years of tresselball has made me this way!!)

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

BorderBuckeye's picture

I agree wholeheartedly!!!

Mirror Lake Jump's picture

The TE duo has been receiving a lot of praise. Can't wait to see how they have grown.

Paulillo's picture

Is that David Brent asking Tom Herman a question?

BorderBuckeye's picture

Been waiting for years for an offense like this! One that is exciting to watch, able to quickly put points on the board, and not be so damn predictable. That being said, Tressel was a genius too. He won in a different way. The huge shock that was our last national championship was won by defeating this type of team largely by keeping our offense on the field and theirs off. That high-powered Miami offense was deemed unstoppable by nearly everyone, but we did stop them by not letting them have as much access to the ball. And Tressel blew me away by also totally killing the clock. I am probably naive a bit, but I don't remember ever witnessing such a show of a team's offense killing so much time and keeping the ball away from the enemy so well. With Miami, that was needed and to me was the biggest reason we won that game. Very underrated aspect of that win IMO. Of course, that Tresselball did not always work. The other 2 nc games show that. But more often than not, it did. I guess I just hope that our offense is quick, efficient , and exciting like we all want. But also able to give our defense enough time to gel and to get a break. It won't be as much fun to watch if we also see our defense struggle by being out there too much. Maybe the silver bullets will break records on turnovers and sacks and 3 and outs though and I won't have to worry about it. Excited to see how it plays out. And also hope the hype doesn't kill the dream season like we have had happen too much before. Hard thing to keep the egos in check when you dominate a lot. Still a Tressel fan and very much an UFM fan too. Let's get this done and do it beginning to end. Undefeated and NC!!

Oldschoolbuck's picture

You make some excellent points, BORDER, about the '02 NC team. Ball control DID play a huge part in that win.
I wouldn't want to sell the Bullets short, though. It was reported that Miami hadn't been hit that hard all year (Ken Dorsey supposedly puked on their bus after the game). Plus, despite all the BS the media spewed about their "speed advantage," there were quite a few guys on that '02 D that played (or are still playing) in the NFL.
We were much more evenly matched with the U than the "experts" (Mark May!!!!) asserted.

bigbill992001's picture

Our D, especially the D-line, was ready and simply played outstanding that nite.   They harassed Dorsey all nite and dont forget McGahee.

irishfury's picture

I really think that Braxton Miller has been fresh air.  He is very humble.  He spent his offseason with a QB coach trying to get better.  He is quickly becoming on of my fav Ohio State players of all time.  Just everything about the guy is something that makes you proud that he wears your favorite teams jersey.  Working with the rookies like Dontre Wilson before camp.  
I've learned about our coaches if they say someone has improved they really have.  It shows Braxtons hard worked payed off.  If Braxton really gets his % up to 65-70 I don't think their is a team that can beat us.  
I'm so excited I upvoted everybody because Braxton Miller has made me a better teamate as well.

BenArazi4's picture

Love Braxton as well, I would like to see him become more vocal, get in your face type of leader.  Hesitation and lack of confidence/familiarity on his part hurt us last year, I can live with his completion percentage but when you're reluctant to pitch the ball in the spread it really minimizes what we could do.  Percentage is fine by if he just goes and stops thinking too much.  Gonna be a fun ride either way and I think his comfort level has improved as well as his passing game.




holtzy's picture

If Herman is pleased, then I am pleased.