Behind the Scenes at Ohio State

By DJ Byrnes on September 25, 2013 at 2:00p

Sports Illustrated's Pete Thamel was granted behind-the-scenes access (he got to listen in on the coaches' headsets) to the Ohio State football program during the weekend Ohio State played Buffalo, which led to an article that will appear in this week's SI. It also led to a scribble for on ten lessons he learned during his four-day trip. Among some lessons gleaned:

  • Despite the plague of cramps suffered by Ohio State footballers against Buffalo, hydration is apparently a well-versed chorus within the program; it's something that borders "maniacal."  
  • Tom Herman is not long for Ohio State, as two Division I programs approached him about coaching openings this past summer. Herman, however, had committed to Urban Meyer for two years and brushed the offers away.
  • (Surprise!) Recruiting never stops.
  • The evolution of Braxton Miller will be a huge storyline this season (when the quarterback gets healthy).
  • A lot of effort goes into just one play call:

Herman drew up a basic zone-read run play that he called Rooster 45. It's a bread-and-butter Buckeyes' play that the team had practiced nearly 300 times between spring ball and the season opener. So what goes into one play? Here's Herman's abbreviated explanation of an Ohio State zone read:

"The key to our zone read. We are very vertical with the back and very vertical with the offensive line. We want to create a double team up front. Get the defense moving laterally. We're almost, for lack of a better term, we're going to double team the down guys, displace them vertically off the ball. Basically, the front side of the line is going to zone to the left. They will block the guy in the play-side gap. If there's a down lineman in their gap, if I'm the left-side guard, I'm going to push it at an angle vertically and a bit horizontally. Same thing with the left tackle. The center and the right guard, they're going to try like hell to push the nose tackle vertically and come off late for a frontside linebacker. The backside tackle, he is responsible for the backside linebacker, wherever he goes. In a perfect world, they all play their gaps. We want it very downhill to create a quick read on the DE. He has to immediately take the dive or stand here and play the QB. The QB pulls the ball out of his gut, and then takes off running and sets up these blocks and finds a crease vertically if he can. If he takes the dive, the quarterback pulls the ball out of his gut and takes off running and sets up a block and finds a crease vertically as we go. If he's stagnant at all, the back is going to hug the heel line of the offensive line and then read that double team of the nose."

So, yeah — Tom Herman is apparently smarter than all of us. (But 11Wers's already knew that.)


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hodge's picture

You know, I saw this about fifteen minutes ago on twitter, and I was all like:

"Oh man, this would make for an awesome forum topic!"

Then I was all like:

"Nah, I'm sure Eleven-Dub's on it, and this is much better left to a Buckshot."

You guys don't disappoint.  Bravo.

droessl's picture

So they're saying we should really enjoy Herman while we can? 

osu07asu10's picture

Tom Herman is not long for Ohio State, as two Division I programs approached him about coaching openings this past summer. Herman, however, had committed to Urban Meyer for two years and brushed the offers away.

Interesting. That is some good foresight on Meyer's part. "Tom, this job can make you a star and programs are going to come after you after the first year. It's yours to take, but you have to stay 2 years!"
I think we've all seen the type of coach Herman is and we've all known he won't be here for long. Looks like we should enjoy the next 10 games with him as the OC!

CJDPHoS Board of Directors // Best friends with Homey Hache

The 0 is silent.

BuckeyeInOrlando's picture

I just hope he doesn't go somewhere that we'll have to root against him!

DJ Byrnes's picture

Agreed. I hope he goes back to the Big 12. (No offense, Tom. Love your work.)

Californian by birth, Marionaire by the Grace of President Warren G. Harding.

Chief B1G Dump's picture

Well dang, crappy to hear but definitely expected. Hopefully Tom goes to a nice little proving ground school for a little while. Then is ready to come coach the Buckeyes when Urban retires in 40 years.

Frostybuck88's picture

Takeaway?  Tom Herman is really good and probably gone after this season.  That is the flip side of having a great coordinator, people come calling.

The Dude abides...

BuckeyeInOrlando's picture

I was planning on moving up into the college coaching ranks from my current position as head coach of my sons 6-8 year old flag football team...
now, after attempting to read that, I think I'll stick with "run left," "run right," "reverse left," "reverse right," and "pass"

willshire58's picture

Pete Thamel had 4+ days and unlimited access to the program. We get 10 somewhat random things that we already kind of knew three weeks after the fact? I hope he has a bigger piece coming out. 

Hovenaut's picture

Yes but not along the lines of the last, uh, SI expose done on a university known as OSU.

tennbuckeye19's picture

There's supposed to be an article in this week's magazine with more details from his visit. This is was just his top 10 list of interesting things he observed.


Herman's co-offensive coordinator Ed Warinner should also get looks. He called plays and ran successful offenses at Army and Kansas, including when the Jayhawks won the Orange Bowl after the 2007 season. Warinner overhauled Ohio State's offensive line last year, the biggest improvement of any unit under Meyer.

THAT concerns me more than losing Herman. If we lose Herman I pray we keep Warinner, especially with the fact we have to rebuild the OL next year.

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

cbusbuckeye's picture

I get the feeling Warinner will be here as long as Urban is. 

rkylet83's picture

When your coordinators are getting head job offers you know your staff is awesome!  I think we all knew Coach Hermann was not going to be here long with the drastic success we've seen.  I'd rather have to replace great coordinators that be stuck with lousy ones.............

Jdadams01's picture

If I remember right, from the coaches' reviews that we saw, didn't Warriner say his goal was to move on to coach a MAC school?

Maestro's picture

Yet another reason that this season will hopefully end very well is that this coaching staff won't be together for long.  Losing great coaches is very difficult to overcome IMHO.

vacuuming sucks

Kishdawg13's picture

I hope the univerisity ponies up the money to help entice them to stay, if in fact they do look. Guys like Kirby Smart and Chad Morris get job offers every offseason but they stay. I know its selfish, but good OCs and recruiters like Herman are very hard to come by. The guy owns Texas.

Jhesse17's picture

That's just basic zone read...... not to be that guy but that's not very complicated my high school runs the same thing.

brylee's picture

Yes...but makes sense that he wouldn't open the playbook for SI.

Sgt. Elias's picture

How do you build, let alone maintain continuity if your coaches split after 2 years? Is this not what made Urbz have a sad-time at the end of his Gator tenure? I guess I knew this would happen but I still don't necessarily like it. 


"Okay -- I've got an El Camino full of rampage here." 

causeicouldntgo43's picture

Helps to have some form of redundancy with co-OC's and co-DC's. I also assume Urban is also always recruiting - for asst. coaches that is......

BoFuquel's picture

TSUN is gonna need a new staff in 2014. But then if you is smart, don't plan your future on beating the institution that owns The Field Of Urbs. Way to expensive to wage that war. GO BUCKS!

I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.

FROMTHE18's picture

Notice none of that article had anything to say about our defense...surprised. Hey, Ball State/Bowling Green, we have an awesome D coordinator for you, his name also rhymes with Pickle so that's cool. Going to be a sad day when Herman leaves and Fickell (who has coached a D1 program [bad memories]) doesnt get an offer. Love Herman and hope he does well wherever he goes (hopefully outside the B1G), but I pray that MACaction calls Fick soon. 

okiebuck's picture

Pure speculation but; IF Texas does retire Mack Brown and hire Art Briles away from Baylor; I could see Tom Herman becoming the HC of the Bears. Gets him back home to Texas.

"Fate has cards that it don't want to show"

northcampus's picture

I was thinking the exact same scenario may play out with Herman after this season.  He'd be a perfect fit for BU if Briles heads to Austin.

Poison nuts's picture

If OSU happens to win the NC - I'd expect he'll get serious looks from every major program that needs a coach.

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.