Because We Couldn't Go for Three

By Michael Citro on September 26, 2013 at 4:15p
29 Comments
All your points are belong to us.

Extra points are no longer an afterthought for the Ohio State Buckeyes.

In 2013, Urban Meyer has shown a willingness to play around with the traditional point after touchdown. Rather than just lining up in the obligatory field goal formation and kicking every time, the Buckeyes have borrowed some of Chip Kelly’s “swinging gate” principles (the Buckeyes call it the “Aztec” formation) and a variety of plays that can turn one point into two.

“So they have to work on the field goal and they have to work on this Aztec formation,” Urban Meyer said. 

Ohio State was successful twice on two-point tries in the opener against Buffalo. But a conversion attempt against Florida A&M this past Saturday went unrewarded — when Jordan Hall was stuffed after catching a pass.

Is all this two-point trickeration a good thing? I submit that it is.

While an additional point may not come into play against the likes of Buffalo or FAMU, it might make the difference between overtime or victory in, say, a night road game in Evanston.

One thing the swinging gate formation does is force the other team to react. If the opponent doesn’t respond properly, it creates an exploitable mismatch and potentially an easy additional point. It’s never a bad idea to put more points on the board.

Running these kinds of plays forces opposing teams to spend valuable practice time on figuring out how to stop them. While teams spend valuable time trying to diagnose the conversion in the film room and in special teams meetings, Ohio State’s staff can add new wrinkles or completely leave two-pointers out of the game plan. That means the other team has just effectively wasted some of its preparation time.

"How can I get three points out of this conversion?"Master of trolling the opposition.

On the field, a tendency of going for two creates uncertainty for the defense. They waste time during the play watching for the two-point try and it gives Drew Basil extra time to boot the ball when it is a standard PAT. That uncertainty, or “putting the other team on its heels” is a staple of Urban Meyer’s offensive philosophy, which apparently has bled over into special teams play.

Finally, if Ohio State finds itself in a situation where it must go for two, game reps will provide the confidence that leads to success. The same principle of getting players comfortable going for it on fourth down applies to two-point conversions. If the situation is deemed “normal,” there shouldn’t be any of the nervousness that can ruin execution.

In addition to the above reasons, it also raises the excitement level. As a Buckeye fan, it’s nice to watch Basil tack on the extra point. But it’s better still to see Jordan Hall or Philly Brown get into the end zone to turn six points into eight. Meyer puts a lot of thought into ways to get cheap points and make his opposition work at every aspect of their preparation.

“There's a lot of reasons to do it,” Meyer said. “One is to get a big hit, which is we did, and the other is just to drive them nuts as far as what they have to prepare for. It's a pain in the rear end.”

About the only drawback to going for two repeatedly is that if a team really needs a two-pointer to tie or win a game later in the season, they’ve already tipped their hand with what kind of plays it likes to run and potentially has already used its best play. So it behooves a team to hold back its best two-point play in special glass box, which should only been broken in case of emergency.

Is going for two when unnecessary just showing off? Is it unsportsmanlike? Or is it another way to put pressure on the opposition? Maybe it’s all three. Whatever it is, Ohio State is doing it, and, if teams can’t stop it, that probably won’t change.
 

29 Comments

Comments

Shaun OSU's picture

I'm pretty sure that Urban said that the "swinging gate" is called "Magic" in our terminology (and that Ed Warinner was in charge of installing it), and that the "Aztec" formation is the formation with Quads split out on the right side, where Kenny G ran the QB draw for a ~40 yard TD (we installed it and ran it against the SDSU "Aztecs", hence the name).

Buckeye_Ryan's picture

Not only did I absolutely LOVE watching them go for two, but I looked over at my wife and said "Because we couldn't go for three." Great stuff.

Born a Buckeye, raised a Buckeye, will die a Buckeye.

Doc's picture

I'm wondering why the defense doesn't line up like a "normal" PAT when we line up with 8 at the one side and three in the middle.  If we hike the ball like that there would be no way the QB could get a pass off with 8 unblocked guys flying at them.  I'm no football genius, that's why I'm asking for your input. 

"Say my name."

Shaun OSU's picture

A QB in the shotgun could easily catch a shotgun snap and lob the ball in the direction of Jordan Hall for an easy touchdown before the rushers got to him. If necessary, the QB could back up a few steps in the shotgun and give himself an extra second to get rid of the ball. That would be extremely easy to score against, as Jordan Hall would be all alone with a wall of blockers. Just lob it up and over the rushing defense and it's 2 points.

Doc's picture

Thanks Shaun.  That would have been my guess, but I was still curious.  I would like to see it run both ways in a practice type situation for my own education.

"Say my name."

Julius Erving's picture

Also, the center can snap it "sideways" directly to the back or whoever is over there on the side.  There is no rule about snapping between the legs.  In high school, that was an automatic two points when teams would line up too many guys over the QB/C/RB and we'd snap it sideways and you have 8 on 4 for a 2 yard run.

Julius Erving's picture

Also, the center can snap it "sideways" directly to the back or whoever is over there on the side.  There is no rule about snapping between the legs.  In high school, that was an automatic two points when teams would line up too many guys over the QB/C/RB and we'd snap it sideways and you have 8 on 4 for a 2 yard run.
OSU splits the guys out pretty wide, though, so that sideways snap is probably not an option.

alust2013's picture

The mouseover caption on the GIF is awesome. I also think it would be kinda cool to come up with a set of plays to run as 2-point conversion plays and basically say the heck with extra points. It seems like if you have a decent team, you'll be at least 50% or better on 2-point conversions, and if you're better than 50%, then your overall scoring goes up. Now, if it's garbage time, or missing the 2-point try would really hurt, then you kick the extra point, but it seems like teams should go for 2 more often. Then again, I'm totally being an armchair coach, so I probably don't know what I'm talking about.

...and Michigan still sucks.

stantmann's picture

I saw that mouseover too -"All Your Points Are Belong to Us", that will never get old...
 

cinserious's picture

Dude, your avatar never gets old!

Gone ham, be back soon...

painterlad's picture

Unethical? Hardly, since doing your best at your job is very ethical. Meyer gets paid a ton of money to win as many games as possible and it would be unethical for him to not use every single advantage that the rules allow. Trick plays, hurry up offense, going for it on 4th down instead of punting...that is what teams can expect from a Meyer-led offense.

To err is human. Really sucking requires having yellow stripes on your helmet.

causeicouldntgo43's picture

I've always approved going for two, cause we couldn't go 4 3

JohnBoy's picture

I personally think we should never kick again. If we score 2 pointers only 50% of the time we are still on schedule right?
 

Thank you sir! May I have another?

rekrul's picture

It only takes one tight game against a good opponent for the season to be off track.  35% success rate against teams with a below .500 record and a 15% success rate against teams above a .500 record does not seem like a good trade off % to me.

Out Work, Out Think, Out Play!!!

45has2's picture

Good take, Michael. I wouldn't say that going for two often weakens you when you really need to go for two. The Bucks will have practiced and game timed the play many more times than the team trying to stop it. Teams have had plenty of film to study and in some cases previous games to help them prepare to stop Urb's offense in general. So far it hasn't helped them.

"I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people." -W.W. Hayes

didohiostatewin's picture

In tradition with OSU winning, I have created http://didohiostatewin.com
share with your friends!
 
I'm open to suggestions!

texbuck's picture

Wow, that's awful.

cajunbuckeye's picture

DID is a troll.

An angry fan...rooting for an angry team...led by angry coaches

headina's picture

Wow you got us!!!1!!!11!!!! About as clever as it gets for a scUMbag. 

GO BUCKS

idontsmellgood's picture

I'm just disappointed we aren't doing it at our "jet" pace. It's one thing to get the defense lined up correctly. Can you do it in under 3 seconds? What if we audible to a different exotic formation?

cinserious's picture

That might be saved for the 'important' games... (wink,wink)

Gone ham, be back soon...

BME_Buckeye's picture

Is it unsportsmanlike?
Nope. Just use the Bret excuse: the card said go for two.

Look closely, because the closer you think you are, the less you will actually see.

 

bucksfan92's picture

Even if we never run another 2 point try all year, I am happy that we did it right off the bat in the first game of the year.  No doubt B1G defensive coaches have been wasting time preparing for that play and taking time away from focusing on basic defense.

Buckeye_Mafia's picture

One thing the swinging gate formation does is force the other team to react.

Don't you mean the Aztec formation?  Haha!

About the only drawback to going for two repeatedly is that if a team really needs a two-pointer to tie or win a game later in the season, they’ve already tipped their hand with what kind of plays it likes to run and potentially has already used its best play.

And I kinda disagree.  I think it still helps in getting reps.  We are good enough to line up knowing our opponent knows what's coming and be able to score the football.  And as we have seen, Meyer has many wrinkles in this formation.  He isn't running Dave into the ground with the Aztec formation.  Different plays and different personnel have scored with this formation. 

Adolphus Washington is half grizzly bear and half dragon | Noah Spence kills quarterbacks, just to watch them die.

Jabba the Hoke's picture

If we did need to go for two, I'd think it would be a higher percentage play to go with a more traditional formation. I think the aztec is more about getting a cheap point if it isn't covered right.

Seattle Linga's picture

Urbs is always planning ahead and will be making them (other coaches) squirm for weeks to come.

razrback16's picture

Hopefully for years to come. ;)

MassiveAttack's picture

The Aztek should have worked against Florida A&M.  Guiton had a 3 on two match up, and he could have run it in.  But I think Urban had a red light on him running during the game.  Also, when he threw the pass to Philly, he just panicked.  He had the blocking in place when he caught the ball, but took a step back and hesitated uneccessarily. 

4thandinches's picture

Yeah but what happens when these other teams start using it against us? Is Urban prepared to stop it?

I wasn't born a Buckeye but I became one as fast as I could.