Saturday Observations: Will Screen Plays Beat Us?

jdagrava.1's picture
December 2, 2013 at 8:48a

I'm very happy to walk into work today with my head held high.  Not only did my Buckeyes win The Game, but the mighty Tide fell, giving us an opportunity to play for the crystal football.  With that said, I'd like to share some observations from Saturday that caught my attention.


Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde are absolute beasts.  This is not news, but their efforts must be recognized.  We've played That Team Up North for over a century with multiple Heisman winners lining up in Scarlet and Grey and Saturday was the FIRST time that we've had two 100-yard rushers in The Game.  Bravo, boys.

The offensive line has a more than capable back-up in Pat Elflein.  He may have a strange name and TTUN may have been playing a "spy" defense, but he quickly made me forget the ejection of Marcus Hall.  Well done.

There is no need to throw 50+ yard passes on 3rd and 10-20 but we did it at least three times on Saturday with the intention to do it at least twice more.  Yes, one of these plays turned into a beautiful pitch and catch to Devin Smith for a score.  But the others did not work out with Braxton having to scramble or get sacked or the throws falling incomplete.  I know that TTUN has a suspect secondary, but we can't expect a homerun on every pass play!  Were these bombs a product of the play calling or Braxton's decision-making, I cannot say for sure.  But would it kill us to run a few 15 yard routes on 3rd and 9 instead of 4 "Go" routes?


TTUN should have NEVER torn us up the way they did.  It was embarrassing.  And even worse than the number of yards was the lack of adjustments made by the coaching staff.  The 2nd best team in the country should not be allowing a 14 point lead to slip away in the fourth quarter to one of the worst (statistically) offenses in the FBS - I don't care if it is on the road or a rivalry game.  Fickell/Withers needed to do better.

Is the screen pass the key to beating Ohio State?  Because it sure looked to be on Saturday.  I lost count how many times I saw a majority of TTUN's offensive line pull out in front of some sort of screen play.  I'm not a football coach or professional football analyst, but the last I checked the typical screen play is set up to counter an aggressive, blitzing defense.  Get the defenders to chase the ball long enough to set up blockers in front of a RB/TE/WR and get the ball into the playmakers' hands just before the blitz gets to the QB.  This is all fine and good.... except for the fact that Ohio State WASN'T RUNNING AN AGGRESSIVE DEFENSIVE SCHEME!!!  We played our typical zone defense for a majority of the game (as usual) and somehow were burned time and time again by the screen plays.  And it could have been even worse if the double pass would have worked - Did you see the green grass and 3-man convoy that Gardener had in front of him when the pass sailed over his head?  It was 6 for sure.

The Buckeye's blitz, when they used it, was ineffective at best.  The Silver Bullets recorded 3 sacks against an offense that is in the bottom five in the country in allowing tackles for loss.  Did Taylor Lewan share his roids with the rest of the O-line that morning?  I don't know, but they made our blitzing packages look very weak.


Anyway, I'm just wanted to share this with you guys (and gals) to see if anyone else shares my opinion... or if I was just so sauced by the end of the game that I just created these little fantasies in my head.


Go Bucks!

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TMac's picture

I'm not sure Connor Cook can pull off those athletic screens. DG wasn't just drawing the D in he was running the other way, spun 180 and hit his mark. (As an aside where the hell was that kind of play for TTUN for the mast month?!?!)
Also - I thought we spyed DG a lot, rather than just rushing, and he still beat us way too damn many times.  But Connor Cook won't present that same problem. 
MSU being more conservative on offense, I think, will allow our D-Line to have a much more effective game. 
GO BUCKS, beat Sparty!

ONE Not Done!

1MechEng's picture

The one thing I noticed during The Game was that most of our secondary defenders (read: cornerbacks other than Roby) have trouble shedding the WR blocks to make plays. This allows the bubble screen to be successful because instead of the DB arriving and forcing the receiver to make an immediate juke as he is catching it, the receiver has time to catch and run up the field 4-5 yards before having to make any sort of move. As a result, you have a guaranteed modest gain ... never a tackle for loss.
I don't know if this is entirely due to inability to shed blocks ... some of it could also be late read and reaction to the screen pass as well. I'm not sure our cornerbacks outside of Roby are as fast as they need to be either (see Reeves getting outrun by a TE in the Iowa game).
Just my basic observation and $0.02 worth.

Baroclinicity's picture

I am by no means an Xs and Os type of fan, but in regards to the blitzing, our best blitzing schemes this year have come from the delayed blitz.  We didn't seem to do that at all, which allowed Gardner to find his way into some always available open space.  The delayed blitzer would usually occupy that newly opened free space and close it off quickly.

When you're holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Hovenaut's picture

M...igan sure made it work, but they clearly have better skill athletes than Sparty.
I think Bollman has to give screens a go, since the OSU d has struggled so badly against them, but I don't see them being as effective.

Knarcisi's picture

Our DL was held in check by some inspired play by scUM's OL.  They also did a very nice job picking up blitzes and did not put Gardner in deep drops.  They also emptied the playbook and kept us off balance with some very nice misdirection.  Add some our our whiffs on Gardner and others, and that's the result you got Saturday. 
What continues to concern me, as it has all year, are our LBs and Ss in coverage.  I can't tell if it is assignments, poor reads, poor reactions/instincts, or all the above.  All I know is that we seem to be way out of position, particularly covering TEs and particularly when our LBs and Ss are covering.  From Josh Perry, to Corey Brown, to Tyvis Powell, to CJ Barnett at times. 

mc22's picture

Please pass this info along to Luke.

Maceyko's picture

The Mich St. offense just doesn't appear as athletic as TTUN so I'm not as concerned.  I think we will be well prepared.  Certainly not taking them for granted, but I really like this match up and think almost everything is in our favor going in.  Guess we will see.

jdagrava.1's picture

"It takes a little something special to be a great player.  What you got in you, we're going to find out.  And if there's a touch of greatness in there, how cool would that be?"

-Urban F. Meyer

MN Buckeye's picture

I am past taking anything for granted. I think we match up well against MSU, but in a game anything can happen. We certainly need to play better on D, but my biggest source of confidence comes from this game being played at a neutral site, which means that our fans will make it a home game. Any away game at another team's field has the potential for disaster.

Toilrt Paper's picture

Not if in the LB assigned to the RB the screen pass is being thrown to is in his hip pocket, like he is supposed to be.

BuckeyeInOrlando's picture

Florida State is the best screen team in the nation... 60% of JW's big pass plays are results of the playmakers making his stats look good...

ScarletGray43157's picture

It seems like FSU's receivers are big time.  Them against our DBs would be a tough matchup for us at this point in time.  If we can hold up our end of the bargain and end up playing them we will need to see improved play in our secondary and improved tackling overall. 

In old Ohio there's a team that's known throughout the land...

BoFuquel's picture

A team is only as good as it's weakest part, and our D is better than their O. Dat's  dat. I hate TSUN State. GO BUCKS!

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

NCBuckeyeForLife's picture

Fickell and company have consistently struggled against the bubble screen from spread offenses.  Saturday's screens were much more conventional which is of greater concern to me.  The star defensive exposes the backside to one on one coverage and is prone to  screens and throw backs.  Let's give credit to scum, they were clearly watching OSU film the last few weeks instead of focusing on their opponents which was a Tressel philosophy in the weeks leading up to the big game.  I watched the game again and I am concerned about the play of the linebackers and secondary.  Grant appears to be too conservative while Roby plays with reckless abandon.  Wouldn't it be great to have a balance of the two.  Lot's of folks will praise Powell for his last play heroics but the rest of his play was no better than the others in the secondary.  Withers blamed last years secondary play on the lack of challenge from the wideouts during practice.  Maybe Kenny, Donte, and  others should run more scout team and provide the look that big time players can.   I know it sounds desperate but I am thirsty for another drink from the national championship cup!  
Go Bucks.

Dirty419Boy's picture

We missed some tackles but 90% of the problem is the scheme. When the opposing team knows it's going to see zone coverage almost every play, and especially if they expect some kind of zone blitz, they're going to hit you with what works against those defenses.  I'm not saying we should go to man coverage every single play, but we really need to mix it up.  If you're playing rock scissors paper and you throw the same choice out every single time, you're not going to be very hard to beat.

ChazBuckeye's picture

The defense needs to communicate more during certain plays (like yelling out when it's a screen, draw, or reverse play).  Not one time could you hear anyone yelling, SCREEN, when there was a screen play Saturday.  They should even be screaming/yelling when it's a run or pass.  I'm still unsure why a DI (what used to be known as) powerhouse defense wouldn't be doing fundamental things...???  Oh wait, I know why, and so do you.  Simple fundamentals, like tackling, communicating, and the like are what I can't stand for anymore.  It's JR coaching fundamentals that should still being taught at OSU's level if they aren't doing it correctly.   

Some people think we’re the hunted.I don’t feel that way at all.We’re the hunter.Everybody wants an angry football team.Everybody wants a team on edge and a hungry team.If you’re a hunter,that usually equates to being hungry.