Meyer, Herman Focused on Keeping Buckeyes on Cutting Edge Offensively

By Kyle Rowland on March 26, 2014 at 9:15a
40 Comments

Remember that record-setting offense from 2013? Forget everything you know about it. Ohio State might average nearly 50 points and 500 yards again, but it won’t come via the power run game or wide-open offense.

Missing from last season’s offense are Carlos Hyde, Philly Brown and four starting offensive lineman. Not that it matters. Philosophies and schemes are ever evolving. Tom Herman chooses not to be tied down to one style.  

“I think it’s hard to say or not say, ‘This is our system. This is what we do, so we’re going to do it because that’s what we know how to do,’ when you have to figure what everybody can do and what they do well and try to mask the deficiencies while you’re improving them and you play to the strengths,” Herman said. “Where that’s headed after six spring practices? I have no idea. But it’ll be different.”

Even after an undefeated season in 2012, Herman was busy during the offseason searching for an advantage. What he wouldn’t do, though, is compromise the Buckeyes’ progress by abandoning their principles. 

“We’ll never leave our core values, our core tenets, what we believe in offensively, which is to spread the field horizontally and vertically, to be in the shotgun, to add the quarterback as part of our run game and have that dimension and to be a downhill, A-gap tight zone vertical power run team with play action pass off of it,” Herman said. “What does that evolve to? I don’t know.”

Part of the mystery will be broken down throughout the spring, though it’s difficult to complete the transition because Braxton Miller won’t take a single snap in front of the coaches until August. It will take time for Miller and the new offensive pieces to become unified.

Herman and head coach Urban Meyer understand the finished product could appear much different than the main course from recent seasons. Ohio State shattered several school records while tallying a 24-2 record in Meyer’s first two years. But duplicating that success isn’t a guarantee.

“As bad as we want an offensive line like we had last year, it’s going to take a while to develop that,” Meyer said. “I think at some point because we recruited well and our line coach that it’ll happen. But we’re going to have to lean on some perimeter ways of getting first downs, where last year when you rush for 300-plus yards a game it’s because that offensive line was so good. We have other weapons, but it will have a different taste to it than last year.”

Perhaps the most striking difference will be the run game. It was leaned on considerably when anchored by Hyde and one of the top offensive lines in the country. Without that luxury, wide receivers could become more prevalent.

The unit recently grew by one weapon. In this case, it could well be a nuclear warhead. Dontre Wilson has migrated to the hybrid role previously occupied by Philly Brown. When names like Devin Smith, Michael Thomas, Corey Smith and Jeff Heuerman are included, Meyer believes the pass-catchers could be – and needs to be – a strength.

One of the biggest unknowns at this point is Smith, who transferred from East Mississippi Community College and redshirted in 2013. He’s near the top of the wide receiver pecking order after six noteworthy practices.

“He’s a super-talented kid,” said Herman, who believes Smith could be the Buckeyes’ best wide receiver.

But until the line performs with reliability similar to the past two seasons, an offensive revitalization could be doomed. Meyer sees a future where the line is productive. It just might take more time than it did with the former group.

“The offensive line, we’re just trying to put that thing together,” Meyer said. “We don’t have enough depth there. That’s where Jamarco Jones and Demetrius Knox have to come in and help us. That’s not atypical. That’s spring practice.”

There’s a reason Meyer isn’t worried; he’s led inexperienced teams before. For Herman, worry fades because of the people involved in the decision-making process.  

“It’d be a bigger concern if I didn’t believe the talent was there, and if I didn’t believe in Ed Warinner,” he said. “This group of O-linemen, whether we like to say it or not, is much farther ahead than the previous group of O-linemen our first spring.”

Two years, 24 wins, unprecedented offensive success. Yet, the tinkering never subsides.

“Every year kind of has its own personality,” Meyer said. “It certainly will be different [this year].”

The first glimpse comes in 157 days. 

40 Comments

Comments

TMac's picture

“This group of O-linemen, whether we like to say it or not, is much farther ahead than the previous group of O-linemen our first spring.”

O-Line was a concern going into 2012 when they went undefeated, and this years line is "much further ahead"  - In Warinner we trust!

+10 HS
Arizona_Buckeye's picture

Two mad scientists at work with lots of weapons at their disposal means great things on offense!  Can't wait to see the 2014 edition of this explosive unit!

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

+1 HS
Seattle Linga's picture

Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie some of this action - can't wait to watch them grow leaps and bounds this season. 

osu07asu10's picture

“We’ll never leave our core values, our core tenets, what we believe in offensively, which is to spread the field horizontally and vertically, to be in the shotgun, to add the quarterback as part of our run game and have that dimension and to be a downhill, A-gap tight zone vertical power run team with play action pass off of it,” 

haha it sounds a lot like the offense we've run the last 2 years...

I would expect/hope to see some of the screen passes Clemson used to kill us inserted into the fold a bit more. Ultimately, I still believe the offense will only expand, evolve, and develop as far as Braxton's progression as a QB goes.  If Braxton doesn't get better with reading defenses and making the throws open to him we'll see the same offense we did a year ago. Also need to see a big improvement in Braxton's touch on short passes.

Once that happens, the offense can be quite diverse, but it all starts with Braxton.

"They don't know what they don't know." - Coach Mick

+4 HS
d5k's picture

There's a thrower and a catcher on every pass.  WR play has to improve and sounds like it will.  I am looking forward to seeing Corey Smith on the field.

+1 HS
osu07asu10's picture

There's a thrower and a catcher on every pass. 

Exactly, and Braxton missed quite a few "catchers" last season and I don't mean with errant throws, I mean misreads or an inability to get through his progression before tucking and running. There is certainly room for improvement on the receivers end and they have to do their job and get open but unless there is a mental progression for Braxton, the offense won't change that much.

Unfortunately, we don't get a good look at Braxton this spring to see if there has been progress made. Just have to trust in him, and also the staff to prepare him and put him in the best position to succeed in the fall.

"They don't know what they don't know." - Coach Mick

+3 HS
southbuc's picture

His receivers also had problems getting open

+5 HS
NitroBuck's picture

We might not get a look at Braxton's progress this spring, but maybe his injury will be a blessing in disguise.  The staff appears to be making every effort to have Braxton work on the mental side of the game while he is out of commission.  Hopefully, he will become a student of the game, like Troy Smith did his Sr year.

Ferio.  Tego.

+2 HS
Seattle Linga's picture

Agreed ... He brought so much more to the field his senior year than his physical attributes.

+1 HS
BrooklynBuckeye's picture

I think Urban and Herman want to throw screens, but in order for a screen to be a viable option, there has to be the potential for one broken tackle. That's why Urban's first year, against MSU, when he looked at Philly's numbers (12 catches, 84 yards), he said, "Philly Brown... break a tackle." 12 catches?! That's insane. Give Dontre 12 catches in space, and see if he ends up with a hundred yards. I have a feeling that's exactly what we may see against MSU this year.

+4 HS
omahabeef1337's picture

"A-gap tight zone vertical power run team with play action pass off of it"

I thought that comment was really interesting. I had figured we would see more outside zone read/power read this year since the backs might have more top-end speed than Hyde.

OSUpawn's picture

The first glimpse comes in 157 days.

Are we there YET?!?!

I believe the SEC players put their pants on one leg at a time like we do.

+4 HS
Buckeyevstheworld's picture

Nope. Now back to complaining about recruiting.

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

-2 HS
Colerain 2004 G.O.A.T.'s picture

Jet sweep,Bubble screen,speed option,are some of the terms our fan base needs to get real familiar with. I imagine our offense to look more like the one Clemson ran against us in the Orange Bowl. The very key to our success will be can we establish the vertical passing game at a high success rate. Thats where Braxtons injury is really hurting us the most because this is prime time for him to build some timing and familiarity with his WRs with the intermediate and deep routes that we will need to free up the box.

I speak the truth but I guess that's a foreign language to yall.~~Lil Wayne

NitroBuck's picture

Don't worry too much about the missed reps with the receivers.  I'm sure they will get plenty of time to work on familiarity and timing during their 7 on 7 sessions this summer.

Ferio.  Tego.

D-Day0043's picture

That offense Clemson ran against us in the Orange Bowl consisted of about 7-10 plays. Their offense is nothing fancy. All they do is fake a jet sweep every other play, screens, and go routes. Their entire running game is basically the QB zone up the middle.

The sad part is after having a month to prepare, our defensive coaches couldn't figure out how to stop those 7-10 plays Clemson runs over and over again.

I am D-Day0043 and I approve this message.

+1 HS
brandonbauer87's picture

What am I to make of the failed opportunities to mention Rod Smith and Jeff Greene?

-1 HS
Kyle Rowland's picture

Nothing. It's only March 26. Both have enjoyed good days this spring. 

Buckeye_in_SEC_country's picture

I think Rod Smith will see some carries, but in the end Zeke will be the next great RB at OSU.  Jeff Greene has to find his way onto the field with his size.  I believe he will be productive this coming year as long as Braxton can get him the ball.  

Jeremypreemo81's picture

Only positive Rod Smith messages please. He will be a big contributor.

buckeyeradar's picture

I see a silver lining with Braxton out this spring in the passing game.  Y'all are saying what the f____!  REHAB!  Braxton has to get his shoulder back in shape by throwing.  The receivers working with him to rehab will not only help him but the receivers as well.  Oh by the way, he should start by throwing soft touch passes to strengthen the arm and shoulder.  He'll be ready for fall practice.

Buckeye in Texas

+1 HS
Ball-Z-Buck's picture

Herman sounds like a politician!

Colerain 2004 G.O.A.T.'s picture

I can not see how anyone who read the line "Miller will not take a single snap in front of coaches till August" could spin that into a good thing. I am hopeful too that maybe he will understand things better from watching more film and grading the other QBs and yada yada. But the reality of the situation is we have a new Oline,mostly new WRs,NO HYDE,and a Offense that is going to be a lot more predicated on timing and deep vertical passing. Im probably being irrational in thinking Brax is going to make this huge leap in the passing game without throwing a single pass in front of the coaches until about 4 weeks before our first game. I  do agree that maybe the injury could help him work on touch passes which is one of his biggest weaknesses. I just dont think we will average nearly 50 points a gmae like Kyle implies we might.40 might be more realistic but hey I dont know shit so sue me.

I speak the truth but I guess that's a foreign language to yall.~~Lil Wayne

Buckeye_in_SEC_country's picture

I tend to agree with you.  I think we will average 28-35, but our defense will be much improved.  Complete d-line is returning, 2 LB's coming back, and an overhauled secondary with a more simplistic scheme.  We should be a more well rounded team this year.  Probably a few struggles on offense early, but halfway through the season we should start clicking. 

+1 HS
Will in Arizona's picture

28-35 would put us as a fringe top 50 offense (Louisville was #50 last year at 31.15).  If that's how our offense performs, with the number of plays we run, this team will be very mediocre.

+1 HS
BoFuquel's picture

Tommy Boy is gonna run Brax till he can't run nomore. Play keepaway so our crummy defense doesn't have to be on the field anymore than absolutely necessary. If we are gonna play for The Dr. Pepper Trophy we have got to outscore'em. just like the past two seasons. Maybe at least the corners and the safeties will have meetings in the same room this season, since they now have one coach. GO BUCKS!

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

-4 HS
osu07asu10's picture

Tommy Boy is gonna run Brax till he can't run nomore.

That may have been true in 2012 but last season, per Herman and Meyer, most of Braxton's runs were not designed but rather a decision from him to scramble.

It is a real asset to have a QB as athletic as Braxton and the ability to run wild seemingly at will. If Braxton truly makes the mental leap that Herman speaks of, we should see a whole lot less of Braxton running.

 

"They don't know what they don't know." - Coach Mick

+1 HS
Colerain 2004 G.O.A.T.'s picture

If people think Bradley Roby loafed last year just wait to see Brax if we try to run him to death. He was promised a more wide open passing attack and a LOT less designed QB runs. He came back to specifically throw the damned ball. He is very scared of getting injured and rightfully so. If all else fails and Herman tries to run him into the field turf do not expect a guy going all out at 100%, expect a guy with millions on the line whose #1 priority is to avoid a big time injury.

I speak the truth but I guess that's a foreign language to yall.~~Lil Wayne

osu07asu10's picture

Most of Braxton's runs last season were not designed QB runs but either his choice to scramble or his choice to keep the ball on an option.

If Braxton wants to run less and throw more, it is up to him!

"They don't know what they don't know." - Coach Mick

+2 HS
Colerain 2004 G.O.A.T.'s picture

While the numbers did drop on called QB runs from 2012 there was still a significant number of them called not only during the season but in the last 2 games. Brax himself spoke out about his unhappiness with said play calls. If he is only going to get a month of throwing in front of coaches how much can his timing and familiarity with a shit ton of new offensive starters really advance? Its very safe to assume that he is going to be under more pressure this year. He doesnt have as much as a problem with a designed throw that breaks down and he has to scramble for a first down because that is a NFL transferable type of play.The 4th and 1 1/2 against MSU will never be called like that in the league. I picture our offense making great strides from game to game and hopefully we can be operating at minimum 90% by the time we go to East Lansing. I just seriously think anyone believing we are going to rack up 50 points a game is in for a big disappointment. We have to put serious faith in Ash to allow us time to find ourselves on the offensive side of the ball.

I speak the truth but I guess that's a foreign language to yall.~~Lil Wayne

+2 HS
German Buckeye's picture

Then Brax, learn the offense better, open your eyes, read defenses better and throw to wide open streaking up the middle tight ends.  Easy, no more running.

+1 HS
mtrotb's picture

Urban complaining about depth on OL and needing Knox and Jamarco Jones certainly doesn't bode well for Brown, Farris, and Dodson.  You got 12 lineman participating in practice so it is certainly not a quantity issue, but quality.  No school has more than 12 in the spring.

mtrotb

osu07asu10's picture

Urban complaining about depth on OL and needing Knox and Jamarco Jones certainly doesn't bode well for Brown, Farris, and Dodson.  You got 12 lineman participating in practice so it is certainly not a quantity issue, but quality.  No school has more than 12 in the spring.

Eh, sure we have 12 OL on the roster but that is quite misleading:

- 2 players are walk ons (Gaskey and Kramer)

- 1 player is recovering from ACL surgery (Underwood)

- 2 players are converts from the DL because of depth issues (Baldwin and Farris)

- M. Jones enrolled early for Spring practice and is as fresh as they come

When you take that into consideration, we really only have 6 (7 if you count Jones) healthy, O-Line recruited, scholarship OL this spring.  Don't let the number 12 fool you, we still need depth at the OL position regardless of the performance of guys like Brown, Farris, and Dodson. It is still a quantity issue more than a quality issue. Imagine if we followed the Tressel format of the spring game and split teams up, 1 injury would mean that the lines would have no subs.  

It is also an issue when you are trying to get reps for your 2nd and 3rd team offenses and have to use the same o-lineman without any breaks and that doesn't even take into account that some of these guys also play on special teams.

"They don't know what they don't know." - Coach Mick

+1 HS
mtrotb's picture

Disagree completely, check your numbers.  Underwood has recovered from his surgery and is the starting left guard.  Who cares that Baldwin was switched from defense, this is his 3rd spring playing offense and he is the starting right tackle presently.  Here are the other ten scholarships players-Decker, Boren, Price, Elflein, Brown, Dodson, Farris, Lisle, Trout, Marcelys Jones.  All are practicing.

mtrotb

analyticalguy's picture

I think there are not 12 but 13 scholarship OL practising this spring, including Hale who just transferred from DL.  Theoretically, there are adequate numbers before anyone else shows up.  Why the comment about depth?  First, I'm sure the coaches won't feel comfortable until they have a solid two-deep.  It's pretty much par-for-the-course to lose one guy for the season due to injury, so you really want 11 or more guys ready.  Hale certainly is not ready... yet... after just 6 practices.  Jones & Trout certainly aren't ready as freshman. I'm guessing, given that I haven't previously heard any specific positive comments about them, that Brown, Dodson and Lisle aren't ready either.   So if 6 of 13 aren't ready, that would leave only 7 candidates for the 10 (or 11) you'd want to fill out the two-deep... at this time.  I don't doubt that the comment about needing the new arrivals is as much a pscyhological ploy to spur on the "not yet ready" guys to improve, because if they don't, they COULD be supassed by this summer's arrivals.  Remember, though, that most of these guys have two years under Coach Mick and two years of Warinner's coaching, which will likely put them ahead of anyone arriving fresh out of HS in the summer.  Will they all make it to where they can contribute by the fall?  Probably not, but I think some will.

Will we have a 2013-caliber OL?  I doubt it.  But it's clear that the coaches think they are ahead of where they were in 2012, and the 2012 OL ended up pretty good, just not yet developed to what they would become in 2013.  We lucked out that year because the top 5 guys were healthy for the full year, and the fifth spot became solid only by having a newly-converted TE beat out a true freshman.  There really was no one ready behind them.  It sounds as if not only are our penciled-in starters ahead of the crew two years ago, but that we may (I said "may," leaving the real evaluation to the coaches) have at least a few backups futher along than the 2012 crew.  No one has... yet... claimed all the two-deep spots, so we DO... at the present... have depth issues.  I trust Warinner (and Marotti) and therefore Meyer, to have a solid OL, with depth, ready for the fall - equal to or better than the 2012 OL, if not at the 2013 level.

Go Bucks!

+4 HS
AndyVance's picture

Wow, your name certainly is appropriate, as that was very analytical. (I tend to write more along those lines myself, so welcome to the club!)

Seattle Linga's picture

Every once in a while you have a perfect fit and that is the way i see this upcoming season. We should be gelling by the time the B1G schedule roles around and knocking people stupid by the end of the season.

Jeremypreemo81's picture

By time B1G conference games come our O line will be fine. I think we will be able to run the power run game.  We definitely have the backs to it-Smith/Dunn/Ball/Zeke are all over 200+

Jeremypreemo81's picture

By time B1G conference games come our O line will be fine. I think we will be able to run the power run game.  We definitely have the backs to it-Smith/Dunn/Ball/Zeke are all over 200+