Buckeye Offense Moving Toward More Balance Under Herman

By Michael Citro on April 27, 2014 at 8:15a

It is well known that some of the wisest sage advice can be found in 80s movies.

In June of 1984, a younger version of me graduated from high school. Later that month, I saw a film at the good old Cinema 4 in Heath, Ohio, which taught me three very valuable basic life lessons that I still try to apply today.

“Focus power. Remember balance. Make good fight.”

These were the words of Kesuke Miyagi to Daniel LaRusso during the All Valley Karate Tournament in the 1984 classic, The Karate Kid. As we all know, LaRusso took those lessons to heart and won the whole darn tournament against the more seasoned (and cheat-y) kids from the Cobra Kai dojo.

Ohio State Offensive Coordinator Tom Herman has probably seen The Karate Kid, because his offense in two seasons with the Buckeyes is working its way toward balance.

In fairness, the offense is already pretty balanced for a college team. But herein we’ll look at the way the offense is trending in Herman’s first two seasons in Columbus, as his quarterback, Braxton Miller, matures and becomes more entrenched in the philosophy.

In 2012, Miller took a step forward as a quarterback (58.3% completions, 140.5 efficiency rating). But the Buckeyes still weren’t a great passing team.

Figuring in passing yards and sack yards allowed, Ohio State picked up 1,988 yards on passing attempts. Passing accounted for 35.5% of the Buckeyes’ offensive yards in 2012, and also garnered the same percentage of the team’s first downs (discounting first down via penalty).

So the running game was utilized 64.5% of the time in Herman’s first season. But rushing accounted for only 59.4% of Ohio State’s offensive yardage gained, meaning the passing game was responsible for more big plays (hi, Devin Smith!), despite fewer attempts.

In 2013, Miller was even more efficient (63.5%, 158.1 rating), and backup Kenny Guiton was also very good (68.8%, 165.2) while the OSU starter was sidelined with injury.

The Buckeyes still ran the ball more often than passing, but the percentages dropped from 64.5 rush-35.5 pass to 62-38. The Buckeyes gained first downs on rushing plays 63.2% of the time and passed for a fresh set of downs 36.8% of the time.

This is clearly the direction Mr. Miyagi would favor.

The percentages of the yards evened out more in 2013 as well. Ohio State gained 61.5% of its yards rushing last season, with 38.5% coming via pass. So the gap between percentage of attempts vs. percentage of yards was almost even in 2013.

The best part of 2013’s slight move toward absolute run-pass parity is that the offense improved by leaps and bounds. The Buckeyes went from 2,907 rushing yards in 2012 to 4,321 last year. Net passing yards increased from 1,988 to 2,710. Non-penalty first downs grew from 242 to 342.

And scoring improved by eight points per game.

Ohio State’s offense will probably continue to trend toward absolute balance. It’s easy to drift away from a balanced attack when you’ve got a battering ram like Carlos Hyde running behind a veteran group of road graders on the offensive line.

Hyde and four fifths of that line are gone. The Buckeyes should still be fine with running back talent, although I can’t expect anyone on the current roster to make me forget about El Guapo. He was a special talent and that will likely become more apparent as we move through the non-conference schedule.

The offensive line will be anchored by a junior, and feature four new starters.

It’s quite possible the Buckeyes will need to move more toward balance in order to keep the defense more off-balance if they are to continue trending upward in yards and points.

That balance will help offset the loss of graduating talent — and it will be just what Mr. Miyagi ordered.

Then Herman will just have to focus power and make good fight.


Comments Show All Comments

ScarletNGrey01's picture

Great clip KN!  (who the heck DV'd this???)

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

-1 HS
JohnnyKozmo's picture

Someone who doesn't get goosebumps still when they see this scene.  One of the best scenes in cinematic history.

Pain don't hurt-Dalton

+2 HS
acBuckeye's picture

DVs courtesy of John Kreese.....


+2 HS
KBonay's picture

Ralph Macchio is coming up on 53 years old this year.  And the great Pat Morita passed in 2005. Sure makes me feel old....

+4 HS
CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Great article Michael!  Now if they can just give TTUN another Karate Kid kick to the face this year that will be great!!

Go Bucks!!

+1 HS
Buckeye_in_SEC_country's picture

Is Taylor Decker a redshirt sophomore or a junior? 

+1 HS
jmoody's picture

I thought he was a junior too.

"Did you push yourself to be great today? If you didn't do it you lost a day. We ain't got many days to lose. We're going to push your a$$ like its never been pushed because what you've got in you were going to find out" UFM

+1 HS
CGroverL's picture

When it comes to "playing school" (Sorry to our back-up QB, I couldn't resist), he is still a sophomore, but in playing terms he will be a junior when 2014 starts.

"I hope they're last in everything". One of Meyer's comments when speaking of TTUN after being hired at Ohio State.



+1 HS
Homey1970's picture

Having 3 kids of my own (21 to 14), I know how that scene would play out today..."Wax on, wax off?  Bitch, please!"

+3 HS
Soggy_McMuffin's picture

Lmao!! So right.


+1 HS
BuckInNashville's picture

Now this article makes sense to me. I am perplexed by so many who hang the past imbalance on the shoulders of #5. I think it rests squarely on Coach Herman, and you accurately listed all the reasons why he called what he did last year. #5 will be a Heisman favorite from the get go, and the balance will be planned as a multi-weapon stategy while the o line gets up to speed.

cw823's picture

Will this be the year that Herman finally realizes the called QB draw plays pretty much never work?

-1 HS
Killer nuts's picture


You mean like this?

+13 HS
Michael Citro's picture

And this?


And...not technically a draw, (because he didn't sell the pass first) but...


chirobuck's picture

God I hope so.....i had so many face palms with those calls last year I almost gave myself a concussion


^ best post ever ^

+2 HS
Hovenaut's picture

We also saw a lean on the ball carrying talents from Brax and Hyde as the B1G season marched into the cooler months, IMO.

Hope along with a focus on balance, we see a viable and consistent passing attack in the latter half of the season.

And beyond.

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

Weather does play a bigger role then what a lot of people think. You cant really rely on a Mike Leach style air raid offense in late November in *ichigan. Ground game is way more reliable. Watch NFL playoff teams deal with it every year.

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

+1 HS
Larrinator's picture

 Passing accounted for 35.5% of the Buckeyes’ passing yards in 2012, and also garnered the same percentage of the team’s first downs (discounting first down via penalty).

Is it supposed to say passing accounted for 35.5% of the Buckeyes' offensive yards in 2012? ( I could be reading it wrong it's still early for me) 


+1 HS
hetuck's picture

For all the clamor for November night games, remember the wind picks up after dusk. A power run game is still a must. Lucas Oil, of course is another matter. Speed regains prominence. 

Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.

Vince Lombardi

+4 HS
JakeStevensIsSwag's picture

Balance? you mean throw the ball in the first half and then forget about it completely in the second half?

Buckeye fan from PA

+2 HS
DenBuck's picture

We need a smidge more creativity please. How many times have we all seen other Top 10 teams run really cool, creative, perhaps misdirection plays and think, wow, why can't we do that? 

Buckeye For Life

+6 HS
lsjSnail's picture

Or you know...a slant/crossing route to Wilson. It seems like every other team in the country has receivers who make plays after the catch. I wonder how much of it is Miller or OSU's receivers. 

+4 HS
JohnnyKozmo's picture

What's a slant pattern?

Pain don't hurt-Dalton

+3 HS
bedheadjc's picture

Exactly...times a million

ibuck's picture

Better balance would be great. We still need Braxton to throw the ball away when there's no one open rather than taking a sack—which are sometimes losses around 9 yards or so.  And..to actually see the receivers that are open, or about to become open. Let's hope he makes good progress on this for 2014.

Our honor defend, so we'll fight to the end !

If you can't win your conference, just quietly accept your non-playoff bowl game.

+1 HS
jaxbuckeye's picture

I personally like using running backs in the passing game (works GREAT ON Madden). Wish we would run more screens. Imagine EZ, Wilson, or Samuel with blockers out in front????

+1 HS
TheBadOwl's picture

If we based our offense on what works in Madden, we'd run 4-verts on every play.

When I walked in this morning and saw the flag was at half mast I thought, "Alright, another bureaucrat ate it." but then I saw it was Li'l Sebastian. Half mast is too high. Show some damn respect.

+1 HS
causeicouldntgo43's picture

Put Elizabeth shue in the picture As your motivation and great things will happen...Daniel San!

+4 HS
Seattle Linga's picture

You mean this Elizabeth Shue


+7 HS
Homey1970's picture
+4 HS
AndyVance's picture

One of the decade's finest movies. Hottest babysitter ever, amirite?

+1 HS
ScarletNGrey01's picture

Great analysis as to why Herman made the calls he did last season ... although it makes the calls in the last two games a little perplexing because he seemed to have forgotten what got us where we were at that point ... but he is a heck of a coach as I sit here in my armchair.  As Michael pointed out so well, there will probably HAVE to be more balance this year with Hyde gone and the staff will probably be less willing to run BMill as much without the great backup QB we had and his desire to prep for the NFL.  Miller is a heck of a runner though, and I think EZE will be a darn good back, so the bucks will still rack up some yards on the ground.

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

deddy214's picture

This should be the year that he and Braxton both live up to all of their hype and potential. There will be absurd amounts of speed all over the place as well a couple backs that can run up the middle. As long as the offensive line keeps Braxton upright for a few seconds this offense should be a nightmare for defenses.

+2 HS
andretolstoy's picture

From Herman's mouth to God's ears. But, I'm sorry Buckeye nation. I'll believe it when I see it.

+1 HS
bedheadjc's picture

^This prudent approach is warranted.

Pray we see some trickeration and flying footballs in the late months.

741's picture

Wax on, mofos.