FWIW, while the basic breakdown of the offense will remain mostly the same because it's still Meyer's offense (not Herman's offense), I do expect Warinner to lean more on RBs as he adjusts gameplans and playcalling in-game. It comes down to the "QB coach's philosophy for playcalling" and the "OL coach's philosophy for playcalling". It won't be drastic, but I expect it to some degree at least.
One thing I noted on twitter, and can expand on a bit, is the scheme.
Meyer likes to get guys into routes. 7-man protections are rarely an option for him; if he can get 5 guys into routes he's going to get 5 guys into routes. It makes sense, it's a basic tenet of the spread offense: spread the field vertically and horizontally. The more guys in routes, the more you can stretch the field and space the defense. More routes holds the defense in their coverage and makes the QB's reads easier and allows receivers to run their routes into more space. Meyer uses routes that are essentially designed to control the defense, or force them to respect routes that aren't necessarily options. Flare control and safety controlling routes to open up the field elsewhere.
But the more you spread the field, and the more guys you put into routes, the fewer options you have in pass protection. That means in terms of numbers, schemes, adjustments, etc. All those things are still a part of OSU's offense, but to a lesser extent than say an MSU team (which had one of the best sack rates in college football). That keeps the offense simpler for the O-line, TE, and RBs in terms of pass pro, but gives you fewer options. If the defense can reduce space (good coverage, good pressure scheme), there aren't a lot of options for the OSU QBs, who are forced to either take off or get sacked.
So it's about weighing the positives and the negatives. Meyer believes that it is a greater benefit to be able to control the defense and make the QB's reads easier by running play action (prevents the defense from getting quickly into its pass rush and forces the hand), control routes, simple concepts with simple QB reads, and that mitigates a lot of the inherent negatives of getting sacked every once in a while.
To top it off, often times the running QB is the "3rd option" in the pass game. His taking off is as dangerous or more dangerous than a check down throw. This is true in many extents, but it can lead to sacks because the QB has the ball in his hands more, but also because he is dropping his eyes.
So OSU has a few options: they can switch up pass protections more (this isn't going to happen, I'll tell you that right now); they can switch up how they release into routes from blocks (this may happen), they can improve the QB's feel for those check downs and when to look for them (probable), they can improve the QB's understanding of escape paths which are designed into every protection scheme (quite likely).
But more than anything, it's about getting the ball out on time. One thing all the spacing allows for OSU's QBs is to be late with a lot of their reads and still have the read be correct. When Jones came on, Meyer really simplified the reads to enforce the fact that the ball was going to come out on time; he did this with very simple concepts to the outside of the field, things like tunnel screens, bubble screens, and 60-Y Curl that they ran extensively against Wisconsin. But the more film a defense has a guy, the more you need to expand it. And when you expand it, the reads have to get a little more difficult, and it's about getting the ball out on time. That means throwing into some tighter windows at times, or throwing guys open, but still making the correct read and the correct throw. That will be the primary focus for the OSU coaches, IMO, to improve the sack rate.
It tends to take longer to implement, but teams have been running gap schemes for years. Michigan did until about 2005. OSU did for the most part under Tressel. Gap schemes were all the fashion before the 1990s Denver teams (and subsequently spread teams) made it fall out of fashion. So teams have been doing it with success for a long time.
My feeling is that zone running is easier to get up to speed quickly, but more difficult to master (because you rely so much on being on the same page as all those around you, making it harder to master; but the initial rules are much simpler). Gap/man schemes are more difficult to get to an average level of competence, but add an additional blocker at the point of attack once you get there (thus evening the numbers game).
Almost all teams will eventually use both. OSU does, MSU does, and Harbaugh always has as well. And in my opinion, either can be just as successful as the other if run correctly.
Wisconsin will run Power as essentially a counter to the zone scheme, but zone is certainly their base blocking scheme.
This is a bit of shameless self-promotion, but it applies here, so I'll link it (feel free to delete this if that's an issue; I understand no one wants someone coming over and just promoting their own blogs consistently). I've looked quite a bit at Harbaugh's offense, which does have some overlap with some of OSU's schemes (also covered in some of these posts).
Harbaugh Offense Primer: LINK - This covers his "Power Coast" offense (he mixes Power O schemes with a West-Coast Offense passing attack; though he will spread it out more when he gets the personnel)
Harbaugh's Base Rushing Attack: LINK - These are by far his base rushing plays (you'll note he has also run quite a bit of inside zone and stretch as well as his gap/man schemes)
Threatening Width with Tight Formations: LINK - Starts with a quote from Tressel, and goes on to discuss how Harbaugh utilizes run, screen, and pass concepts to threaten the entire width of the field despite his tight formations. This includes option elements and lots of PA and boot plays.
Trap and Wham Plays: LINK - Primary focus of this post is MSU, OSU, and Michigan, as those three schools are sort of leading the charge here (Harbaugh really brought back the Wham concept in San Fran; Meyer used it a lot against Oregon, but in a different way).
So hopefully that gives more information about the offense as a whole if people want to go more in-depth. Again, if this isn't cool I'll edit it out and just give a brief additional summary from some of my notes.
Just to clarify, this is incorrect.
A redshirt is made available by not playing a single second of the sport you are participating in.
A medical hardship waiver that you are describing is for a single season, and is given to a player that has an injury or illness that prevents them from returning to play for the remainder of the season. It is often called a "medical redshirt" because a player does not lose a year of eligibility if they are granted the waiver. There are rules to get this waiver, such as "the student-athlete has not participated in more than three contests or dates of competition or 30 percent of the institution's scheduled or completed contests (whichever number is greater)..."
The medical hardship described above is a "Medical Scholarship". This means that the player can no longer participate in that sport in any capacity. They remain on a full scholarship for four years, but do not have access to many of the benefits that the sports players do (because, frankly, they are no longer a member of the team).
Two Michigan players transferred to West Virginia. I don't believe Bosch can play in 2015. Ferns I believe can, and will be playing FB. He likely transferred to be closer to home (he's from SE Ohio).
A few other things I'd add:
Ball handling - He needs to improve his ability to manipulate the ball on run plays. He does some things well, but, for instance, JT has a much more convincing "rocker step", and Jones still needs to improve he ability to to have multiple play fakes for Meyer to be able to utilize all his options in the run game. Meyer was forced to go to a lot of mock-motion and counter motion to try to manipulate the defense, but defenses can start keying tendencies when you aren't able to successfully pull of the fakes with that counter motion.
Run Reads - Meyer did a very smart thing in often moving the option reads farther away from Jones or taking them away all together. This was effective in the three game stretch that he played, but as teams get more film on him, the read portion of the game needs to improve or the run game will become limited.
Reading his Movement Key in the Pass Game - He's late on his throws a lot. He got bailed out at times by great WR play (I think the most underlooked part of his success was just how much the WRs stepped up their game as soon as JT went down), but to get more consistent he needs to get the ball out on time. Meyer's offense often allows his QBs to get away a bit with somewhat late reads, as many run-based offenses do, but there are going to be times where he needs to lean on the pass game threat alone. In order to do that, he needs to have a better understanding of his movement keys. This gradually improved over the course of his play (Meyer kept the pass game against Wisconsin immensely simple to compensate early on), but he can't allow that improvement to plateau.
You touched on the pocket presence and the mechanical standpoint, particularly the footwork when throwing to the sideline. Along with the reads and mechanics, in general he just has to take care of the ball better. He got away with throwing some jump balls and had too many turnovers, especially in the National Championship game. They were able to overcome that, and they may be able to many times, but the goal for OSU isn't to "be able to overcome it many times", it's to win every game. The turnovers, the poor reads, the late reads, the mechanics, those are the inconsistencies that come back to bite you once or twice a year, perhaps even against teams that shouldn't be in the game to begin with.
The more tape on Jones, the more defenses will know how to attack weaknesses and key tendencies that Meyer and Co have already begun putting on tape. His performance at the end of last year was nothing short of amazing, but if he is satisfied with that performance and ability going forward, he won't be satisfied with the outcomes going forward, because it'll either result in some lost games or with him on the bench in favor of other QBs. He performed great and has the tools to be great, but there are certainly still things that Meyer and Beck will be working on him with to try to get him to improve.
One thing I'd add to this breakdown is that Oregon loves to utilize a lot of motions in their offense, especially at the WR position. They flip passing strength and sometimes running strength and work to get numbers advantages with both through motion on the perimeter. It will be essential for OSU's DBs to communicate really, really well in this game. Between the bunch sets and the motions and the screens and slip screens, Oregon puts as much stress on the DBs as anyone in the country. Pre-snap and post-snap communication are absolutely vital. You can't rely on just playing Cover 4 MOD or you'll be too vulnerable underneath, it has to get done through communication and proper angles. From what I've seen, expect Oregon to try to attack Powell with the screen/slip/double moves,
and focus on putting Bell more in a bind with Mills concepts and the like.
If I was Oregon I would run to the boundary as often as I could. That is where most of Alabama's ground attack worked, running away from Lee and right at Grant. Grant still seems a bit slow filling down to the LOS, and the way OSU pops outside the slot and the way they keep the safeties a bit deeper in their quarters makes me believe that's the better place to attack.
The past couple months Lee has just been a missile out there. Don't counter away from him (he'll blow through the pulling OG), and don't try to get outside of him on sweeps to the edge. If Oregon thinks they can attack Lee on the ground, they better try to punch him in the mouth directly or else they'll be in for a lot of "and-long" situations.
Don't forget to mention, however, that I believe three or four of Oregon's starting OL was out that game. That was a very beat up OL that went up against what is often a heavy blitzing 3-3-5 stack defense. The games you can play with the 3-3-5 as far as twists and blitzes can be very difficult for an inexperienced OL. Won't be quite as easy going up against their top unit.
I don't know a whole lot about him as far as play calling. Being that it's still Meyer's scheme, I don't expect things to change much. The last time Meyer promoted an OL coach to call plays was with Adazzio. Adazzio implemented a few more run/blocking schemes, which you see at BC, but it didn't work quite as well in Meyer's system, so I doubt much of that happens again.
From experience, a few philosophical things are likely to change from a QB coach calling plays to an OL coach.
1) Expect a little fewer designed QB runs. By no means out of the playbook, but OL like to protect QBs and that's hard to do when they're running with the ball. They also like blocking for RBs that like to puns like they do, so feeding Zeke is more likely.
2) He's more likely to call the "right" play rather than the perfect play. Again, it's a difference between QB and OL. Herman loved to call the perfect play, and that's a nice thing.
By perfect play, I mean seeing what the D is giving and automatically running the play designed to beat it. That's not all bad by any means. But it also means running Miller on 4th and Short outside the tackles against MSU in 2013; it means throwing deep on OSU's last drive against Bama. The perfect play isn't always the right play.
Now, to Herman's credit, he wouldn't shy away from calling the same plays again and again if they were still perfect. Good and bad, I'd expect Warinner to be the same. But Warinner will likely be a little more bull headed. It's 4th and short and he trusts his OL and RB, he'll run that ball up the gut and get a first even if the D is in a Bear front, because that's the "right" call. But maybe thats a little more predictable and a little less explosive.
Now that's more a guess based on typical philosophies of guys that coach those positions. But IMO, OL and OL coaches are the smartest guys out there too. None of this is set it stone, and it's not something that'll happen every time. It's more a general philosophy thing.
Interesting hire. In general, I liked Beck's scheme at Nebraska. It's more of a stretch zone base, rather than OSU's tight zone, but it typically utilizes more zone based tag schemes than Meyer has in the past. It'll be interesting if some of that gets implemented into Meyer's offense, which I'm fairly certain will still be the base O.
While the Nebraska QBs have struggled a bit with passing, it's hard to say what's actually on Beck. The caliber of QB OSU will recruit and has is different than the Cornhuskers, who pretty much just have athletes throwing once in a while. But Beck has worked on mechanics a bit. He understand the run and pass game footwork and ball handling, which is essential to Meyer's scheme. He is creative with package plays and screens and understands the proper reads with those run/pass schemes. So don't get too caught up in the pure passing game of Beck's QBs previously, it's the many other aspects of this hire that are important to Meyer.
FWIW, Nebraska fans both liked and hated him (not unusual for OCs), but in general I thought criticized him too much given the talent limitations.
I do go in a bit more depth here
I appreciate it. Kyle and Ross put out enough good X's and O's content that I found myself needing to join the discussion. Anywhere where there is good discussion of scheme I think is fun talking about.
The past few games this has kind of been a go-to play for OSU to get to the edge. The nice thing about this play is that it does a lot to seal the edge without relying heavily on a read or on pure speed. The pin and pull combined with the crack block put a lot of blockers at the point of attack and make it difficult for defenses that are concerned about Tight Zone.
I think what's most impressive about this play is that Bama actually does a pretty sound job defending it. The CB steps up to seal the edge when he sees crack. The safety correctly fills as well, and actually fills down to the point of attack well. But the play is blocked so well, and the crack takes out two defenders, and that allows Zeke to break through the defensive front. Very few teams will block this well enough to get anything more than a couple yards here, because the defense actually executed their assignments in getting playside and correctly exchanging assignments. Just great blocking.
I did write about it on my blog, when they ran it against Wisconsin with success. I'll post the link below, but if that's not cool (I know I'm far from an established poster here) I can remove it.
FWIW, as a coach, I don't like the term "Inverted Veer" when talking about this play exactly for the reason Kyle says: it confuses two different plays/blocking schemes.
In the history of the veer, it has tended to use gap blocking and zone blocking. If you've watched a handful of Wisconsin games this year, you'll note that they actually utilized what I'd call an "Inverted Veer", in that they simply down blocked across the line and allowed Gordon to either get to the edge or the QB kept and ran between the tackles (similar to the old veer play).
Power read makes more sense, as it's Power O blocking where the read replaces the kick block from the FB. It also makes more sense then when you add an additional back to the backfield, because the rules for blocking all remain the same (though some coaches will make slight variations on the blocking schemes to widen the read defender primarily). But the "read" terminology is nice for simply replacing a block at the point of attack, and that way you can more easily implement various blocking schemes within a zone or man blocking scheme structure (for example, a BOB (my terminology) read is what is performed on this play, though I'm not sure Jones has the option to keep; but you can perform a counter read, midline read, BOB read, Lead read, etc).
I understand they have to make those adjustments quickly, but that's what makes them so good. Saban gives terminology and keys for everything so that his defense can react quickly and correctly on a very consistent basis. He lays out for every circumstance where a defender's eyes should go depending on what develops in front of him. And you have to remember, all these match-ups schemes are built-in so that Saban can maintain a numbers advantage in the box (8 in the box vs 21, 7 vs 11 personnel, etc).
And this isn't very different than Meyer's offense. Meyer's offense is full of very simple offensive schemes like those listed above. But a CB drops in such a way, he opens his hips in this way, he stays square in this way, etc, all are keys to modify routes. If OSU doesn't pick up on those things quickly, then receivers are running in the same area, then they aren't putting themselves in a spot to get open, etc. It's really a lot the same on both sides.
So again, as I was saying, it's going to be about execution at the end of the day. Which team executes their assignments more consistently? That'll be the team that wins.
I do think, even with Jones getting #1 reps for all of bowl practice, that not having Barrett is a big disadvantage for OSU. Barrett was much better at making decisions, and OSU was much more capable of opening up the playbook and schemes for Barrett than for Jones. Go back and watch the game vs Wisconsin and you'll note that OSU essentially ran Split Zone PA 3 Verts about half-a-dozen times. Read the safeties, throw away from them, CB is over the top, adjust to come back, CB even, run the fade. Simple two-step scheme: Safeties, movement key, throw.
While more practice reps will allow a few more things for Jones, there is a reason Barrett was preferred, and it's because Jones struggles to make those reads. That will force OSU to lean on the run game still, and have simple pass concepts like the 3 Verts, like Mesh, like Pivot, China (smash), and Drive and Chase. I don't think OSU has a lot of room to try to confuse Bama with routes that require more extensive reads than that. They need to get the ball out of Jones's hands and they can't sit back and force him to read defenses. That's not a Meyer offense strength, and it's not a Jones strength. I think you have to take that into account when questioning the match-ups for OSU vs Bama, and the short/intermediate middle of the field against multiple zone teams that run extensive match-up zones is a scary place to attack for any inexperienced QB that has some issues with accuracy.
Saban prefers a one-high scheme, but they'll run Cover 7 (quarters) on standard downs too.
OSU can attack short with dump offs. Those TE and RB dump offs will be open, because Bama does not (on purpose) crash down on those before the throw is made. They allow the catch and come up to tackle with eyes to the ball. So if you can have Jones get through his progression well enough, and get the ball out on time and accurate, you can get those guys in some space underneath and work the ball down field to set up the chunk plays.
Wheel to the boundary is a weakness, particularly to a single WR side in a 3x1 set; Bama likes to "Lock" onto the single receiver side with FS help, but often times the FS can get locked to the trips side, and a post can carry the CB away from the sideline and allow for a RB vs CB match-up. Just be careful that Jones's doesn't determine it pre-snap. Key the safety (make sure it isn't 2-high) and find the movement key (the CB in this case) and identify his leverage.
Any Rip/Liz call has a built in "Mable" adjustment to any 3x1 set. SS kicks to #2 and the SS and SAM essentially play Banjo (SS takes first outside, SAM takes 2nd outside or #2 if he comes inside). SAM handles any vertical with a redirect, and carries any 2nd outward breaking route. MIKE handles any inward breaking TE route (ROBOT) or sits in the Hook zone if the TE goes outside (providing inside help if #2 comes inside) while the SAM then jumps #2 if the #3 goes inside at the snap (basically to take away double slants). FS has over top help to pick up.
This allows Bama to keep 7 in the box against 11 personnel. And while you can pull the SS away with a route, the LBs are initially in the box, and account for the TE blocking by keeping a LB in and still have 6 in the box if the TE goes into a route on a draw play.
So Saban isn't making it quite that simple. And I don't mean to pick on you, but like any concept Meyer draws up on offense, any concept Saban has is designed to make things difficult for the opposite sides of the ball. The schemes are exciting, their interesting, and they're important. The schemes provide insight into strengths and weaknesses based on design. But at the end of the day, more than exploiting and schematic weakness, it's going to be about execution. That's why Auburn can put up a bunch of yards one year, not many the next; it's why aTm can go ham on Bama one year and get shutout the next. Scheme is nice, and both Meyer and Saban can scheme with the best of them, but the biggest advantage will be which coach best prepares their team to execute.
Bama aligns their backend to passing strength, not to run strength. So the SS is the stronger man-coverage defender, while the FS is more often the deep middle. But they play Cover 7 (which is essentially MSU's Cover 4) and they like to rotate coverage a lot so that they can vary the box, making it a bit harder to know who to attack in the run game. Both safeties in Bama's scheme are pretty interchangeable and versatile.
The point of the pattern matching is that it works against everything you just said.
The route combinations shown above are SOP for OSU. It has a 2-high beater to the left with a smash concept, and a Stick Out/Yogi Concept to the right, which is a standard one-high beater (vs Cover 3 it clears out zones, vs Cover 1 you can attack the streak, or #3 typically will adjust his route to leverage). So those route combinations are on point, especially for what Meyer likes to do with his offense.
Unfortunately in this circumstance, Bama has played their cards correctly. The "Cone" call baits the 7 (corner) throw. If Jones reads it correctly, he will quickly get it out to the smash receiver, who should adjust his route accordingly to seeing the bail defender (and understand coverage will then come inside-out). It's a two-high look, so Jones should be looking left.
As for the combinations you're looking for: The Pam combination (double posts) gets handled by the FS and CB. Double posts can beat anything, but it's more of a 2-high beater. The NB in Cover 7 doesn't need to carry, and would then sit on the shallow cross coming from the #3 from the right.
Being Cover 7, the left would then be Jones's read; the right side would have a 1-high safety concept in any of Meyer's playbooks. The Hawk Concept you describe is more of a two-high concept. Likewise, the Hawk concept (vertical over a 8-12 yard out) is something I really doubt Meyer wants to throw with Jones against Bama. Why? It's a route that can easily be baited (CB sits rather than carries) with basic coverage calls/adjustments; this forces Jones to make a harder movement key read (the outside CB to the safety) and make a long, accurate throw (not his strength). Also, Meyer prefers to run an underneath route toward the Hawk side (see your attached diagram) because he wants to key the Hook defender to give his QB a clear movement key (otherwise he runs verts to clear the underneath coverage, he doesn't want to have multiple movement keys for Jones). So Meyer is either running a Drive (drag) route toward the Hawk concept, or a concept similar to that above.
"Cover 7" is Saban Terminology for Cover 4.
Saban has some lingo that differs from most of football. Cover 1 is still Cover 1. Cover 2 is still Cover 2. To some degree, Cover 3 is still Cover 3. But Cover 6 is a Cover 3 variant (weakside rotation), Cover 5 is man under (2 high safeties, man coverage underneath). Then he flips the force a lot (77 is Cover 7 with Cloud Leverage, 33 is Cover 3 with Cloud leverage).
If you're not confused by now:
Cover 4 is basically Cover 2 but with a CB and FS in deep halves (mostly used against slot formations). Cover 8 is quarter-quarter-half. Then there are a bunch of slot variations.
Against MSU it's always about being able to adjust. MSU often comes out quite vanilla on their defense with a base gameplan and sees what you're doing. You'll note that in the last two seasons, most of the success against them has come in the first couple drives of the game. Then they see how the offense is attempting to attack, they make some small adjustments (switch a technique on their front, squeeze a LB more inside, play more MOD instead of MEG to the field, etc). So you have to be prepared for how you think they'll adjust to stop your first plan.
While I haven't rewatched for it, I'm still convinced MSU made a slight adjustment to their front toward the end of the 3rd Q last year and that's why you saw them go away from Hyde more. Obviously, I still think that's a mistake, but I'm not convinced they went away from him for no reason. So in a game like this it may come down to Plan A, Plan B, Half-time adjustments, Plan C. You must be ready to adjust off of your half-time adjustments.
I'm a little confused on what's being asked here. Do you mean keep the protection to set for a normal drop back but roll JT out?
I don't think you want to take those steps, as that gives free shots on the outside. But you can do some simple slide schemes where you essentially just run your outside zone blocking (without going down field) to try to scoop them back inside. I wouldn't be surprised with some of this on obvious passing downs, but remember that when you roll out you also constrict the field and play into MSU's coverage a bit, so you have to pick and choose when you do it.
There was an MSU blogger that called MSU's defense "Break but don't bend", and that's a pretty accurate statement. OSU has to be smart on when to take shots, because shots are there to be had. Third down situations are always dicey against MSU, so you just hope JT reads his keys quickly enough (C4, C0, 5, 6, etc) to put the ball in the right spot. Utilize some half rolls and slight pocket movement with PA and I think you're in a better situation.