Behind the Scenes at Ohio State

By D.J. Byrnes on September 25, 2013 at 2:00 pm

Sports Illustrated's Pete Thamel was granted behind-the-scenes access (he got to listen in on the coaches' headsets) to the Ohio State football program during the weekend Ohio State played Buffalo, which led to an article that will appear in this week's SI. It also led to a scribble for on ten lessons he learned during his four-day trip. Among some lessons gleaned:

  • Despite the plague of cramps suffered by Ohio State footballers against Buffalo, hydration is apparently a well-versed chorus within the program; it's something that borders "maniacal."  
  • Tom Herman is not long for Ohio State, as two Division I programs approached him about coaching openings this past summer. Herman, however, had committed to Urban Meyer for two years and brushed the offers away.
  • (Surprise!) Recruiting never stops.
  • The evolution of Braxton Miller will be a huge storyline this season (when the quarterback gets healthy).
  • A lot of effort goes into just one play call:

Herman drew up a basic zone-read run play that he called Rooster 45. It's a bread-and-butter Buckeyes' play that the team had practiced nearly 300 times between spring ball and the season opener. So what goes into one play? Here's Herman's abbreviated explanation of an Ohio State zone read:

"The key to our zone read. We are very vertical with the back and very vertical with the offensive line. We want to create a double team up front. Get the defense moving laterally. We're almost, for lack of a better term, we're going to double team the down guys, displace them vertically off the ball. Basically, the front side of the line is going to zone to the left. They will block the guy in the play-side gap. If there's a down lineman in their gap, if I'm the left-side guard, I'm going to push it at an angle vertically and a bit horizontally. Same thing with the left tackle. The center and the right guard, they're going to try like hell to push the nose tackle vertically and come off late for a frontside linebacker. The backside tackle, he is responsible for the backside linebacker, wherever he goes. In a perfect world, they all play their gaps. We want it very downhill to create a quick read on the DE. He has to immediately take the dive or stand here and play the QB. The QB pulls the ball out of his gut, and then takes off running and sets up these blocks and finds a crease vertically if he can. If he takes the dive, the quarterback pulls the ball out of his gut and takes off running and sets up a block and finds a crease vertically as we go. If he's stagnant at all, the back is going to hug the heel line of the offensive line and then read that double team of the nose."

So, yeah — Tom Herman is apparently smarter than all of us. (But 11Wers's already knew that.)

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