It is, at times, frustrating to watch an opposing offense seemingly run the same play over and over with tremendous success. Last Saturday night was no exception. Trace McSorley, a QB, had over 170 yards rushing against the Buckeyes. It seems an almost impossible feat. During the game, fans begin to question coaches. TV announcers say things like "spy", "read option" and "mesh point" to add "color" to the game. To be truthful, most of the things said on TV are really just to fill the silence between plays.
Successful running plays are successful for one of three possible reasons. One, the offense blocked the play extremely well. Two, the defense made a mistake. Or, finally, three, the ball carrier made someone miss a tackle which creates a positive play.
Saturday's game was no exception. Below is an example of how mistakes create massive running lanes. It is impossible to know which player is right and which player is wrong since we do not know the play call. But remember, even though they are massive, extremely talented athletes, these players are still just young kids playing a game. They make mistakes frequently.
The play in question is a QB run late in the game. At this point, after Penn State scores the score will be 26-14. Here is the pre-snap look.
Here is what the play looks like shortly after the snap of the ball. You can see that #53 Hamilton has looped to his right and he is headed directly behind #86 Jones. Who knows what was supposed to happen, but two defensive players should never end up in the same "gap." As a result, #5 Browning, is left with a huge hole to fill.
The next photo shows the size of the space Browning must defend. Again, this huge hole is created because number #86 Jones and #53 Hamilton are occupying the same space on the line of scrimmage. At this point, the play is lost. Browning is in a position where he is wrong if he stays wide or if he squeezes down. He will be blocked either way by #52 and McSorley will have a huge lane in which to run through.
The final shot shows the "parting of the red sea." McSorley quickly scoots through the Ohio State defense for a big gain near the goal line. Although the play was executed pretty well by the offense, it was a mistake by the defense that created the running lane.
Here is the play in slow motion. Pretty simple to run through open space.
I am confident the defensive players did not enjoy watching this play with their coaches on Sunday.
Update - for comparison sake, here is the same play (from a slightly different formation) from earlier in the game. In this case, McSorley reads the crashing defensive end and gives the ball instead of keep. However, the play is defended much better. Ohio State has a completely different defensive call, but they didn't make the same mistake and lose gap integrity.