From the title, it is pretty obvious that this post is going to be about Ryan Day and the superb job he does calling plays. It seems to me the overwhelming sentiment among fans is that Ryan Day is a great play caller. The Ohio State offense has been ranked at or near the top of many offensive categories since Coach Day arrived. However, I would like to share with you some video evidence to support the claim that Ryan Day is at the top of his profession.
The play in question is a zone read left (not the actual play name Ohio State uses.) Actually, the two plays covered in this post are exactly the same play: zone read to the left out of a three by one set. A 3 by 1 set means that three receivers are one side of the formation and one receiver is to the opposite side. "Zone read left" means the offensive line is zone blocking to the left and the QB is reading the end man on the line of scrimmage to the offensive right.
If you have watched any of the "Urban Analysis" segments on BTN, you may have heard Coach Meyer speak about the zone read and favorable defensive numbers. In this formation, it is favorable for Ohio State to run the football. There are 5 offensive linemen plus the QB read which creates six offensive players able to block six defensive players. However, on the snap #56 Zack Baun from Wisconsin hesitates for a brief moment, reads the play and sprints down the line to make a tackle for very little gain.
Here is the clip:
Other than #56, the play looks like it is blocked really well. In fact, if Zack Baun doesn't make the tackle for Wisconsin, it seems to me that it would have been a large gain from Master Teague, possibly even a touchdown.
But here is where I believe Ryan Day shows us how good he is at his job. If you notice the game clock, there are roughly 11:40 remaining in the third quarter. The score is 10-7. A short time ago Wisconsin blocked a punt and scored to make the game close. Ohio State needs to answer on this drive.
So just three plays later and facing 2nd and 10, Ohio State aligns in the same 3 x 1 formation. It turns out that Wisconsin aligns in a very similar defensive look.
When you watch the clip below, you can see when the play is changed from the sideline. I believe Coach Day changes the play when he notices the same alignment by Wisconsin against Ohio State's 3 x 1 formation.
You can see the players look to the sideline to get the new play. Dobbins even adjusts his alignment for the new play call. Except this time, Coach Day changes the blocking scheme just a bit. The TE, in this case #88 Jeremy Ruckert, goes in motion in order to get into position to zone block Wisconsin's #56 Zack Baun. The new play is: "zone read left." Here is the clip:
This play occurs only one minute and 40 seconds later than the first play shown above. There were no stoppages in play, no timeouts, nothing. The coaching staff made this blocking adjustment in real time without the aid of time to discuss or time to think it over.
It has been my experience that such adjustments are incredibly difficult to make so quickly during a game...especially a big game. It is just so impressive.
Fortunately for us fans, there has been evidence that Coach Day and the Ohio State staff have been doing these sort of things all season. You can see it all watching the replay. This stuff is so good. It is an incredible time to be a Buckeye.