Ohio State Football Forum

Ohio State Football Forum

Ohio State football fan talk.

Play by Play Analysis of Ohio State Offense Against Oregon

+16 HS
saltybuck61's picture
September 17, 2021 at 6:45pm

After my defensive analysis was complete, I figured that I could make an offensive one since I had already watched the game over several times. Besides, watching the offense was a lot more fun than the defense. I know it’s late and we’ve moved on to Tulsa, but the work was already half done, so why not? While this side of the ball still had issues, they looked to be related to lack of experience, rather than complete misunderstandings or issues with execution.

Once again, this format is borrowed from MgoBlog, which has a similar feature. Their most recent one is listed here for Michigan if you would like some situational awareness: Upon Further Review 2021: Offense vs Washington | mgoblog. It is also incredibly informative for improving football knowledge.

Before posting the chart, I wanted to make a couple of clarifications. First, plays were my best guess, as I am not an expert on football plays. Most of my knowledge comes from plays I recognize from NCAA 14, with some background reading articles posted on this website over the last ten years from Kyle Jones and Ross Fulton.

I also put offensive line protection in its own category. If a guy lost a battle, I docked him for it, but if the protection was good all around, I put it in its own category. This makes the grading a little weird. I will have to adjust this if I do it again in the future.

Points were awarded for strong blocks, good decisions, and gaining more yards than anticipated. I also usually only gave points if they were part of the point of focus of the play. While blocks away from the ball and good routes from non-targeted receivers are important, I only had so much time to grade the offense.

Feel free to skip the play-by-play if you just want to see the takeaways. This is just to show my work.

For the offense, here’s the play-by-play:

Play by Play Analysis
Time Yard Line Down Distance O Formation D Package Front High Type Box Play Player Yards Notes
1Q 15:00 OSU 25 1 10 Gun 3W 2-4-5 Over 1 RPO 6.5 RPO Screen Olave 2 After making a routine catch Olave (-0.5) goes inside instead of outside, where Smith-Njigba(+1) seals off the corner. Stroud throws good ball after correct read.
1Q 14:23 OSU 27 2 8 Gun 3W 3-3-5 Tite 2 Pass 6 Flood Wilson 11 Great protection from the entirety of the offensive line, though Oregon only rushed three (protection +1). Wilson gets a ton of separation (route +1), makes tough catch. Stroud throws okay ball.
1Q 13:39 OSU 38 1 10 Gun 3W  3-3-5 Stack 2 RPO 6.5 RPO Screen Olave 6 Great protection from the entirety of the offensive line, though Oregon only rushed three (protection +1). Wilson gets a ton of separation (route +1), makes tough catch. Stroud throws okay ball.
1Q 12:51 OSU 44 2 4 Gun 3W 3-3-5 Stack 2 RPO 6 RPO Inside Zone Williams 2 Oregon always has an overhang defender to help against the run. When OSU passes, the corner uses the inside leverage to cover the slot. Stroud is reading this corner, and seems to make the correct read to give, but it's close, especially since the defender recovers to make the tackle. Ruckert (-1) chips the defender, but the defender gets off quickly to stop Williams quickly.
1Q 12:32 OSU 46 3 2 Gun 3W 2-4-5 Wide 1 Run 6.5 Inside Zone Williams 22 Petit-Frere (+2)  and Munford (+1) opens up an enormous hole on the left side. Ruckert (+1) makes a nice downfield block. Williams (+1) churns out a couple of extra yards after a broken tackle.
1Q 12:18 UO 34 1 10 Gun 3W 3-3-5 Stack 2 Pass 6 Flood Williams 6 Stroud goes through his progressions but doesn't see anyone open immediately. I think he could have gone to Olave, and if he waits another half-second, he may have been able to get Smith-Njigba. I think it's a fine decision to go to the checkdown. Offensive line gives Stroud a lot of protection (+1 protection). Good pass for a routine catch by Williams.
1Q 11:59 UO 28 2 4 Gun 3W 3-3-5 Tite 1 Run 7.5 Inside Zone Williams -3 Ohio State snaps the ball quick, but Oregon knows what's coming, sending a couple more defenders in the box late. Ruckert (-1) and Jones (-1) allow a defender to go straight into the backfield, as Jones goes straight to the second level. Good play call by Oregon to commit eight defenders to the run, likely was going to get there anyway. (play-calling -1)
1Q 11:19 UO 31 3 7 Gun 5W 2-4-5 Wide 2 Pass 5.5 Spacing/Curls Smith-Njigba 0 Stroud has time to throw (pressure +1). He throws a ball to Smith-Njigba that is okay, but Smith-Njigba can't pull down the tough catch. 
1Q 11:13 UO 31 4 7 Gun 3W 3-3-5 Stack 2 Pass 6 Mesh Stroud 0 Stroud makes an inaccurate pass, but Oregon had Mesh covered up well. While it would have been nice to be closer to Olave, it was well covered.Turnover on Downs.
1Q 8:47 OSU 5 1 10 Gun Twin TE 3-4 Over 2 Run 8 Mid Zone Williams 2 Stover(+1) Petit-Frere (+1) and Munford (+1) completely clear the left side of the line. If Ruckert (-1) doesn't miss his block, Williams is one-on-one with a linebacker.
1Q 8:30 OSU 7 2 8 Gun 3W HZ Tight 3-3-5 Not set 2 Run 6.5 Pitch Williams 4 Olave (+2) and Stover (+1) have great, long, sustained blocks on the edge. While I don't think speed matters that much for a running back, Williams (-0.5) probably could have used a little more there. Sewell for Oregon makes a great tackle.
1Q 7:56 OSU 11 3 4 Gun 3W 3-3-5 Stack 2 Pass 5.5 Smash Olave 8 Olave makes a tough catch going back into the defender. Olave (+route) has a great route. CJ Stroud makes the correct read and throws an okay pass.
1Q 7:24 OSU 19 1 10 Gun 3W 2-4-5 Stack 2 Run 6.5 Mid Zone Williams 2 I don't think this is a zone read, as no-one at the line is left unblocked, though Stroud's eyes are looking at the defensive back. It also doesn't look like an RPO Glance route from JSN. Wypler (-1) gets pushed back a bit, but Williams (-1) could have gained more yardage had he followed Ruckert (+1) instead of trying to bounce it outside. 
1Q 7:01 OSU 21 2 8 Gun 4W 2-4-5 Over 1 Pass 6 Spacing/Curls Wilson 5 Wilson catches a routine catch on a good throw from Stroud, who makes a good read.
1Q 6:33 OSU 28 3 3 Gun 3W 3-3-5 Tite 2 Run 7.5 Mid Zone Williams 5 Munford (+1) and Wypler (+1) clears a big hole for Williams.
1Q 6:19 OSU 32 1 10 Gun 3W 3-3-5 Tite 1 Run 8 Split Zone Williams 1 Petit-Frere (+1) and the rest of the offensive line take care of the defensive line. There is an unblocked linebacker, who Williams can't shake. This might be a read, but it is hard to say. Unlikely to be a zone read as the assumed read guy is cleared out by Ruckert. Could be an RPO, but it's tough to say. Hard to run against an 8 man box.
1Q 5:43 OSU 33 2 9 Gun 3W 2-4-5 Base 1 Pass 6.5 Dagger Olave 4 Stroud throws a good pass to Olave who makes a routine catch. Dawand Jones (-0.5) gets beat a bit off of the edge, but it is a quick pass. While I think Stroud could have stepped up and hit JSN over the middle, Olave was open underneath and was one broken tackle away from a first down.
1Q 5:00 OSU 37 3 5 Gun 4W Trips 2-4-5 Base 1 Pass 6 Scramble Stroud 30 Stroud (+2) gets good protection from the offensive line (protection +1) and recognizes the completely uncovered turf to his right. He scrambles for 14 yards and smartly stays in bounds just long enough to draw a late hit. Offensive line hasn't allowed any pressure so far.
1Q 4:37 UO 33 1 10 Pistol Twin TE 3-4 Base 1 Run 8 Split Zone Henderson 2 Offensive line gets a decent push though nobody really clears anyone out. Wypler (-0.5) gets pushed back a bit. Henderson takes what he can get.
1Q 4:15 UO 31 2 8 Gun Twin TE 3-3-5 Tite 1 Pass 8 Penalty Wypler -5 False Start on Luke Wypler (-1).
1Q 4:13 UO 36 2 13 Gun 3W Trips 2-4-5 Base 2 Run 7 Inside Zone Henderson 2 Could also be zone read, but the unblocked defender is in the second level. Johnson (-1) gets pushed back, but it is a stacked box. Jones gets some push (+0.5)
1Q 3:40 UO 34 3 11 Gun 3W 2-4-5 Base 2 Pass 6 Verticals Stover 0 Stroud throws a perfect pass to Stover, who drops a tough catch. Munford (-1) gets bull rushed but mostly maintains good position. Great defense/coverage on a dime of a pass. Punt.
End of Quarter                          
2Q 14:17 OSU 36 1 10 Gun 3W 2-4-5 Base 1 RPO 6.5 RPO Comeback Flemming 0 Stroud makes a good read on an RPO, throwing a good pass to Flemming, who unfortunately slips and cannot make the uncatchable ball after that (route -1).
2Q 14:14 OSU 36 2 10 Gun 3W 2-4-5 Base 1 Pass 6.5 PA Flood Stroud 1 Stroud (-1) can't find a receiver on the PA rollout. The only two receivers I could see on the replay was JSN and Ruckert, and they weren't really open. I would rather see him throw it away than take a shot though.
2Q 13:30 OSU 37 3 9 Gun 4W Trips Bunch 3-3-5 Over 2 Pass 5.5 Spot Wilson 0 NPF (-1) gets beat, but Stroud gets his read quickly. He throws a good pass to Garrett Wilson, who drops the pass after getting hit hard by the safety. It would have been a difficult catch to bring in. Punt.
2Q 10:29 OSU 30 1 10 Gun 3W 2-4-5 Base 1 RPO 7 RPO Glance Smith-Njigba 26 Stroud makes the correct RPO read and throws a good pass to JSN (+1) who makes a routine catch and gets a ton of yards after the catch. This may have been a decision made pre-snap. Most RPOs I have seen Ohio State use.
2Q 10:17 UO 44 1 10 Gun 4W Trips 2-4-5 Base 1 Run 6.5 Mid Zone Henderson 1 Dawand Jones (-1.5) slips on a play to his side. Munford (-0.5) also misses his man, but on the backside. Even when Oregon isn't stacking the box, they are selling out to stop the run.
2Q 9:40 UO 43 2 9 Gun 4W 3-3-5 Tite 1 Pass 7 Smash Stroud 1 Dawand Jones (-2) blocks air on this one. Stroud gets pressured and can't complete his read. Does good to get a yard.
2Q 9:00 UO 42 3 8 Gun 4W 2-4-5 Wide 1 Pass 6 Slants Smith-Njigba 15 Stround makes a nice read and throws a perfect pass to JSN who makes a difficult catch for the first down.
2Q 8:48 UO 27 1 10 Gun 4W 2-4-5 Not Set 2 Pass 6 Verticals Wilson 27 Stroud makes a perfect throw to a wide open Garrett Wilson who makes a difficult over the shoulder catch. Stroud sometimes throws the ball unnecessarily well, which I think may contribute to some of his inaccurate throws.
2Q 4:43 OSU 19 1 10 Gun 3W 3-4 Over 1 Run 7 Mid Zone Williams 21 Ruckert (+1) and JSN (+1) have great blocks to the outside. Williams (+2) does a great job to follow Olave's (+1) block for a big play.
2Q 4:17 OSU 40 1 10 Gun 3W 2-4-5 Base 2 Pass 7 Out Olave 13 Johnson (-0.5) lets a little pressure in. Stroud makes a perfect throw for Chris Olave, who makes a difficult catch off of a good route (route +). 
2Q 4:00 UO 47 1 10 Gun 3W 2-4-5 Base 1 Pass 6.5 PA Streak Olave 0 CJ Stroud throws a perfect throw (I think so at least) to Olave, who drops a difficult catch down the sideline.
2Q 3:53 UO 47 2 10 Gun 3W 2-4-5 Base 1 Run 6 Mid Zone Williams 4 Petit-Frere(+0.5) and Munford(+1) clear out a lane for Williams, but I think NPF could have gotten to the second level, allowing for more yardage.
2Q 3:20 UO 43 3 6 Gun 3W 2-4-5 Wide 1 Pass 6 Improvisation Olave 4 Stroud (-2) leaves the pocket early. Dawand Jones survived a bull-rush, and protected Stroud. The line did fine here. Stroud does throw an okay pass to Olave, who made a spectacular catch.
2Q 2:53 UO 39 4 2 Gun 3W 2-4-5 Base 1 Run 7 Mid Zone Williams 0 Wypler (-1) gets pushed back. Munford (-2) can't get to the linebacker, who blows by him and blows up the run.
2Q 0:34 OSU 20 1 10 Gun 4W 2-4-5 Base 1 Pass 6 Spot Checkdown Williams 15 Stroud works through all of his progressions and throws a good pass to a wide open Williams (+1) who is able to wiggle for some extra yards.
2Q 0:26 OSU 35 1 10 Gun 4W 2-4-5 Base 1 Pass 6 Smash Wilson 9 Stroud makes a good throw to Wilson who makes a difficult catch while covered, but this is a bad read at this point of the game.
2Q 0:08 OSU 44 2 1 Gun 4W 2-4-5 Base 2 Pass 6 Verticals Ruckert 20 Stroud throws a perfect pass to Ruckert, who makes a difficult catch over the defender.
2Q 0:01 UO 35 1 10 Gun 4W 2-4-5 Base 3 Pass 4 Verticals Williams 17 Stroud probably should have stepped up, but NPF (-1) gets beat a little. If Stroud would have stepped up, he would have been fine though. This is a bad read for the situation, though it is a good pass to Williams who makes a routine catch.
End of Half                          
3Q 13:38 OSU 25 1 10 Gun 3W 2-4-5 Base 1 RPO 6 RPO Out Olave 9 The whole line does a great job clearing a huge hole on the left side, particularly Ruckert (+1) NPF (+1) Munford (+1) and Wypler (+1). Stroud is in a position to make a good read either way, but this is an easy completion with a good pass and a routine catch by Olave.
3Q 13:17 OSU 33 2 1 Gun 3W 2-4-5 Base 2 Run 7 Split Zone Henderson 4 Ruckert (+1) makes a great block across the formation to spring Henderson (-1.5), who lost at least a few yards by not cutting upfield. He might have had a huge play had he done so.
3Q 12:39 OSU 37 1 10 Gun 3W 2-4-5 Base 1 Pass 6 Comeback Wilson 22 Stroud sticks in the pocket long enough to make a good pass to Wilson, who makes a routine catch. Wilson (+1) also picks up a few extra yards. Wypler gets pushed back but holds back. Henderson (+1) does excellent in pass protection.
3Q 12:21 UO 41 1 10 Gun 3W 2-4-5 Base 2 Run 6 Inside Zone Henderson 2 Jones (+2) pushes his man 5 yards downfield. Ruckert (-1) doesn't block his man long enough.
3Q 11:52 UO 39 2 8 Gun 3W  2-4-5 Base 1 Penalty False Start Jones -5 Jones (-1) has a false start.
3Q 11:30 UO 44 2 13 Gun 3W 2-4-5 Over 2 Pass 6.5 Drive Olave 14 The field side receivers clear out the Oregon defenders for Olave (+2) who picks up the first down on a crossing route. He makes a routine catch from a good throw from Stroud. Play calling +1
3Q 11:12 UO 30 1 10 Gun 3W 2-4-5 Base 1 Run 7 Inside Zone Henderson 4 Fox camera was a bit of an issue here. It looked like the offensive line got a pretty good push, but again, I couldn't see much here. Not going to grade this.
3Q 10:31 UO 36 2 6 Gun 4W 2-4-5 Base 1 Pass 6.5 Smash Smith-Njigba 26 Stroud throws a good pass to JSN who catches a routine catch for a touchdown. 
3Q 7:38 OSU 25 1 10 Gun 3W 2-4-5 Base 1 Pass 7 Deep In Wilson 14 Protection holds up for a decently long developing route. Munford loses late, but Stroud throws a good pass for a routine catch by Wilson. Stroud gets all the way through his progressions and Henderson (+2) has a great blitz pickup.
3Q 7:13 OSU 39 1 10 Gun 3W 3-3-5 Tite 2 RPO 6 RPO Screen Wilson 5 Stroud throws a good pass to Wilson, who makes a routine catch. I think it was a pre-snap read, and I think it was a pretty good read. JSN got pushed back, but Wilson cleared him pretty easily.
3Q 6:33 OSU 44 2 5 Gun 3W 3-3-5 Over 2 Pass 6.5 Comeback Olave 10 Line gives Stroud plenty of time (protection +1). Stroud makes another good throw to Olave, who makes a difficult catch. I probably should be grading the line a little more, but the individual grades are mostly for runs. They've looked good in pass pro. Also, Stroud has looked excellent up to this point. I am calling this a good pass because it is away from the defenders in a place that only Olave can catch it.
3Q 6:19 UO 46 1 10 Fox Camera Fox Fox Fox Run Fox Mid Zone Henderson 8 Munford (+2) blocks a double team. NPF (-1) seems to miss a blocker. Henderson (+1) spins off a blocker to get a few more yards.
3Q 5:51 UO 38 2 2 Gun 3W 3-3-5 Over 1 Pass 8 Divide Wilson 0 Line gives Stroud good protection (protection +1). Stroud throws an inaccurate ball, though not by much. Gorgeous placement on the miss.
3Q 5:43 UO 38 3 2 Gun Twin TE 3-3-5 Tite 2 Run 7.5 Mid Zone Henderson 11 Stover (+1) and Petit-Frere (+1) create a huge hole for Henderson (+1) who correctly keeps heading up field to gain an extra five yards.
3Q 5:16 UO 27 1 10 Gun Twin TE 3-3-5 Over 2 Run 6.5 Inside Zone Henderson 11 Stover (-2) can't block his man for very long, as he shoots into the backfield. Henderson (+2) breaks several tackles though and gets a first down anyway, even though someone made contact with him in the backfield.
3Q 5:02 UO 16 1 10 Gun Twin TE 3-3-5 Under 1 Penalty 8 False Start Jones -5 Jones (-1) has a false start. Killed a lot of momentum. Henderson had a great opportunity on the edge.
3Q 4:42 UO 21 1 15 Gun 3W 2-4-5 Base 1 Pass 7 Sluggo Ruckert 0 Stroud gets all the way acros the formation to his third read, though I think JSN was more open. He hits Ruckert with a good pass, but Ruckert drops it. Difficult catch since he had a defender right on his back, but he probably should have caught this.
3Q 4:36 UO 21 2 15 Gun 3W 3-3-5 Tite 1 Pass 7 Comeback Olave 0 Stroud makes a bad read, not seeing the linebackers. Linemen gave decent protection (protection +1).
3Q 4:32 UO 21 3 15 Gun 3W 2-4-5 Base 2 Pass 6 Comeback Olave 13 Stroud makes a perfect throw to Olave, who makes a difficult catch on the sideline. 
3Q 3:50 UO 8 4 2 Gun 3W 2-4-5 Base 1 Pass 7 In Olave 0 Johnson (-2) missed his blitz pickup, causing a pressured throw from Stroud. Stroud does better than can be expected for an off balance throw. Could have been called pass interference here. Turnover on Downs.
3Q 0:02 OSU 27 1 10 Gun 3W 3-3-5 Tite 1 Pass 6 Verticals Smith-Njigba 29 Stroud throws a perfect pass to JSN who makes a circus catch. Wypler (-1) gets pushed right into Stroud's face, but he stands in the pocket and makes a strong throw.
End of Quarter                          
4Q 15:00 UO 44 1 10 Gun 3W 2-4-5 Base 1 Pass 7 Smash Smith-Njigba 0 Stroud throws an inaccurate pass to JSN. Wypler gets pushed back again, but it doesn't seem to bother Stroud.
4Q 14:54 UO 44 2 10 Gun 4W 2-4-5 Base 1 Pass 6 HB Screen Henderson 12 Great play call to scheme Henderson(-1) open. Henderson slips due to a hard cut. If he were to keep going straight ahead, he could have gained more yardage. Play-calling +1
4Q 14:15 UO 32 1 10 Gun 3W 2-4-5 Base 2 Run 6 Split Zone  Henderson 3 Jones (-1) can't seal his man inside and gets limited push, so Henderson can't get to the second level. 
4Q 13:58 UO 29 2 7 Gun 3W 2-4-5 Not Set 1 Pass 6 Mills Wilson 0 Great play call, and good work by the Buckeyes to get the play off before Oregon was ready. Wilson is one-on-one with a corner. Stroud throws it inaccurately. Needs to give him a chance here. Play-calling +1
4Q 13:51 UO 29 3 7 Gun 3W 2-4-5 Base 1 Run 6 Split Zone Henderson 4 Henderson (+1) does well to get four yards. The offensive line blocked this okay, but no glaring good or bad things here. Oregon flies to the ball on defense. Thing of beauty.
4Q 13:18 UO 25 4 3 Gun 3W 2-4-5 Base 1 Pass 7 Smash Wilson 23 Wilson has a gorgeous route (route +1) to get open. Stroud delivers a good throw and Wilson makes a routine catch. Looked kind of like Smash, but with the roles reversed between the H and the X. I am not sure if there is a name for this. It was a good idea though, Oregon looked confused after seeing Smash a couple of times earlier.
4Q 12:58 UO 2 1 2 Gun 3W 2-4-5 Base 0 Run  7.5 Mid Zone Henderson 2 Ruckert (+2) and NPF (+1) pave the way for Henderson. Touchdown.
4Q 10:10 OSU 25 1 10 Gun 3W 2-4-5 Base 1 Pass 7 Mills Olave 0 Stroud has called out a blitz pickup a couple of times today. He looks a lot more polished than I noticed initially. Williams (+1) picks up the blitz nicely. The line gives Stroud plenty of time (protection +2). Stroud throws an inaccurate ball to Olave, who had a step.
4Q 10:04 OSU 25 2 10 Gun 3W 2-4-5 Base 1 Pass 6 Streak Olave 41 The line gives a lot of protection again (protection +1) and Williams (+1) gets a blitz pick-up. Stroud throws a perfect pass to Olave who makes a difficult grab with a defender running stride for stride with him. One of the prettiest plays of the day.
4Q 9:45 UO 34 1 10 Gun 3W 2-4-5 Base 2 Run 7 Mid Zone Williams 5 Johnson (+1) gets a good push on the inside. Jones (+2) clears his man 8 yards down the field. Williams (+1) makes a nice cut to pick up a couple yards, but slips in his attempt to get even more.
4Q 9:08 UO 29 2 5 Gun 4W Trips 2-4-5 Base 2 Pass 6 Spot Flemming 10 Stroud makes a good pass to Flemming who makes a routine catch. Good play call as well to go to the replacement for Olave. (Play-calling +1)
4Q 8:49 UO 19 1 10 Gun 3W 2-4-5 Base 1 Pass 6.5 PA Flat Ruckert 4 I like the play call here too. I love adding a play-action to the split-zone call that they've been running a lot to keep the defense honest. Stroud throws a good ball to Ruckert who makes a routine catch.
4Q 8:13 UO 15 2 6 Gun Twin TE 3-3-5 Under 1 Pass 8 Verticals Ruckert 0 Great coverage by Oregon. Stroud throws a good, not great ball to give Ruckert a chance to beat the corner, but Ruckert can't come down with the difficult catch due to the coverage. He was still likely the most open option.
4Q 8:06 UO 15 3 6 Gun 4W 3-3-5 Tite 1 Pass 6 Smash Smith-Njigba 0 Oregon rushed 6, and while the line held up for the most part, and Williams picks up the blitz momentarily. Stroud barely gets the ball off, and the ball is inaccurate. Play-calling -1. Perfect time to call a blitz.
4Q 8:02 UO 15 4 6 Gun 3W 2-4-5 Base 2 Pass 7 Drive/Cross Smith-Njigba 15 Brilliant call. Play-calling +1. This is the same crossing route pattern from Olave's first down earlier, where the other receivers clear down the field to open up some running space for a wide receiver. JSN (+1) takes it the rest of the way for a touchdown. Good throw and routine catch.
4Q 7:04 OSU 29 1 10 Gun 3W 3-3-5 Tite 2 Pass 6.5 Inverted Dagger Smith-Njigba 22 Great protection (protection +2). Perfect pass from Stroud to Smith-Njigba, who makes a routine catch. 
4Q 6:40 UO 49 1 10 Gun 3W 2-4-5 Base 2 Pass 7 Divide Wilson 0 I have no idea how Stroud got this one off. Munford (-1) gets beat by the defensive lineman, and Williams can barely help. The pocket had collapsed (protection -1). Petit-Frere (-0.5) also can't keep his man blocked for long. Stroud does a good job not to get sacked. Here. But oof. Wilson was wide open. Inaccurate pass, though it's tough.
4Q 6:33 UO 49 2 10 Gun 3W 2-4-5 Base 2 Pass 5.5 PA Flood Smith-Njigba 0 Another great call, Oregon was completely fooled (play-calling +1). Another slip though. Good throw by Stroud, but JSN could not catch it due to the slip. By the way, this definitely hurt OSU over Oregon. Ohio State relies on deep passing and crisp routes, where Oregon relied mostly on scheming guys open, or counting on blown coverages by OSU's linebackers. This was a much bigger problem as the game went on.
4Q 6:29 UO 49 3 10 Gun 4W 2-4-5 Base 2 Pass 6 Holding Munford -10 Stroud makes an excellent scramble to get the first down, but Munford (-2) is called for holding. I am not entirely sure if it was even necessary. In fact, I am not even sure he held. He got beat so badly that when he tried to hold, the guy was already behind him.
4Q 6:11 OSU 41 3 20 Gun 3W 2-4-5 Base 1 Pass 4 Drive/Cross Olave 2 Stroud throws a good pass and Olave makes the routine catch. I was a little surprised they didn't call targeting, but the rule is effectively arbitrary. Punt.
4Q 4:43 OSU 28 1 10 Gun 3W 2-4-5 Base 2 Pass 6 Verticals Ruckert 11 Stroud throws a good pass to Ruckert (+1) who makes a routine catch and runs over a defender for the first down.
4Q 4:35 OSU 39 1 10 Gun 3W 2-4-5 Base 1 Run 6 Split Zone Williams 6 Johnson (-1) doesn't seal off the blocker. Williams (+1) drags the defender for five extra yards. Ruckert (+1) is able to seal the edge. 
4Q 4:08 OSU 45 2 4 Pistol 3W Trips 2-4-5 Base 2 Run 6 Inside Zone Williams 8 NPF (+1) gets a great block, giving Williams an easy first down.
4Q 3:52 UO 47 1 10 Gun 3W 2-4-5 Base 1 Pass 6 Smash Stroud -8 Munford (-0.5) gives up the sack, but I thought the protection was pretty good (protection +1). This was a coverage sack. Oregon was not fooled by Smash again. I think Stroud (-1) was mostly pretty good with his internal clock for the game, but this was a huge mistake. Even if he would have stepped up in the pocket, he would have been a little better off.
4Q 3:05 OSU 45 2 18 Gun 3W 2-4-5 Under 1 Pass 6 Dig Wilson 0 Stroud steps up and throws an okay pass to Garrett Wilson who can't come down with the circus catch. 
4Q 2:59 OSU 45 3 18 Gun 3W 2-4-5 Base 1 Pass 6 Improvisation Olave 0 Stroud throws an inaccurate pass to Olave after scrambling outside the pocket. Protection was not great (protection -1).

Much less worrying than the defense, but some concerns are still there.

First, let’s address the concern about the running game. The offense average 4.1 YPC in this game. That’s not great, Bob. Here is the data for how the team performed in the run game, including blocks and gaining yards after the catch:

Blocking/Run Chart
Player + - Total Notes
CJ Stroud 2 4 -2 Coaches trying to protect his shoulder; I don't expect him to run much.
Miyan Williams 8 1.5 6.5 Constantly getting yards that aren't there
Treyveon Henderson 8 2.5 5.5 Tries to break a play a little too often, but he is incredibly explosive. Shockingly good at pass protection.
Total 18 8 10 Running Backs are excellent. Stroud likely won't run many designed runs.
Chris Olave 5 0.5 4.5 Improved after the catch. Made a couple of solid blocks on the edge.
Garrett Wilson 1 0 1 Didn't do a ton after the catch, but made most of his impact down the field. No huge blocks.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba 5 0 5 Explosive after the catch. Third guy on the Buckeyes who could have 1000 yards this year.
Julian Flemming  0 0 0 No blocking/running after the catch.
Jeremy Ruckert 9 4 5 Struggled early with blocking, but made some huge blocks down the stretch.
Cade Stover 3 2 1 One critical missed block near the end of the game sipes out a pretty good day. Shows promise at TE.
Total 23 6.5 16.5 TE's blocked pretty well, and the receivers did excellent after the catch.
Offensive Line        
Nicholas Petit-Frere 8.5 3.5 5 Mauled guys occasionally in the run game. Opened up a few holes on Mid Zone going right on the back side.
Thayer Munford 7 6 1 Up and down day. A couple of mistakes late in the fourth were costly.
Luke Wypler 2 4.5 -2.5 Can get bull-rushed in pass-coverage. For filling in for Miller though, pretty serviceable.
Paris Johnson Jr.  1 4.5 -3.5 Couldn't create consistent holes in the run game. Missed a blitz pickup on a crucial fourth down in the third quarter.
Dawand Jones 4.5 8 -3.5 Couple incredible plays, but a couple of rough moments. Multiple False Starts. Inconsistent.
Total 23 26.5 -3.5 O-line is hard to grade. This is mostly for the run-game. The protection was better.
Protection 12 2 10 Flawless in protection early on. Struggled late.
Play Calling 6 2 4 Pretty well called game, Oregon just had their best calls in the red-zone.

I don’t think it was particularly as bad as 4.1 YPC suggests. Why did they struggle running the football?

For the first half of this game, Ryan Day and Kevin Wilson were willing to try to run the ball against Oregon’s front for a couple of clear reasons. First, Oregon primarily ran two formations the entire game: the 3-3-5 and the 2-4-5. Both of these formations, as you will note, have effectively a front six instead of a front seven. More simply, they are trading a linebacker/defensive lineman for a defensive back, trading some advantage against the run for an advantage against the pass. As a quick note, this is similar to the change to the defense that Ohio State made this past season, opting for an extra safety-hybrid instead of a linebacker.

If the formation were the only issue, Ohio State may have not run the ball as much as they did, but Oregon was also missing their two best players on defense: Justin Flowe and Kaivon Thibodeaux. I think Day and Wilson thought they could smell blood in the water when they saw Oregon’s small, injured front. The mitigating issue for Oregon, and one of the reasons why they could stop the run, is that they regularly would add a safety to the box, and sometimes bring the slot cornerback over as an overhang defender. Additionally, Oregon sold out for the run pretty regularly, wanting to force CJ Stroud to beat them with his arm. There were multiple times early in the game where Ohio State would be in a Shotgun formation with three wide receivers, and they would run against an eight man box. This essentially means that each receiver was one-on-one with a defensive back, and Ohio State chose to run. Now this wasn’t all on the coaches, as Oregon disguised some of these and only at the last moment stacked the box, but it did show that Oregon wasn’t going to be beaten on the ground. For example, on the first drive of the game with 11:59 left to go in the first quarter, Miyan Williams got the ball on a mid-zone call where he lost three yards, due to eight men crashing down against the run. I didn’t think any of the linemen or the tight end did particularly terrible. They blocked fine. There were just two unblocked defenders that could get to Williams right away.

This was kind of the story of the first half. As the game went along, the eight man boxes or course got less and less common, as Ohio State started to pass the ball with more frequency. This had opened some space up for the running backs, but at this time in the game, the offense needed to score and score quickly, as they didn’t know if the defense could hold up at all. Furthermore, the passing offense was genuinely effective. Day and Wilson could lean on the passing offense after the first quarter because of the success they started having.

The offensive line didn’t get a ton of push all day, but the stacked boxes were a big chunk of the problem. Petit-Frere had a couple of nice blocks on mid-zone, providing huge cutback lanes for the running backs on multiple occasions. Munford was there too. I didn’t see too many positives from the rest of the line regarding the running game. Jones had a couple of very effective blocks, but was inconsistent. The best one was with 9:45 in the fourth quarter, where he pushed his man eight yards down the field. He had another one with 12:21 to go in the third quarter, this time for only five yards. He also blocked air on a couple of other plays where the run got blown up, like with 9:40 left in the third quarter. The play before he struggled too, slipping and not getting a hand on any one. Additionally, the two false starts called on him were rough.

The offensive line, even though I don’t think they were awful, did have some issues. The running backs did not have a ton of success running up the middle, particularly when Wypler or Johnson were involved with the blocks. Wypler got very little push throughout the day, and was subject to getting bull-rushed. He did make a couple of nice plays sealing off a defender, but he certainly wasn’t mauling people. Johnson probably had a worse day. In the third quarter, with 3:50 to go, Ohio State faced a 4th and 2 in the Oregon red-zone. Oregon dialed up a blitz, and Johnson doesn’t recognize it. He continues double-teaming the guy Wypler is blocking while a linebacker has a free lane to hit Stroud. This was the borderline pass-interference on Olave, but if Johnson had picked up that blitz, they would have had a much better shot on this fourth down.

As for a more positive thing to say about them, they were pretty good in protection all day, for the most part. The Johnson one not-withstanding, I don’t remember a real pressure on Stroud until late in the fourth quarter. They gave him time to throw all day, and Stroud didn’t hold on to the ball much at all. To summarize: this looks like a line full of tackles. They can pass block really well but haven’t been as great at run-blocking. I think there is cause for optimism though, as everyone on the line is new to their position, and they didn’t play horrible.

The running backs played well. Williams is always getting five more yards than I think he should, and it makes a huge difference for the offense. I think Henderson tries too hard sometimes to hit the homerun; the screen pass he had was a good example. If he keeps heading straight he gets another ten yards. Instead, he tries to cut hard, and slips. Still, he is so elusive and has some good size too. With 5:43 left in the third quarter, he had an 11 yard run where he was first hit in the backfield. He made the first guy miss, slipped past another guy before driving the final defender for an extra couple yards. Runs like that get me so excited for his future.

I think the rushing attack could really benefit from bringing back some read options. When numbers in the box are lopsided, the read option can greatly improve your odds of a successful run. Urban Meyer built his career off of this. I don’t think they need to do this at all before the red zone, but once the field shortens, Ohio State needs to figure out a way to score. If they do not do this, they may have to settle for more field goals. The big issue right now is the health of CJ Stroud, and the protection of his shoulder. I am curious to see how the staff will handle that in the future.

Speaking of CJ Stroud, he was another area of concern. Here is how he performed:

Passing Chart
  Perfect Good Scramble Pressure Okay Batted Throw Away Inaccurate Bad Read RPOs Zone Reads Score Notes
CJ Stroud 9 26 1 2 5 0 0 8 3 5/5 0/0 76.6% He's the real deal. Will be a Heisman Finalist.

Explanation: Perfect throws, good throws, and scrambles for good gains are all good things. Pressured throws and okay throws are neutral things. Batted balls, throw aways, inaccurate passes, and bad reads are all bad things. The score is a percentage of good things compared to all of the good and bad things combined. For Stroud, this meant that for every bad thing that happened, he did 3 good things. 

I know there isn’t a whole lot of context, but that’s really good. I was not overly impressed with him after Minnesota, but he came to play against Oregon. In particular, that number of perfect throws is highly unusual. I came away from this game thinking that he would be a surefire first round pick someday for a few different reasons.

First though, I want to address some of the bad that I saw. First, the inaccurate throws, while pretty few and far between, all seemed to come at the end of the game when he needed to be at his best. That’s not great. A lot of that was due to the increased pressure, that is true, but he does need to be better. That interception over Olave’s head obviously couldn’t have come at a worse time. The overthrow of Wilson was heartbreaking, even though I am pretty impressed he threw the ball as well as he did since he had to change his arm angle. There was another overthrow of Wilson in the game late as well. He will always be judged by how he performs in those moments, and against Oregon, he wasn’t great there.

The good? Everything else. The number of jaw dropping throws he made was shocking for a guy in his second career start. I don’t remember Haskins ever throwing that many perfect throws. I don’t even think I remember Fields ever being that precise. This might also inadvertently be why he overthrows guys sometimes though. In the second quarter, when he threw his first touchdown pass to Garrett Wilson, he threw an absolute dime right over Wilson’s shoulder. It couldn’t have been thrown any more precisely. Even if a guy was right on his hip, it would have still been a touchdown. The issue? Wilson was wide open. The throw didn’t need to be that good. Fields had a good feel for when he could underthrow the ball a bit, making the catch a little easier on his receivers. Stroud doesn’t seem to have that feeling yet. For a baseball analogy, it is like painting the corners against the opposing pitcher. He isn’t a real threat to hit, so it would make sense to throw strikes closer to the heart of the zone. By trying to paint the corners, you risk balls outside the zone, potentially even walking a guy. Similarly, by trying to be too precise on throws, if you are off just a little bit, you can cause an incompletion, even if the guy is wide open. It makes sense to make the easy throws easy, to put it another way.

He also seems to process things really quickly. There was a play with 7:38 left in the third quarter, where Stroud works left to right and hits Wilson, who is his third read. In that play, he moved through his progressions very quickly, and decisively threw a strike to Wilson. On the potential touchdown pass that was knocked out of Ruckert’s hands, he was also the third read on the play. Stroud hit the checkdown a couple of times too. There is very little panic in the way that he plays, and he makes good decisions. He seems to process things at a very quick pace, which is exciting. I think his ability to process the defense will give Day a lot of flexibility with him moving forward, especially next year.

Also, as good as Justin Fields was, he stayed in the pocket way too long. Stroud has an effective internal clock so he doesn’t take many sacks. He did leave the pocket too early once, and he does need to step up in the pocket sometimes, but I can say that about almost every college quarterback. Stroud also called out a couple of blitzes from the defense. The one that jumped out to me was with 10:10 in the fourth quarter, where he recognized a safety blitzing, called it out to Williams, who made the necessary block. Even though he missed the throw, calling out the blitz was impressive. He did that throughout the game. These are little things, but it shows me Stroud is way more polished than I expected.

Some of my praise for Stroud is just seeing him already doing things better than Fields did. Is he better than Fields right now? Absolutely not. I do think he has the potential to be a better passer though, which is unbelievable because Fields is the best I’ve seen at Ohio State.

So why do many people think Stroud struggled? A couple of reasons. First, as mentioned earlier, it is far easier to remember the big moments in games than the smaller ones. At the end of the game, he was not as sharp as he was earlier. Now, neither was the offensive line, but still, he has to be better in those situations to be free of criticism. Also, some of his best passes of the day were dropped. The two passes to Ruckert and Stover are the ones that probably stick in the minds of people, but the pass to Olave with 4:00 to go in the second quarter is the one that I am reminded of. Olave makes that catch nine times out of ten. And while I think Smith-Njigba’s “drop” on the first drive on fourth down was mostly Stroud’s fault, if he comes down with it, they could very well have scored on that drive. There are so many plays that, if they had gone the other way, Ohio State wins the game, or at least sends it to overtime.  

Finally, while Stroud had good protection for the majority of the game, he did not receive good protection for the last two drives. When the offensive line struggled a little more, he had less time to throw, and less time to find the guy he wanted to throw to.

Stroud isn’t perfect, but he looked way better than I remember on first viewing. He looks like a future star to me.

To wrap it up, quick discussion on the receivers:

Receivers Chart
Player Uncatchable Spectacular Difficult Routine Notes
Chris Olave 0/5 1/1 5/6 6/6 Probably the best wide-receiver in college football.
Garrett Wilson 0/3 0/1 3/4 5/5 Broke free a couple times late, but didn't get a catchable ball on either of them. Dominant.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba 0/3 1/1 1/2 5/5 Great time to have a breakout game.
Julian Flemming 0/1     1/1 Slipped on the first one. I hope he can get some more play time the next couple weeks. Looks the part.
Jeremy Ruckert     1/3 2/2 The dropped catch at the goal line stung, but it was defended well.
Cade Stover     0/1   Primarily a blocking tight end at this point.
Miyan Williams       3/3 Did his job as a checkdown.
Treyveon Henderson       1/1 Cutting hard on the screen cost him some yards.

There isn’t much to say about them. I saved them for last, but they were flawless. Ohio State has the best wide receivers in the country, and as Stroud gets better, they will get more and more opportunities. I think this offense has a chance to be the best in school history, which is not something I would have said last week. We will see though. The offensive line has to get a lot better, which is not a given. Stroud has to continue improving. While there were good things in this game, he still isn’t the best quarterback in the country, which is the goal at this point for an Ohio State quarterback. If those two things happen, they will be one of the all-time greats.

Alright, that does it for the Oregon game. Doing this was fun. On to Tulsa.

This is a forum post from a site member. It does not represent the views of Eleven Warriors unless otherwise noted.

View 21 Comments