Often, Haskins makes his read before the snap based on the placement of defenders. Since 6 defenders were lined up in the box against only 5 blockers, the MIKE LB had no one to slow him down in the left B-gap and would have likely smothered that handoff once the RB reached the line.
It's hard to tell exactly what the route combination was to the bottom of the screen (3 WR side), but, as Prince mentioned, Haskins doesn't have the time to make multiple reads on this play. He's supposed to identify the lone WR who appears to have a mismatch to that side and get the ball out immediately after the fake handoff. It's likely that OSU found success with this play earlier and the game and Minnesota was ready for it the second time around. This kind of thing happens, but unfortunately, Prince received all the blame for it, which understandably makes him upset.
As for the notion many have that RPOs offer a run option for the QB, that's not often the case. There were a few versions of the original zone-read that JTB often ran in which he had the option to throw a screen outside after making his run read, but that was essentially a triple-option run with the screen acting like a pitch man. That doesn't work when the QB is throwing from the pocket, as Haskins is doing. Instead, the real issue with OSU's RPO game this season is that they all appear to be pre-snap reads vs post-snap, and Haskins isn't making his read off the movement of a defender and making him wrong no matter what, but rather playing the percentages and handing off or throwing based on where the defense is lined up.
There is absolutely no difference in the way an OL executes an RPO vs another run. Getting 3 yds upfield is pretty uncommon right away, especially in the zone schemes OSU often runs. Before climbing to an LB, the OL usually combo blocks a down lineman before one climbs to the backer. There are no issues with 'firing off the ball' as this is not your junior high league where one guy can just push over the other if he wants.
This is also how OSU is 3rd in the nation in sacks. The DL is looking to shoot gaps and get in the backfield to make the havoc plays, which means the LBs must do the same, otherwise, there will be open gaps everywhere. This is converse to the Heacock style that asked the DL to occupy blockers and leave the LBs free to make tackles or drop in coverage more conservatively.
As we've seen in many different forms this season, be it the aggressive, press-man coverage outside or this decision to shoot gaps aggressively, there are always risks to any philosophy. For years, fans freaked out about how many screens and short passes the defense gave up, only to get upset when Schiano switched philosophies to take those away. Now, people don't like it that the LBs are up near the line, which is what allows guys like Chase Young to play with his hair on fire.
Moral of the story: you can't have it both ways.
Additionally, OSU is averaging 4.65 yards-per-carry on 1st down rushes so far this season, while they're averaging 10.78 yards-per-attempt on 1st down passes.
As of this point (6 games into the season), OSU has run the ball 141 times on first down compared to 91 pass attempts in the same situation, which is a 61%run/39% pass split. By contrast, those splits were as follows (all courtesy of CFBstats.com):
- 2017: 59% run/41% pass
- 2016: 64% run/36% pass
- 2015: 66% run/34% pass
- 2014: 62% run/38% pass
- 2013: 65% run/35% pass
- 2012: 69% run/31% pass
That's a fair question, but the reality is that's what you saw last Saturday. Indiana continually blitzed in hopes of stuffing the run game AND rattling Haskins, hoping his mechanics and accuracy would go out the window as they did for long stretches against PSU. To counter that, the passing game became focused on quick crossing routes like Mesh, which is the epitome of an Air Raid concept (Read more HERE).
OSU began going 4-wide without the TE and threw quite a bit on early downs in hopes of getting IU to lay off the blitzes, which would, in turn, open up the run game. By that point in the game, though, Indiana had committed to the game plan and wasn't going to change, but ultimately I think Day/Wilson/Meyer would agree with the premise you've presented.
Yes, it should be correctable in practice, although it's hard to simulate every combination in limited time on the field. The key will be anticipating the types of pressures and stunts the OL will see each week so they aren't new come Saturdays (as appeared to be the case against IU).
He certainly has been. Every member of the OL struggled at times with Indiana's twists, stunts, and blitzes, but overall I thought Prince has been the most consistent player along the line all season. He's come a really long way since his struggles in pass pro 2 years ago.
Most likely because you need to be able to communicate to go quickly. In that environment, it's really easy to mess up a call or jump before the snap.
Good question. Very often, Haskins appears to be reading a second-level defender such as an OLB or safety that is down near the box to determine whether to handoff or keep to throw a bubble screen. Additionally, many of these reads are made before the snap, based entirely on the alignment of said defender.
However, I do believe that they still call a number of reads that leave the DE unblocked, simply because they can. If the end is closing hard on Haskins, he'll just handoff to a back going the opposite way. If the DE closes hard on the handoff, Haskins will simply pull the ball out and have a clear throw on the bubble screen. If the defense is both closing hard on the handoff and the bubble screen, OSU simply calls for a fake bubble screen and hits an open receiver downfield, as they did to Victor last Saturday.
Schiano mixed up the coverages quite a bit against TCU, which makes me think he's going to do the same against Penn State. Allowing both Fuller and Pryor to keep their eyes in the backfield will certainly help against McSorley and Sanders in the running game.