Morning Constitutional: Will the Read Option Make a Return for the Buckeyes?

Ohio State football Ryan Day J.T. Barrett

Today’s Topic: Morning Constitutional: Will the Read Option Make a Return for the Buckeyes?

The 2018 Ohio State passing offense was unlike any other we saw before it.

Together, quarterbacks Dwayne Haskins and Tate Martell threw for 5,100 yards and 51 touchdowns. And they completed 70.6% of their passes along the way.

Haskins was obviously the bulk of those numbers, throwing for 4,831 yards and 50 touchdowns.

Ohio State’s decision to throw the ball as much as they did last season was mostly due to Haskins’ talent, but there were other factors as well.

One of those factors was the Buckeyes’ talent at wide receiver. Parris Campbell, Terry McLaurin, Johnnie Dixon, and KJ Hill have a way of convincing a play caller that throwing the ball is rarely a bad idea.

Another factor in the increased passing was Ryan Day gaining more control of the Ohio State offense and Urban Meyer backing off a bit. Day’s first season featured one of the best passing offenses in OSU history, but his second season obliterated everything else that came before it.

Another key factor in the increase in passing was the fact that Dwayne Haskins wasn’t a very good runner. Day called the offense to Haskins’ strengths, which saw the read option dialed way back because it just wasn’t an effective strategy.

Haskins still had to keep the ball here and there in an attempt to slow down the defense, but Haskins’ own ability to run was never really a significant part of the offense.

I expect that to change in 2019 regardless of who wins the job, and not just because a quarterback who can run is more difficult to defend.

The 2018 season was the first under Urban Meyer without a quarterback who could run, and the entire rushing offense suffered for it. The Buckeyes averaged 4.2 yards per carry, which was good for No. 76 in the nation. And that was in an offense with two 1,000-yard rushers.

From 2017 to 2012, the Buckeyes averaged 5.8, 5.5, 5.6, 5.8, 6.8, and 5.2 yards per carry. Every single year, Ohio State was in the top 20 in the nation in average per carry, respectively. In 2013, their 6.8 mark led the nation.

Last year, however, they were a full yard under their worst mark under Meyer.

Having a quarterback who is more of a running threat will help improve those numbers, and both Justin Fields and Matthew Baldwin are more capable runners than Dwayne Haskins.

I’m not saying the Buckeyes are headed back to the days of JT Barrett left and JT Barrett right, but having that option will make life easier on the running backs. If a defense can’t just key on a running back, then the option truly becomes an option.

And if defenses still just want to key on the running backs, the Buckeyes will once again have a quarterback who can make them pay for that kind of choice.

Ohio State has to fix the running game, and even though it got better later in the season, it was still far from what we have come to expect.

Having a quarterback who commands at least a split second of a defense’s thought process in the running game will be a huge help. There’s a reason, after all, Ohio State’s runs of 30 or more yards dropped from 18 in 2017 to just six last season.

11 Responses

  1. The bucks will be a throw wayyyyy down field team!!

  2. Oh, a personal preference answer for the “topic”- dear God, I hope the read option is dead and buried.

  3. The author is practicing revisionist history when that history is only a month or so old! “The entire rushing offense suffered” because of sketchy O line performance and Meyer FORCING read option plays with a non option QB. Also, Dwyane COULD, in fact, run. He’s a first round NFL talent who knows how to put one foot in front of the other in rapid succession, and he also knows THAT WASN’T HIS JOB. Your QB shouldn’t “have to” run with Weber and Dobbins in the backfield- just like he shouldn’t “have to” gain 5 yards on 3rd and 1 rather than the actual one, due to the foolish pistol sets. The season can’t get here fast enough…

    1. 100% unequivocable truth @Longtime

  4. Two thoughts.
    1. If Fields is granted immediate eligibility and becomes the starting QB, there are 2 key elements for the read option – a QB who can run well (clearly Fields can) AND a QB who makes the correct read. We won’t know how good Fields is at the read part until he gets to play.

  5. Our OL will be much better without last year’s right OT, it seemed at times if it was not for penalties and whiffs, he would have no plays at all.

  6. So long as we dont go back to the QB Power Dive as our base play I will be fine.

  7. They better start with finding someone to teach the linemen how to block the read-option. Last year it was a disaster.

  8. The read option will not return, at least under Ryan Day. Regardless of who the QB is Day’s focus will be on getting the ball downfield. He’ll still look for QBs who can run but he’s not the sort that will make the QB run except to keep a defense honest. 15 carry days for the QB are gone at the least until the next head coach.

    1. Andrew I still feel 15 carry days will be closer to the norm, even in a BALANCED (we all really want this, as sexy as those 60 yard bombs are) passing offense. Still feel there will be 5-7 designed runs and 4-5 not-so-designed broken play runs. Still gotta keep em on their toes and the nearest distance between 2 points is still and always will be a straight line. And that’s the guy with the ball in his hand at the snap.

  9. You forgot to mention QB Draw for JT Barrett. We were more diverse than left or right! I disagree a little with your analysis as to why the yardage dropped. Poor play calling such as running on first down too much. Poor offensive line blocking. Runners so tiny they could not break many tackles also contributed to the lack of yardage per rushing play. Fields running will of course help, but the passing yardage will be down by almost 2,500 yards so he better be able to run well.

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