Three and Out from Inside the WHAC
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Expectations for the Ohio State Buckeyes are high this season in the eyes of fans and some media members. Where it is highest, however, is with the coaches and players.
The talk from the Woody Hayes Athletic Center over the last week or so has been about almost having this intraveneous need to throttle and demoralize opponents. Urban Meyer wanted an angry team, and it sounds like as we near kickoff, some of that anger might finally be coming out.
Meyer also mentioned wanting his team to have fun and look good while putting the hurt on their opponents. One of the easiest ways to look good is to score an unrelenting amount of points, and it would seem that the Buckeye coaches indeed have that plan of attack in mind.
This mentality permeates into every aspect of what these coaches are doing, including remarkably unrelated things like recruiting and Gatorade chugging contests.
Even if the results don't match the intentions this season, it sounds like the attempt will be there at the very least.
Listening to offensive line coach (and co-offensive coordinator) Ed Warinner talk this week, it was hard not to feel an undercurrent of frustration or a slight distaste for the way the previous regime approached offense and offensive theory.
Co-Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line Coach Ed Warinner
In the past, it had been said that the quarterback's job is to not put his defense in a bad position. Now, in a complete twist, it would seem that the quarterback's job is to put the other team's defense in a bad position.
But it's not just the quarterback's job, because everybody on the offense is responsible for having the same aggressive attitude. And it's something that has had to be instilled in the team this year.
"I think there needs to be a transformation there from previous," Warinner said on Monday.
"A new style, a new way of doing business, a new philosophy. An aggressive approach in all phases. Run/pass game and attacking people. Saying, 'Hey, we're coming after you.'"
How novel – an offense whose goal is to score points, rather than simply trying to make their own defense's life easier by trying to eliminate mistakes. Ironically, a defense's life is easiest when the score is 38-0, not 3-3.
There is still a very healthy focus on eliminating mistakes. That will never go away. But there are ways to be safe and still have your foot on the gas. That's what this Ohio State offense is going to attempt to show people this year. You don't always have to drive five miles per hour under the speed limit.
My personal belief is that any college team can have a dynamic offense, and if they don't, it's because they are choosing not to do so. When you choose not to have an offense, nothing could put more pressure on your own defense than that.
Not only does Warinner want to have an attacking offense, but he wants to have an offense that attacks well. After all, what good is an offense that goes no huddle but can't put points on the board?
Jim Tressel's stated goals on offense were to get 250 yards passing and 200 yards rushing in every game, but his teams only did it three times in his final four seasons. What is the point of having a goal if you don't have any intention of trying to reach it?
These Ohio State coaches haven't stated any specific numerical goals so far, but they are certainly intent on being aggressive.
"That's just the approach that we take every day in everything we do," Warinner said.
"We're gonna try to be the aggressor on offense and not just try to ease our way into it and see what the defense does and then try to play off of that."
That seems a little unfair. What about giving a defense time to get into the flow of the game? And aren't you worried about sportsmanship? Apparently not.
"We're gonna try to take the game to people and be aggressive. Our tempo helps us do that. Our commitment is that a drive isn't successful unless we can get it in position to score. Just things like that. Pushing the guys to have high standards."
Sounds great, as long as the coaches remember that having high standards means striving to reach those standards, and not just using it as some mark that you want to reach but never actually attempt to do so.
It's like living at the foot of a mountain and telling people that your goal is to climb that mountain once a week, but never really doing anything that would lend itself to climbing said mountain.
If you had no intention of climbing the mountain, and yet you continued to tell people that that was your weekly goal, you shouldn't be surprised when people's frustrations grew by the year.
It's a little odd to hear players and coaches almost making promises about this year's offense, but that should only confirm that anybody can have an offense as long as they want one.
The good part for fans is that they may not have to wait too long into a game to see some of those promises realized.
"We're not going to ease into games where we're just going to come out and pound a few up the middle, and be really conservative, and then see how they're playing us and then we'll start to pick it up after that," Warinner said.
"That's not going to be our approach at all. We're going to come out and go play fast and go play hard."
I didn't write this to be overly critical of Jim Tressel and Jim Bollman's offense, because it produced a lot of wins. But there's no doubt in my mind that Tressel wouldn't have put up with defenses that were ranked as poorly as his offenses.
The fact that his offenses matched his nature is not a coincidence. And it's not a coincidence that this new offense will match the current coaching staff as well.
Things have changed in Columbus, and it started with an aggressive mindset. It is now time to start putting pressure on the other team's defense, as opposed to worrying about the pressure that they are putting on their own.
And for their part, the Ohio State defense is 100% behind this new philosophy.
"I think they're gonna see that this offense is really exciting and there's going to be a lot of points on the board," said linebacker Ryan Shazier.
He doesn't seem too worried about being put in a bad spot, does he?
It won't just be the offense that is more aggressive this year. It sounds like the defense will be as well.
"I think it's a lot more aggressive than last year," said Shazier.
"Last year we more laid back. This year I think it's going to be pretty aggressive. A lot of people are going really like the D this year."
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