Understanding Urban: Play of the Game (Nebraska)
By Ken Pryor
(Editor’s Note: Ken Pryor is an offensive coordinator who works with the wide receivers at North Point High School in Waldorf, Md. He has been a long-time contributor to The-Ozone, and has been asked to help us better understand Ohio State’s new offense since Urban Meyer was hired back in November.)
The Ohio State Buckeyes exhibited a form of dominance over Nebraska not seen in Columbus in quite some time. Some might argue similar blowout wins from teams past (i.e. 1995, 1996, 1998, 2002 & 2005), but I would argue this one trumps all of them simply because of the caliber of the opponent.
This was not San Jose State, Eastern Michigan, nor Kent State, but Nebraska…this was Nebraska, folks. We are talking about one of college football’s most storied programs. A program rich in history and steeped in tradition with multiple national crowns, coaching legends, Heisman trophy winners, boundless linemen awards and stacks of consensus all-Americans to their ledger.
Granted, this current Cornhuskers team is not of the same ilk as some of those past teams, but they are still Nebraska and they may very well be the second best team in the Big Ten Conference this season.
No matter how you cut it, Nebraska is Nebraska. Their down years, much like Ohio State and other traditional powers, are marred with 3-4 losses at worst. The New York Yankees of today are a shell of those dominant Yankee teams of the late 90s and early 2000s, but its still a big deal when they lose.
For the Buckeyes to go out there and score almost at will from the second quarter on against the famed “Blackshirts” was a testament to this coaching staff, the offensive line and the rest of the offensive unit.
In choosing a play of the game from that dazzling performance, I was struck by just how many plays from which there were to choose. Braxton Miller’s vertical passes to tight ends Jeff Heuerman and Nick Vannett were certainly crushing blows. Corey “Philly Brown’s dazzling 75-yard punt return would have been a worthy selection as well. Carlos Hyde had a number of runs that could have made the column but for Braxton Miller, who had a handful of plays of his own.
But there was one play that seemed to get my juices flowing more so than all the others. QB Power represented old school Ohio State football with a new school flavor. It is smashmouth, downhill rushing attack while utilizing the most talented player on the field.
The power is provided by the pulling guard with the tailback leading through the hole. Once Braxton is in the crease, his speed and elusiveness take over, rendering the defenders in space virtually hapless.
“QB Power” is one of Meyer’s favorite plays from the spread formation. Under Meyer, the quarterback has often operated like the tailback, and the advantages are fairly obvious in that this play allows the offense to have a numbers advantage in the blocking scheme. It also places added stress on the defense to defend yet another running threat in the quarterback, instead of a traditional quarterback who hands off and then becomes a spectator of the play.
Ohio State ran this play from an Ace Left Gun formation with a trips receiver set to the left and single wide out to the right. Carlos Hyde is the ace back to Miller’s left. Nebraska appears to be in a 4-3 defensive front with a zone look to trips side while playing man coverage on the single wide out.
Some of the basic power principles were still in effect. The backside guard, Andrew Norwell, still pulled while the center and play-side guard blocked down. Norwell does a great job of sealing off the defensive end. Meanwhile, Hyde has taken a play fake from Miller from left to right and begins leading Miller through the C gap, where he obliterates the weakside linebacker.Miller has his choice whether to cut outside or right off Hyde’s inside hip…he makes the right choice and the rest is history.
One of the things I am noticing is the activity of Carlos Hyde. His contributions are going virtually unnoticed, while many are busy lauding Miller, Simon, Hankins, Roby and Devin Smith. Hyde is increasing his NFL stock with each game, while his physical aggression is being taking full advantage by the coaching staff.
Hyde likes to get up in his opponent’s mouth. This is why you can find him on specials coverage units (kick-off and punt), he is the feature back for the time being, and he is leading the charge for Miller in the smashmouth schemes. Carlos Hyde is the type of dude who will earn money for a solid number of years in the NFL if he can continue to progress over the next year and a half.