Understanding Urban: Play of the Game (Purdue)
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.)
I am smiling as I type this week's play of the game. I'm smiling, and I'm truly happy because it is really neat to write about the Ohio State play of the game with the main characters not being Braxton Miller, Devin Smith or Carlos Hyde.
This week's heroes are guys named Guiton and Fields. Think about that for moment?
Quarterback Kenny Guiton has gone from a player Urban Meyer admittedly did not like when he first arrived on campus to a player Urban Meyer not only likes but also loves having on his ballclub.
Chris Fields has gone from seemingly being the forgotten man to a player who may actually merit significant increase in playing time.
How interesting that these two players would combine for the play of the game in what is being considered one of the all-time great comebacks in Ohio State football history.
With only 47 seconds remaining in the game, Guiton engineered a 61-yard TD drive, with 39 of those yards coming on one nice, feathery pass to none other than Devin Smith, who somehow found himself in a sweet open area of the field out of view of the Purdue secondary.
After a few more plays, Guiton had his team settled on the seven-yard line with eight seconds remaining in the game and no time outs. Guiton merely donned his Alfred E. Newman mask asking everyone "What, me worry?"
He lined up the Buckeyes in an empty shotgun formation in quads receiver set to his left and a single wideout to his right. The quads consisted of (from outside in) Evan Spencer No. 1, Jake Stoneburner No. 2, Chris Fields No. 3 and Carlos Hyde No. 4 in a wing position. The play is set up nicely, as Guiton takes the snap and immediately rolls left. Hyde stays in to help protect and does a marvelous job getting up in the mouth of the edge rusher, buying Guiton more time.
The No. 1 and No. 2 receivers run excellent rub routes (aka "picks") designed to get the defenders caught up in the fray, thus allowing an opportunity for the primary receiver No. 3 (Fields) to get into his route undeterred.
Spencer runs a curl route while Stoneburner runs a corner route, meanwhile Fields runs a simple flat route just over the plane to the end zone. Spencer runs his curl route so well that he stops and looks for the ball and draws a defender to him who thinks he is the actual primary target. Meanwhile Fields has gotten off the line nicely while Stoneburner has taken his man on his corner path.
All that is required is the throw by Guiton. Taking nothing away from Guiton, it wasn't the greatest throw in the world. Fields did a tremendous job of getting down on the ground and trapping the ball so as not to allow it to hit the ground. That's what receivers are supposed to do though...make the tough catches look easy.
OHIO STATE OFFENSIVE GRADE: C+
Offensively, the Buckeyes were rather so-so before that final drive against Purdue. They didn't amass many points or any significant yardage until the very latest stages of the game.
Consider the Buckeyes gained 86 of their 342 yards and scored 15 of their 29 total points on their final drive of the regulation period and the overtime combined. They didn't exactly march up and down the field on a Purdue defense that has been a complete mess all year. Four turnovers and less than 50 percent on third down (6/15)...the Buckeyes will have to improve upon these numbers when they face Penn State.
The offense did a nice job of spreading the ball around in the passing game. Perhaps that was born of necessity and not necessarily by design. Eight different Buckeyes caught passes.
While there is no telling what the offense might have done with Braxton Miller healthy for the entire game, I can only grade them on the work they turned in. The offense didn't look awesome, but they got the win. Offense grades out at a C+...I just can't get past the four turnovers.
OHIO STATE DEFENSIVE GRADE: B-
The Ohio State defense had peaks and valleys on this day against Purdue. They opened up by allowing an 83-yard TD on the very first play of the game. Whether it was another one of those secondary "miscommunications" or if it was designed for Storm Klein to be isolated one on one with a slot receiver, I know not. One thing I do know...that play was a clown show.
To their credit, however, the Buckeye defense came up with huge stops when they needed them and blocked a field goal when they absolutely had to have it. Without that play from Johnathan Hankins, they lose that game.
The defense only created one turnover, but it was huge considering the time of the game when it occurred and that Purdue was knocking on the door to another TD or at least a field goal. The Boilers would have been sitting pretty going into the half with a few more points on the board.
Ohio State's defense allowed Purdue to gain 347 yards total, but they only allowed 15 points. Once again, the defense mustered no sacks and the open field tackling was not what it needs to be.
I'm going to give extra credit to this unit for merely persevering at this point. They are taking shots from every team they face, yet they keep coming off the ropes swinging. They are Jake LaMotta to their opponent's Sugar Ray Robinson. I recall the line from the moving 'Raging Bull' when Robert DeNiro's character (LaMotta) walks up to Robinson with his face beaten to a swollen pulp and says "Ray...you beat me, but you never knocked me down...you never knocked me down."
The heart and perseverance factor alone garner the defensive unit a letter grade, so I'm giving them a B- for this week's performance, but they better get ready to see every kind of screen pass known to man when they see Penn State this week.
OHIO STATE SPECIAL TEAMS GRADE: C+
Each and every week it's something new with this group. One week we are treated to a blocked punt. Another week we get to see a field goal get pushed back into their throats. Yet another week the fans are watching someone return a punt the distance.
The specials unit giveth and they taketh away. The group was able to get a timely block on a Purdue field goal attempt, which would prove to be fully necessary later in the game. Aside from the 100-yard return, the coverage the remainder of the game was exemplary. On the other hand, the Buckeyes didn't strike any fear with their own return game.
A record kick-off return for a score is an automatic drop of a letter grade, so the specials unit was operating the remainder of the game with a B. They needed to remain perfect the rest of the way which they weren't. I'm giving them a C+ and that's with the help of the blocked field goal. This unit isn't very special at all...oh wait...maybe they are. Perhaps that's the problem.