Hawks Surprise Bucks

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Last updated: 10/21/2013 4:51 AM
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Football
Hawkeyes Use MOSS MOUSE Principle to Attack Buckeyes
By John Porentas

Students of military tactics are familiar with the acronym MOSS MOUSE.

MOSS MOUSE is the acronym applied to the principles of combat which are Mass, Offensive, Surprise, Security, Maneuver, Objective, Unity of Command, Simplicity, and Economy of Force.

In the game last Saturday the Iowa coaching staff used one of those principles to successfully attack the OSU defense for a half: Surprise.

The advantage of surprise in warfare is the same in football. A combatant using surprise attacks where his enemy does not expect him, from a direction he is not watching, in a manner for which he is unprepared. The proper application of surprise can decide a contest, or in some cases even an entire conflict.

That almost happened to the Buckeyes against Iowa.

The Hawkeyes attacked the OSU defense with a three tight end alignment in the first half and took the Buckeyes completely by surprise.

"They schemed us up," said OSU linebacker Ryan Shazier.

"They hadn't run 13 personnel (three tight ends, one running back) and we weren't used to that."

The alignment put eight blockers on the field for the Hawkeyes, and that allowed them to own the line of scrimmage and run the football effectively, particularly on the edge where those tight ends were operating. Those same tight ends also managed to get loose in the passing game and wreak havoc on OSU pass defenders.

"We had not seen that on film all year. It was something we had to adjust to. I'm curious to see what it really looks like losing the edge," said OSU co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell.

As in warfare, game planning is sometimes a game within a game, with leaders trying to anticipate the moves of the opposition. Fickell said the Buckeye coaching staff may have actually over thought their game preparations. In view of the passing yards OSU has given up this season, and the way the Buckeyes had successfully defended the run, the OSU coaching staff anticipated an air attack from Iowa, so that's what they prepared for.

"We focused a lot on some of the pass defense, kind of spent a lot of time on things like that,' said Fickell.

When the Hawkeyes went to an alignment that helps the running game, the Buckeyes were left scrambling for answers, and when in the first half they didn't have them, things snowballed.

"I think a bigger fact was we started to get frustrated because we had been really good stopping the run and you start to focus on people might come in and start throwing the ball a little bit more, and all of sudden it turns into a little bit of a different game."

That's the bad news.

The good news is that once the surprise factor wore off, the Buckeyes took over.

"They took control in the second half," said Iowa Head Coach Kirk Ferentz.

"We adjusted to the formation when they ran the ball," said Shazier. "When we beat them on the first down it made throw the ball more and they're not as good at throwing the ball."

According to Fickell, the adjustment wasn't so much a matter of having to reinvent the wheel. It was more a matter of making sure the right wheels for the conditions were on the car.

"It wasn't something we had seen from them, but it wasn't like it was something we hadn't seen before," said Fickell.

"Penn State had done it and we'll probably see a lot of it next week.

"It was one of those things we just had to adjust to a little bit."

Once they did, the game looked a lot different. After allowing 17 first half points, the OSU defense allowed just seven in the second half. The Iowa running game became ineffective, and their passing game couldn't carry them, except on one play...that resulted in a touchdown...to a tight end.

Surprise surprise.

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