Mailbag: Will defense allow up-tempo offense?

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Last updated: 07/15/2014 0:15 AM
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Football
Reader Mail: Will the OSU Defense Be Good Enough to Allow an Up-Tempo OSU Offense?
By Tony Gerdeman

COLUMBUS, Ohio — When Urban Meyer was hired he spoke to the media the very first day on the job and said that he wasn't necessarily a fan of the no-huddle offense because he liked his quarterback to be able to have command of a huddle and look into his teammates' eyes.

He hired Tom Herman as his offensive coordinator shortly thereafter and then acquiesced when it came to implementing Herman's preferred no-huddle offense. Then with the no-huddle came the plan to speed things up a bit and go with some up-tempo offense.

Urban Meyer
Photo by Dan Harker
Urban Meyer

During his first spring back in 2012, I asked Herman if he had a target number for snaps per game and he said that he did not. Some offensive coordinators or head coaches will have a number that they want to average, but Herman said he only wanted as many plays as it took to get the win.

But that was also around the time when many people were equating "no huddle" with "up tempo", and that's not really all that accurate as we have seen the last two seasons.

When the Buckeyes have gone to their hurry-up "Jet" package, it has been effective, but the struggles on defense made it dangerous to do too much up-tempo stuff over the last two seasons.

It's that distrust of the defense which prompted today's Reader Mail question.

Will this defense be good enough for Urban to run a hurry up offense?  We saw glimpses of the hurry up last year and it was good.  If we can be in this mode 40-50% of the time Miller's records will be very hard to catch. -- John H.

Before we get to the defensive aspect of this answer, I think the offense itself was more than a little responsible for the lack of a hurry up last year.

Mainly, they didn't need to hurry up. With Carlos Hyde and Braxton Miller running the ball, winning the surest way simply meant running the ball at an even keel. For the most part, there was no reason for them to get tricky.

When you're running for 300 yards per game, speeding play up is only helping the opponent.

This season, however, I don't foresee those same 300 yards per game rushing, so some things will need to change. One of those changes could very well be more hurry up.

Meyer said this spring that the offense will be different than it was a season ago, and I think one positive difference would be more hurry up. After all, Braxton Miller is a senior quarterback, so he should be able to handle any checks or calls that would be put on his shoulders.

The versatility of the players around Miller will also allow more hurry up. That versatility will allow them to do plenty of different things without substituting, so why not do it in an up-tempo manner.

In terms of whether or not the Ohio State defense will be good enough to allow the offense to be up tempo, the answer is yes, but only because I think Meyer and Herman are much more open to the idea this time around given that Carlos Hyde is now in the NFL.

In other words, even if the defense isn't up to the challenge, I think we'll still see more up tempo than we did a season ago.

There is also the aspect of the defensive rotation to think about. The coaches at all three levels have talked about their rotations being deeper than they have been in the past.

An up-tempo offense that struggles may not permit their own defense to get a rest, but having solid depth at all three levels would allow competent substitutions in the event of a tired defense due to too many three-and-outs from the Buckeye offense.

I am a firm believer that this Ohio State defense will be better than it was a season ago. I also believe it will be good enough to allow an up-tempo Buckeye offense.

But I still don't see it ever getting to the 40-50% mark simply because both Meyer and Herman love to control things so emphatically.

I can see the up-tempo offense being big early in the season, but as the Buckeyes begin dominating the line of scrimmage in routine fashion, things will then begin to slow down again.

However, if this defense does turn out to be everything Buckeye fans and coaches are hoping for, just imagine the overall stress that an up-tempo offense could inflict upon a defense that has just seen its offense go three-and-out yet again.

Or maybe that's just the Chris Ash Kool-Aid talking.

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