Football

Buckeye Receivers Have to Beat Opposing Defensive Ends Too

Ohio State quarterback Joe Burrow Throwing

The Ohio State wide receivers have more than just one plate to spin in their unending quest to get open.

Yes, there is the man standing across the line of scrimmage, be it a cornerback, safety, or linebacker. If a receiver is going to help move the chains, then he has to beat that man to a spot where the football can find him.

This race has a very unforgiving time limit, however.

After all, what good does a receiver do his team if when he finally gets open, his quarterback is face down in the turf wondering what took everybody so long to get open?

That scenario is something that Kevin Wilson brought to the Ohio State offense this spring. So much of the emphasis was on tempo, and this was as well, but here we are talking about what happens after the snap.

“When Coach Wilson came in, he said that at receiver you’re not beating the corner necessarily, but you’re defeating a defensive end that our left tackle has to block on a pass play,” explained quarterback J.T. Barrett. “You’ve got to beat the defensive end. So you’ve got to get open in order for us to get you the ball. If it takes forever for you to get open, we can’t get you the ball because we didn’t beat the defensive end.”

The definition of “open” is open to interpretation and gets clouded more and more every day with the popularity of the back-shoulder throws. How much a receiver needs to be open also depends on the accuracy of the quarterback throwing the ball. The more accurate the quarterback, the smaller the windows need to be. And sometimes, there won’t be any windows at all and a quarterback just has to trust his receivers a little bit longer.

“Me, I think something that always can help is that when it comes to passing, making sure the receivers do enough to get open, then help them when they get open,” Barrett said. “That’s the yards after the catch, so get better at that aspect of my game, and that’s accuracy. Then timing, I think last year there were certain things that we weren’t on time, whether it be me or the receiver, and then there were times where I wasn’t holding onto the ball and giving them a chance to make plays.”

A receiver isn’t always going to beat the man across from him right away, which means that Barrett isn’t going to be likely to throw into conflict. He will instead look for his second or third read. That second or third receiver will have a split second longer to get open, but whether a pass ever gets delivered to anybody will depend on whether or not they can beat the defensive end trying to bring Barrett down.

It’s a constant race and it always has a different — yet equally stressful — time limit. The quicker the receivers get open and the quicker Barrett can find them, the better off the Ohio State offense will be.

Each play is a mad dash that the Buckeyes try to keep under control.

Every player on offense has his own plates to spin, but if they can’t beat the defensive end before the quarterback gets the throw off, then all of it comes crashing down.