Ohio State football in 2017 will feature the deep passing game like you haven’t seen since the 2014 season.
It’s going to be moon shot after moon shot. The gloriousness will rain down on the Ohio State offense like unnecessary suggestions from mothers-in-law.
It is going to be amazing.
At least that’s what everyone has been led to believe. In order to make that happen, however, there still needs to be balance. Balance with the running game and balance in the passing game by attacking all parts of the field.
When Urban Meyer came to Ohio State, he spoke of the need to stress the opposing defenses both north and south, and east and west. The Buckeyes have tried to do that since Tom Herman left, but they haven’t done it as effectively as they could have. And certainly not as effectively as Kevin Wilson and Ryan Day are planning on doing it this season.
“[The deep ball] was one of the huge emphases that Kevin and I when we got here really wanted to attack,” Day said. “You could see it in the spring that was a big emphasis and still is in this preseason, and then horizontally we wanted to do it as well. Our skill guys are talented. They’ve been around here a while, they’re reliable, they’re accountable, so we want to feature those guys. I just know with our offensive line and our running back and our tight ends and obviously our quarterback, they want to gang up on us, so in order to be operating at a high level we want to make sure that we stretch the field vertically and horizontally.”
What’s the benefit of throwing the ball horizontally instead of vertically? Well, when a team throws the ball vertically, the opposing defensive line is only running from their stance to where the quarterback is. Once the ball is released, their play is generally over. When a team throws the ball horizontally, however, the defensive line has to go and chase the football because they could be involved in the play.
Instead of simply rushing the passer for about seven yards and then pulling up when the ball is released, they rush the passer, then have to turn and run another 20 or 30 yards to help out wide. Then once that play is over, they have to run back to the line because the Buckeyes are getting ready to snap the ball again. Then they throw another wide pass and the defensive line has to go and run to that play as well. Pretty soon, the defensive line isn’t putting the pressure on the offense that they once were, which then allows more peace for the quarterback when trying to go downfield.
Employing a horizontal passing game and an up-tempo attack is basically like making opposing defensive fronts run wind sprints a few times during each series.
And we probably don’t even need to get into what it does to a defense over the course of a game, especially in the fourth quarter when the Buckeyes have got the running game going as well.
“It’s very important because it’s one of those things that, for example, our defense, we have really good seven guys up front, so to get those guys tired running left to right is a big advantage for us in doing it fast,” explained quarterback J.T. Barrett. “So on third down, are they coming to the ball in their sprinter’s stance about to run 100 meters? No, because they’re tired. They just ran chasing the ball because they have to, otherwise big plays happen, so they just ran all the way to the left sideline, then get them to go all the way to the right. Also too, if you think about it, with releases and RPOs (run-pass options), our guys don’t block a lot, so those guys are not as tired. So with that, that’s an advantage for us.”