Buckeye Breakdown: Bursting the Bubble

Terry McLaurin Ohio State Army

The Buckeyes have taken advantage of defenses of late by resorting to the bubble screen to the wide side of the field for easy gains. They have run this out of a variety of formations, including Jet Motion.

As Tony stated in a recent episode of Accost The Field, this is Urban Meyer’s version of “Dave”, as it is a simple read and nearly automatic at creating positive yards.

The idea boils down to simple math, counting box defenders and identifying the alignment of the safeties to determine where the ball will be delivered pre-snap. The depth and split of the safeties will alert the offense to run or pass, and the depth of the defensive backs over the receivers will likely determine if the pass is coming to the bubble or not. Meyer will take easy yards every time, especially when K.J. Hill and Paris Campbell can make defenders miss in space one-on-one.

The beauty of the play has evolved in recent weeks, predominately following the loss to Oklahoma where the Sooners utilized similar principles to slip past linebackers for big plays.

The Buckeyes showed the basic bubble screen a number of times from a two receiver set with much success. Later in the first quarter, however, the Buckeyes used the bubble screen with a “Trips” alignment and created a nice zone for Terry McLaurin to settle into for a moderate gain.

Late in the third quarter, the Buckeyes unleashed the ultimate break in tendency when they ran the bubble screen to the boundary, all the while slipping the blocking receivers past the defenders for an easy touchdown.

The play proved the Ohio State offense is open to learning from their mistakes defensively, and also put the play on film for the rest of the conference to take note.

Meyer has stated previously that whenever he attends a coaching conference he will often ask defensive coaches about the plays or schemes they hate to defend the most. As it turned out versus Oklahoma, he learned first hand what deception can bring to an offense, and while it stung to lose in early September, the lessons learned could return greater dividends as the season progresses.