Buckeye Breakdown: Wheel of Fortunes

Johnnie Dixon Marcus Baugh Ohio State Football Buckeyes

The Ohio State offense continues to evolve while taking advantage of lesser opponents over the course of the last three weeks, seemingly focusing on specific concepts each week. From creativity and tempo to completing the deep ball, each week has played out like its own chapter in an offensive playbook.

Against Rutgers, the deep ball and accuracy of J.T. Barrett took the glory, but what became glaringly obvious was the involvement of the “Wheel Route” and its impact on the “Mesh” concepts.

With a running back releasing on a wheel route, it will almost always pull a linebacker out of the middle of the field. Factor in the chaos of the crossing routes and Barrett should be able to pick an open target with room to run after the catch.

As you will see in the first clip below, Barrett is able to check down from his initial read, which was Dobbins on the wheel, and buy time to let Campbell come open underneath with room to run as Campbell picked up 20 yards on the play.

Later in the game, the Buckeyes showed a new wrinkle to the Wheel Route when they lined up with three wide receivers to the left and an empty backfield. Previous tendencies have shown an empty set often yields a “touch pass” or a QB draw, but in this scenario the Buckeyes sent Campbell in motion before turning him upfield on a wheel. The motion forced the second level defenders to shift which also changed the responsibilities of each defender without time to process the changes, creating missed assignments and ultimately a big play.

Regardless of the opponent, the team is showing the ability to move the chains in a number of ways if necessary. Sure, the opposition hasn’t exactly resembled the ’85 Bears defensively, but having the ability to turn the page or flip the script offensively will surely come into play in the marquee games later on the schedule.

Perhaps we are seeing the final touches of a Ryan Day-Kevin Wilson offense coming together. The one thing still missing, however, is Dobbins and Mike Weber in the same backfield and our collective heads exploding when they release on…wait for it…double wheel routes!

One Response

  1. The things missing are a coherence and consistency to playcalling. I know unpredictability is necessary but, the thing that bothers me is that the offense is STILL playing off what the defense allows, rather than the offense dictating what the opposition defense can do. I know that the missing consistency productivity in the intermediate and deep passing game is a major factor and it’s also why not many are buying that we’re actually seeing progress. As the level of competition gets better, that means defensive consistency and execution gets better. I’ve gone over the last 3 games and for all the world it doesn’t look like the Buckeyes are actually working on the intermediate and deep passing game. There’s not a good opponent on the Buckeye schedule left that believes JT can pass them out of the box. Against a Penn State of even _ichigan that means they will constantly have 8 guys in the box where 3 are always going to be free hitters. Free hitters means more stunting packages, blitzes, and key and bait plays are available to them. to limit underneath mesh routes and the running game. That’s EXACTLY the same reason why the Buckeyes have looked pathetic against good defenses over the last 3 seasons. If I’m a DC I make the call that the Buckeye offense is unpredictably predictable in the short passing game so I eliminate the explosive plays and choke slam the running game at all costs.

    The last 3 opponents went exactly the way the Nation KNEW they were going to go. 3 teams completely out talented. Mostly it’s the same comments about how much better they are getting. The sugar and spice song birds out chirping about how dominant they have become. For 3 straight years the real question people should be asking is, “Are they better or is it the rinse and repeat smoke and mirrors from the past 3 seasons?”

    Time will tell, but for me, all these so called new mesh routes are just the same weak route tree in a slightly adjusted wrapping. Tempo is different but the plays are all the same genre. While they’re busy trying to create a different route for the same ground within 10 yards, the running game isn’t really getting the work it’s going to need when the opponents secondaries are talented enough to greatly limit that weak short passing game with virtually basic schemes and gearing up to crush the Buckeye rushing offense.

    Sorry, I simply see same crap, different year in the passing game. Receivers who are only functioning blockers and small ball level players because of EXTREMELY weak concepts. The reason they have to play small ball is obvious. There’s a reason why there’s so much limitation to “opening up” the offense. It’s got nothing to do with the talent at wideout. The nonsensical garbage about receivers not seperating or “creating space” is for the sheep to swallow and repeat. Just a simple rewatching of the games focusing on the different levels tells a COMPLETELY different story.

    I remember watching the Oregon game from 2014. The wheel route was effective until the defense learned the keys and maintained disciplne. Once even an average Oregon figured it out that play no longer worked. But adjusting to it DID open up the middle of the field in the intermediate and deep game. Jones had the cannon to exploit it. Can JT?

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