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!