Buckeye Breakdown: The Ultimate Stretch

Terry McLaurin Ohio State Football


When Kevin Wilson and Ryan Day were brought in to run the Ohio State offense, there was a belief that the passing game would be drastically different on every down. Instead, the offense is still an “Urban Meyer offense” that relies on a power running game, but there are brilliant flashes of what the offense will eventually become.

Wilson and Day have installed a passing scheme that stretches the defense horizontally, creating openings in the deep third of the field.

Bubble screens have been a huge part of the offense’s success this season, and the win over Wisconsin was no different.

Parris Campbell broke a long touchdown to put the Buckeyes up 14-7, but as stated in the past, whether the play goes for minus one yards or 54 yards for a touchdown the future results are the same. Defenses will crash down on the bubble, either to tally another tackle for loss, or to rectify their error on the long score.

On the particular play below, Mike Weber ran a bubble to the wide side of the field. Bear in mind this is a first down play early in the game, so the defense was likely keying on the safe throw to the flat. Parris Campbell lined up at H-Back but almost as if he was hiding behind Isaiah Prince. Campbell then runs wide on pre-snap motion that draws both the Safety and Outside Linebacker into the flat.

As the defense is conflicted against the four-receiver set to the strong side of the field, Campbell is able to run off the other Safety, leaving the middle of the field wide open. J.T. Barrett reads the reaction from the Safety guarding Terry McLaurin, as well as the Corner crashing down on Weber, and delivers a nice ball leading him away from the defender en route to a big touchdown.

The formation strained the defense by widening them out and creating space, but also stretched the defense vertically to challenge the secondary.

“We were repping it all week and we knew if we got that particular look it would be a touchdown, and J.T. put it out there for me,” McLaurin said after the game.

“The safety was going to be in the middle of the field and we wanted to have him make a choice. So I believe we had the H one-on-one on the sideline, and our H’s have a lot of respect, and when we got the look that we wanted, usually we don’t go vertical on that route, but we kind of had a little telepathy between wide receiver and quarterback and I just wanted to run to green grass, and he threw me there.”

We take a closer look at the ultimate stretch in this week’s Buckeye Breakdown.



10 Responses

  1. As I pointed out earlier in the week, with an efficient quarterback the score would have been at least 56-14 and we were probably in the playoff. There’s nothing wrong with the offence, just the execution. J.T passes to the flat, -7 points, 2 interceptions. I’m glad those passes spread the field. We had to get 7 points back just to make up for the interception. J.T. downfield, 3 misses of wide open receivers, 1 drop. on 4 trips to the red zone, they got 6 points. In the second half they got 6 points total.

    It doesn’t matter how good the scheme is. If the players don’t execute it won’t work. Wisconsin had the ball in position to win the game. We were bailed out because in the second half, their quarterback was worse than ours. 1 for 10 at one point. That’s why we won. The schemes in the end were good, we ran the ball, we ran J,T too much but that’s nitpicking, we made them pay for not defending the run. But 28 points left on the table in the vertical passing game that is not a playoff caliber team, no matter what anyone says. Playing Clemson or Oklahoma, those might be the only 28 points you get a shot at.

    This season is gone. Time to move on. I’m going to go watch the 2002 game on DVD. I want to see how Tressel managed to go 14-0, better than any Urban Meyer season, without running his quarterback 15 times a game. I suspect there’s a strategy there that’s pretty effective probably more effective than the current strategy based on 5 years in the current system., given 14-0 hasn’t been matched since, well except by Alabama. Definitely not by Urban Meyer..

    Just saying. Still overall, another great season. If I could look back and check, I think said we’d lose three and we came darn close to doing that in the Penn State game. So really two losses is good. We broke in a lot of young guys, we have two dynamite running backs. It would have been less stressful if the playoff thing hadn’t dragged out until the end, but looking back using two is better than losing 3 or 4, or five……..or …… It could have been a lot worse.

    The big thing is, this was good team, they had their opportunities, they just didn’t work out. The same thing next year with a few tweaks could work out. There’s always an element of luck in a great season. One of these years it’s all going to come together and with the playoff, pie of our teams will go 15-0. OK so they’d have to be like the 72 Dolphins, but, it could happen. There’s always new highs to look forward to. It’s tough when the bar is 14-0 but hey, anything’s possible.

    See y’all next year.

    1. By the way, TWO dropped passes for TD’s, not ONE!

  2. Pass to Campbell made it4~7, J.T. made it 21-7.

  3. JT can run the RPO under 15 yards. More luck with a walk one throwing beyond that. One more game with this nonsense

  4. I know WHY they use the horizontal passing game, they just don’t have a quarterback with the arm to exploit it.

    Those plays can have the effect of loosening the middle of the defense for drag and mesh routes, and opening up the intermediate and deep game against man or mixed coverage schemes. AGAIN it boils down to a quarterback with the arm and accuracy to. JT Barrett is amazing at RPO but, is quite frankly just too hit and miss outside the box for the scheme to have the success that forces defenses to have to play honest. 4 times against Wisconsin they had sure fire TD’s to wide open receivers, with almost NO pressure from the defense on the quarterback, but, JT could only execute “25%” of those wide open opportunities. We’re not talking open by a yard or 2, but open by 5 – 10 yards.

    Even if the scheme is superior, and being operated by superior talent, it’s up to the quarterback to exploit those advantages. JT Barrett is too erratic, which leads to the defense simply doing what they do and forcing JT Barrett to change their minds, which they don’t believe he can get done. We KNOW that’s what Wisconsin, _ichigan and every other opponent believed because they didn’t adjust away from outside press man coverages while keeping 7 or 8 guys crashing down in the box where the Buckeyes really CAN hurt them with the power running game. Even CEO Meyers H position is designed as an extension to the power run game. THAT is every defenses primary focus when they face the Buckeyes. They’re comfortable with that as a gameplan because of JT Barrett’s inconsistency in attacking the intermediate and deep levels of their defense. On those rare occasions when JT is on, the Buckeye offense is one of the most lethal offenses in all of football. When he’s not on, the Buckeye offense opens the door for games that shouldn’t be competitive to wind up being too close for comfort.

    Will next year be different with either Dwayne Haskins or Joe Burrow or Tate Martell? I think with either Joey or Tate, yes, it can be a more consistent offense as the year goes on and their experience operating it grows. They have the wiggle to operate the QB rush aspects. Not as slick as JT does, but sufficiently enough to exploit the other talent at receiver I don’t believe that’s true without making large adjustments for Haskins. He’s not a an RPO quarterback and the defenses aren’t going to be as conflicted. Yeah, Dwayne might escape on occasion and hurt them, but, the same level of consistently hurting them won’t be enough to force them to alter the scheme they take into the game. Just like they don’t alter their schemes with JT. JT is a great RPO short P option quarterback. But he’s not a serious balanced true dual threat. Neither is Dwayne.

    Those reasons are also why I think the door is open for the starting QB job next year. Dwayne has the exact opposite strengths of JT Barrett. Great passer and not that big of a threat with his legs. DC’s will be able to scheme him with a small sampling of adjustments for those times when he runs successfully. Against either Joe or Tate they will have to prepare 2 broad schemes. Watch Oklahoma. Hate Mayfield till the cows come home, but, on the football field he can do it all. That makes OU very difficult to gameplan for. What IF he runs? He’s dangerous. What IF he’s on in the passing game at each level? He’s dangerous be. His consistency of execution makes him lethal every game. That’s the difference between Ohio State and Oklahoma. Their QB CAN do it all and that dictates what a DC can do trying to prepare for him. JT Barrett is too inconsistent to do it all and DC’s gameplan the box leaving 50% of the field to chance.

    Yes. The horizontal passing game is important for CEO Meyers offense. As is a solid power rushing game.

    Saturday night it looked for all the world after that TD to McLaurin that JT was feeling it with his arm. That would spell HUGE blowout of the Badgers. But Wisconsin bet on him not being able to maintain that level of consistency. They were right. and the game became a dog fight to the end, rather than the blowout it could have and, should have been.

  5. I assume that this was practiced with McLaurin vs a S or LB. They didn’t anticipate Mack being completely uncovered. Don’t know if JT saw Mack all alone, or did see him, but went with what was the play design?

  6. That was a well-designed play that caused a serious breakdown of pass coverage by Wiscy – similar to what we have seen from our own pass defense on a number of occasions this year. The linebacker on the right of the defense allowed a receiver to go past him (presumably thinking a safety would pick him up), and then did not cover the receiver running the outside screen route (Campbell). One of their outside defensive backs then let a receiver past while running up to cover Campbell (presumably thinking he had safety support), while the linebacker stood there looking stupid and covering nobody. That left two receivers for one safety, and he was toast. J.T. actually passed to the (somewhat) covered receiver (McLaurin) to the right instead of the one to the left who was all alone (I don’t recall who it was unfortunately).

  7. I still hate the sideline passes. OSU does WAY too many of them. They have two great running backs. Let them both line up in the backfield and cause more confusion. More crossing routes too! Those work really well as long as J.T. puts it in front of his receivers (which I know is asking a lot) but the sideline to sideline crap is too predictable now. It’s right up their with the read option keeper, QB tackled for a 1 yard gain play…

    Also – Parris Campbell broke a long touchdown to put the Buckeyes up *14-7

    1. A number of sideline passes have went for huge gains and one went for a TD. The side line pass forces D’s to defend our speedy receivers and opens up the middle for huge runs. See games vs. MI/MSU and WISKY for proof.

Comments are closed.