Plug and Chug?
One of the differences between Jim Tressel and Urban Meyer’s football philosophies is that Meyer has chosen to have more offensive linemen on the roster than Tressel generally had. When he arrived at OSU, Meyer set about increasing the annual number of scholarship linemen per year by a couple, which gives the coaches a little bit of room for error. It also increases the competition, which is a necessity for the Ohio State football program.
One of the areas where they are very similar, however, is in their recruiting of versatile linemen. Tressel viewed it as a way to spread out the numbers a bit. If there were 13 offensive linemen signed, and half of them could play multiple positions, then they’re actually deeper than just 13 players. Under Meyer’s system, the same holds true, but there are generally a couple more options to turn to.
The 2018 Buckeyes should have 15 scholarship linemen, but their overall versatility makes them even deeper. And the competition that comes from that talent and versatility keeps everyone on their toes.
“I think that’s the really cool thing about what we have going right now,” said fifth-year senior center Brady Taylor. “Everyone is so competitive, everyone can play a lot of positions, and it makes everyone step up their game every day. They know that their spot is on the table to be had and they can kind of plug and chug anywhere. I think in the end it’s going to be the best five that play. It makes it really competitive and fun just because we’re all competing every day.”
Fitting the Personnel to the System
One of the jobs of the Ohio State offensive coordinators is to design a game plan that fits the personnel. Those plans need to be dynamic, and not just in the “explosive” usage of the word. The plan needs to fluctuate depending on who is in the game at any given moment.
The offense will always be the “Ohio State offense,” but it runs differently depending on which skill players are in the game.
With three different quarterbacks vying to be the starter, the game plans will also factor in the respective skill sets of the eventual starter.
“For example a year ago, Coach said Demario McCall playing tailback wasn’t a great pass blocker,” explained offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson. “Well every time I had him in I went five-man protection and he didn’t have to block anybody, he was a free route runner.
“So okay he can’t block that great, we’ll make him a route runner because half our passes are five man protections, so I didn’t ask him to block a lot and it played to his strength. The offense didn’t change. I emphasized what that kid could do. And as we go through these quarterbacks, we’ll just emphasize what each one can do. Right now we gotta keep building them up, because they’ve got a long way to go.”
While offensive coordinators Kevin Wilson and Ryan Day and head coach Urban Meyer have already stated that the Buckeye quarterbacks have a long way to go, the expectation is that the starter will be where he needs to be when the season begins.
Of course, just being a starter isn’t good enough for the Ohio State football program. Especially at quarterback.
The goal every season is a Big Ten Championship, which then generally leads to bigger and better things. Those bigger and better things will only come if the Buckeyes have a quarterback capable of getting the job done. Fourth-year quarterback Joe Burrow believes that whoever wins the job will be good enough to lead OSU to a national title.
“I do, yeah,” he said. “I think all three of us have different skill sets and different abilities, but we can all make really good decisions and play really well for this team.”
Asked why he should be the starter and the one to lead the Buckeyes to that championship, Burrow paused for a moment before answering.
“I don’t know. I guess I think I’m the best, obviously,” he said. “And I’m just trying to go out every day and prove that to people. Prove that to you guys, prove that to the fans, and prove that to the coaches.”