The Ohio State offense went back to the future against Nebraska, and it paid off in a big game on the ground.
The Bucks put up 229 yards rushing by removing run-pass option plays from the game plan this week.
“To be honest, I don’t think that there were any RPOs today. Not that I remember,” said right tackle Isaiah Prince.
Running back Mike Weber confirmed that.
“I honestly think we didn’t run any reads today. I think it was just more get the ball to the back and let them make plays,” Weber said.
“We got back to old Buckeye football. Just run at them and show them that we are strong,” said running back J.K. Dobbins, who finished with 163 yards and 3 touchdowns on the ground.
The run-pass option is a hot trend for many offenses. As the name suggests, the quarterback has a couple choices, including a run and a pass, depending on what he sees the defense doing.
That can be based on a pre-snap read or what he sees after the play is already underway.
It’s a dangerous weapon, because if it’s executed correctly, it can put the defense in a no-win situation. Minnesota gashed the OSU defense with RPO calls in October.
But it also creates issues for the offensive line, because they’re not sure whether they’re blocking for a run or pass play.
“When you do an RPO and the quarterback pulls the ball, you lose sense of where the defense is supposed to be,” Prince said. “On certain run plays, I know exactly how the defense is going to react in certain situations.”
When it’s a traditional run play, that uncertainty is gone. And that frees the big guys up front to do what they do best.
“It makes a big difference. You can fly off the ball, come off the ball hard,” Prince said.
Thayer Munford, the left tackle, agreed.
“We were happy that some of our plays were getting called,” Munford said. “The whole offensive line was happy about it.”
Prince couldn’t hide a big smile when he talked about the move away from RPOs after the game.
“To be honest, we were just really happy about it because we started running the ball more. That’s what we all wanted was to run the ball more,” he said.
But Prince said that the RPO calls aren’t necessarily gone for good, and at least outwardly, he’s fine with that.
“That’s our offense. Whatever the coaches call, that’s the best call. Sometimes RPOs are best,” Prince said. “We ran a lot of RPOs against TCU and it worked out just fine. But there are some games where we just need to pound the rock.”