Ohio State had a couple instances of short-yardage failures in 2018 which prompted Urban Meyer to be asked why the Buckeyes don’t go under center and simply try to sneak the quarterback.
Meyer’s responses to this suggestion has been a combination of “I’ll take that under advisement” and an explanation that shotgun teams don’t have time to practice taking the snap from under center.
With Ohio State now under new management, head coach Ryan Day was asked last week if the Buckeyes might revisit going under center in 2019.
“Yes. We’re going to look at a lot of different things,” he said. “Again, what does this team look like? We’re always trying to be on the cutting edge of a lot of things. We’ve studied a lot of people’s different film. We’re going to try and find what is the next step for us. What is the thing that keeps us ahead of everybody else, and so we’re going to look at some under center stuff this spring.”
Along with a new passing game coordinator in Mike Yucich, the OSU offensive staff isn’t looking to go under center just for sneaking purposes. They are looking at the different ways it can help this Buckeye offensive be more diverse and more dangerous.
Yurcich believes there are many benefits to going under center at times.
“I think from just an obvious broad stroke element, it allows the tailback to get downhill a little bit more,” he said. “And then you’re trying to complement those runs with your play action. And then anytime you’re able to create longer conflict for the defense, a longer time frame.
“Meaning, in under center, you take the snap, you fake it to the tailback, there’s a little bit difference of a matter of time that goes on to that than when you’re in the gun. So you’re able to get more suck out of the defense at times on your deep play action. That complements those particular runs.”
It’s About The Execution
Last week in practice, quarterbacks could be seen practicing the center-quarterback exchange. There are several factors involved in how much they employ this particular alignment in 2019, not the least of which is how well they can actually handle the snap.
“How efficient are we at getting the center-quarterback exchange, and we’re learning those things,” Yurcich said. “And we’ll get better. Nowadays when you’re dealing with a lot of the quarterbacks that have been in spread systems their whole lives, that isn’t really taught. So once we teach it and they get more comfortable with it, we’ll be able to see who is more effective and who is less effective at that skill.”
The ability to actually gather the snap isn’t the only factor that they look at, but it is the most important. Then, once that particular skill is attained, they can move on to the other areas that will determine how often they will be under center.
No Denying The Effectiveness
What isn’t a question, however, is how effective it can be in putting a defense in a less tenable situation.
“At the same time, there’s other things that factor into it,” Yurcich explained. “What’s your package that you’re running out of it? I think allowing the tailback to receive the ball on certain runs from under center is advantageous. Also the play-action that you’re able to gain off of those runs can be advantageous to an offense because it allows the receivers to get further down the field because it takes more time on the field. You’re allowed to suck the defense in for a longer interval of time.
“Those are the main things of why you are trying to do it, but ultimately you’re just trying to be very productive and efficient as an offense and you have to be very careful that you’re not spreading yourself too thin.”