I will have a lot more to say after reviewing the film, but for now these are the things that jumped out at me. All in all a great victory--OSU did exactly what they had to do--set the tempo, controlled the clock, and controlled the line of scrimmage--and did so through their passing game. Very impressive
- What a gameplan. I thought OSU would try and control the clock, which they did to the tune of nearly 42 minutes. I thought that Pryor would be called upon to make some big plays with his legs, which he did. In particular, the fake Dave rollout play was highly successful in the second half, both as a pass and called run. But I had no idea that OSU would control the clock through ball-control passing. Pryor continually moved the chains through short to medium drop back and half roll pass plays and OSU was highly successful doing so.
- For those that complain that OSU does not have a 'sophisticated' passing game, or run 'sophisticated' routes, this game was the perfect tonic. True to form, Oregon play an aggressive blitzing style with soft man coverage behind it. So what did OSU do??? Run underneath man-coverage beater routes all night. Double slants were the most prevalent. Again and again OSU moved the chains by hitting the inside double slant before Oregon's man coverage could converge. OSU also featured bubble screens, running back arrow and wheel routes out of the backfield against man-coverage linebackers, seam routes, quick outs off the zone read fake, and fade-stop routes, most famously on the last TD pass to Posey. OSU did a great job controlling the ball and moving the chains by featuring these routes.
- From there, OSU did a nice job balancing by mixing in shotgun-spread type runs with Pryor picking up some big third downs on the zone read, traditional I formation football, and the heretorefore mentioned called fake- Dave run plays.
- Perhaps most importantly, Ohio State stayed aggressive. On first down, Ohio State was extremely balanced, going 10-16 passing for 107 yards. They then did a great job on the game-clinching drive of using play-action called runs to get big first downs.
- All that can be said about Terrelle Pryor is wow. Just a great, great game. Stepped up in the pocket, did a great job hitting the slants on time, and buying time with his feet to chheck down and hit the RBs on key underneath routes. Also did a nice job of checking to the bubble screen when it was there. Then when he ran, he largely ran the ball hard and sniffed out the first down market multiple times, and how about those stiff arms!?!? He deserves every accolade for this game, and I think it represented a culmination of all the little improvements I saw throughout the year--taking what the defense gives you both running and throwing, better mechanics, checking into the right play, and not forcing throws.
- Posey and Sanzenbacher deserve as much credit as Pryor. I have been hard on them at times this year, but they took their games to the next level. Posey played very physical and caught balls in traffic. Oregon started cheating their coverage towards him and Dane came up big over the middle. Both did a nice job getting off the line, running precise routes, and reading the blitz. Big steps forward.
- The Offensive Line also played a very big game. For the most part they handled the multidude of blitzes and stunts Oregon threw their way, giving Pryor time. OSU also time and again picked up critical short yardage conversions, never getting stopped on third and short. It was great seeing Tressel's reaction on the last 3d and 1 Dave play where OSU gained 4. Oregon knew it was coming and could not stop it. The line took a big step forward this year.
- Brandon Saine and Jake Ballard also had critical catches. Saine again showed the threat he is out of the backfield, showing great hands and nimbleness. Ballard's catch was highlight reel-esque, a great contribution from someone who is mostly called on to block. All in all it was a great team effort and execution on the offensive side of the ball of a very nice gameplan.
- Just an amazing performance by the defense. To deal with a short field most of the game, and hold Oregon to 17 points and 13 first downs is quite an accomplishment.
- Schematically, OSU did a great job of mixing coverages and looks. We brought a lot of zone pressure, played quite a bit of cover 4 and quarter-quarter-half coverage, and kept Oregon guessing. Up front, we lined up primarily in an over front to limit Oregon's reads.
- The key to OSU's defensive success was winning first and second down. And OSU did that by limiting Oregon's primary play, the zone read. In fact, Oregon did not have success running this play all night. Instead they had to turn to their fly sweep and WR screens on the outside to move the ball.
- OSU did so by doing what they have done all year--dominating the line of scrimmage. Heyward, Gibson, Worthington, and company came up huge controlling Oregon's offensive line and limiting Oregon's running lanes.
- In so doing, OSU limited to Oregon to 3d and medium and 3d and long. And this was critical. Rather than letting Oregon go to their offensive identity, which is their running game, Oregon had to pass. And they largely had no success doing so against OSU. OSU's back seven's mix of coverages controlled Oregon's wide receivers and TE, and Masoli could not read coverages. Even when he had time he had no idea where to go with the football. Oregon had to rely on bubble and jailbreak screens to pick up third downs, which was only successful for so long.
- What is particularly impressive is that the OSU defense did this defending essentially half of the field. The kickoffs and coverages were terrible and were effectively the equivalent of one or two turnovers. But the defense made up for it and held Oregon in check.
A great all-around game on both the offensive and defense, both in terms of scheme and execution. OSU controlled the clock, set the tempo of the game, controlled the line of scrimmage, and came up with big plays when they needed to. These are the things that win games against good teams and OSU succeeded at all of these tonight. I will have much more to say about this game as I review the tape, but for now lets enjoy the win!
For further discussion, go to Scout.com's Ohio State's 'Ask the Insider's' Board.