I had the privilege of attending the OSU jersey scrimmage today. Because I was in the South Stands I had a good "video" view of the offensive and defensive schemes from directly behind the action.
I want to make one general point, then I'll turn to schemes and players.
Overall: I'm sure the CW out of this scrimmage will be that the offense and offensive line were not any good. But that is really an unfair reading. First off, the 1s did not play very much as a unit. And then of the snaps the 1s played, Pryor only played about half of those snaps. I personally saw Pryor play maybe 3 series. And then you have the fact that he is in a black jersey and cannot run. And then you add the fact that the 1s were largely working situations, like coming out of their own goal line. But all that being said, the first team offense largely did the job against the first team defense. They moved the ball running, Pryor had time to make plays, and the line worked pretty well together. There were some dropped balls, but the wind was terrible. The one's looked worse when Bauserman played, as he cannot help but get balls tipped. But where the offense really looked bad was the 2s and 3s against OSU's 2d and 3d string defense. But think about it--we are so loaded at DE and LBer how many of those guys would be starting for every other Big Ten Team: Wells, Thomas, Klein, Dorian Bell, Newsome, etc. So they were lighting up patchwork second and third team O-Lines. So you really can only expect so much.
- The offense is largely building upon what they did against Oregon. It is a really nice package built around several series from both the shotgun and I that have the common theme of being built around the inside running threat and outside run/pass threat of Pryor.
- That means a combination of the 'spread', namely with tight trips or 3 wide, split backs, based around the zone read play and then the half roll passes off of that, and then the I-formation, based upon the Dave/rollout and sprint draw series. You will notice that all of these series have the common fact that they combine our inside running game with the outside run/pass threat bind that Pryor puts defenses in. So it plays to the teams strengths and really works well together. They all allow Pryor to get to the outside where he is such a threat. For example, we saw the fake Dave QB run play that Pryor just killed Oregon. That play puts the OLB in such a bind--does he screw down on the power play like he's taught to do, or does he stay outside to contain Pryor? As VB said, pretty much all you can do is tell your SAM LBer to just make a decision one way or another, don't get stuck in no-man's land. The Tight-trips shotgun formation also is such a threat to the defense. They put the HB to the tight trips side. That means you have 7 defenders to the strong side of the football that the defense has to acount for accordingly. But then, OSU can run inside zone back to the weakside, and also has Posey alone to that side. So a defense is put in the bind of both having to respect the numbers to the strength but accounting for what they may see to the weak side.
- OSU is consciously working hard to get the TEs and Running Backs involved in the passing game. OSU showed some unbalanced where Stoneburner would be to the weakside but then release into the pass route. Every pass pattern called was a 5 man route with the TE running seam, drag, or in routes.
- OSU's defense has reached a point that they are all so comfortable with teh system and what they are trying to do that they are getting very complicated. Their base is 4-3 under personnel. But from that they go a variety of ways. Oftentimes they will play a 3-4, but they bump down one side into an 'eagle' look with a 3 technique. The thing is, its really hard to figure out what their keys are. Sometimes they bump the eagle down based on formation strength, sometimes based on the field. Other times they played a straight-up 3-4. Still other times they showed a 4-3 over. Coverage-wise they are showing cover 1 press, but then often dropping to a lot of quarter-quarter-half coverage.
- And the Defense was really bringing the heat today. Rolle and Homan were constantly x-blitzing, and they would often bring Williams around on a twist. Everything OSU is doing defensively reflects a staff and team that is confident in what they are doing and their ability.
- In the limited amount of action Pryor looked very comfortable in the pocket. He was stepping up, making his reads, and staying comfortable in the pocket. I remarked that he just looks much more comfortable and in control with everything.
- Cameron Hayward is the leader of this team. He is extremely vocal the first one running down the field to participate in drills, the one in front cheering and hollering on the defense, and spurring people on. The defense takes on his persona and they were really animated and cheering each other on all day. IIt is funny, Simon is like Heyward's shadow, he tries to follow and mimic everything he is doing. The offense, by comparison, was pretty lacking in emotion. Now, part of this is just the defense between offensive and defensive football. But right now it is clear who the defense's leader is, the offense does not have someone as vocal. Heyward is poised to take another step forward and be the most dominant defensive linemen in college fb this year.
- The defense flies to the football. It's hard to say certain people stand out, because they are running and gang-tackling everyone.
- As I said, I thought the first team O-Line looked pretty good. I thought Miller may have gotten a few more snaps than Adams, but I thought Adams more than held his own. My personal sense is that Adams will be the starter and is playing better, but they are going to make him earn it.
- I think Sabino has fully locked down the SAM spot. People need to realize that the 3 LBer positions are not interchangeable. You can play either the inside spots (Mike or Will) or the Sam spot. The Sam is now always on the LOS and is basically a mix between your traditional head-up on the TE linebacker and the nickel star player. Half the time he is playing in the "grey" area splitting between the end of the line and wide receivers, forcing everything inside. Sabino's athleticism allows him to do this and really gives the 3-4 look another dimension.