Ohio State football: Charting the offense, Northwestern

Jonathan Daniel

Here is the weekly look at the snaps played by Buckeye skill position players, while analyzing the way they were utilized.

During this week's tilt versus Northwestern, the Ohio State offense ran 72 offensive plays, which has been right around the average for this offense. Last week versus Wisconsin, the Buckeyes ran 68 offense plays and I would expect that Coach Urban Meyer wants to run 70 or more plays per game.

Here is this week's player participation report:

Quarterback Number of Plays
Braxton Miller 72
  • I thought the opening drive was perfectly scripted to give Miller confidence throwing the ball early but once they got inside the 10 yard line they should have ran the ball with Carlos Hyde with the defense respecting the pass.
  • I mentioned last week how Miller does not have the same explosiveness coming off of the MCL sprain, it may take some time getting used to the brace but the bye week will surely give him some more much needed rest.
  • The first half of the game Miller seemed a bit off, his throws were high (the overthrow in the end zone was inexcusable) and he was not reading the defensive end well and seemed to be pre-determining pre-snap again on the read option. As he got into a rhythm in the second half he made some excellent reads running the read option.
  • Screenshot_100713_031508_pm_medium
  • In the above photo, Miller made a very poor read or he pre-determined to give the ball to Hyde. His eyes were on the defensive end crashing down the entire play but chose to hand the ball off for a loss of yardage.Good_read_medium
  • In the above photo, Miller makes an excellent read as you can see Miller's eyes are once again on the defensive end who decides to stay home. Miller decided to hand the ball off to Hyde who picked up the first down.Screenshot_100713_043237_pm_medium
  • Miller makes another excellent read in the second half of the game, seeing the end crash down on Hyde, he pulled the ball back and ran for good yardage. It seems as though Miller has a difficult time pulling the ball and keeping it, without pre-determining to run but here he does an excellent job reading the defensive end crashing down and making the play with his feet.
  • One thing that is concering, yet fixable were Miller's three huge mistakes. First, the very bad overthrow to Chris Fields, who was wide open in the end zone. Running a pick pattern to perfection where the cornerback who was covering Fields ran into his teammate on the play, Miller just needs to set his feet and use proper throwing mechanics to complete the simple touchdown pass. Second and thirdly, the two fumbles inside both red zones made this game much closer than it needed to be and it created a 10-14 point swing in Northwestern's favor.
Running Backs Number of Plays
Carlos Hyde 63
Rod Smith 7
Ezekiel Elliott 2
Dontre Wilson 1

  • The gameplan was to wear out the defense with Hyde and it worked in back to back weeks. Northwestern had no answer to Hyde between the tackles and Coach Tom Herman fed him the ball over and over again with great success.
  • Wilson went from 14 snaps versus Wisconsin last week to just one this week which is alarming. Did Coach Urban Meyer lose trust in the freshman speedster for his ball security issues or were they just content with pounding Hyde for four quarters? I thought we would see him run jet sweep motion to freeze the linebackers but the offense was having success between the tackles.
  • 15 plays were ran out of the Pistol Formation.
  • Hyde got stronger as the game went on, which forced the defensive ends to crash down on Hyde, allowing Miller to pull the ball and run himself. When the running game gets going like it did on Saturday, it is very tough to stop (last season's Michigan game).
  • Hyde_medium
  • Smith filled it well for Hyde when he needed a breather which will make for an intriguing decision with Jordan Hall once he is back and healthy again.
Wide Receiver Number of Plays
Corey Brown 68
Devin Smith 63
Evan Spencer 60
Chris Fields 26

  • After the first drive, the receivers took a back seat in the offense to the running game but were very key blocking on the outside.
  • Brown lined up on the outside 14 times with the rest of his snaps coming in the slot.
  • Spencer lined up in the slot eight times with the rest of his snaps positioned on the outside.
  • Fields tends to be used more in short yardage and on the goal line as he is one of the better blockers on the team. He is used in the slot to spell either Spencer or Smith then they move Brown to the outside.
Tight End Number of Plays
Jeff Heuerman 70
  • Surprised to see that back up tight end Nick Vannett did not get any playing time, especially with the Buckeyes running the ball as much as they did on Saturday.
  • Instead of using the Double Tight End Formation to keep the chains moving, the Buckeyes went to this formation pictured below, as it was ran out of the last five out of six plays:
  • Short_yardage_medium
  • Heuerman lined up in the slot 25 times, in the flex 15 times and on the line of scrimmage 30 times.
  • Heuerman did not have his best day as a blocker, whiffing on his man on the fake punt attempt and getting to the second level in the running game.
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