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Ohio State football: Charting the offense, Clemson

To close out the 2013 season, here's one last look at the snaps played by Buckeye skill position players, while analyzing the ways in which they were utilized.

Mike Ehrmann

In the 40-35 loss to Clemson in the 2014 Orange Bowl, the Ohio State offense played with a good tempo and ran 73 offensive plays. In their first loss of the season versus Michigan State, the Buckeye offense went 1-10 on 3rd down; against Clemson, they were 2-13 on third down. Coincidence? For a team that excelled on third down for the majority of the season, it was troubling how tight the third down play calling and execution was.

Quarterback Number of plays
Braxton Miller 73
  • Statistically, this was a very good performance by Braxton Miller, but in key situations, it was suspect. He finished 16/24 passing for 234 yards, but it just seemed that once again, Miller and his receivers were not on the same page. Two of their biggest passing plays were due to broken coverages, and there was a complete lack of consistency overall in the passing game.
  • What is equally troubling is that Miller sometimes reverts back to his old ways of predetermining in the read option.
After running Hyde for 19 yards on four straight carries, the Buckeyes had 3rd-and-1 on the 44 yard line. Surprisingly, the offense came out with no tight end on the line of scrimmage, looking to spread out the Clemson defense instead of using power like they usually do in short yardage.
#3 was unblocked, showing that they were running the read option. Miller completely pre-decided to keep the ball before the snap – and he pays for it. With #3 looking at Miller and not crashing down, Miller should have handed the ball off to Hyde.

Miller keeps the ball and is tackled for a loss on the play, resulting in a punt. This play is inexcusable on Miller's part, and it looks as though Hyde would have easily gotten the first down (and possibly more).

Running Backs Number of plays
Carlos Hyde 73
Dontre Wilson 23
  • It seems as though Coach Herman did not learn from his huge mistake in the Michigan State game as Carlos Hyde touched the ball on a hand off only twice after the Buckeyes went up 29-20 with 5:50 left in the 3rd quarter. When they got the ball back down 40-35 with 6:16 left in the game, there was still enough time to run their offense and not put the offense on Miller's throwing arm. I do not understand why they went away from Hyde in both of their losses; there is no justification for their reasoning.
  • On 4th-and-1, Hyde made one of his best and most clutch runs as a Buckeye.
The offense came out in 22 personnel (2 RB, 2 TE, 1 WR), used only in short yardage or goal line situations, with Hyde lined up in the Pistol Formation. On a play they needed to get, they went off-tackle behind their best lineman, Jack Mewhort.
The offensive line did not get a good push on the Clemson defensive line, and the play looked doomed from the start.
Hyde bounced it outside and with his tendency to fall forward, it looked like he was going to get to the 31 yard line for the first down.

Somehow, he split the two defenders, broke another tackle, and rumbled down to the 1-yard line before being tackled. This is an NFL type run by Hyde and he showed excellent vision, power and speed on it. If only they went to Hyde more at the end of the game...

  • Dontre Wilson must have had a great set of practices before the Orange Bowl; he played only three snaps against Michigan State. In particular, they used Wilson in jet motion with much success. Jet motion extends the outside linebacker and forces the defensive end to peek in the backfield to make sure Wilson doesn't have the ball. This creates a bigger hole for the ball carrier to run through.
On 1st and 10 from their own 5 yardline, the Buckeyes came out in 21 personnel (2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE) and put Wilson in jet motion.
Although it is a designed hand off to Hyde, #33 focuses on Wilson, respecting a hand off to Wilson.
The motion extends #33 and Jeff Heuerman executes a great down block, creating a huge hole for Hyde to run through to gain 7 yards on the play.

Wide Receivers Number of plays
Devin Smith 64
Corey Brown 63
Chris Fields 44
Evan Spencer 23
  • As noted, Miller and his wide receivers haven't been on the same page since the Purdue game. It was very troubling to watch the passing game as a whole become nonexistent after showing so much promise in the middle of the season.
  • Corey Brown was moved around a lot in this game. He lined up in the slot 23 times, outside 22 times and in the inside/outside slot 19 times. He would have had a touchdown before the half if Miller hit him in stride.
  • I was very surprised that they did not take a shot down field to Devin Smith, as that has been a staple of their offense 1-2 times per game this season, and it usually was successful during the regular season.
  • The wide receivers could not get separation on the Clemson defensive backs, and seeing how the Clemson wide receivers attacked the ball and plucked it at its highest point should have made Miller a little jealous. With an influx of Meyer's recruits coming in and getting a year older/better, expect the wide receiver play to improve next season.
Tight Ends Number of plays
Jeff Heuerman 53
Nick Vannett 22
  • In one of the bigger changes from the regular season, Nick Vannett emerged as the main option at tight end on passing downs (possibly in part due to Jeff Heuerman's illness).
  • Vannett played only two snaps in the B1G Championship Game. As I noted in past articles, I did not see a huge talent gap between Heuerman and Vannett and I expect to see more two tight end sets next season. Their size will give defenses fits in the red zone, and both have legitimate pass catching abilities.
  • Out of Vannett's 22 snaps, he only lined up on the line of scrimmage once; the majority were in the slot or in the flex position.