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Ohio State-Maryland 2014: Taking a closer look at Stefon Diggs

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He could have been a Buckeye, but Stefon Diggs will be looking to burn Urban Meyer and Ohio State on Saturday afternoon.

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Stefon Diggs could have been the star of Urban Meyer's 2012 class but in the end, the Gaithersburg, MD product decided to stay loyal and sign with his hometown Maryland Terrapins.

Diggs, standing at 6'0,190 pounds with blazing 4.40 speed, would have excelled in Coach Meyer's offense as an H-back in Dontre Wilson's current role. As a freshman in 2012, he totaled 54 receptions for 848 yards and six touchdowns, along with two kick returns for touchdowns. His 2013 campaign was cut short after seven games due to a broken leg. In those seven games, Diggs still finished the season with 34 receptions for 587 yards and three touchdowns.

So far in 2013, Diggs has caught 29 balls for 398 yards and two touchdowns. Lining up in the slot and catching the majority of his passes under ten yards, he has averaged 15.56 yards per reception during his career (13.7 yds/rec this season). The Maryland quarterbacks want to get the ball to Diggs when it matters most, on third down, and he excels in that situation as seven of his eight third down receptions have moved the chains.

Diggs will line up in the slot the majority of the time and although they do not run as much motion as Tom Herman's offense, they still move Diggs' around on jet motion and find different ways to get him the football. He gets the ball on jet sweeps, similarly to Wilson and Jalin Marshall, and also on screens and shallow crosses. They want to get the ball in his hands quickly and let him use his excellent vision and quickness to make plays in space. He has the talent to run perimeter routes but they like to keep him in the middle of the field, forcing a linebacker to cover him in zone or a corner to chase him in man coverage.

I do not think that the Buckeye defense has a single shut-down corner to follow Diggs around for an entire game but I would expect them to play man coverage, close to the line of scrimmage to limit the barrage of screen passes that he catches. It would be tough to sit back in Cover 4 and watch Diggs make defenders miss in front of him. Armani Reeves is the team's nickel back and slot corner, so we could see him matchup on the speedster. This is a big weekend for Chris Ash, especially after allowing three big plays last week, to devise a sound defensive game plan. It will be tough to put these cornerbacks on an island with no safety help and expect them to make 1-on-1 plays versus Diggs and Deon Long, another great Terrapin wide receiver.

Here is a chart of Diggs' targets/receptions in his last three games versus West Virginia, Syracuse and Indiana:

Here are a few notes from the chart:

  • Diggs' runs the majority of his routes from the slot.
  • Nine of his 17 receptions came on screens or jet motion flips from behind the line of scrimmage.
  • He ran a shallow crossing route five times.
  • Diggs' ran the majority of his routes past the line of scrimmage on the right side of the formation.
  • He was only targeted seven times past ten yards.