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Ohio State football: Breaking down the wide receiver slip screen

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The slip screen to Evan Spencer was a game changing play vs. Minnesota. We break it down.

Setting the scene:

The Buckeyes were leading Minnesota 24-14 with 10:16 remaining in the fourth quarter. On third-and-12, the offense came out in 11 personnel (1 RB, 1 TE, 3 WR) and Minnesota countered with Cover 0.

The play:

The breakdown:

1. It is tough to see with the zoomed in camera angle, but Minnesota has a strong safety on tight end Nick Vannett showing blitz. Then they have a free safety rotating over the top of Vannett with the strong-side linebacker walling off a potential crossing route. The strong safety blitzing off the edge is the key to the play, as it allows the Buckeye blockers to outnumber the Minnesota defenders. Vannett has the key block on the play in hopes to free Evan Spencer from his defender. The offensive linemen will basically chip the defensive line before moving downfield.

2. The strong safety blitzes off the edge, which immensely helped the play development. It allowed the offensive line to get downfield and not worry about the strong safety. Spencer sells a vertical route, forcing his defender to backpedal, before cutting back for the football.

Vannett, who has a free release, lays the perfect block on the Minnesota cornerback, freeing up Spencer. With the four pass rushers out of the play, Ezekiel Elliott taking two defenders with him, Vannett canceling out the defensive back and the other two receivers taking up two defensive backs, that leaves only two defenders left to defend the play versus three Ohio State offensive linemen.

3. Offensive guard Billy Price (#54) does not lay the best block on the Minnesota linebacker but he gets in the way just enough to force him to reroute and miss the tackle on Spencer. With the linebacker out of the play, that leaves two offensive linemen to continue downfield against the free safety who was playing over the top on Vannett.

4. Center Jacoby Boren (#50) tries to cut the free safety but misses then right guard Pat Elflein (#65) walls off the defender, leading Spencer to the end zone.

This play was beautifully designed by Tom Herman, who must have known that Minnesota was looking to blitz the strong safety on the play. Vannett threw the key block, starting the play, then the offensive line showed their athleticism, getting to the second level very quickly. Spencer read his blocks and took the correct path to the end zone.

It was the perfect play call that allowed the Buckeyes to put away the Minnesota Golden Gophers.