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Ohio State football: Charting the offense, Navy

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

Rob Carr

The Ohio State offense ran 12 plays in the first quarter, 18 plays in the second quarter, seven plays in the third quarter and 18 plays in the fourth quarter, for a total of 55 snaps in the game. The Buckeyes need to improve on their third down efficiency as they were only 2-8 on third down versus a Navy team that struggled defensively on third down last season.

Quarterback Number of plays
J.T. Barrett 55

  • I thought Barrett played well for his first collegiate start and he got better as the game went on. He was efficient through the air, (12-15, 226 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT) and made some very good reads in the running game.
  • Here are two good reads:
1.
Read option

2.
zr 2

zr 2.1
  • He also committed two freshman mistakes that stood out:
1.

int 2

2.

bad option

  • All in all, Barrett is as advertised; he will make the smart decision the majority of the time and he is accurate with the football but he is also inexperienced and will make 1-2 mistakes per week. Hopefully he limits key mistakes and it was good to see him improve as the game went on.

Running backs Total # of plays Pistol HB-R HB-L Wide out Inside slot Outside slot Slot Flex
Dontre Wilson 33 0 12 4 0 6 2 8 1
Ezekiel Elliott 30 13 6 11 0 0 0 0 0
Jalin Marshall 18 0 3 3 0 3 2 6 1
Rod Smith 13 2 5 6 0 0 0 0 0
Curtis Samuel 12 4 4 4 0 0 0 0 0

  • Looking at the running back snap counts compared to last season, this season is much more similar to Coach Meyer's Florida teams, which involved spreading the ball around to a number of different playmakers. Also, it shows how until last season, Coach Meyer has never coached a 1,000 yard running back because of how much he likes to get the ball to a variety of ball carriers compared to having one featured back.
  • After one game, the sample size is too small to see who Coach Herman and Coach Meyer are pairing together. But, it is clear that Marshall is Wilson's back-up as they were not on the field together one time versus Navy. Other than that, Wilson and Marshall were on the field with Elliott, Smith and Samuel.
  • Elliott led the team with 12 carries and seemed to be on the field for 3rd-and-short yardage and goal line situations. After showing a combination of speed and power, I would not be surprised to see Meyer trust Samuel in short yardage or goal line situations as the season moves forward.
  • The only real complaint with this group was the lack of big plays, as only one run hit for 20-yards. I do not think that this will be a problem throughout the year as they look like the most explosive group of playmakers that Buckeye fans have seen in a long time.

Wide receivers Number of plays
Evan Spencer 38
Corey Smith 33
Michael Thomas 22
Devin Smith 21

  • This is where I believe scheme came into play more than the running back group. Spencer is a capable receiver but the clear-cut premiere perimeter blocker on the team. Because they ran a very vanilla playbook, I think Coach Herman and Coach Meyer planned to have Spencer in for his blocking rather than giving the nod to D. Smith. On clear passing situations and when they wanted to take a shot downfield, D. Smith was in the game.
  • When looking at this group compared to prior Ohio State receiver groups, they pass the eye test. Thomas and D. Smith are both lanky, big targets, while Spencer and Corey Smith can both hold their own.
  • Like the previous positional group, the lack of big plays are alarming but I would chalk it up to the very vanilla play book that was given to Barrett. Expect Coach Herman and Coach Meyer to open it up as the season goes on.

Tight ends Number of plays
Nick Vannett 31
Jeff Heuerman 24
Two-tight end sets 1

  • Both tight ends were shut down in the passing game, finishing with 0 receptions each.
  • Although I do not believe that Vannett is that far behind Heuerman when it comes to his blocking and skill-set, it is clear that Heuerman was on a snap-count coming off of his off-season foot injury which forced him to miss practice time. Once Heuerman is 100%, I would expect him to get 65%-70% of the snaps, per game.
  • One of the bigger scheme changes from last year has to be the lack of two-tight end sets. When Vannett was on the field last season, it came primarily on two-tight end sets. It shows that without Hyde, they are getting away from the two-tight end sets and the power running game, or it could just mean that Heuerman is not healthy and they wanted to test the new offensive line. It will be something to watch for in the future.