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How will Kevin Wilson change Ohio State’s offense this season?

Wilson’s mix of tempo and standard sets differs from recent Buckeye offenses.

NCAA Football: Ohio State Spring Game Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

“While Wilson is used to calling plays at tempo and distributing widely, how will he do so with the zone/power-read schemes that have defined Ohio State?”

- Ian Boyd, SBNation

In this wonderfully data-rich article, Boyd outlines a pretty convincing case for how Wilson will change the Buckeyes’ offense from fairly focused on a small group of weapons to being able to utilize all of the immensely talented skill position players that Urban Meyer and company have recruited in recent years.

As Boyd lays out, one of the main differences between how OSU’s offense has looked under previous offensive coordinators and how Wilson’s offenses traditionally work is that at Northwestern, Oklahoma and Indiana, Wilson liked to have his teams line up in a small set of standard formations, and then run or pass based on what the defense did. Conversely, the Buckeyes have tended to change up their formations and groupings fairly regularly in an effort to keep the defense off balance.

Last year, Wilson’s strategy allowed a larger number of players to receive substantial targets and yardage at IU compared to OSU, especially in terms of wide receivers. Last season, H-back Curtis Samuel was OSU’s leading receiver with 97 targets for 865 yards. While IU’s Mitchell Paige had the same 97 targets, those only amounted for 646 yards. Ricky Jones, however, had 94 targets for 848 yards, and Nick Westbrook had 92 targets that collected 945 yards for the Hoosiers.

For the Buckeyes, the second and third receivers, Noah Brown and tight end Marcus Baugh, had 52 and 48 targets respectively, accounting for just 402 and 269 yards a piece.

The other main difference that Wilson is already bringing to the Buckeye offense is his version of playing with tempo. As Boyd points out, the fact that Ohio State has a talented, experienced offensive line should allow the offense to play at a rate that maximizes their playmakers’ skills.

The key, as Boyd suggests, is to how well the coordinator, Wilson, and head coach, Meyer, are able to marry their offensive philosophies.

“There's no such thing as fair in sports and this injury to Burrow will almost certainly give Haskins a chance to prove himself, but maybe that's ultimately just.”

- Patrick Murphy, BuckNuts

With the disappointing news coming out of the Woody Hayes Center this morning that backup quarterback Joe Burrow will be out indefinitely following surgery to repair a broken hand, the focus of what was a compelling battle behind for the spot behind J.T. Barrett turns squarely onto redshirt-freshman Dwayne Haskins.

While both QBs played well in April’s spring game, it looked fairly certain that Burrow had the upper-hand when it came to backing up the incumbent starter. That idea had been born out since the scrimmage inside The Shoe; while Meyer refused to name an official backup, word of Burrow’s strong grip of the offense seemed to give him the advantage.

However, now that Haskins will be QB2, at least to start the season, he will have the opportunity to catch up to, or even surpass, Burrow. However, as Burrow is expected to return at some point during this season, the unusual early season schedule might end up minimizing Haskins’ on-field ability to shine.

Opening up against a conference foe (Indiana), then playing a highly ranked opponent in Week 2 (Oklahoma), and then having a triple-option based service academy the following week (Army), could mean that Barrett will be seeing more playing time early in the season than OSU starters normally do.

“Now it’s (Parris) Campbell’s turn, and I think he’s ready. It doesn’t hurt that he’s spent the last couple years developing as a wide receiver, either.”

- Ryan Ginn, Land of 10

One of the biggest surprises to come out of Ohio State’s spring practices was that former wide receiver Parris Campbell had made the move to H-back. It seemed odd, especially given the success that Curtis Samuel had in the position as more of a run-first H-back. While Campbell has displayed occasional bursts during his OSU career, they have mostly been as a returner.

However, with Wilson’s high-tempo offense in place, and new co-coordinator and quarterback coach Ryan Day saying that Barrett will be looking to spread the field horizontally as much as vertically, he will need a reliable playmaker at the H-back position.

So, a lot of Ohio State’s offensive success could depend on how well Campbell acclimates to his new position. So, for everyone’s sake, I hope that Ginn is right that Campbell is the Buckeye on the brink of having an offensive breakout season.

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