This past Saturday Ohio State traveled to Bloomington, Ind. to take on the Indiana Hoosiers, and made another major statement on both sides of the ball. The offense continued their high level of efficiency and what seemed like the whole travel roster was able to get into the game.
Defensively, Indiana could not get anything going and the OSU defense had their best showing from start to finish on the season. This was made possible by the guys in the trenches on both sides of the ball, so this week’s film review will be focusing on the elite play of the offense and defensive lines.
As we take a look at this week’s film, IU is a team that is a lot better than their record shows. They’re well-coached on both sides of the ball, so what Ohio State was able to accomplish should not be taken lightly as teams like Cincinnati, Michigan State, and a few other ranked teams have struggled to solve the Hoosiers’ defense early in the season.
Offensively, the Hoosiers were without starter Michael Penix Jr., which proved to be a problem. IU had three quarterbacks play in the first quarter and Ohio State’s defense had answers for all of them.
Though just about everybody played well for the Buckeyes, this game was won by the guys up front and if the offensive and defensive lines can play at this level to close out the year, Ohio State will be dangerous against anybody they face.
The stars shined bright for Ohio State this week with TreVeyon Henderson delivering a touchdown on nearly 1⁄3 of his touches, C.J. Stroud delivering otherworldly throws, Jeremy Ruckert getting in the end zone twice, and the receivers all doing their usual damage to opposing defenses.
This was all made possible by the offensive line coming into this game extremely prepared for the exotic blitzes from Indiana and bringing a high level physicality in the run game. The Buckeyes also borrowed a little something from an old foe that proved to be fatal for Indiana trying to defend the run in the red zone.
Overall, this was the most complete performance from the starters against arguably the “best” defense they have faced up to this point.
Looking back through the game there were a lot of examples of using the run game scheme in our first clip, the Miyan Williams touchdown on the first drive. From the initial look, Ohio State runs an inside zone toward the short side of the field. If you look back at what Oregon did against OSU’s man-coverage in the red zone with the outside run game to the short side, Ryan Day used a similar ideology against Indiana.
Looking at the offensive line on this play, they create a huge running lane for Williams. The play starts with Jeremy Ruckert (No. 88) kicking out the defensive end and Nicholas Petit-Frere (No. 78) doubling the three-technique defensive tackle with Thayer Munford (No. 75).
Once Munford secures the block on the DT, Petit-Frere comes off and kicks out the linebacker. The second aspect that makes this look so successful is Jaxon Smith-Njigba has to get to the safety who does not move off his spot. This creates a huge hole for Williams who goes into the end zone untouched.
The offensive line cleared paths like this the entire game.
Ohio State continued to dominate up front and, after some incredible throws from Stroud, found themselves in the red zone again. This time they lined up with the TE in an H-back position, meaning he is off the line of scrimmage and aligned in a fullback type depth, giving him a lot of blocking versatility.
The Buckeyes run a split-zone — which is standard inside zone with the TE cross-blocking the opposite DE — to the short side of the field again and the play is just as successful.
When we look at the blocking here, this becomes a man-on-man play with each offensive linemen taking the player in front of them. Indiana linebacker Micah McFadden (No. 47) blitzes and gets lost in the mess in the middle. Indiana’s Star backer (similar to Ohio State’s Bullet) Cam Jones (No. 4) is responsible for the outside run and the gap that Henderson eventually runs through.
He jumps inside and Smith-Njigba (No. 11) makes a great block with an inside crack block on the backer. That block is what turns this play into a touchdown, and — once again — the running back gets to score untouched.
Ohio State has continued to improve defensively each week, and while admittedly, Indiana was without their starting quarterback, the Buckeyes had their most impressive defensive performance yet.
The linebackers were great in the run game and in coverage, the defensive backs are starting to become a complete unit with everyone playing their roles effectively, but, most importantly, the defensive line dominated the game up front.
When the line can wreak havoc on a consistent basis, everybody else’s job is made easier. The DBs don’t have to cover receivers as long if the DL can rush, the LBs get clearer lanes to the ball carrier when linemen eat up blockers, and plays are often ended before they get a chance to start if rushers can get home and make a tackle for loss.
On all three levels (after the first drive), Ohio State’s defense showed that they are here to stay.
The first play we’re going to look at is the first sack that the Buckeyes recorded on the day. The reason we’re looking at this play is that it set the tone for the defensive line for the whole day. When it comes to rushing the passer, the defensive tackles have been leading the way in that category, and that does not seem like it’s going to change anytime soon.
One of the reasons this play stood out was the fact that Ohio State rushed with four and still got home. Earlier in the year, OSU was only able to manufacture pressure when using stunts and blitzes, but in this case they were able to rush four straight-up and get to the quarterback.
DT Ty Hamilton’s (No. 58) rush began with him being offset. This gives him an extra step to generate power in a bull rush. Once he gets the center for Indiana off balance, he shoves him across his body, setting up the secondary swim move.
When pass rushers can win in one-on-one matchups, the offense can’t do much to combat that. This is something that if the DL can continue to generate pressure with standard rushes, they can commit more to coverage and make the job for opposing quarterbacks that much harder.
The next play is something that I’ve wanted to see more of every week, edge rushers getting to the quarterback. In this play, J.T. Tuimoloau (No. 44) is the defensive end who gets home on this play and records the sack.
When we look at this play, Ohio State once again rushes four and, as I mentioned earlier, this allows Ohio State to commit more players to coverage making it more difficult for the quarterback.
The situation on this play is 3rd and 14, so Tuimoloau lines up in a pass rush alignment, giving him favorable leverage in his rush. Ohio State sends three — they use Craig Young (No. 15) as a spy, which is a new wrinkle that we have not seen before — and they bring in an additional coverage player, meaning that they have seven defenders dropped with one spy (plus the three rushers equals 11).
Tuimoloau sets up his outside rush move with a jab step to the inside and then uses a club-rip move to get separation from the tackle. His rush discipline is tested when the QB tries to climb the pocket, but Tuimoloau does a great job of securing the sack on third and long.
Stroud has shown some incredible touch and anticipation since returning from injury, following the Akron game, but this might be the best throw of the season. Stroud takes a deep drop and delivers an absolute dime on the deep post route off of the play-action to Smith-Njigba. The touch, the courage, and the ball placement are all elite, and if he is making throws like this on a regular basis, good luck to any secondary trying to defend OSU’s passing attack.
Against Rutgers, Garrett Wilson started this new bonus segment, and in the second edition of our “Film Review Bonus Plays,” Chris Olave made absurdly light work of this unfortunate Indiana DB.
On this weeks “He’s Cooked,” Olave does a nice stutter step, takes an inside release, and the DB gets lost in the sauce at the barbecue. Stroud delivers a nice throw and Olave gets another step closer to the OSU career touchdown record.
The offense continues to play with an insane level of efficiency, and the starters have scored points on every first half offensive drive that has not ended in a kneel down. The Buckeyes are dominating in every facet and doing it as the most efficient unit in the country. As the season progresses and the defenses the Buckeyes face get better, we will get to see just how good this offense is. Next week will be their biggest test since Oregon and Ohio State can make a huge statement with a dominating offensive performance against Penn State.
On the defensive side, if OSU continues to improve, and can continue to generate pressure without using blitzes, quarterbacks will have a hard time getting going. Ohio State’s pass rush continues to generate pressure and now a good portion of them are turning into sacks. On Saturday night, they will most likely be taking on Sean Clifford who moves well in the pocket and as a scrambler, so Ohio State finding this pass rush is a good sign heading into next week.
After the off week, you can’t be much happier about how the Buckeyes came out and dominated Indiana. The home stretch is here, and as long as Ohio State keeps building on their recent successes, this team is still plenty capable of reaching all of its preseason goals.