A close game doesn’t bode well for the Ducks. If they are to have a chance, they need to get out in a high scoring game. And while we keep hearing about Oregon’s offensive speed, other then Blount (who may or may not play) I don’t think these guys are that big (correct me if I’m wrong). The Buckeyes front four brings size and speed and know how to pressure a quarterback. Bringing pressure and containing the ball will be a key factor in this game.
Offensively, the Buckeye O line improved leaps and bounds post Purdue. I don’t know how many times Pryor was sacked in the last four or five games but I bet I can count them on one hand and still have a few fingers left over. Against Oregon State, Oregon eventually found their way through the line but they had troubles getting to Canfield. If he can get away, watch what happens when Pryor runs.
There’s been a lot of talk about the Oregon spread/read option offense. A reader shared a detailed analysis of the Oregon offense on an earlier post on this blog. To be honest, all those x’s and o’s were a little much for my youth hockey playing mind. As I understand it, it’s got something to do with reading the defensive end or tackle — depending on how you run the play.
As I said, all those x’s and o’s were a little much for me so I tossed the post over to Rob Harley at Harley in the Huddle. Harley comes from a long line of Ohio State history (somebody in his family built a “house”) and he played on the ’02 national championship team. I figured he might be able to provide a working man’s description of the Oregon offense.
Rob did a great job at providing a breakdown (links above). As I see it, defending against it comes down to:
1. a strong secondary (which the offense is trying to thin by spreading them across the field) that can cover in the open field
2. Pressuring the quarterback and containing the ball.
In the read option, one defensive player goes unblocked. The quarterback “reads” this unblocked player and moves the ball in the opposite direction.
What makes Oregon’s attack so effective is their ability to fake the read. If you watched Oregon/Oregon State, you could see how well they hid the ball. Even on the replays I was watching the wrong guy take off down the field. What Rob points out so well in his post is that the misdirection is just “window dressing” disguising a typical option attack. As in a traditional option, the key is sending the unblocked player in the wrong direction.
So to me the answer seems simple. Get two defenders into backfield — one for the quarterback and one for the guy on the option. This of course means that somebody on the offensive line is going to need to get beat which as we all know, isn’t that uncommon against the Ohio State defense. Pressure the quarterback. Pressure him again and when you can’t get to him, contain the option.
The Ohio State defense knows how to shut down an offense — especially against the run. They’ve only allowed an average of 84 yards/game on the ground which puts them at 5th in the nation. They’ve posted three shout outs this year and came close to getting two more. The Coleman lead secondary is no laughing matter either. They’ve proven themselves pretty good at putting points on the board. Something that might be a problem for Oregon.
So there you have it. Pressure the quarterback, contain the ball and win the secondary battles. Seems easy enough. If the Buckeyes hit hard and hit early they’ll throw Masoli off his game. Keep him off balance and this game is ours to win.
If you haven’t stopped by Rob’s site (Harley in the Huddle), be sure to check it out. He’s got a great mix of blogging and video analysis.