This is the best one yet. Really illustrates what we are doing this season and how teams are attempting to defense it.
Also I find confirmation from Ross concerning my fears about Pryors legs and how it affects the offense. From reading about what this offense actually is trying to do since the preseason and watching the offense all season, you can see how pivotal Pryors legs are in the offensive game plans we have been employing. I still am in panic mode as to just how crippling this can potentially be moving forward through the rest of the season.
OSU's coaching staff thus has an advantage in that they can call routes that conceptually attack these coverages, knowing that they will likely see some type of middle of field coverage (MOFC) (there is a reason OSU runs a lot of all-curl and spacing).
Now, a team running a MOFC coverage and screwing a safety down into the box is in and of itself not a bad thing. for a defense Indeed, it is a hot trend in defensive football--something that Brophy has written numerous insightful articles about that I highly recommend. This concept is perhaps most associated with Nick Saban. Saban's defenses play a cover-3 with "pattern matching," which at its most basic means that a defender will attempt to read the pattern combination and play man coverage in his assigned zone. Many teams play this style of man or quasi-man. It's an aggressive defensive style that teams like Virginia Tech or TCU with a robber have made famous. This style of defense was best exhibited against OSU this year by Miami.
This is well and good versus a team with a good running game and a downfield passing game. But this is where the x-factor for OSU comes into play. Because if a team plays some type of man versus Ohio State it is playing with fire with Terrelle Pryor's running ability. I hope to show why Terrelle Pryor's scrambling ability is not just a nice anecdote to broken plays or something that does not count towards the Buckeye offense, but instead the glue that makes the offense so dangerous. Because it not only gains OSU yards, but also constrains what a defense can do and thus opens up the passing game.
The problem, of course, with playing this type of coverage against OSU is that defenders get their backs turned away from Pryor--something that can lead to huge chunks of run yards. Advocates of this coverage will retort that the robber or "RAT" in the middle of the field can account for the QB, or calls that trade off coverages can keep eyes in the backfield.
Because defenders are taught to match the route of the receiver they by default become chasers. In other words, when defenders match a route they are in effect chasing it; defenders thus are not covering space, but rather receivers. This is why I prefer the term match man to that of match zone. The term zone implies space and area; match zone teams do not cover space, but people.
The mere 'threat' of Pryor running, then, opens up the passing game against MOFC. They cannot simply sit in base cover-1 or cover-3 pattern matching because Pryor will tear it apart. So eams basically have two options. They can either try a double-A gap blitz or backside blitz to catch Pryor before he's prepared to run.
In sum, Terrelle Pryor's running ability in the dropback game should not be considered somehow undesirable or throwaway yards. Instead, the combination of the OSU run game threat, combined with Pryor's running ability, makes this offense go because it severely restricts what the defense can do. OSU is a pass-first team not simply because they are good at passing, but because passing opportunities are opened by these defensive constrictions. Pryor's running threat is not just a nice bonus, but instead the engine that makes the offense go. His throwing opportunities are made easier by his legs.
If Pryor really cannot run much, when teams figure that out later this season (starting on Saturday), you can count on things getting quite a bit tougher on the Ohio State offense.
But overall this is just fantastic insight on the OSU gameplans and what Defenses have been trying to do, unsuccessfully I might add, to stop it.