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Analysis: The Buckeye Offense Vs. The Gator Defense
Analysis: The Buckeye Offense Vs. The Gator Defense
We all know what the Buckeyes offense is going to try and do. Ask the Wolverines, their equipment managers are still trying to remove the cleat marks from the backs of their defensive players' uniforms. Tressel is going to spread 'em out, and feature alot of 3, 4, and 5 wide reciever sets. Does Florida have the personnel to stop the vaunted Buckeye attack? What will they throw at Troy Smith and the boys to try and neutralize Troy Smith and company? Furls gives his thoughts on the matter.
We all know what the Buckeyes offense is going to try and do. Ask the Wolverines, their equipment managers are still trying to remove the cleat marks from the backs of their defensive players' uniforms. In that game the Buckeyes offense demonstrated what I have been saying all year long, there is not a defense in college football that can stop them, and the Gators will fare no better.
Put yourself in Urban Meyer’s position, what do you do to stop them? They can line up five wide receivers, containing no less than three future first round draft picks (Ginn, Gonzalez, and Robiskie), or line up in a power I. The Buckeyes can and will give you every look in between as well. In order to effectively break down this match up you are going to have to speculate what the Gators will be forced to do in the two most important formations they are likely to face.
This is the empty backfield spread that the Buckeyes had great success with against Michigan. This will be an important formation in this game because this formation effectively nullifies any athletic advantage Florida’s linebackers may have. Let’s face it, they are SEC linebackers, but I am not sure that linebackers (even with “SEC Speed”) can cover Ohio State’s slot receiver and inside receivers.
As good as Florida is on defense, (I am not 100% sold on them, but I will play along for arguments sake) they are still very thin in the secondary and this formation will force Florida to play a lot of nickel coverage in order to provide some safety help over the top. Moreover, Ohio State’s speed on the outside will force the safeties to stay back or risk leaving a corner on an island with Tedd Ginn. That would be a tall order for a lot of NFL corners. This formation clearly favors Ohio State because of the personnel match ups that it will force on the field. Can you imagine a linebacker that will be able to cover Anthony Gonzalez in the slot? I can’t.
The only hope for the Gators when Ohio State is five-wide is for their front four to beat Ohio State’s front five, and to do it quickly. They have to get pressure on Smith fast enough to protect their linebackers that are going to be over matched with Ohio State receivers. This is always a possibility, but the task is made much harder due to Troy Smith’s mobility. If the Gators do not maintain their rush lanes, or if the ends get pushed to far out, then Smith will break containment, and that usually does not work out very well for opposing defenses.
I expect to see Ohio State to use this formation a lot. If the Gators linebackers cheat to cover the short slant routes on the inside too much watch for Ohio State to make the adjustments and fake the slant and turn it up the field.
3 Wide, Single Tight End, Single Back:
Ohio State loves to run and throw out of this formation. Why wouldn’t they? It features their three best wide receivers and also gives them the chance to force another team to try to stop their power running game with a nickel defense.
Antonio Pittman has favored the left side of the line from this formation all season long. I am sure that this has not escaped the Florida coaches during film study, and they will be watching for it. The question is, will it matter?
There is a reason that Pitt favors the left side, Alex Boone. Boone has dominated the line at times this season (he has also been the source of some boneheaded penalties too). So the question really is, which Alex Boone will we see tomorrow? Your guess is as good as mine, but I can tell you that Pitt is a patient runner, and he will find his holes.
The intriguing aspect of this formation is that tight end. Troy Smith really began to hit his tight end, Marcel Frost, down the middle of the field last year. Now that he has moved on to Jackson State, Smith has passed his touches on to Rory Nichol. Nichol has been a very pleasant surprise this year, I cannot remember a single drop this season and he has demonstrated that he is a capable blocker as well.
From this formation the Buckeyes will see a lot of cover two, and I expect the Gators to blitz this formation every chance they get. Typically the safeties have over the top responsibility on the outside receivers and this creates a hole in the middle of the field between the linebackers and safeties. The faster the wide receivers the more the safeties have to respect these responsibilities and with Ginn, Gonzalez, and Robiskie out there, they will have to leave the middle of the field clear.
The Gators best chance in this formation is to blitz it and hope they can get to (and contain) Smith before he can kill them down the field. Antonio Pittman’s has done an exceptional job this year in picking up blitzes and helping to get Smith the time he needs. Should the Gators blitz and succeed the rewards could be huge, if they fail they will pay dearly.
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