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Maryland D: Mostly Tight Cover 1 and really deep FS
Maryland O: Lots of 11 personnel
OSU D: Cover 4 on standard downs, 3-3-5 nickel on passing situations
OSU Offensive Line
The OSU offensive line has continued to grow throughout the year. While the run game has only been slightly trimmed, where the OSU staff has made it easier for the OSU OL is in trimming back the protection schemes. More focus on getting the ball out quickly with easy, short passing concepts helps both the OSU OL and Barrett get the ball out of his hands on time.
Growth of Barrett
In my opinion, where Barrett has grown the most is simply understanding the game speed and feeling more comfortable with it. When OSU faced VT and VT ran a lot of Double Eagle and heavily blitzed, you could tell that the game was moving too fast for Barrett. But now Barrett is starting to see how things are developing and better understands how and when he is supposed to release the ball, whether to RBs in the flat or anticipating throws in the Red Zone.
On Barrett's first TD throw, he actually threw the ball before the WR broke on his corner route on the H7/Double In Concept (more about later this week). How was he able to do this? He saw the Cover 4 look and new based off two keys when to throw: when the CB stayed locked on #1, and when safety flattened out rather than covering over the top. Jalin Marshall had outside leverage and got over top of the safety and was wide open on his corner route.
One thing that Meyer has always done was package very standard pass concepts that give the QB easy looks. But because OSU shows a lot of looks with formations and motions and run action, the simple concepts are not simply covered on the back end. This allows his QBs to grow to a point where they can be successful quickly while still having time in practice to rep his run reads.
OSU First 3 Drives (Abbreviated)
1st Drive: Veer, Counter H, IZ Midline Read, Counter Power, Pistol Speed Option, Pistol Veer Option, (Pass) Scissors Concept
2nd Drive: Designed pop pass with a Power O PA blocking w/ pulling guard cut throwside EMOL. OZ Jet Sweep. OZ Jet sweep. Fake Jet Sweep QB IZ. Speed Option (vs Cover 4). (Pass) Y7/Double in
3rd Drive: (pass) Double slant, inverted veer
I show this to show how many different runs OSU utilized early and often.
OSU Run Game vs Maryland Box
As seen above, OSU had a number of different run looks to mess with Maryland's ILB reads. However, I thought Maryland's ILB really struggled to be decisive in this game and were picked on a bit both in the run and pass game. Maryland has a good group on the DL and a couple good guys at the OLB spot that were partially mitigated by the read option game. But the ILB too often got sealed inside and OSU was able to attack between the tackles fairly comfortably. OSU also was quite comfortable picking on them in the pass game against slots and TEs.
Another area where Maryland struggled was in maintaining proper relation to the pitch man on the speed option. A couple times they were initially in position before they took their eyes back to the QB and lost their relation with the RB. OSU is running a lot of speed option this year, Maryland should have been better prepared to stop it.
I thought it was a good idea coming into the game against a young QB on the road, but really attacking the mesh point backfired a few times on Maryland. Rather than play passive, Maryland tried to dictate some poor reads and speed up the game a little bit for Barrett, however, Barrett made the correct read a few times (typically to keep) that turned into pretty big gains for OSU.
I thought the Maryland DBs really struggled with their eye discipline quite a bit in this game. A couple times it had to do with getting back in-phase so that they could control the receiver with their body and then find the ball (instead they tried to find the ball first and gave up space for the receiver to make a play). Other times it had to do with peaking or jumping routes rather than being disciplined in their keys and playing their coverage. When you get outside of your coverage, bad things happen, and that was an issue for the defensive backfield of Maryland.
More Games With the DL
I don't think Maryland played enough games with the OSU DL to try to get into the LBs and DBs. Obviously, the OSU DL is the strength of their team, and deservedly so. Likewise, a lot of Maryland's offensive success this year has come off the edge. Maryland has great WRs, but they are also better at blocking the edge and playing in space.
Maryland had a big run play on a pin and pull OZ where they were able to pin the DL inside and pull to seal the LBs. Those are the types of games they should be playing. They had a successful jet sweep where a couple lead blockers really helped set the edge and Maryland could successfully pin DBs and LBs, where they struggled keeping the DL blocked. They ran a flare screen, which I like, but they failed to identify the coverage and therefore failed to get into their correct blocks. For instance, here's a standard flare screen blocking:
The idea here is that you need to seal #3 inside, you need to block the alley, and you need to kick the support defender. Well OSU is a standard Cover 4 team. Typically if a WR is on that side he will follow his man inside (in some instances he won't if there is no vertical threat, but that's beside the point here). But Maryland needs to understand that against a closed nob side, that Cover 4 adjusts to Cover 6, and the defense is playing Cloud leverage. That means the CB goes from being run off to being the support defender.
But when they ran the flare screen out of a similar look, no one blocked the CB. The OL blocked the SAM and the safety but failed to account for the force defender. OSU was able to squeeze everything back inside to run support, and Maryland was held in check. It's a nice play call by Maryland, but they need to do a better job understanding the coverage pre-snap.
I also though Maryland should have gone to a few more slow developing RB screens. Allow the DL to do what it wants to do: rush the passer. Get them upfield hard and force the LBs to play both coverage and come down in screen support. Ran it once and picked up 14 yards, thought they should have gone back to it more.
Obviously, the Buckeye DL is pretty, pretty good. While I've always been a big fan of Bosa, I thought Bennett was the best defensive lineman in this game. Bennett showed the speed to get around interior players, the strength to bull rush and two gap, and the quickness to jab and swim back inside. He did make a pretty big mistake near the GL where h got upfield and started chasing Jet sweep, which he wouldn't catch in pursuit anyway. Especially near the goal line, you need to do your assignment and trust teammates to do theirs. By chasing the sweep he left his gap and opened up the cutback lane where Maryland scored their TD.
I liked Bosa's ability to come inside on third down plays. That puts a lot of quickness on the interior that OLs are not used to handling inside. He pulled a similar swim move as Bennett that was equally successful. Maryland's interior OL did a poor job with their leverage and footwork. It is essential that you maintain inside leverage and play everything inside-out. The initial outward jab too easily sucked the OL to get even (heads up) with the OSU DTs, which is why they were able to fight back inside so easily with the swim move. When Maryland was successful with correct leverage, you saw some nice QB scrambles where the QB was able to escape vertically through the pocket. Escaping vertical is an extremely difficult thing for LBs to deal with because you go from pass coverage to coming down in run support so quickly and in space.
- Barrett has continued to improve his understanding of schemes, and the game has clearly slowed down for him. Coaching staff helping him out with simple quick concepts; also helps OL
- OSU ran a lot of different run looks and really picked on the Maryland ILBs.
- Maryland struggled with eye discipline in coverage
- Maryland went away too often from plays that mitigate DL such as slow screens, pin and pull zone, and jet sweeps
- OSU has a good DL, as you knew.