Chris Brown, as usual, has an excellent piece on how Ohio State’s offense has evolved away from what Urban Meyer was doing at Florida. The part in there that really caught my eye was how Meyer and his offensive coordinator, Tom Herman, schooled Saban and Smart in the national semi-final match.
The one defense that shut the Buckeyes down this season was Virginia Tech’s. Here’s what Bud Foster did.
… in Week 2, when Virginia Tech employed a “Bear” or “Double Eagle” front, in which the defensive line pinches down and lines up with a nose tackle over the center and defensive linemen over each of the offensive guards. This strategy effectively shut down Ohio State’s inside zone running game, as the Buckeyes managed just 108 yards rushing on 40 attempts, with 70 of those yards coming from quarterback J.T. Barrett, who’d taken over in the preseason for the injured Miller, and who’s since given the reins to Cardale Jones after suffering a season-ending injury of his own. Thiswasn’t the first time a “Bear” front had proven successful against a Meyer offense, and Ohio State’s coaches knew they would need to find answers to adjust.
Guess what happened when Alabama went to a similar alignment.
The sweep is a perfect complement to OSU’s inside zone because as soon as the defense begins pinching down, Herman can call this play to get the ball to the perimeter of the defense, with several athletic linemen out in front. It’s worked: When Alabama shifted its defensive linemen down into a type of Bear front in an effort to stop OSU’s inside runs in the Sugar Bowl, Herman called for a version of the Oregon sweep, and the play went for an 85-yard Elliott touchdown — the biggest score of the game, and maybe of the Buckeyes’ season.
Sounds like somebody was better prepared that day than somebody else was.