Breaking down Ohio State's explosive play offense

By Bobby Peters | Posted 11/19/2018

Photo courtesy: Getty Images


With Dwayne Haskins under center, the Ohio State Buckeyes have altered their focus on offense in 2018. Haskins is the definition of an “NFL Style” quarterback. This term is a bit outdated, but the old school definition fits Haskins. He has the ability to go through an entire progression from the pocket, and consistently deliver an accurate, on time pass.

Here are a few different ways Ohio State has featured Haskins’ skillset in 2018:

There are few things that are more beautiful in the game of football than a well-timed shot play down the field. The Ohio State Buckeyes used the play action concept diagrammed below to gut the Oregon State beavers early in the 2018 season.

OSU play vs Oregon State

This concept is a great way to attack split safety coverage (Cover 2, Cover 4, or other variations). The short motion is an added element that simulates a crack block action for the outside zone fake in the backfield. These two actions are designed to hold the linebackers tight to the line of scrimmage.

The safety is occupied by the corner route, leaving the middle of the field open for the “split” route. The video below shows the play:


The slot fade at the top of the screen gives the quarterback an option against single high safety coverage.

Red zone game planning is a crucial element for preparing for an opponent. Converting touchdowns instead of attempting field goals can often change the outcome of a game. The Ohio State Buckeyes featured a well-designed concept against TCU to get a wide-open receiver. The play is diagrammed below:

OSU play vs TCU

The play is designed to get the H-back open in the flat. The Z receiver motions in and runs at the man to man defender to “pick” him. If the defense plays zone coverage, the play fake will keep the flat defender looking in the backfield for a split second longer. The video below shows the play:


The design of the play works to perfection, with one exception. The free runner at the quarterback is able to tip the pass. This can be prevented by adjusting the protection to account for this defender. It looks like the Buckeyes are using a full slide protection away from the tight end. Adjusting to a half-man half-slide, or bringing in the X receiver are ways to help prevent the free runner from getting to the quarterback.

The next play shows another way to attack defenses in the red zone. Ohio State also uses this concept against TCU. The play is diagrammed below:

OSU play vs TCU 2

The concept was called against a Cover 5 variation (man under, two deep). TCU decided to bracket both slot receivers, and play man on the outside. The video below shows the play:


The technique of the dig route is vital for the success of the play. Down by the goal line, the defense will be playing a man coverage variation. A strong inside release gives the Z receiver the leverage he needs to get open.

Another key element is the “check thru” route from the running back. Although TCU is playing man coverage, this defender could rob the dig route if the back does not show a desire to release. His aggressiveness to attack the line of scrimmage for his protection responsibility puts him in a position to threaten the man defender.

These three plays show how the Ohio State coaching staff schemed receivers open for their quarterback. With great vision, pocket presence and timing, Haskins has the ability to convert these concepts into big gains for the Buckeyes. Being able to find big chunks of yardage will be critical for the Buckeyes as they face a staunch Michigan defense in their final regular season game.