The Roots of Ohio State's Problems, Part Eight: Identity Crisis

onezuke18Correspondent INovember 6, 2008

I took a few articles off to address a couple of other topics I wanted to touch on and generally take a step back from the ledge of being a frustrated Buckeye fan.

But there are a few more aspects of the Ohio State football program I still have to address in this series before we can put it to bed.

Today, I wanted to touch on what I believe to be another reason this offense has been as erratic as it's been, to put it kindly.

Tim Mays wrote a great article this past week in the Columbus Dispatch touching on this exact topic I wanted to address with you this morning: the lack of offensive identity in the Ohio State offense throughout the Jim Tressel tenure. Along with my article, I would also give you the heads up to read his as well.

Would the REAL Buckeye offense please stand up? I've been asking that question since the transition from the Steve Bellisari, Craig Krenzel, Justin Zwick-led offenses to the Troy Smith influx and back to Todd Boeckman, and now to Terrelle Pryor.

Why did I just give you a list of the Ohio State signal callers during the Tressel era at Ohio State? Because we (the fans) have seen repeated shifts in offensive style and philosophy throughout the Tressel tenure.

Why is this important? Because there hasn't been continuity in this offense.

Who is Ohio State? Are we the pro-style attack who turns and gives the football to our 230-pound, 25-30 carry a game, run first, set up the pass game offense?

Are we the spread you out, use a mobile quarterback, throw the ball all over the field, and scramble with the quarterback when necessary attack? Are we a mixture?

I don't know, and chances are you don't either, because we've been all of these things over the past eight years. Terrelle Pryor and Troy Smith were night-and-day to Bellisari, Krenzel, Zwick, and Boeckman. There's no identity.

I'm all for playing to your team's strengths as a head coach/offensive coordinator when you first get into a position at a school and are dealing with players you didn't recruit, and you want to install a system that the existing personnel can't effectively run.

You recruit the future to fit your plan and try your best to adapt a game plan to the current team to win as much as possible. I get that. But once you get "your guys," you're supposed to have a plan that fits your philosophy.

I have a couple of questions for Coach Tressel regarding this offensive philosophy since he is both head coach and offensive coordinator...WHAT IS THE OFFENSIVE PHILOSOPHY? If there is one that I'm not seeing, why is it not being incorporated?

Great football teams know who they are offensively and defensively. Nick Saban-coached football teams know who they are.

Defensively, they are going to absolutely make sure priority number one is shutting down an offense's run game, and from there they are going to attack you relentlessly and play instinctive, aggressive football.

Offensively, Saban's teams are smashmouth, they are physical, they establish the run, and they dictate the pace of the game and wear you down.

You know what you are getting from Saban's football teams, and he doesn't care, because he is counting on the fact that his teams are going to be more physical than the opponent, and regardless, they're going to execute with disciplined athletes who can carry out that game plan.

Urban Meyer's football teams have an identity. Meyer's teams are going to spread the defense out as thin as possible, run the option and pass out of the set, and he's gonna recruit as many athletes as possible and hope his are better than yours.

Can you honestly tell me what Jim Tressel is as a coordinator? Can you honestly give me a game plan that Ohio State goes into each game with? How many formations can you have?

I've seen everything under the sun from Jim Tressel this year: the pistol, the shotgun no-back, the shotgun two-back, the power I, trips wide, three tight end...and on, and on.

What my point? Ohio State needs to figure out the identity of this football team offensively. They need to figure out the kind of team they want to be and what they want to accomplish offensively, and they need to stick with it.

You're Ohio State. You just signed a dynamic athlete to play the quarterback position in Terrelle Pryor. You benched the pro-style veteran Todd Boeckman in favor of Pryor, seeing him as the future and deciding that you need Terrelle to gain experience in the present to aid the future goals of your football team.

At this moment you've decided that you want a spread offense...the moment you made that switch, you established an identity for your offense. Now start recruiting pieces to fit that identity...and KEEP THAT IDENTITY.

Stop trying to develop power I, three tight end, and under the center formations! Those formations don't play to the strengths of your leader of the offense (Terrelle Pryor). Develop your pistol and spread (three-, four-, and five-wide) set playbook.

Running this "little bit of everything" playbook we've been running for years now limits what you can do from each formation. Expand that scheme like Urban Meyer has been doing, recruit the athletes that you can if you are Ohio State, let your playmakers go out and do just that...make plays, and watch this offense take flight.

Ohio State shouldn't be searching for an offensive philosophy in year eight under Jim Tressel. Once Troy Smith came and brought the success he did offensively to this football team, that should have been the continued direction.

No offense to Todd Boeckman, but he shouldn't have started at quarterback LAST SEASON either! It should have been Antonio Henton, because he would've kept a continuity with his style of play in this offense, and told Terrelle Pryor and FUTURE RECRUITS at quarterback like Robert Bolden, Devin Gardner, or even later Braxton Miller, that this is who we are now!

You now give recruits an understanding of that identity as well because they see it too.

I'll say it again, BuckeyeNation: Great teams know who they are. I don't care what offense this team decides to run—anything from the Texas Tech "throw it 9,000 times a game" to Georgia Tech's "wishbone run it 9,000 times a game."

I do care that this offense figures out who they are going to be and what they are going to do to attack an opponent, makes the full-out commitment to it, and executes.

I would argue that this offensive identity crisis has as much to do with the current problems that this offense is facing, from an execution standpoint as well as a discipline standpoint, as "Tresselball" or any of the other perceived struggles by this unit.

But one thing is constant right now offensively for Ohio State. There are problems, and they need to be addressed.

As always, thoughts and comments are encouraged and welcomed...I appreciate you taking the time out to read my work. Become a fan of mine, and spread the word to other fans about me.




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