This article on ESPN about Jim Tressel and his Ohio State team’s offensive struggles is fascinating. Not so much for what he’s saying because his quotes are predictably bland, but for what he’s implying and the insight it gives into Ohio State’s offense.
When asked about what is causing his team’s struggles on offense this year, he said:
“We’ve got to do a little bit better job of adjusting to whatever it is our opponent’s going to [use] that perhaps isn’t exactly the way they played it on the film,” he said. “Sometimes when you have a younger group and you’re trying to train them off the film and then people don’t come out and do exactly that, we have to learn on the run a little bit better so that we can have a little bit more consistency.”
Okay, that makes sense. He does have a very young offense, in which there is only one senior starter and two total seniors who are regulars in the rotation. They’re learning, I get it. Terrelle Pryor is only a true sophomore, after all. Sure. Fine. Great. Besides, nearly every team makes the whole offense look to the sideline for adjustments right before the snap anyway.
But wait, Tressel elaborates:
“One of the sciences of learning how to use your film study is to not get set in your mind that, ‘Hey, they’re going to play it just this way and the things we’ve designed are going to be just like they were drawn on the chalk board. In fact, they can come out and play us this way or that way,’” Tressel said. “We’ve got to do a good job on the sideline in between series, saying, ‘OK, here’s what they’ve done so far. That doesn’t mean they’re going to keep doing it. … They’re allowed to have the next step and the next step as well.’ …”It’s not simply a quarterback issue. It’s an issue for everyone involved.”
Um, Coach, you weren’t making too many adjustments between series before? And you weren’t stressing to your young offense that a defense can have more than one approach to dealing with the offense? Or that your team’s strategy isn’t based on any kind of reaction to what the opposition is doing? Have you never heard of game theory?
Again, I realize the kids are young on offense at Ohio State, so I’m not saying they’re screwed forever. Tressel and the staff definitely didn’t want to overload such inexperienced players. But it seems like Tressel is saying two things: the coaches are messing up, and Terrelle Pryor can’t be relied upon to adjust to what a defense is doing.
The Pryor issue is important because he’s been the starting for a while now. It’s not his fault he doesn’t already know some of the basic adjustments, so no, I’m not blaming him. But I’m wondering what it is that he IS learning while the unquestioned starter for Ohio State.
It does make sense that OSU’s offense wasn’t really too worried about what the defense was doing anyway, since they were just gonna run the ball and use some simple pass plays anyway. But now that they have Pryor and are trying to spread it out a lot more instead of using Tressel’s traditional single-back/H-back offense, adapting to the defense, strategy, and theory are all major issues. Probably because they never have been for Ohio State before.
In a way, they’re kind of going through what Michigan did after Lloyd Carr was fired. The offense has to adapt and change and they may be stuck with a coach that isn’t ready for it. Yet. I do trust Jim Tressel to get it right because he still is a bespectacled genius on defense. But don’t forget, he’s an offensive coach first and always has been.
Rhetorical questions aside, I supposed it’s enough for that many young players to not trip over each other during a given play, but holyf*ckingsh*t this isn’t high school football. Not to go all Dan Hawkins on you, but it’s division one football, brother! Of course the good teams you face are going to have different looks and try to confuse you. It’s a major part of every gameplan everywhere. I even bet Ohio State’s defense does it to their opponents!
No f*cking wonder they never blow anyone worthwhile out. No f*cking wonder they got their offense totally shut down by Florida and LSU and everyone else.
I hate Ohio State and the implications of what Tressel said made me slap my forehead in frustration several times. So I can only imagine how it is for actual Buckeyes fans.