clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Theater of Operations, Florida Vs. Ohio State: Previewing Ohio State's Running Game

Getty Images

This is the second installment of the Theater of Operations preview of the Gator Bowl, in which the Florida Gators are matched up against the Ohio State Buckeyes.

The Ohio State rushing attack is far more dangerous than the passing attack we discussed yesterday. Ohio State's running game is ranked a decent 27th nationally, and gains 195.42 yards per game. Most of their yardage is gained from a spread option offense. Quarterback Braxton Miller leads the Buckeyes with just under 700 rushing yards, but the Buckeyes have a very balanced running game.

Three players have rushed for more than 500 yards on more than 100 carries, so it is clear that they spread the ball around equally between the three of them. Carlos Hyde, Dan Herron and Miller have combined to score 16 of the 20 rushing touchdowns the Buckeyes have scored this season.

The Gators defense is built to stop an option run game, or at least an east-west game. By saying that, I'm simply putting it out there that the Gators aren't built for stopping a north-south running game. They aren't big enough for that. They do, however, have the speed to stop the exact same kind of running game that Ohio State brings to the table. It's all about assignment football. Let's just hope that the loss of Dominique Easley isn't as big a factor as we all fear.

Play No. 1: Braxton Miller's 19-yard touchdown run against Michigan:


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

This is just a simple option play. I'm pretty sure that the play was designed for Braxton Miller (left yellow circle) to keep the ball. The running back (right yellow circle) is going to be heading in the opposite direction. The lone defender (green circle) assigned to Miller has to make the play.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

At this point, Miller (yellow circle) fakes like he is going to take it up the middle. The defender (green circle) bites too hard on the fake.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Miller (yellow circle) takes the play to the outside, and gets to the corner where he is free to run downfield. The defender (green circle), because he bit on the inside fake, is badly out of position and can't make the tackle.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Miller (yellow circle) gets a great downfield block from a wide receiver (yellow square) and he is pretty much home free.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

A nice quick cut inside by Miller (yellow square) and he goes in for the touchdown.

Play No. 2: Dan Herron's 57-yard run against Wisconsin:


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

This play is a more traditional running play than the one above. Dan Herron (yellow circle) is just going to take the ball and run between the guard and the center.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

As Herron (left yellow circle) is getting the ball, look at where the blocks are taking place. The center, left guard and left tackle (big yellow square) have moved their blocks at least three yards downfield. That's pretty impressive. The right guard and right tackle (small yellow square) are maintaining their blocks, and the fullback (right yellow square) is ready to block the lone defender (green circle) in the backfield.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

As Herron (yellow circle) is about to find a lane, there doesn't appear to be one. There is one free defender (green circle), but he really isn't in an ideal location.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Herron (yellow circle) does find a lane (yellow parallel lines) and is now free to sprint to the next level.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Herron (yellow circle) gets a great block downfield by a wide receiver, much like the play above) and ends up gaining 47 more yards before he is finally caught.

Play No. 3: Carlos Hyde's 64-yard touchdown against Nebraska:


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Carlos Hyde (double yellow circle) is going to be the only player on offense who goes to the right. Every other player is going to slant to the left. The offensive line (yellow square) and fullback (single yellow circle) are all going to go the the left.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

At the moment that Hyde (yellow circle) cuts to his left, there is only one defender (double green circle) in position to make a play. The other free defender (single green circle) is off-balance because of the cut by Hyde to the right.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Hyde (yellow circle) is going to use his speed to get past the two defenders (green circles) in the area.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

How about a little more speed? Yeah, Hyde (yellow circle) uses exactly that to get past the last defender and run the 45 yards to the endzone.

I know that most of the plays profiled here are your more traditional style running plays, but I promise you, Ohio State -- as evidenced by Braxton Miller's rushing totals -- runs more of an option style running game. The Gators are also going to have to be wary of Miller, because he has a tendency to take the ball by himself and run with it.

As I said in yesterday's Theater of Operations which profiled Ohio State's passing attack, I'm much more concerned about the Buckeyes running game than their passing game. Stop the Buckeyes on the ground, and you defeat Ohio State. It's really rather simple.