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Monday Film Session: Breaking Down Ohio State's Performance vs. Oregon

Let's look at a number of plays from Saturday's game, including ones where the Buckeyes had defensive break downs that led to Oregon's success.

Throughout the season, we will break down game film to spotlight certain plays that went well for the Buckeyes and others that did not. Let's dive in on the defensive side of the ball after the Silver Bullets had a tough game.

Duck Offense/Buckeye Defense

Oregon offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead will have a lot of footage after Saturday’s game that he will be able to use for “teach tape” at future coaching clinics. His game plan was incredible with a balance of run and pass (38 runs, 35 pass).

The first clips below are quick passes designed to get the ball in the hands of the running back in space. The success of the play is the leverage by the back when he catches the ball, as well as blocking on the perimeter by the receivers. This scheme was effective in both man and zone on Saturday. 

In both plays, No. 14 Ronnie Hickman, who is playing the bullet position (safety/linebacker hybrid), is a step too late in getting to RB CJ Verdell. If you notice on the first play when the Buckeyes are in man coverage, Hickman is late in sliding with Verdell in motion and he loses leverage. The second play, Ohio State is in zone and Hickman is delayed in opening up his hips to run with Verdell.


The Oregon offense displayed a lot of 1 by 3 formation (1 WR on one side and 3 WRs on the other side of the formation). This stretches out the defense, while also creating opportunities for the offense to outnumber the defense. Here you will see a run against man coverage to the boundary (short side of the field) with a pin and pull concept (down block by tackle, crack-back block by WR and guard pulling). 

This play puts a lot of stress on defensive end Zach Harrison, who ends up not taking quarterback Anthony Brown or Verdell. Also, the breakdown is two-fold in the secondary with Hickman not reading the crack block and playing run support and No. 17 safety Bryson Shaw taking a bad angle to the fill the alley.


With the success of the previous play above, here you will see a similar scheme against man coverage with a crack-back block - this time, with the front side tackle and the center pulling. The sideline and overhead spotlight the athleticism of the Duck lineman to get out on the perimeter, but also the defensive breakdown. 

No. 21 linebacker Palaie Gaoteote does not read download to secure the edge and he runs into/picks fellow linebacker No. 35 Tommy Eichenberg, who is playing man on Verdell and can’t get to him.


In addition to winning the line of scrimmage, the goal of offensive lineman on many plays is to get to the second level (linebackers) to get hands on them or “seal them off”. With the Buckeyes in man, this large hole is due to Eichenberg playing man on the H-Back and vacating the middle of the field, with safety Bryson Shaw taking an angle to come under the ref rather than over the top.

After watching some of these clips and digesting the game, here's how we graded out the Buckeye defense this week.


Buckeye Offense/Duck Defense

The tempo of the Buckeye offense caught the Duck defense off guard a couple of key times during the game on Saturday. Here you will see two examples (one with run and one with pass) in which the Buckeyes snapped the ball before the Ducks were set and ready to defend.


The Ducks' defensive scheme involves multiple looks with frequent pre-snap movement, and of course, a lot blitz packages to pressure Stroud. This clip shows a linebacker blitz on a key down in the red zone.

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This play was also a point of contention for Buckeye fans, who may have rightfully felt that Olave was interfered with when trying to make the game-saving touchdown catch.


Pre-snap movement and pressure on a quarterback can often impact rhythm and accuracy of a quarterback. Stroud had some misses like these back-to-back early third and fourth down conversion tries that would have extended drives and likely got the Buckeyes on the board early.


Let's end on a positive note: C.J. Stroud did have quite a day in the statistical column and showed some flashes of impressive quarterback play. There were some throws made in tight windows that showed Buckeye Nation his capabilities. 

The first clip is a seam route to Jaxon Smith-Njigba for a score where he looks left to freeze the free safety over the middle of the field. The second clip is a ball placed perfectly over the top in very tight coverage, with a fabulous catch from Chris Olave.

Overall it was a pretty good day for the Buckeye offense. It's hard to be too upset about a game in which you racked up 612 yards of offense, but there were a number of big missed opportunities that contributed to a losing result this weekend. Here's how we graded out the Ohio State offense.


Be sure to check out our new message boards, Buckeye Forums. We'd love to have you part of the conversation during the season.


You may also like:

Ohio State Quarterback C.J. Stroud Named Big Ten’s Freshman Of The Week

Ohio State's Goals Of Winning Big Ten, Reaching Playoff Remain Intact Despite Loss

Kerry Coombs Takes Responsibility For Ohio State's Defensive Struggles In Loss

Oregon Carves Up Buckeye Defense In Shootout to Upset No. 3 Ohio State

Game Observations: Ohio State Defense Struggles vs. Oregon

Game Observations: Ohio State Offense Thrives In Loss to Oregon


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