Three Takeaways from Ohio State vs. Minnesota
This game was nearly what Bob Stoops predicted in the pre game show stating that he saw it as Ohio State 42 – Minnesota 28. He was 3 points off on each. And while the result may have been expected, the takeaways give coaches plenty to learn from. Here are three takeaways from the game.
Takeaway #1 Get your young QB in a rhythm and show confidence if he struggles
Starting for the first time can be unnerving for a player at any level, let alone on the road in the Big Ten. Ryan Day did not hesitate to get his new QB CJ Stroud into a rhythm, throwing from the shadow of his own goal posts on the first play from scrimmage. He called plenty of quicks like smokes and bubbles early on and Stroud just missed on a shot, but then came the stuggle.
Stroud finished the first half with a paltry 58 yards of passing and one touchdown. However, Day came right back to the passing game showing confidence in his young QB and the result was a touchdown to Chris Olave to put the Buckeyes up 17-14. Stroud executed in the 2nd half with 246yds and 4 touchdowns.
Day did the right things with the play calling creating big play opportunities with receivers with good match-ups or running into voids in the coverage. The combination of having and building confidence in the QB and smart play calling worked together to give the Buckeyes the win.
Takeaway #2 Use tempo in critical situations
Tempo can be a weapon for any type of team whether they aim to go as fast as they can or milk the clock to shorten the game. Ohio State struck first using tempo on a 3rd and short and handing the ball to Myan Williams who took it the distance. The Buckeyes got up to the ball quickly and ran their play while the Gopher defense was still moving to get aligned.
The fast tempo procedure also worked for Minnesota, who on every down was working the play clock down to the last seconds. However, on a 1st and goal from the two, the Gophers scrambled to the line of scrimmage and got a run off quickly and scored while Ohio State was still making adjustments.
The takeaway is that every team should have procedures to do this, especially in those critical short yardage or goal line situations where its usually tough to get the yards needed. In these situations, tempo makes it easier. Preparing and using one word calls can pay dividends.
Takeaway #3 If you are an underdog, be bold
PJ Fleck had a brilliant plan and until a turnover tilted the score in Ohio State’s favor and put Minnesota a couple possessions behind.
Minnesota did it’s best to have long drives and move the ball on the ground. They took every second that they could off the clock. Well timed RPO or shot calls mixed in gave them the chunks of yardage necessary to get the ball into the end zone.
The use of personnel and formations worked to Minnesota’s favor as well. With a line that averaged over 330, the big boys up front did a nice job with the inside zone play moving Buckey defenders off the ball. They stressed the Buckeyes’ 4-2 front with extra lineman, two tight ends in wing positions, and mixing up the formations that they used.
They were patient and took a calculated shot early going for it on fourth and short in their own territory. They certainly had the horse in Mohamed Ibrahim who turned the 4th down run into a big play. They finished the drive using their personnel and formations to get the Buckeyes to pack the box and get a one on one for their talented receiver Dylan Wright. Wright won on a back shoulder securing the catch and six points.
While every big game is fun to watch, there is certainly always something for the coach to learn. The Buckeyes and the Gophers showed smart strategy and execution. The game came down to a turnover for a score that broke it open and a late turnover which put the Buckeyes at plus one on the turnover margin to put it away.