Upon Further Review – Ohio State at Penn State

Posted: November 3, 2012 in UME 2012

Braxton Miller’s 32 yard run setting up a TD before Halftime 


Single Wing Spread T

Before I look at the big play that led to the first TD for OSU, I want to take a quick peek at the play before. The set looks like some sort of hybrid Single Wing Spread T formation. Not to be confused with the Wing TSplit T, or Spread T formations of old, where the QB is under center. Instead, the QB takes a direct snap lined up in the position of FB in the traditional T Formation. But included is a wing back and a total of 4 players in the backfield as in traditional Single Wing sets. In fact, some teams that were still running the Single Wing during the age of the T, actually would shift into the same look that Ohio State showed. Of course the big difference from old school formations and the modern day Pro and Spread sets is the wide splits of both ends into what’s now known as a wide receiver.

The play is a QB Counter Trap over LT.  The left side of the line blocks down, while the RG Marcus Hall and WB Jeff Heuerman (normally the TE) both pull for trap blocks. The interesting part is the counter. Instead of an actual play fake, Miller simply pauses for a second as both RBs flair to either side. This provides the same misdirection as a traditional counter scheme, but it’s twice as effective – a “double” counter move, if you will. Instead of one, two misdirections occur simultaneously in two opposite directions. This aggressive use of the Power Spread actually gives the illusion of stretching the field from both sides, while finding a seam in the middle.  Had Hall actually attempted to block his man, this play could have gone for big yardage.


Single Wing Wishbone Spread 

This brings us to the big run – the first big play on offense that really set the tone for the 2nd half. Again, the set has a Single Wing “feel” with the elements of T and Pro or Spread – which just about covers the gamut of offensive ideas in football history. The added dimension in this set is the QB, again lined up as a FB in the T, but brought forward a yard or two to create the Wishbone effect. The real Wishbone, which is really just a variation of the T, became popular as a college football option offense in the 60s & 70s. 

Again, what’s more interesting than the set is actually the scheme. In this scheme the threat of widening the field isn’t just an illusion, but a real threat. But again, its the decoy that sets up the aggressive blocking scheme for a middle of the field seam for a fast QB. Even more brilliant is overall illusion of Spread Option. With a team that uses a large amount of Read Option, such as OSU, the actual scheme itself can be used as the misdirection element. In other words, FAKE the Read Option itself, create the misdirection and run a power iso right behind the RB carrying at the fake. Huh?  Let’s break it down…


First, the blocking scheme is actually pretty simple – straight line aggressive Iso blocks. Just like old fashioned football 101, fire out and hit the man in front of you. Only, because of the brilliance of the misdirection, some of the front line defense can be bypassed to get to the second level – the LBs. This is what makes the Power Spread concept so powerful on offense. Players are eliminated by the Spread (Space & Misdirection), creating a much easier, more aggressive blocking scheme for the Oline. The Power lies within the potential these types of schemes create for lineman to get to the 2nd level and knock out LBs. This is where we see all the big plays.


Meyer & Herman take this Fake Read Option one step further, by having an extra back in a Wishbone set. In this case, Rod Smith is the Read Option Fake Back and Carlos Hyde is the Pitch Fake Back. Miller carries out the Read Option Fake with Smith, while Hyde runs toward the left sideline as the pitch man “if” Miller keeps the ball. This creates not only a fake Read Option, but a fake TRIPLE OPTION. Not only is there now misdirection happening in the middle of the field, but also stretching to the left width!  This leaves the right middle and right width as open area for Miller to follow his ISO block with the Fake Read Option Back Smith! The WRs try to run interference, but their jobs are pretty much done before the snap in the effect of them spreading out the defense for the in line misdirection and illusion of another Read Option play.


Fake Read Triple Option ISO Right

So there it is. Absolute brilliance by Meyer, Herman and the rest of the offensive staff. Fake the Read Option Keeper Left with the Fake Pitch man stretching the field out even further left, while the QB follows the ISO back aggressively thru the seam created by an outnumbered defense.

In this case it worked perfectly. The C and LG crushed the LDT. The RG an RT easily took care of the aggressive upfield rushes of the LDE and LOLB.  The RDT, left unblocked, was completely fooled by the Fake Read Option, as Miller stopped an followed his ISO Back after the fake. The other 2 LBs were easy pickings as they fell for both misdirections – the Read Option and Pitch – and pulled themselves out of position sliding too far to their right.

This left a bewildered secondary. What the heck was happening?  By the time the SS figured it out he had ISO Back, Rod Smith steaming full blast at him. It didn’t even matter that Smith actually missed his block or that the near sideline WR didn’t run too much interference. The damage was done with the misdirection and use of the whole field, be it real or illusion.

That again is the power of aggressively using the PS concept. It doesn’t need perfect execution to succeed – just aggression. The scheme is such that it practically has an inherent % of give or “cushion” for error. The whole team doesn’t have to be perfect as long as most are doing their jobs and continue to be aggressive 100% of the game. With these schemes, the ones doing their job cover for the ones making mistakes. The use of Space, Time and the WHOLE Team take care of the rest.


  1. […] exact same formation that I covered the week before against Penn State. But instead of the POWER idea of Power Spread, this analysis will cover the […]

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