OSU BACK TO THE FUTURE – On the Cutting Edge!

Posted: November 20, 2012 in Buckeye News, Go Bucks!, Ohio State

Ok, guys, change of plans. We are flying by the seat of our pants here. Because of the genius of Urban Meyer and Tom Herman’s offense I can’t do a thorough analysis of the Wisconsin game without writing a book! For those who have already followed along so far you have seen me take two sentences to describe Wisconsin’s first drive and about 8 paragraphs to describe OSU’s first drive. This is my first thorough breakdown of the OSU offense and I am completely amazed by the simple brilliance of the overall PS concept and specific schemes employed by Meyer/Herman.


Contrary to popular belief, this isn’t because I’m an OSU fan. I have analyzed Tressel/Bolman offenses in the past with the same 2 sentences per drive that it takes to analyze Bielema/Canada’s Wisconsin offense. In fact, in the coming weeks I will find a way to post my breakdown of the 2008 OSU debacle against USC, where I analyzed -in complete detail – every single play of the game. It’s then that I realized the importance of schemes and other concepts besides just Talent, Teamwork, and Toughness. Starting with the genius of USC OC at the time, Steve Sarkisian, and the way he used his talent – much more effectively than OSU’s use of the same kind of talent.

I subsequently broke down a lot of the SEC games during the same period (2008-09). It was clear to me that SEC dominance of the last decade had much more to do with the coaching than talent or speed. The attitude in the south was completely different – much more aggressive. Yes there were more mistakes, but there were also a lot more big plays. Plus, the assistant coaches were paid far more money and in this instance, “you get what you pay for.” The schemes on both sides of the ball were simply better. They put their athletes in positions to use their athleticism. This was rarely the case in the Big 10 during the 00s.


Analyzing the 1st OSU drive of the Wisconsin game brought all this back to me. OSU is so lucky to have had so many great coaches over their history. Possibly the Father of everything involving the Forward Pass was once a coach at Ohio State in the early 30’s. Many were already experimenting with passing offense right from the start in 1906, but not only was Schmidt one of the early innovators, he explored to the extreme. By 1916 there was only one other coach airing it out as much as Schmidt’s team at Tulsa. His influence on the future was even more important than his immediate results.


While at TCU he was the catalyst for Dutch Meyer’s first true Spread Offense on a major college level. At OSU he influenced Sid Gillman directly and Paul Brown indirectly – the former as a player and the latter as a Coach at the nearby Masillon High School powerhouse. Gilliam went on to revolutionize the passing game in the NFL. Paul Brown revolutionized EVERYTHING in the NFL. He started with what he learneed from Schmidt, among others, while at Massilon and continued when he became Head Coach at OSU in the early 40s. His system really became defined once he reached the NFL and influenced all of football forever more. Even late in his career he had a lot to do with Bill Walsh’s passing offense of the 80’s, which was really the last big innovation to come from the NFL.


OSU’s next great coach, Woody Hayes, may not have been such an innovator, but he certainly knew how to work the game from the concepts and schemes of the time. He was no less smart for that. Plus, he thought briefly about moving to a spread type offense in the late 60s. Don’t believe me? More on that another time, but I will leave you with this for now.


Of course, more recently Jim Tressel was brilliant in many ways. Don’t forget the Shot Ginn offense – precursor to the wildcat in a way. The way in which he managed a QB that really had very little passing ability in Krenzel. And the way in which he spread the field, first for Justin Zwick, then Troy Smith. And turning Troy from a runner into a very good passer.

But things went haywire when an incredibly talented run-first QB came to the team and decided he wanted to play in a “Pro” offense and sold the coaching staff on this idea. Had Power Spread concepts been more in use, the Buckeyes may have won 3 straight National Titles instead of suffering the mess that ensued. But the good news is who came next.

Urban Meyer may be the Father of the Future. Or is it the brilliant star on the rise, Tom Herman, that he has brought with him. With an underrated Luke Fickel on the defensive side, OSU couldn’t be in better hands. It’s still tough not to think of this team as Tressel’s team. But from the view of where Football is heading – it gets no better than this.

The Power Spread really isn’t an idea or concept that is widely accepted to this day. It’s the wave of the Future and Meyer is leading the way. The big question is what happens next. Does Meyer continue on or is it his OC, Herman, who brings these ideas to the forefront of all of football. Or maybe it’s a coach like Gus Malzahn as he moves up the ranks as a head coach in College Football. It’s hard to know, but for now,  OSU is back to he future and on the cutting edge again. Just like they were with Francis Schmidt and Paul Brown.


Stay tuned for follow up “Breakdown by Quarter” of OSU at Wisconsin 


  1. Micah Berg says:

    Nice article, it’s worded very nicely.
    Respectfully, you should consider right-justifying the last image. Maybe it was just an overlook, but I don’t think it was justified properly to the right or left.

    Happy Holidays,
    Micah Berg

    • powerspread says:

      HI Micah,
      Thanks for the reply. Actually I wanted Urban’s pic in the forefront for the last paragraph, but still with the paragraph attached to the pic. I actually did a little experimentation with the pics in this post.

      I’m curious of your comment. Do you feel I “lose” the last paragraph the way it’s set up now? Or it just looks strange to you?

      Your feedback is appreciated.

  2. […] his talent. One of the hallmarks of PS Football.    The state of Ohio was once upon a time a breeding ground for innovation. Beginning with Francis Schmidt, who lead the way for coaching greats Sid Gillman and Paul Brown, […]

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