On January 12th, do not be surprised if you feel like you’re seeing double. Urban Meyer’s love of the spread option offense has been widely documented ever since his days at Bowling Green and then at Florida. Some people even claim that Meyer invented the read option play that we love to watch our Ducks run (Rich Rodriguez would dispute that claim). Regardless of who invented it, Meyer would be the one to run it at Florida to the tune of two National Championships. After stepping down for health reasons in 2010, Meyer began to take a closer look at an offense and culture that intrigued him, Oregon’s.
In his USA Today article, Ohio State’s offense looks a lot like Oregon’s, by design, George Schroeder talks about the in-depth look Meyer took during his tenure with ESPN. Even while still coaching the Gators, Meyer had developed a relationship with our own Chip Kelly, with Kelly being slightly less secretive with Meyer. Once he was at ESPN, however, he had the time and resources to look much further into Oregon. As can be seen here, Kelly gave him a bit of a crash course in Oregon’s offense:
Since returning to coaching, Meyer has implemented some of Kelly’s schemes along with his own. Meyer has incorporated bits of up-tempo offense at times, and also added plays from Oregon’s playbook. One example is a combination of Urban Meyer’s classic inverted veer play and the sweep read play that Oregon has popularized (broken down by our own Charles Fisher here).
We can see Ohio State lined up in a formation with two receivers on either side and a running back alongside Braxton Miller in the shotgun.
If we look at the mesh point, we can see that Miller is reading the contain man on the end of the line that the running back is sweeping too, just like an inverted veer play. However, unlike an inverted veer the backside guard is pulling and going up the field to lead block.
Finally, with the end man biting in to stop Miller’s inside run and a guard lead blocking for him through the hole, Miller hands it off to the running back on the outside. This hybridization of Oregon’s plays with those Meyer has been running for a while creates a whole new breed of spread option.
So do not be surprised if Ohio State’s offense looks eerily similar to our Ducks’s. Ultimately the question will be, who will take advantage of this familiarity, Urban Meyer or Mark Helfrich.
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