Coaching Points: Ohio State 2015 Spring Game

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Offense: 11 personnel, gun
Defense: 4-3 Over Cover 4 MOD Base

Typically caveats about OL depth, particularly how young OL typically fair against young DL (not well); but OSU was banged up along the OL as well, which made the 2nd string situation even worse. This made it a bit difficult to judge a lot of the second unit on both sides of the ball. Then guys started wearing jerseys over their jerseys to flip sides, which made it even more difficult. This is an assessment from the first half.

Cardale Jones
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Cardale Jones supposedly didn't have a great day for himself on Saturday, but looked like much the same player we saw at the end of last season. He continues to wow you with throws he can make with a clean pocket, and still causes you to shake your head when the pocket isn't as clean. His most impressive throw on the day wasn't just a deep throw down the sideline (of which he had a few really nice throws), but his rifle of a pass on a 15 yard dig in a very small window.

Cardale's arm strength is pure. The rotation he gets on the ball gives him great velocity on his passes but makes them still catchable. His deep throws down the sideline get on receivers quickly despite the trajectory, and his bullets get there just as fast.

But it all comes back to his feet. When Cardale can set his feet and step into a throw, he shows great accuracy. But he still seems to complacent to stand back in the pocket and trust his arm alone at times. When he starts feeling pressure and is ready to throw (he does a good job stepping up and through the pocket when he doesn't yet have a read), he begins to fade in the pocket and his feet get all cattywompus. On a roll out to his left, the RB (Dunn) didn't do well enough on the OLB coming off the edge. He met him about 4 yards in the backfield. Instead of stopping and getting his shoulder and feet to the target and making an easy, accurate throw to an open receiver, his feet were still pointing 45 degrees backward and to the sideline and the throw was off the mark. Similarly, on some of his one step drops, when going to his second read (such as on double slants), he often fails to reset his feet, and instead just flings the ball without stepping to his target or transferring his weight. What's that cause? It causes the ball to come out high and typically and to his left (because his shoulder never gets squared and his feet lead to the sideline). So these footwork things need to get ironed out still.

This may be why he's still late on some of his throws as well. Some of the more read intensive concepts Jones needs to improve on, such as spot concepts and spacing concepts. In Urban Meyer's system, the feet drive the timing of the reads. When the feet are out of sync with the reads, the reads can be late. Saw a few passes get broken up that were initially quite open.

Lastly, there still seems to be some struggles identifying the movement key. A lot of Jones's success last year came from attacking deep where the movement key is easy to identify, or with very simple outside concepts that have the same feature. But again, the spot concept was late twice. The slip screen was predetermined, when if Jones correctly reads his second movement key he has a TD rather than an INT. These are areas he needs to improve.

Again, the OL caveat applies largely here. I wasn't very high on Collier as a recruit, but he did show me some things as far as his arm strength that impressed me a bit. Still he showed a lot of the same issues he had in college, namely, very inconsistent technique. He failed to step into his throws quite often and things of that nature. Again, pressure was in his face a lot, so it's a bit hard to tell. Doesn't naturally push the ball down the field, has to step into those throws. I still think he could be a viable asset for the Buckeyes, but there is a lot of talent ahead of him and more coming in. He may find it easier to move to WR or TE.

Offensive Line
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The focus of the game was clearly on the passing side of things, as the run game got very little attention. What I saw was a solid looking left side of the OL and a right side that struggled. Not to pick on one guy, but Ferris really struggled. He looked stiff, he didn't get very good depth on his drops, I believe he flat out missed some assignments or had the wrong assignment a couple times. That's something that's going to need to get ironed out before the season starts, because Jones took a lot of pressure way too quickly off the edge. Lisle was shuffled in there as well and also struggled.

The rest of the OL looks pretty set, as it mostly returns from last year. Again, the OL was banged up, so a few guys were out. It wasn't always perfect on the left side, but you go up against Bosa and Washington and it's difficult to be perfect. But the right side had far too many breakdowns.

Running Backs
Again, not much emphasis on the run game. I liked the footwork I saw from Dunn though, and he looked very comfortable catching the ball out of the backfield. He looks like he should provide good depth as a between the tackles RB.

Wide Receiver Group
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We really only saw much from Samuel and Brown in the first quarter, and then Corey Smith really came on. Marshall showed a little bit, but not a lot.

I liked what I saw from Brown. He's a big bodied WR that runs pretty good routes. I'd like to see him be a bit quicker in and out of cuts to really sell that go route, but overall, he looks like a nice possession option to fill out the depth chart going forward.

Samuel flashed both ways. You can obviously see the athleticism with Samuel, but he's also still incredibly raw, particularly as a receiver. His routes weren't crisp, as he rounded a lot of them off. Times when he should have been able to gain more separation, he wasn't able to because of his lack of technique at the slot position. He brings a lot to the table, but still seems more comfortable just getting the ball in his hands as a RB at this point.

Smith obviously was the deep threat from the WR group. He seemed to track the ball pretty well and was able to get separation from the DBs. But it seemed like a lot of what he did was off the screen, so I didn't really get a clean look at it until the ball was caught.

Defensive Line
We know what we know about Bosa. Bosa is good, uses his hands really well, etc. etc. There isn't a whole lot new to discuss here.

Washington is still a guy that flashes with athleticism but still hasn't quite rounded out into a complete DT. He's clearly a better fit for the 3-Tech than he was for the nose, particularly with his athleticism. You'd still like him to play more consistently physical though. When he plays physical and fires off low and brings his hands, he can make plays a couple gaps over and behind the line of scrimmage. When he doesn't do those things, he can still get swallowed up a bit and stuck in his gap. Lots of potential here, just needs to be more consistent.

Munger is a load in the middle. I didn't watch him too closely, unfortunately, but he seemed to plug up some run lanes.

Two young guys also showed quite a bit on the DL: Hubbard and Holmes. Hubbard was all over the field. Obviously, he has the finish plays better at this point, he's still getting used to the position, but he's a guy you can give situational roles to and he can perform for you, which is a good sign. Holmes is the same way, he showed some of his athleticism in the pass rush game. Still don't think he's ready to be a constant at DE, as his technique is raw and he really doesn't have a lot of moves that will work at the college level yet, but he can be a situational guy for you.

Lee is still Lee. He's a heat seaking missile of a LB that is great on the edge. Did make one mistake when instead of blowing up a block or coming over the top, he tried to sink underneath it. Had good form in doing so, but didn't make the play. With his role as the guy to force everything back inside, if he's going underneath, he needs to make sure he's going to make the tackle.

Perry is still Perry, both good and bad. He will likely still be the weak link in the LB group.

I would have liked to see the MIKEs play a bit faster. Conner may have looked like the best of the group out there, and he's an EE FR right now. He at least played fast. But the other MIKEs seemed to play a step slow and not very instinctive. The angles weren't very good to support the OLBs and they didn't look clean in pass coverage (except for Conner's INT, where he actually read how the play should be run better than the TE, who I place as much blame on for the INT than Collier). That's a position where there is a lot of upside for the Buckeyes, but the performance needs to improve from last year.

Defensive Backs
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I really, really liked what I saw out of Conley. Even when he got beat, he largely mitigated the issue by being very smooth through transitions. His ability to open up and flip directions makes it extremely difficult to gain separation on him, and his length is a huge asset. He understood how to control the receiver with his body in arms (had one really nice PBU in the end zone), to the point that I thought he looked like the best DB for OSU on Saturday.

I was less impressed with Apple, who didn't look like his full self from last year. He's proven that he can perform better though, so I wouldn't put too much stock into it.

The safeties still do some of the things they did at points last year. They have great athleticism for the position, but still seem raw in terms of fundamentals. They got crossed up too easily on some post routes and allowed the receiver to get separation far too cleanly, and they still take suspect angles at times. That'll continue to be work to be more consistent on the backend, something that appeared to be coming around toward the end of last season.

Raw Notes from 1st Half
Starting in 10 personnel. Post-corner routes by the two slots is a standard cover 4 beater. Throw by Jones is late to the post route that is breaking wide open. Tries to guide the football instead of stepping into it. Not a crisp route (Samuel), rounded off on the break. Powell lets receiver cross him over too easily and isn't smooth transitioning from back peddle back inside onto post. Need to be more clean on defense.

Double slant. Great release by Brown, who does a great job selling the outside release and getting the CB to flip outside. Conley did a great job recovering though and actually still making it a contested reception. Could have broken wide open as receiver crossed him up, but very smooth flipping back inside and mitigating what would have been a bigger gain.

Spot concept from a trey set that Jones is late reading. To me, it doesn't look like he identifies his movement key until late. If he saw the key, he would have had a very easy pitch and catch. The LB stays outside the bench route and that the spot is wide open. Nice job by playside OLB reading the roll out and getting into the backfield and preventing a clean roll from Jones. RB here needs to do better meeting the defender at the LOS to allow Jones to get outside. Jones, for his part, also needs to do better to get his shoulder up field. His "front" foot is actually pointing 45 degrees backwards when he throws.

Nice job by Jones taking off when TE can't bump the OLB off the route and get separation. Nice job diagnosing it quickly and getting the 1st.

Sail concept gets the intermediate option wide open vs a 3-high look. Needs to be better communication from the DBs. CB didn't pass off to FS and that allowed Samuel to break wide open. Not perfectly accurate, but catchable ball.

Bosa does a good job with his hands to swat down the RT's (Ferris) reach. RT doesn't use his feet well enough. He gets very little depth on his first couple steps (wasted movement) and is forced to open up his hips very early, by which point Bosa is already around him. Ferris gets a false start next snap.

Jones still throws an incredible pass down the sideline. When he steps into a throw and he gets his feet right, his arm strength, touch, and ball velocity are up there with the best. This is what makes him a temping pro prospect. He makes the deep throw really look easy and gets it on the receiver quickly. Apple beat way too cleanly on the route and didn't recover well, though never got a clear look at why he got beat.

Go back to the spot concept. This time the roll is to the right and Jones has a clean pocket with no one threatening. Patient to let underneath wash clear out, though I'd like to see this pass to be made a little bit quicker. No clue what Bell is trying to do here on the tackle. Looks like he's playing touch football, doesn't break down at all and barely gives an effort.

Double slant on third 2-pt conv attempt. Jones makes the correct read, but his throw is hard and behind. Gotta give the receiver a chance to make a play.

Great play by Conley on the fade. Controls the WR with his body and arms, finds ball, high points the ball and knocks it OOB.

Collier late on the double slant read and does a poor job with his feet. Has the WR breaking open but Collier doesn't step his feet and doesn't transfer weight. His front foot doesn't step and that causes him to lean back; throws high and behind.

Very little separation. I think this is on the TE who doesn't work back to the open space, but just sits in front of the MIKE (Conner). Conner actually reads this better than the TE and breaks on the throw before its made. Nice recognition by a FR.

Looked to be confusion on the right side of the OL, as they didn't pass off the stunt cleanly. Far angle, hard to see what happened here.

Very nice job by Lee to burst up field on the swing pass and force it back inside. Way too passive from Bell again, who has to fill this alley. This was a blitz, so OSU was in a 3-high D behind it, but Lee did his job to force it back inside and two defenders were too passive coming up and making a play, essentially allowing one blocker to block both. Dunn did show some good footwork to cut the ball upfield.

Ferris messes up his assignment again on this PA fake. He needs to squeeze the gap left by the pulling RG and not let anyone through. Instead, the center is forced to cover the whole thing and the DT can get behind the LOS really cleanly and Dunn is forced to chip (not very well). Looked to me like Ferris thought Jones was rolling his direction by where he set in his pass pro.

Double slant again. Conley is having himself a day. Didn't completely open himself up when the WR tried to drive him outside. Forced the WR to be late breaking back inside and never got through cleanly. This knocked the timing off the play. It's still a throw that Jones can and probably should be able to fire in there (as an NFL QB should), and he threw it high and away, but great coverage by Conley again.

Whole OSU DL in the backfield. Slade and Hubbard both winning their assignments (Hubbard vs Schmidt). OL is young on 2nd unit, and looks like it. 2nd string DL way ahead right now.

Oh, just a 60 yard throw down the seam for Jones without hardly stepping into it. Not completed, pocket broke down on him, but damn, that deep ball.

Great coverage again by Conley on Brown. Really good throw here by Jones. It's a deep cross, Brown is ahead of Conley, but Conley makes up ground and reaches around and breaks the ball up.

Lee tries to cheat this and set up the block outside and come underneath. Does well to dip his shoulder and not give the blocker much body to hit, but have to make the play if you're going to do that here, especially in OSU's scheme where OSU uses the OLB to force the play back inside.

Would like to see Washington be a little more violent with his punch here, and vice versa for the OL. OL tries too hard to sell the pass and never gets into Washington's body, this allows Washington to fight back across the body and make an attempt on Jones running the QB draw.

Marshall on Apple down the sideline. Jones is late making this throw. Sail concept again, but because this throw is so late, Apple can recover and force Marshall toward the sideline; it turns this play from one where the WR can catch it in stride to one where it's a straight jump ball. Would like to see Apple control the WR here and find the ball though, still locked on WR.

Great catch by Dunn who has Lee draped all over him. Jones has to get this out fast because there is poor communication on the OL, who slides left despite the extra defender coming from the right, allowing a free hitter through. Nice job by Jones to get this ball out quickly to his hot, releases it high and is accurate with a throw he steps into. Impressive to get a few yards out of this situation.

Drive concept from the outside WR. CB and OLB don't communicate how to pass it off and the outside WR comes open underneath. Jones doesn't get his feet set quickly enough and therefore doesn't really step into his target, this results in the pass being behind the receiver. Needs to be more accurate here as it can be a bigger gain. Very impressive catch by Brown, who catches the ball one handed behind him and then still turns up field to gain more yards. Need better communication on defense.

***Unbalanced line from OSU. Intention here is to make it look like the RT is trying to get the seal block on the outside for the tunnel screen and then slip it up field. However, Jones predetermines here, doesn't read defender. Power breaks down on it and Jones tries to fire the ball in the seam. Needs to see the defender coming down, would have the TE wide open over the top if he reads the defender. [Picture page this one]

Nice job by Munger splitting the double and working back to the football from his DT position. Needs to be better on the double. Failed to control first level, and let 2nd level crash on play (Conner)

Pin and pull. #42 (Not Slade; Mawhirther, a long-snapper) gets away with a hold from the TE position on the DE (Slade).

Nice job by Perry breaking down on the football and limiting the bench route by C. Smith.

Jones stares down his WR a lot here, but absolutely makes up for it with the pass. The WR is trying to find a lane behind the LBs and in front of the Safety. LBs actually do well here gaining quite a bit of depth (Lee in particular), but Hooker is a little late coming down and Jones steps into an absolute rope of a throw, in the smallest window you could throw the ball into, and moves the chains.

Ferris having a very rough day. This time Washington beating him outside, as he doesn't get much depth and opens up for an "Olé". Jones gets sacked.

Now they're switching jersey colors and it's tough to see what's happening. This will end every play break down.

Samuel broke free of Fada, but this is actually a really nice play from him up until that. He diagnosed the swing pass and went outside. He forced Samuel to come to a complete stop and then have to put on a couple moves to break open. The support needs to get there. You'd like to see a bit better lateral ability from Fada, but it's a LB on a slot, support is way too late (Booker playing MIKE, is late and takes a terrible angle; this gain is mostly on him).

Holmes uses his hands well in his pass rush for a FR. Here, he gets separation from the RT (Lisle) and gets his hands up to knock down the swing pass.

Nice job by Smith to find the ball in teh air and make a play on it. Nice INT.