Check The Tape – Ohio State November 7, 2012
Before we get to the tape, Corey Lewis. Corey Lewis! Not one person reading these words understands what it took for Corey Lewis to get back out on that football field. I’ve mentioned it before, but I want to say it again. I’m at spring practice in 2011, and there’s Corey Lewis, rehabbing his knee. Rantoul 2010 – Corey Lewis, rehabbing off to the side. Rantoul 2011 and 2012: Corey Lewis, rehabbing.
I’m guessing hundreds and hundreds of practices where he’d arrive at the football facility with his teammates, dress out, and then rehab rehab rehab. Plus countless nights and weekends with trainers and in pools of water and on weight machines. And that’s not to mention the five surgeries and the countless nights of not even getting two hours of sleep because your knee is immobilized.
Nobody can know what it took to get back out there. Only Corey Lewis knows. Which is why this was my favorite Twitter exchange of 2012:
@pocic haha man that’s all I had
— Corey Lewis (@clewis70) November 4, 2012
If I was a college football player, I’d spend every waking moment searching for an action photo that I could use as my Twitter profile pic. And for Corey Lewis, he’s had to stick with one from the 2008 Indiana game. Until now.
So while watching this film, I tried to watch nearly all of Corey Lewis’ plays. And you know what? For 2.5 years of rust, not bad at all. Seriously, he made some solid kickouts on a few plays that made me realize this isn’t just a feel good story – if he can get a waiver for a sixth year, he can really contribute next year. Amazing.
OK, to the tape. Since we’re talking line play, this CTT will focus on line play. Specifically, how Ohio State’s lines, on both sides of the ball, dominated ours. First up: pass protection.
Here’s a screenshot of an Ohio State pass play and an Illinois pass play back to back. I set a stopwatch and tried to freeze the film at the exact same time – about 3 seconds after the snap. Here’s the pocket Braxton Miller had:
I could really stop right there. Without a pocket on plays like this, we’re just not going to move the ball.
How much of this is Ohio State having an older, more experienced line and Illinois having a younger, playing-out-of-position one? Well, I’ll just go through some similar plays and you tell me.
Ok, now let’s switch it. We’ll show our play first, and then Ohio State’s play.
The idea on both of these plays is to get your offensive line over to the hash mark and create a hole for your tailback. Here’s the Illini attempting this in the fourth quarter. Jon Davis gets the handoff, but there’s a traffic jam in front of him.
See #4 on Ohio State in the center here? If this play worked like it was drawn up, Davis would be attempting to beat him one on one. But he’s not. He’s getting manhandled four yards behind the line of scrimmage.
Ok, so want to see how a play like that is supposed to work? Here come two Ohio State offensive linemen pulling on the snap Their job is to get a body on someone on the edge and create a running lane.
And create they do. With the Ohio State tight end doing a good job on Tim Kynard, one of these pulling linemen gets a block on Earnest Thomas (#9), and the other goes hunting for a pursuing linebacker (Mason Monheim). Also note the WR getting a nice block on Ashante Williams (#25).
Aaaaand BOOM. Perfect blocking. Just look at this picture. Perfection. Look at every Illini defender in the entire picture. I’m in love with this screenshot. I might photoshop it to switch the jerseys and hang it in my room.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is football. We didn’t have a single play over 12 yards the entire game. And on this play, Carlos Hyde was 15 yards downfield before he even had to deal with one tackler.
One more thing: please note that it’s not just our offensive line you should be focusing on in this CTT. It’s also the defensive line. Yes, Ohio State is more talented on both lines. But if we can’t start working together and playing assignment sound, we’re in big trouble for years.
11 guys playing as one. Ohio State has it. We have a long way to go.