Ohio State football: Offense looking to get ball to receivers on run
Offensive coordinator Tom Herman wants to see receivers such as Corey Brown catch the ball on the run so that they can gain more yards after the catch instead of getting shoved out of bounds on sideline routes.
Leave it to offensive coordinator Tom Herman, a Mensa member, to apply Newton’s first law of motion to fix one of the things he thought held back Ohio State in its first six games.
In short, it goes like this: A Buckeye making a catch in motion tends to stay in motion. A Buckeye making a catch while at rest tends to get tackled for little gain.
It’s no theory, Herman said. He has video evidence to back it up. It’s pronounced on passing routes such as the hitch or curl, where the receiver has to make a move back toward the quarterback after running downfield, and also on some screen routes, where the receiver runs toward the sideline and has to turn around before receiving the ball.
Coming off a bye week with a game on Saturday at Ohio Stadium against Iowa, Herman said fans might notice some differences.
“We’ve got to get the ball to our receivers on the run maybe a little bit more,” Herman said. “I don’t know that we have the guy that can catch a hitch, make the corner miss, then take it 80 (yards). But we’ve got guys in the short and intermediate pass game who, if we get the ball to them on the run a little bit, I think we can get more yards.”
Those other passes won’t be wiped out of the playbook, though.
“We’re throwing hitches and bubble (screens), and we’re doing all that very efficiently, and it’s improved our offense over last year,” Herman said. “But now we’ve got to find a way to get those guys the ball maybe a little bit on the run.”
It makes sense to senior Corey Brown, who is averaging 12.7 yards on his team-leading 30 catches.
“If you catch the ball on the run, it helps with yards after the catch,” Brown said. “As opposed to being stationary, then turn around, identify where the defender is. You should be able to do things a lot quicker if you catch it on the run.”
Devin Smith leads the team with a 15.7-yard average on 23 catches. But he gained 137 of those yards on two catches, including an Ohio State-record 90-yard touchdown pass from Kenny Guiton in a win over California. Take those two away, and he’s averaging a more modest 10.7 yards per catch.
Herman said the bye week came at a perfect time for the offense to take stock. It was during one of those sessions that hitting receivers on the run rose on the list. Quarterback Braxton Miller, who worked on such things in the offseason to become more accurate in the passing game, is for it.
“We’ve just got to get (back) to our old self, like we were in the spring,” Miller said. “You see a lot of guys on crossing patterns, catching on the run, instead of coming back to the ball where you’ve got to reverse field. Catching on the run makes it easier for them to make plays, to get more yards after the catch.”
He enjoys making those kinds of throws, too, sort of like skeet shooting on a football field.
“I love it, giving the guys a chance to catch it on the run with a chance to do something with it,” Miller said. “It makes me excited to watch them.”