Predicting how TCU’s speed will fare vs. Ohio State’s power

Joined: September 4th, 2012, 1:50 pm

September 14th, 2018, 4:52 am #1

WILL THE BUCKEYES BEAT TCU ?

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Predicting how TCU’s speed will fare vs. Ohio State’s power

The Horned Frogs have won big upsets before, but how do they match up with the loaded Buckeyes?

 

Gary Patterson has wanted this one for some time now. At Big 12 Media Days, he started on a brief tangent about wanting to compete against the top coaches in the game, including Urban Meyer, before getting back to a “it’s about the players” cliche. An old exchange between Gary Patterson and a recruit, revealed on Twitter, also made clear that TCU craves games like this.

Meyer won’t be on the sideline on Saturday night, not that Patterson considers that particularly relevant, but the matchup is compelling nonetheless. TCU has embraced smaller-school strategy on both sides of the ball, while Ohio State has blended spread philosophy with traditional power running and trench play.

The result is a classic “styles make fights” matchup at Jerry World: the hard-nosed blue-blood against the underdog with a chip on its shoulder and a bag of tricks.

Heading into 2018, the Frogs had one of the better defensive lines in the Big 12. They returned star athletes Ben Banogu (12 run stuffs, 8.5 sacks) and Ross Blacklock (two sacks, 10 run stuffs) up front while plugging in up-and-comer Corey Bethley and converted LB (formerly converted QB) Ty Summers. Then Blacklock was lost for the year in fall camp. So instead of having a big man with NFL measurables, the Frogs are back to having speedsters and scrappers.

Meanwhile, Ohio State’s offseason shuffling across their OL produced one of the largest possible combinations, with former guard Michael Jordan sliding to center to produce a unit whose left tackle is one of its shortest members ... at 6’6.

Size vs speed up front

Ohio State TCU
Thayer Munford: 6-6, 319 (left tackle) Ty Summers: 6-2, 235 (defensive end)
Malcolm Pridgeon: 6-7, 310 (left guard) Terrell Cooper: 6-2, 286 (defensive tackle
Michael Jordan: 6-7, 312 (center) Garrett Wallow: 6-2, 212 (middle linebacker
Demetrious Knox: 6-4, 312 (right guard) Corey Bethley: 6-1, 290 (defensive tackle)
Isaiah Prince: 6-7, 310 (right tackle) Ben Banogu: 6-4, 249 (defensive end)
Average: 6-6, 313 Average: 6-2, 254

When the Buckeyes play with a TE like 6’6, 250-pound Luke Farrell, that only adds to the massive size differential, as the Frogs involve a safety like 6’2, 203-pound Innis Gaines or 6’2, 206-pound outside linebacker Arico Evans.

Naturally, both teams employ strategies to make the most of the types of players they have up front. 

Ever since Tom Herman came through, Ohio State has been an inside zone team. When they’ve had QBs like Braxton Miller or J.T. Barrett, they ran it as the zone-read play. With Cardale Jones or now Dwayne Haskins, they tend to use blocks or RPOs to handle extra defenders, rather than QB keeper options.

With such a big OL, the inside zone sets them up to easily find people to block, and you see them easily covering up opposing DL:

That’s textbook inside zone blocking. They cover up the guys in the gaps they are covering, and when the OL are able to advance on LBs, they create creases. And anywhere there’s a double team, the defender’s moving backward.

While Ohio State looks to force opponents to get around large people in confined spaces, the TCU front is geared around making it hard to block speedy people. They are constantly moving around with twists, stunts, and fast-flowing LBs supported by safeties. The Frogs also have their DTs try to tie up OL at the point of attack, to protect the LBs:

On this play, they line up the DTs in the A gaps and have them charge into the blockers, while the LBs are flowing to the lead blocker and the ball, with DBs coming quickly in support.

TCU plays with three safeties at all times (before you count their often safety-sized LBs). Below, you can see them employ their cover 1/cover 6 hybrid coverage, with the weak safety opening up to the middle of the field while the strong safety opposite sneaks into the box like a third linebacker and the free safety drops down over the slot in man:

As a result they get another speedy guy into the box and one that the OL doesn’t have enough blockers to handle. Just one of many ways they have to move versatile athletes around to outnumber an offense at the point of attack. A standard running play against TCU looks like the OL trying to make sure they track all the DL and get their hands on them while hordes of safety-sized defenders are racing to the football.

Ohio State’s traditional zone/power option game would have a challenge with TCU’s defense, which always has a quick, sure-tackling dude patrolling the box and unblocked. 

However, the 2018 Buckeyes also create stress points away from the action by punishing man coverage, which you tend to get from the Frogs, with perimeter tosses and deep shots:

If the Frogs can’t get pressure with their quick DE tandem and Haskins has time to throw outside to this cast of receivers, then whether or not the Buckeye OL is able to consistently block in the run game won’t matter too much.

While TCU has a lot of precise speed on defense, the scary “size vs. speed” matchups for Ohio State might be against the TCU offense. 

Or at least, that would be the case if TCU wasn’t so inexperienced at QB and OL.

Being a Big Ten team, the Buckeyes have tended to play a walk-out linebacker in lieu of a nickel, while playing a safety with man coverage abilities behind him. The best version of this was the Darron Lee/Vonn Bell combo. This year, they’re relying on RS freshman Pete Werner and star junior Jordan Fuller.

While this approach tends to work in B1G play, they got into some trouble a year ago against Baker Mayfield and the OU spread passing attack.

TCU has extreme speed in its WR corps, highlighted by true sophomore Jalen Reagor and blazing senior KaVontae Turpin:

SMU brought a big blitz here that left Turpin in space, and that was it. And if Ohio State allows the Frogs to connect to this little speed demon in space, the Buckeyes’ abundance of pro-caliber DBs won’t avail them in catching him.

But TCU is starting over across the OL, which includes three new starters in place of stalwarts, and at QB, with spread-option ace Shawn Robinson. He can’t yet consistently make quick reads and accurate tosses in TCU’s air raid. He’s at his most comfortable running option plays that use his elite speed and power:

He can kill teams on zone-reads like this for days, and he’s really good at reading an unblocked defender’s eyes and turning what looks like good leverage by the defense into busted contain. Unfortunately for the Frogs, he’s not yet good at ensuring the ball gets to speed in space ... or at protecting it.

So the Buckeyes may get away with playing three true linebackers and trying to bully the inexperienced Frog OL with their size and pressure packages up front.

TCU craves opportunities to prove its quality on big stages, and much of the country will probably find them a particularly appealing underdog against Ohio State. 

However, they may not have the savvy veterans on offense to execute a strategy based on skillful passing, and running against Ohio State’s starting line will likely be a challenge for anyone. 

If they can’t keep it close enough for a few big plays to make the difference, they can’t be the team to knock off Ohio State this year. But of course, Patterson has been waiting a long time to solve this riddle.

Expect the Ohio State WR corps and TCU’s inexperience at QB to make the difference as Ohio State thwarts TCU’s big upset and covers the 13-point spread. (And S&P+ has the Buckeyes as more like a 19-point favorite.)

https://www.sbnation.com/college-footba ... ction-pick
Last edited by Kentuckytoo on September 14th, 2018, 5:03 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Joined: September 4th, 2012, 1:50 pm

September 14th, 2018, 4:53 am #2

this guy is talking like the Buckeyes have no speed … I would venture to say that the Buckeyes have as much speed , if not more, as TCU does …..
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Joined: October 3rd, 2013, 4:59 pm

September 14th, 2018, 4:55 am #3

Excellent article.  I love the supporting videos.
Being a Vol fan is great except for a few Saturdays in the fall.
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Joined: September 4th, 2012, 1:50 pm

September 14th, 2018, 4:58 am #4

what do you think Doc … will the Buckeyes beat TCU ?
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Joined: October 3rd, 2013, 4:59 pm

September 14th, 2018, 5:07 am #5

Absolutely.  I don't even think it will be close.  Even if they hang with the Buckeyes through the first half I think Ohio State's depth just wears them down.  
Being a Vol fan is great except for a few Saturdays in the fall.
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Joined: September 4th, 2012, 1:50 pm

September 14th, 2018, 5:09 am #6

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" While TCU has a lot of precise speed on defense, the scary “size vs. speed” matchups for Ohio State might be against the TCU offense. 

Or at least, that would be the case if TCU wasn’t so inexperienced at QB and OL. "



the Buckeyes DLine is going to have a field day with TCU …  Bosa , Jones, and young  will have their arms around TCU's QB so much that you will think they are engaged ...
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Joined: August 10th, 2017, 5:39 am

September 14th, 2018, 7:13 am #7

There is no win but don't cover for the Buckeyes this weekend.  They either destroy TCU and win by 30+ or they are exposed and lose the game.  I think they destroy TCU.
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Joined: October 3rd, 2013, 4:59 pm

September 14th, 2018, 7:40 am #8

I like what I have seen from Ohio State so far.  They seem like the total package and it is hard to imagine anyone else in the Big 10 challenging them at this point of the season.   My only reservation is the past few years Ohio State has that one game where it is like they did not get off the bus.  That lack of consistency makes me nervous to really bet on them.  
Being a Vol fan is great except for a few Saturdays in the fall.
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Joined: September 4th, 2012, 1:50 pm

September 14th, 2018, 8:28 am #9

brown dog wrote: There is no win but don't cover for the Buckeyes this weekend.  They either destroy TCU and win by 30+ or they are exposed and lose the game.  I think they destroy TCU.
I hope you are right … 
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Joined: September 6th, 2012, 7:13 am

September 14th, 2018, 8:52 am #10

I love the speed argument...when OSU guys typically test out near the top of their position groups at the combine.

TCU might have a few fast guys...but across the board..OSU is faster and more physical.  That doesn't always translate to wins..see Iowa last year..but more often than not...it's the Jimmies and the Joe's.
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Joined: September 4th, 2012, 1:50 pm

September 15th, 2018, 5:35 am #11

One thing is for sure , This wont be no Rose Bowl for the  " Little Sister's of the Poor " ….

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Joined: September 6th, 2012, 7:13 am

September 15th, 2018, 5:41 am #12

They are the best team in Texas and have been for a while...imagine saying that ten years ago. And the debate isn't with UT or A&M..it's probably with Houston the last few years.
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Joined: September 4th, 2012, 1:50 pm

September 15th, 2018, 5:44 am #13

Buck Fan in Miami wrote: They are the best team in Texas and have been for a while...imagine saying that ten years ago.  And the debate isn't with UT or A&M..it's probably with Houston the last few years.
I thought Maryland was the best team in Texas …..
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Joined: September 4th, 2012, 1:50 pm

September 15th, 2018, 6:02 pm #14

I got a nervous feeling in my stomach about this game …. no more posting until the game is over … 
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Joined: September 4th, 2012, 1:50 pm

September 15th, 2018, 9:03 pm #15

I am proud of the heart Ohio State showed against TCU …. on the road, in front of a hostile crowd , the Buckeyes overcame an 8 point deficit and a slow start to pull out a win …  I love the way our defensive line played , but I have some concerns about our inexperienced secondary … 
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Joined: September 7th, 2012, 6:21 am

September 16th, 2018, 7:12 am #16

I admit to being nervous during the game.  I think there was speed that hasn't been seen, or expected, from the young defensive squad. however, I think showing that they could adapt and rise to the challenge even with exit of Bosa is a great sign of maturity and is a humbling teachable moment going forward.   Whether in conference play and (barring any roadbumps) the playoffs, speed will become an issue.

With that said though, while there was speed, I don't believe TCU can maintain it for a full game and they need to going forward.  The combination of some trick plays and the uptempo/no huddle shows more speed than what there might be at the core.

THe concerns I have for the Bucks are the dropped passes and the snaps.  Haskins has shown to be right on the money with very difficult passes.  His receivers could simply not pull in the catch.  Had there been fewer drops, that score could have easily been higher.   The snaps though..my goodness.  I'm guessing there will be A LOT of reps and work on snaps this week.  Nearly all of them seemed extremely low.  That cannot happen going against Penn St, Michigan, and even Michigan State.  Haskins needs every millisecond he can get to get and get rid of the ball.   He showed great poise in compensating and still getting the ball out against TCU, but that definitely needs improvement.

Overall, I think the Bucks are in a good spot and I think they are enjoying opening up the playbook a little instead of relying on Barret to scramble.  I prefer this aggressive style of play and I am interested to see if that continues or is dialed back a bit once Meyer is back on the sidelines next week.
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Joined: October 3rd, 2013, 4:59 pm

September 16th, 2018, 7:54 am #17

To me the Big momentum change was that lousy hike to the punter. That TCU Center really screwed the pooch on that one.
Being a Vol fan is great except for a few Saturdays in the fall.
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Joined: September 4th, 2012, 1:50 pm

September 16th, 2018, 9:58 am #18

DocVOLiday wrote: To me the Big momentum change was that lousy hike to the punter.  That TCU Center really screwed the pooch on that one.
if one play is the difference between losing and winning … then you have already lost ….
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Joined: October 3rd, 2013, 4:59 pm

September 16th, 2018, 12:50 pm #19

True but it was close until then. I think you guys scored like 17 points in 2 minutes. That special teams screw up came at the worst time. Don’t get me wrong though. Ohio State was wearing them down. That was just the point TCU realized they were outmatched.
Being a Vol fan is great except for a few Saturdays in the fall.
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