Tuesday, March 19, 2013

OSU SPRING FOOTBALL: DRAYTON SAYS OFFENSE '60-PERCENT' IN 2012

Jordan Hall (7) brings new dynamic to OSU offense.
TBT/Darla Dunkle-Hudnell
COLUMBUS — Ohio State running backs coach Stan Drayton said following the Buckeyes' third practice of the spring on Tuesday, that last year's offense "operated at about 60 percent (efficiency)."

So, essentially the coach is saying that the Buckeyes' offense — which averaged 37.2 points and 423.8 yards per game last season — has been given a 'D' on the report card? That compared to where they should be (at 100-percent efficiency), last year's version of the Buckeyes' offense performed at a rate and tempo reminiscent of the zombies from "The Walking Dead?"

That should terrify every opposing defensive coordinator on the schedule this season.

For the Buckeyes to reach optimal performance levels, the coaches are designing some things which should achieve that goal, including transforming senior Jordan Hall from a running back into a slot receiver.

The switch, in their eyes, will give Ohio State a unique threat in the passing game that they didn't have last season. It will force the defense to respect the pass, instead of bringing eight and nine players up in the tackle box to help defend the running of quarterback Braxton Miller and tailback Carlos Hyde.

"You’re going to see the offense work in its full function now," Drayton said. "We’re going to be able to displace defenders, get those linebackers out of the box, maybe force the defense to change personnel, maybe put more DBs on the field as opposed to linebackers. You can’t just home in on the quarterback or just the running backs. 

"It should make life easier for the whole operation of the offense, no doubt about it."

"Usually when you catch the ball as a receiver, there are two people to make miss," Hall said. "When you catch the ball as a running back, you have to run through the D-line, the linebackers and the safety. So I figure I can make two people miss."

Coach Meyer stated that he is pleased with Hall's transformation process, and even said that he needs to slow him down sometimes so he doesn't fall victim to injuries again.

"I saw him lay out for a couple plays," Meyer said of Hall. "The amount of running compared to a running back that a receiver does, he just wasn't ready. We should have backed him off a little bit."

Hall isn't about to back off. The Pennsylvania-native said he is ready for the challenge of being the difference-maker of the offense, the man who catapults the Buckeyes' from D-students to the Dean's List — even if he's still not too sure what he's doing at his new position.

"I really don’t know, to be honest," Hall laughed, when asked about his knowledge of playing receiver. "I just know catching passes, motions to the backfield, catching screens, different things like that. So I’m really trying to figure it out for myself, too."

Hall, who has been granted a fifth season due to medical issues suffered during last season, is just happy to be able to play again.

“I’m really just trying to embrace it,” Hall said. “Because last year went fast, even though I had to sit out, so I know this year will go even faster with me playing. So I am just trying to embrace every day and have fun with it.”

FIRST PRACTICE IN FULL PADS ... After taking a week off for spring break, the Buckeyes held their first practice in pads on Tuesday, and received a ho-hum review from their head coach.

"We just got back from spring break and it was our first day in pads. So I helped them before we have to deal with excuses tomorrow," Meyer said. "I don't think it was a great day, but I don't think it was awful. We aren't in great shape and we don't expect them to be in great shape, but it didn't feel like a Top 5 practice." 

Heisman Trophy contender, quarterback Braxton Miller, has been working diligently this offseason to perfect his craft, but according to Meyer, Tuesday's performance — although, not bad — wasn't anything to write home about.

"He looked alright," Meyer said of Miller. "Execution wasn't great because the defense was blitzing and we weren't protecting very well. I saw a kid training to play quarterback which means staying positive and trying to fix issues as opposed to maybe getting down and throwing the ball on the ground. I was pleased with Braxton and Kenny (Guiton)."

There was one player, however, who Meyer shed praise upon, and that is senior tailback Carlos Hyde.

"Carlos did well," Meyer said. "He's 3-for-3 in what we call 'Grade the Day,' when each one of these kids walk in the meeting rooms they are graded. I say he is a 3-for-3 so far. 

"There is still competition but if he does what we saw at some points last year, I think he will be as good as any kid the country this fall."