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Ohio State is Prepared for Oregon's Tempo Offense
By Patrick Murphy
The Buckeyes' defense is charged with stopping Oregon's fast-pace, high-flying offense
Photo Courtesy of GoDucks.com

COLUMBUS, Ohio – When Urban Meyer came to Ohio State, he wanted to play fast. He hired an offensive coordinator in Tom Herman who ran a hurry-up offense at Iowa State and the Buckeyes became a spread, no-huddle team. But that was not always how Meyer operated.

Yeah, at Florida, there's a misunderstanding that we were a big tempo team. We weren't. And I fought that,” Meyer explained.

“I snatched that after about four days of spring practice. And it was just, technique went to hell and our receiver coach is over there signaling instead of coaching receivers and that was, we ended that real fast.

Meyer appreciated the huddle because he believed it gave his players the best chance to communicate and get a play right. It is more difficult to communicate with a wide receiver who is lined up by the sideline than it is in the huddle, or so he thought.

During his year away from coaching, where Meyer traveled the country with ESPN, he accepted the idea of the no-huddle offense after picking the brain of then-Oregon head coach Chip Kelly. He brought what he learned from Kelly to Ohio State and the Buckeyes’ offense has been record setting ever since.

Now, in the national championship game, Meyer and his team prepare to face the Ducks, the team that runs the hurry-up offense better than anyone in the country.

“It’s going to be a track meet,” sophomore safety Vonn Bell said of the game Monday night.

“They try to get a snap every 16 seconds. They are trying to tire you out.”

This will be a drastic change from what OSU prepared for against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and it will be the biggest challenge for the defense of the year because Oregon will take advantage if they aren’t ready.

Darron Lee will be a big part of slowing down the Ducks
Photo by Jim Davidson

“There’s no celebration if you make a play or something, just get up and get lined up,” redshirt freshman Darron Lee said. “Granted they don’t go hurry-up every single time but our mentality and what we’ve been practicing is that they’ll do it every single play.”

The Ohio State offense plays fast too, but they don’t snap the ball nearly as quickly as the Ducks. The Buckeye coaches have come up with a way to simulate Oregon’s fast-paced offense in practice.

“You get two huddles going,” junior linebacker Joshua Perry explained. “Two huddles running at us. You put the clock up there and try to get it running as fast as possible. It’s trained us to make the play and get up and save the celebration for when we get off the field. You turn right to the sideline, get the call and then look at what’s going on on the field.”

This type of preparation will be affective, but it is hard to actually replicate how Oregon executes. What makes the Ducks so efficient in their no-huddle offense is Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Marcus Mariota. Despite their best efforts, he is hard to replicate.

Tempo offense is really hard but tempo offense with a [great] player is not that hard,” Meyer said of Mariota. “He's the one that keeps the chains moving and that's when tempo gets you.”

The Buckeyes have combatted tempo teams before. Before last year’s Orange Bowl, the Scarlet and Gray prepared for a hurry-up offense in Clemson and have faced Indiana’s tempo the last two years.

While neither of those offenses are on the same level as the Duck’s, the Buckeyes are confident their defense can handle the tempo Oregon will throw at them. Because after all, it takes mores than tempo to defeat the Silver Bullets.

“Absolutely,” Perry said. “Obviously tempo is going to be something to deal with, but it’s going to take a lot besides tempo to get us outside our game.”

Player profiles relevant to story:
11 - Bell, Vonn | 37 - Perry, Joshua | 43 - Lee, Darron | Coach - Meyer, Urban
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