Drayton Adds Spice to Ohio State’s Pre-Made Offense
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Stan Drayton is hardly a newcomer to the state of Ohio, but at Ohio State, the Cleveland native represents an outsider.
Hired in January to replace Darrell Hazell as the wide receivers coach in Columbus, Drayton is an outlier on a staff full of Jim Tressel protégées.
Unlike most of his colleagues, Drayton had never crossed paths with Tressel on the coaching circuit before his hiring at Ohio State. He wasn’t a graduate assistant at OSU in the mid 1980s or an assistant of Tressel’s at Youngstown State.
About the closest Drayton got to Tressel before this year was his time at John Marshall High School in the late ‘80s.
Not to say that others on the staff weren’t, but Drayton was hired entirely on the merits of his body of work as an offensive coach. That includes time with the Green Bay Packers, Mississippi State, Tennessee and two stints with the Florida Gators.
He brings a fresh perspective and a new energy to the Ohio State offense, but don’t expect the Buckeyes to come out running the one-back spread attack this fall.
“I’ll bring some things to the table, but it has to fit who we are,” said Drayton, who spent last season coaching Urban Meyer’s running backs at Florida.
“If I have something that doesn’t fit, it’s not going to get used and it won’t even be brought up.”
What the Buckeyes “do” offensively is no secret. Their conservative style meant to lull opponents into a daze has been criticized for years, but the program has also enjoyed unparalleled success on the field over the last decade.
“They’ve won a lot of ball games around here doing what they do and I’m trying to fit in,” Drayton said.
“That’s my role.”
Having worked with offensive minds like Urban Meyer and Dan Mullen at Florida, Drayton should be able to bring some fancy new flavor to Ohio State’s microwavable offense, but he won’t be the head chef.
“Jim Bollman does an unbelievable job taking in opinions, but we’re going to follow his leadership,” Drayton said.
“We’re all going to bring something to the table that fits our program, but Jim Bollman runs the show.”
Bollman has carried to the title of offensive coordinator at Ohio State since the very start of Tressel’s tenure, but many felt it was really the man in the sweater vest pulling the strings of the offense.
“Certainly, Tress was involved with us in the planning part of the deal,” Bollman said.
“And certainly he was on the phone with us (during games), saying ‘hey, maybe think about this or that, or what do you think about that.’”
But he wasn’t directly calling the plays, at least not according to the coaches on his staff.
"Coach (Tressel) actually didn't do as much as people would think,” current Head Coach Luke Fickell said of his involvement with play calling.
“That's probably what made him not enjoy it nearly as much.”
There is good cause to believe that Tressel was more involved with the play calling early in his career at Ohio State, but he became more hands-off in recent years. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t intimately involved in the offensive game planning during the week.
“It'll be a little different (this year) because Jim Tressel was really an offensive guy,” his bother Dick Tressel said.
“He loved offense. He'd been a quarterbacks coach all his life, and he had some thoughts that were added to our mix.”
A year ago, that mix included Bollman, both Tressel’s, quarterbacks coach Nic Siciliano and Darrell Hazell, who left Ohio State in the off-season to take the head-coaching job at Kent State.
But Jim Tressel was the final decision-maker when the game was on the line.
“So there will be a little more responsibility on the offense staff to be precise,” said Dick Tressel, who coaches the running backs.
“To have things right and be ready to make those situational decisions that sometimes Jim stepped up and made.”
Some of that responsibility will fall on the new head coach, but he’s a defensive guy who won’t bring much more insight to the offense than Jim Tressel did to the defense.
“Coach Fickell will have some thoughts, but it will be less X and O thoughts,” Dick Tressel said.
“More, 'hey, this is what we need to do to be successful thoughts.’”
After it’s all said and done, what will the Buckeye offense look like this season? Probably not too much different than it has in years past.
“It's pretty much the same offense,” junior tight end Jake Stoneburner said during fall camp.
“I can't tell a difference at all. We're running the ball with the same plays, passing the same way. I guess we'll be able to see more when the games come around.”
Of course a lot of that will depend on which quarterback is running things. Then again, that was true of Tressel’s teams as well.
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