Eddie George Questions Offensive Struggles
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — There has been a lot of second-guessing going on this week since Ohio State’s dreadful offensive performance against Michigan State.
Fans and even current players have offered up suggestions about what the Buckeyes can do to get things going in the right direction. Everyone seems to have a different opinion about what Luke Fickell and his coaching staff should try after watching Saturday’s performance in the Horseshoe.
Former Ohio State running back Eddie George was the latest to weigh in on the team’s offensive struggles.
“They’ve got to figure out who they are and what they’re going to do and take what they have and make the best of it,” the former Heisman Trophy winner said on his “SiriusXM College Sports Nation” show this week.
“Come downhill, stop getting cute, don’t line up in the option spread and run the option. That’s not going to work. Go back to old school football, put the fullback in the backfield, two tight ends, one flanker, and run the football. If that’s the best that you can do, deal with it.”
The Buckeyes tried that a little bit against Michigan State, but the Spartans were bringing such a heavy run-blitz that it simply overwhelmed the offensive line, often before the running back could get back to the line of scrimmage.
Ohio State ran 63 plays on offense against Mark Dantonio’s defense Saturday and 30 of them were stopped for a loss or no gain. The Buckeyes averaged only 2.8 yards per play and would have been shut out at home for the first time since 1982 if not for a late touchdown pass from Joe Bauserman to Evan Spencer.
George believes at least some of the responsibility has to fall on OSU’s offensive coordinator Jim Bollman.
“It appears to me that Bollman is just, he’s out there. I mean, he’s totally exposed. It’s his offense to lose and clearly he has no idea or concept what to do with them at this point in time,” George said.
“They’re scrambling, they can’t block anybody up front, can’t complete a forward pass, can’t get the quarterbacks in a good position to make plays. And it’s tough to preach execution when you’re not putting them in a position to be successful.”
George was a part of some of the most successful offenses in Ohio State history in the mid 1990s. He ran for over 1,400 yards and 12 touchdowns as a junior and followed it with his more famous season of 1,927 yards and 24 touchdowns as a senior.
The Buckeyes have had some offensive struggles at times over the last decade under Jim Tressel, but George believes his absence has exposed the soft underbelly of Ohio State’s offensive coaching staff.
“When he was there, he had more of a handle on the offense and for the last 10 years he was able to get the best out of his players,” George said of Tressel, who resigned back in May.
“I was having a conversation with a friend of mine about this, I said ‘Jim, with this group he has now, he would’ve gotten more out of them because he would’ve put them in position,’ he knows their strengths and their weaknesses.”
In George’s mind, that is something the current staff has failed to do this year, especially when it comes to the quarterbacks.
“When I was watching the game and I saw Joe Bauserman trying to execute the read option and get nowhere, there’s a problem,” he said.
“There is a lack of understanding (of) what his strengths and weaknesses are. He’s a pocket quarterback.”
George said he doesn’t believe Braxton Miller is ready to play the quarterback position at this level. He spent too much time watching the blitz and not enough time looking down field for his receivers against Michigan State.
The biggest problem in George’s mind, however, seems to be the relationship between Fickell and his offensive coaching staff.
“I think there’s definitely a disconnect between Luke and the offensive coordinator in Bollman that needs to be resolved pretty soon because if he does not correct this, the situation, it can get ugly and ugly in a hurry,” George said.
“And if you start to lose the guys, the kids, then that’s it, it’s tough to bring them back in.”
Although he had great success later in his career, George was a part of some teams in 1992-93 that struggled to score points at times. The ’92 team lost three games in which they scored 16 or fewer points (they also tied Michigan 13-13), and the ’93 team was the last OSU team to get shutout, losing 28-0 at Michigan.
“When we struggled and I struggled to get the ball rolling and get on track and our offense was struggling, go back to the basics,” George said.
“And that’s putting your pads back on, having 9-on-7 drills, meaning it’s a run-only physical practice where it’s 9-on-7 and you’re firing off the ball, you’re getting back to playing physical football and it’s a mindset. It’s not about X’s and O’s, it’s a mindset and that’s what I don’t see, I don’t see a mindset out of the offense, offensively.”
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