As many know, the Buckeyes have struggled to convert drives into touchdowns from the 20 in. Last season they had 47 drives in the red zone, only 25 went for touchdowns. While it’s too early to tell if the same thing will happen this season, the Miami game showed Ohio State has some work to do.
There has been much talk surrounding how Jim Tressel runs the offense in the red zone. Recently, Tressel laid out his philosophy. His priorities are no turnovers, maintain good field position, at least get the field goal and finally try for a touchdown.
We can derive much from this philosophy. For starters, Jim isn’t going to take high risks; he isn’t that type of coach. When the team is in scoring position, he wants to put them in the best possible spot to come away with points. Sometimes this means running a conservative offense. It may also mean not going for it on fourth down or running a play that may take them out of field goal position. When you break it down it means these priorities limit what type of plays Ohio State will run.
This isn’t a bad thing. While many are tired of seeing predictable plays Tressel is more concerned with winning than style points. Granted this conservative approach has come back to get him a few times (Texas and USC come to mind) but in most cases it seems to work.
With that said, will Tressel break his tendencies when he needs to?
Normally I do not like to deal with what ifs but in this case, we must. Say the Buckeyes are down ten with four minutes left to go. They have a first and ten on the opponent’s 14-yard line. Do they play it safe, kick the field goal, and hope the defense gives them another chance? On the other hand, do they go for a touchdown?
What happens when they play top competition? Let’s say they play Alabama for the title. When they get in the red zone are they going to break tendency? Will Tressel remember what has happened to him before against elite competition? Alternatively, will he play it safe and pin his hopes on the defense?
Overall, it makes for an interesting conversation. I know there are many (myself included) that feel Tressel plays it too safe. Then again, there’s a reason why he coaches one of the top programs in the country and I type for a living.
When you get down to it, he is trying to put his team in the best possible spot to win. As long as he continues to win, what difference does it make how it‘s done?
Feel free to contact me with any questions or comments.