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Question: Will Ryan Day’s offensive play calling be any different against TTUN?
Dating all the way back to the offensively stagnant era of Ohio State football during the Jim Tressel era, whenever the play calling has looked especially painfully conservative and woefully uncreative, my dad has become fond of saying something to the effect of, “They’re just saving the good plays for Michigan.”
Despite the fact that the offensive output has changed and improved dramatically in the two coaching tenures since the Senator was run out of town, it has still a regular refrain from my father when Urban Meyer stopped caring enough to innovate on offense and when Ryan Day gets so stubborn that he forgets that he has the best collection of receiving talent in the country to play with.
I have been very open with my feelings that Ryan Day should relinquish his play-calling duties in favor of someone who can focus on it full-time while also watching the game from the box, but I’ve also talked myself into a 180° turnaround. Is it possible that after two decades of using the worn-out cliche as a crutch, my dad might actually be right? Has the Ohio State head coach been playing a season-long con on the team up north?
Now don’t get me wrong, the offense has looked awesome for large swaths of the season, but there have been so many times when what Ryan Day has done on offense has seemed to run counter to what makes logical sense given the specific talents on his team, and the things that the coach himself has said about his offensive philosophy.
Even Day has said that the short-yardage issues have forced him to figuratively bang his head against the wall, which, at the time, had me screaming, “My dude, you are the one calling those plays, do something different then!”
But now, I am starting to think that he has just been sandbagging all season. Whether it is with the regressive short-yardage calls, the insistence on calling a bubble screen that has never worked, the lack of short-to-intermediate passes over the middle, the generally vanilla, uninspired play designs, I really am beginning to think that Day was just doing what had to be done to get to 12-0, style points be damned.
Of course, Ohio State didn’t really need to think too far out of the box to win most of their games this season, so Day was able to take some risks, by not taking any risks at all. He bet on his team’s talent being able to carry them to the point that they are at right now without him having to delve too deeply into his bag of offensive tricks.
Call it blind homerism looking for a reason to think that the Buckeyes have an unforeseen advantage over their rivals, or just obtuse optimism in a coach that has shown brilliance in the past, but has been fairly pedestrian this season. Either way, I think that Day has more than a few tricks up his sleeve. I believe that he might have an entirely new coat to lay it on Jim Harbaugh to prove that he worked his ass off and deserves to be standing on third base.
I very well might be setting myself up for disappointment on Saturday, but until I am proven wrong (which happens pretty much every Saturday), I am expecting Ryan Day to unleash a completely different, exciting, creative game plan on Saturday against the Wolverines.
Now, if we can just get Larry Johnson to stop rotating his second and third-team linemen in during the most important drives of the game, I will be a very happy fan and never more delighted to have my punditry proven wrong by a head coach .