Buckeye Receiver Fundamentals Show Up On Tape

By FirstDown PlayBook on Nov 7, 2021

There are few things more satisfying for a coach than to see their players executing position fundamentals on game tape. Ryan Day will be a happy coach today when he sees this. Ohio State’s receiver fundamentals showed up in a big way yesterday against Nebraska.

Hats off to the receiver coach, Brian Hartline and Offensive Coordinator, Kevin Wilson for this play as well. Let’s set up the situation. It is 1st and 10 late in the second quarter, with 3:46 remaining in the half. The ball is on the left hash and on the Ohio State 25 yard line.

The Buckeyes come out in a one back 2×2 offensive formation. The play call is not exotic by any means. It was either a simple spacing concept to the boundary or the receivers adjusted. That part does not matter. Nebraska dialed up a fire zone and brought their inside linebacker #42 in the A gap. They dropped the outside linebackers into zone coverage.

This is where the receiver fundamentals coaching comes in. The slot receiver to the boundary #11, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, does several things really well here. First, he recognizes that it is zone coverage as he releases. The pre-snap defensive look did not reveal this. It could have been man or zone.

Once Smith-Njigba recognized it was zone, he also understood that it was middle of the field closed, zone. This told him that #9 for Nebraska was going to be expanding through the curl to the flat. #9 was going to try to collision and re-route him as he expanded. This is when the fundamentals got really good if you are a football coach.

Ohio State Receiver Fundamentals Show Up After The Catch Too

Smith-Njigba turns inside away from the defender as he avoids him. Then he sits down exactly as he has been coached to do. We know this because Buckeyes’ quarterback, CJ Stroud knew exactly where to place the ball. Now that the ball was caught, Smith-Njigba completed his assignment with this final receiver fundamental.

He got north south and split the zone defenders, as opposed to running across the field horizontally. Well coached receivers know to run away from one defender (man) and to split two defenders (zone). Smith-Njigba splits the Nebraska defense and 75 yards later he was in the end zone. Yes, Smith-Njigba is explosive but he is coached well too. Congratulations to the Ohio State coaching staff on this play and the coaching that made it possible.

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