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Buckeyes no longer purveyors of Tresselball

Associated Press Modified: September 5, 2012 at 6:04 pm •  Published: September 5, 2012
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — For years and years, Ohio State fans complained about the ultraconservative playcalling of coach Jim Tressel and his offensive coordinator, Jim Bollman.

Even as the wins piled up, they derisively referred to it as "Tresselball," a bland blend of not doing anything risky offensively while leaning heavily on your defense and kicking games.

Then Tressel stepped down because of NCAA problems and Bollman wasn't rehired. Now there's a new regime running the Buckeyes. Even at this early stage, after a solitary game, it's evident that there has been a dramatic change.

"The coaching staff did a very good job. I mean, you talk about 180 (degrees), it's completely different," coach Urban Meyer said of the new approach to playcalling in Ohio State's 56-10 win over Miami (Ohio). "We have a long way to go, but I'm very pleased with the first game."

Now, contrary to the clock-eating deliberation of Tresselball, something is constantly happening. The ball is snapped every few seconds. Multiple receivers and ball carriers are utilized. At times there is no huddle. Speed is of the essence.

The early returns have been favorable so far for Meyer and the man who calls the Buckeyes' plays, offensive coordinator Tom Herman.

The Buckeyes averaged 62 plays a game a year ago while going 6-7 after Tressel was forced out of the job for breaking NCAA rules. Bollman — a former tight ends coach for the Chicago Bears — called the plays but was not retained when Meyer was hired in November.

On Saturday, the Buckeyes got off to a horrible start, mustering just two first downs and punting the ball away on their first four possessions. Yet they still amassed 86 plays.

Again, it's only a one-game glimpse but the difference was startling.

"I was fortunate. I'm sitting right beside (Herman) in the press box," offensive assistant Tim Hinton said. "The playcaller has got to be really sharp on the next call, as soon as he makes the first call. As that call's starting, we're trying to identify the defense and see what the front is, the coverage and how they play it. But he's already thinking of that next call, so that it gets in and it's rolling. It's amazing because it isn't a 'slow down, look at my call sheet, here's my best third-and-1' call. It's got to be something that's very ingrained."

The Buckeyes, who had difficulty even snapping the ball in cadence during spring drills, made very, very few mistakes. They didn't have a turnover and were called for just three penalties for 20 yards.

The previous staff always said they made the calls by committee, although Tressel was always considered the offensive coordinator in every way but title. That is definitely not the situation this season.

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