Football nerdism of the week: 21 personnel

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Ohio State's J.T. Barrett hands off to Mike Weber against Indiana on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016, at Ohio Stadium in Columbus. David Jablonski/Staff

Did you hear it?

That music to my ears came this week from Urban Meyer when the Ohio State football coach said the Buckeyes will work on some packages with running backs J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber together on the field:

“We’re putting together the 21 grouping (and) 20 grouping — that’s two backs, one tight end; two backs and no tight end,” Meyer said. “So it’s our best 11. I do that myself each week: Who are your best 11 players? If they’re in the best 11, which right now they are, get them on the field.”

As the coach explained, personnel groupings starting with a ‘2’ have a pair of running backs as opposed to what we usually see from Ohio State.

Meyer’s offense generally operates out of 11 personnel (one running back, one tight end, three receivers) with some 12 personnel sets (one back, two tight ends, two receivers) getting some run at times (more in 2014 than since then).

Using 21 could be both a blast from the past — Ohio State was pretty much exclusively a two-back team from the 1960s until Meyer took over in 2012 — and a new look for the Buckeyes.

Running backs coach Tony Alford said working on some new looks in the middle of the season shouldn’t be too hard.

As covered before the season, what’s old is new again some places in college football, where they have found two big guys are better than one, but that’s not what we’re likely to see from the Buckeyes.


Rather than a running specialist and someone who is more suited to be a blocker (you know, a fullback), Ohio State can pressure teams to each side of the formation with a talented runner if Dobbins and Weber are sharing the field.

With an option-capable quarterback between them in J.T. Barrett, there are all kinds of fun things they can do… like maybe some of the things Oklahoma hurt them with earlier this season.

This is our second Football Nerdism of the Week. Last week we took a closer look at pass defense techniques


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