MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. - Ohio State vs. Clemson in the Orange Bowl last night was a meeting of two cutting-edge spread offenses, but a clash of styles, too.

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. - Ohio State vs. Clemson in the Orange Bowl last night was a meeting of two cutting-edge spread offenses, but a clash of styles, too.

The Clemson offense, coordinated by Chad Morris, prefers the pass to the run; Ohio State, under Tom Herman, prefers the power game and the run more than the pass.


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Both have had success. Ohio State went in with quarterback Braxton Miller and running back Carlos Hyde each having already topped 1,000 yards in rushing, just the second time that has happened at Ohio State. Archie Griffin and Pete Johnson did it in 1975.

Clemson was led by 3,000-yard passer Tajh Boyd and one of the more exciting players in the nation, receiver Sammy Watkins. But it raised the question of what the two coordinators see coming next in terms of offense as the game continues to evolve.

"Or as coach (Urban) Meyer says, don't sleep on the game because it will pass you by," Herman said. "The beauty of our game as opposed to maybe any other game is that it's constantly evolving. That's what makes it fun. It's never the same every year. It's never the same week 10 as it was week one."

The question was asked more in terms of how do they stay ahead of defenses, which also continue to evolve.

"I think that defenses are making it harder to throw the football out of spread formations," Herman said. "I think there's so many combination coverages that teams over the last five or six years have developed … to still hold up against the spread run game but also stop the spread pass game, too, or at least attempt to.

"So I think, as you see with us a little bit, even though we're in the (shotgun) and have three wide receivers and all that, sometimes getting them a little bit closer (to the formation) and moving guys around a little bit kind of helps break up some of those coverages."

Morris, the highest-paid college football assistant in the country at more than $1.2 million annually, is considered one of the best at a fast-paced approach, something he expects to see more converts to.

"What you're seeing now, more and more teams are going to the up-tempo, where the fast pace is becoming the norm," Morris said. "Maybe those head coaches that have kind of dug their heels in the ground saying, 'No, no, no, no, I'm not doing it' are kind of having a change of heart, going, 'Everybody else is doing it, and I'm getting beat by those teams that are doing it.' "

As defenses close in, Morris said, the counter is to go to the line with more plays that are run-pass options.

"I think one of the biggest things on cutting edge you're seeing now are a lot of the run/pass tags," Morris said. "You're having runs tied in with passes and off of second reads and third reads, and I think that's becoming more of a cutting edge now than anything."

The Ohio State offense brought in by Meyer in 2012 is built on a run-first platform. Though the Buckeyes ran the ball well at times in the Big Ten championship game loss to Michigan State on Dec. 7, they failed to find a consistent passing game against a defense that was geared to stop the run.

"So when teams devise coverages to add people (closer to the line) to stop the run game, you have to be able to counter that by throwing the football," Herman said. "I think that's the biggest challenge for us, is to kind of find those different ways, based on the coverages we're seeing now as opposed to maybe four or five years ago, when defenses were just now getting a taste of what we were trying to do offensively."