Right heavy, play-action, criss-cross

Tim May

Often playing quarterback is like skeet shooting — take a deep breath, take aim and hit the moving target.

On this play in particular last week in Ohio State’s season-opening romp over Oregon State, new starting quarterback Dwayne Haskins might as well have yelled “pull” to set things in motion, because as it developed he had two open targets to choose from.

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Let’s call it “Right heavy, play-action, criss-cross,” just so everyone is on the same page. It was used to produce the Buckeyes’ first of 11 touchdowns that day, a short flip to Terry McLaurin. It likely will be seen at least once or twice Saturday when they play Rutgers in their Big Ten opener.

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That’s because the play had the earmarks of a power run as the Buckeyes deployed. Haskins sent tight ends Luke Farrell and Rashod Berry to the right to overload that side of the formation. Receiver Austin Mack was sent wide left and McLaurin wide right to draw at least two defenders from the pack that otherwise was stacked to stop the run.

The stage was set, then the plan was put in motion at the snap when Haskins faked a handoff — the play-action — to J.K. Dobbins, who pulled up and joined the pass-protection package afforded by eight blockers.

Like a daredevil thrill show, McLaurin and Mack cut inside and criss-crossed tight behind the bulk of the defense, and ideally had drawn simple man-to-man coverage with no linebackers dropping into their way. Haskins had his choice of two open targets upon whom to bestow the honor of the season’s first TD scored. He picked McLaurin.