X left, X slant

Tim May

It’s called the slant. Maybe it should be called the slash.

Ohio State certainly suffered a deep cut through its defense in the opening game with Oregon State when the Beavers executed an intermediate slant pass that caught the Buckeyes flat-footed in the secondary. The play went 49 yards for a touchdown.

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Now look at TCU’s 42-12 win at SMU last week and touchdown No. 4 for the Horned Frogs. It was strikingly similar to that Oregon State play. That’s important to remember, because the Buckeyes likely will see it again — let’s call it “X left, X slant” for short — Saturday when they take on TCU.

When an offense can catch a defense in a seam-widening dilemma it can be tough for the defense to fix. That’s what happened after TCU deployed the tight end to the right and then two receivers wide of him. The defense had to shift its personnel in that direction.

But the Horned Frogs also sent the fastest man on the field, receiver KaVontae Turpin, wide left while a running back flanked quarterback Shawn Robinson to the left in the backfield.

At the snap, as the running back looked for a blitz and then headed to the left flat, the linebacker to that side had to respect that threat. The defensive back to that side backpedaled in respect for Turpin’s speed. That suddenly widened the intermediate seam for the inside slant cut by Turpin.

Robinson hit Turpin in stride, then the speedster did the rest, slashing up through the defense to complete the 42-yard play.