Herman Wants Points By Land Or By Air

New Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman's track record and his comments indicate he is happy to try whatever is necessary to succeed. His flexibility figures to be tested right off the bat as the team transitions from the multiple offense of the Jim Tressel era to Urban Meyer's spread.

When it comes to coordinating the Ohio State offense, Tom Herman is ready to hit the ground running. Unless, of course, throwing turns out to be a better option. And speaking of the option, expect to see some of that, too.

In five years as an offensive coordinator in the NCAA Division I FBS, Herman has already proven he knows how to craft an attack that can move the ball in a variety of ways, and the Cincinnati native knows there will be no time to waste when spring practice rolls around.

"I wouldn't expect it from our fan base," he said. "We've got to do a great job and already have the pieces in place. If that means we've got to run four football plays but we run them so well that it's going to look efficient and well-organized, hard-nosed, tough football then that's what we'll do. As we learn and grow and our players understand then we'll start adding piece by piece by piece, but to expect a grace period would be foolish for me."

Herman left the Buckeye State before finishing high school, but he knows Ohio State fans are not likely to be patient when it comes to seeing improvement from an offense that finished 81st in the nation in scoring and 107th in yards gained last season.

With a plethora of tailbacks of all shapes and sizes plus a significant contribution from quicksilver quarterback Braxton Miller, Ohio State finished 27th in the country in rushing, but the rawness of Miller and his mostly young wide receivers showed through clearly in a 115th-ranked passing attack.

It marked the 10th year in the past 11 the Ohio State offense ranked higher in rushing than passing, and most years the rankings weren't close. The only Ohio State team to rank higher in passing yardage than rushing was the 2003 squad that had to rely heavily on a star-studded defense because of the offense's overall ineptitude.

Enter Herman, who crafted a pass-first offense at Rice in 2007 and '08 but relied more on running the past three years at Iowa State.

As a matter speaking, it could be said of Herman he is willing to look far and wide for yards and points.

"The field is 120 yards long and 53 and a 1/2 yards wide and the defense only has 11 human beings to cover that much grass, so we're going to use space and numbers to our advantage, put stress on the defense in terms of using the quarterback in the run game and have him be a viable option," Herman said. "We're going to take advantage of any of the mismatches we can create out there in space with our athletes on the opposing athletes."

Like any new coach, Herman understands figuring out what his players can and cannot do will take time. What he learns will have a direct effect on what the 2012 offense looks like in Columbus.

"I think all of us have gone through these transition periods as coaches and I think you have a good idea of who we are, our base philosophy," he said. "Now, what can we be successful doing? How do the pieces of the puzzle fit and gel with each other? Maybe then you adapt and say you have to slow down or keep moving forward. It's a fluid deal as you go through spring practice but you start with the nuts and bolts and then start to broaden."

While Ohio State fans could see a variety of new things when their team has the ball, there is one tenant from the Jim Tressel era that will not change. Protecting the ball, something some accused the previous regime of over-emphasizing, will remain paramount.

"It is one of Coach Meyer's five things in his plan to win: Win the turnover battle," Herman said. "Our job as an offensive unit is do not turn the football over. We've got to play great defense, we've got to win the turnover battle, we've got to score touchdowns in the red zone, but as you move forward I think you make two first downs in a drive and you possess the football for a long period, that's a good drive. You have a monumental shift in the field position.

"Any drive that ends in a kick is a good drive for us. It's OK to punt. It's OK to be safe and sound with the football."

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