Monday, May 07, 2012

Thinking Out Loud: Ted Ginn and Urban’s Offense

By Brandon Castel
May 5, 2012

COLUMBUS, Ohio — It’s amazing what we forget, even when we think we remember.

I was reminded of that very fact on Wednesday, when a poster by the name of ‘UDBuck’ linked a highlight video of former Ohio State wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. on our Ozone Forum message board.

Everyone remembers Ginn as one of the most electrifying players in the country when he was wearing No. 7 for the Buckeyes from 2004-06.

That is not the issue.

I can vividly remember Ginn striding down the sideline at Ohio Stadium past the horrified Michigan players on the sideline, all of whom were helpless to stop him from reaching the end zone during Ohio State’s 2004 upset in Columbus.

It’s not hard to recall his three-touchdown performance against Michigan State earlier that season, or his incredible performances against Oklahoma State and Notre Dame in Ohio State’s bowl games.

We remember Teddy Ginn as a great Ohio State football player. What we forget is just how unbelievably fast he really was once he got the ball in his hands. No seriously, forget what you think you remember. Just watch the video.

That video got me thinking out loud.

About Ted Ginn Jr…

1. A poster on our message board joked that the only reason there wasn’t an accurate 40 time for Ginn was because no one could ever catch him to put him at the starting blocks.

2. That is some clever hyperbole, but it’s hard to imagine there were many players in OSU history who could run faster than Ginn, on or off the football field.

3. Let us not forget that Ginn was a state and national champion hurdler at Glenville. He was originally being recruited by then-OSU track coach Russ Rogers, who believed the speedster could qualify for the 2008 Olympics.

4. Ginn put his track career on hold to focus on football at Ohio State, and it didn’t take him long to become one of the most dangerous return men in all of college football. He averaged 25.6 yards per return as a freshman, leading the nation and setting an Ohio State single-season record in that department.

5. The speedster burst on to the national scene at Michigan State, when he scored three touchdowns, tallying scores on a 17-yard reverse and a 58-yard reception in addition to his 60-yard punt return.

6. He eventually set a Big Ten record for most career punt return touchdowns with six, including four in one season. That mark set a school and Big Ten single-season record and at the time tied the NCAA record.

7. The last time we saw Ginn in an OSU uniform, he was racing down the sideline against Urban Meyer’s Gators for a 93-yard kick return. It turned out to be the last play he would ever make for the Buckeyes.

About Urban Meyer’s Offense…

1. Ginn finished his Ohio State career with over 4,000 yards of total offense and 26 touchdowns, but it is scary to think what type of numbers he might have put up in Meyer’s offense.

2. The Buckeyes probably did a better job of using Ginn in different/creative ways than they did with any other player during the Jim Tressel era in Columbus.

3. It’s almost difficult to understand where that 2006 offense came from, based on some of the other offenses we saw during Tressel’s tenure at Ohio State.

4. The play they ran for Ginn against Notre Dame at the 6-minute mark of that video was something right out of the Urban Meyer playbook.

5. We have actually seen them run that exact play this spring, with Braxton Miller pitching the ball to Philly Brown on the reverse.

6. Philly is a good athlete, but no one else finishes that play the way Ginn did. At first, it looked like he was going to be tackled in the backfield.

7. He turned the corner got into the open field and ran past Doug Datish, who was hightailing down the left sideline. When he got to the 20-yard line, it looked like there was a wall of defenders between Ginn and the end zone. Instead, he stepped inside and then back outside, which rendered both defenders in his path useless.

8. It wasn’t just his incredible burst that made Ginn so dangerous. He had tremendous vision, uncanny change of direction, and that extra indefinable quality that made him one of the most elusive college players ever.

9. This sparked a Twitter conversation, which led someone to ask me how Ginn compared to former Florida star Percy Harvin. Both players obviously have elite, top-end speed and great vision.

10. They may have been two of the best ever when it comes to pulling away from defenders at the end of a long run or return. Ginn differed from Harvin with his ability to change direction and reverse field without slowing down enough to be tackled.

11. Most of Harvin’s long runs came from finding “seam” in the defense. He hit the hole about as hard as any player in the country, and one he got going, it was hard to bring him down.

12. Harvin was a more physical player, who could run through arm tackles and bounce off defensive backs. He was perfectly suited for Meyer’s offense. Ginn never much cared for contact, but it’s fun to think how deadly Ginn would have been in that system of misdirection.

13. He might have won the Heisman Trophy. No joke. For as good as he was at Ohio State, his statistics were never gaudy. He didn’t have exceptional hands, and was never a great route runner, but neither was Harvin. They simply found other ways to get him the ball.

12. Ginn’s best season was 2006, when he caught 59 passes for 781 yards and nine touchdowns. He also had 266 yards and another score on the ground for a total of 1,047 yards and 10 touchdowns.

13. Harvin’s best season at Florida was 2008, when he caught 40 passes for 644 yards and seven touchdowns. He also had 659 yards and 10 scores on the ground, for a total of 1,303 yards and 17 touchdowns.

14. The previous year, Harvin tallied 1,623 yards and 10 touchdowns. He averaged nearly 10 yards per carry for his career at Florida. Scary to think what Ginn might have been capable of in a similar role.

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