- Austin Ward, ESPN Staff Writer
- 0 Shares
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The offensive line was begging to keep the ball on the ground.
Carlos Hyde desperately wanted Ohio State to put the game in his hands one more time.
The crowd was buzzing as it anticipated the snap that would determine either their delirium or disappointment.
Up in the press box, effectively sealed off from all that noise below, Tom Herman simply consulted his call sheet and passed along the first of the two two-point plays the Buckeyes had installed for Saturday's thriller against Purdue. The Ohio State offensive coordinator was obviously connected to the field through his headset and was aware of the growing sentiment to run the ball, even hearing the same thing directly from coach Urban Meyer.
But the staff had put a tight end delay pass at the top of its list for a reason, and unaffected by the emotion on the outside and knowing a good call when he sees one, Herman calmly stuck to his guns -- and was rewarded when the Buckeyes capped their rally when Kenny Guiton completed the the short lob to Jeff Heuerman to force overtime and ultimately remain unbeaten.
"I tip my hat to the guys that call plays from the sideline, but the sterility of the press box allows you not to get caught up in the emotion," Herman said. "It allows you not to get caught up in the moment or how big the moment is, and say, 'Guys, I've got it right here, we've been practicing it for three weeks, and it's right here in front of me, it's our two-point play.'
"I don't care if the offensive line wants to run it, I don't care if Carlos Hyde wants to run it, this is what we all agreed upon as a staff on Thursday for the last four weeks."
It had been a month since the Buckeyes last needed Herman to consult the two-point chart, but just like the previous two occasions this season, they seemingly had no problem converting on the do-or-die play from the 3-yard line.
The first couple times Herman had Braxton Miller at his disposal, and the mobile quarterback converted both of those with his legs. Without him available in the fourth quarter against the Boilermakers due to injury, the Buckeyes went to the air -- but there is a common thread for just about every play he considers when looking for a good way to pick up two points.
"I think good two-point plays usually have a run-pass option where you're not stuck in a bad play if the defense is overloading one or the other," Herman said. "I think it has to be a play that handles a lot of different coverages and has answers to that, and the fact that you only have the span of 13 yards vertically to work is a bit of an issue, too.
"Sometimes two-point plays are in your base offense and you just pick one and put it there. Sometimes you will tinker with it, add a motion here and dress it up and disguise the same play you've already run a couple different times."
If Herman was ever tempted by the pressure coming from the field to scrap all that preparation and simply trust the rushing attack to extend the game, he has hidden it well since Saturday.
The Buckeyes typically head into a game like Saturday's at Penn State armed with two different plays ready to go should the situation call for them, and Herman apparently never wavered from what was in front of him in the press box last weekend. But if Ohio State had burned through both of them for some reason, maybe only then would he be open to suggestions.
"I know everybody is jumping up and down and their hearts are racing, but I got it right here," Herman said. "This is the first call -- if we have to use that one and we need a second one, this would be the second one.
"But if you need a third one in a game, then you just start dialing it up."
Even at that point, though, that call appears much more likely to be made up in the press box than down on the field.
11hPat McManamon and Jeremy Fowler