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2 Ohio State players high-fived during a passing route, but there’s an actual football reason why

For this route combination, receivers are quite literally coached to do this in practice.

Ohio State absolutely dunked on UNLV in Week 4, winning 54-21. It was a comprehensive beatdown, and for a week at least, will sideline concerns about the Buckeyes’ passing game.

But that passing game showcased something interesting late in the game. This is two Ohio State pass-catchers, WR C.J. Saunders and TE Jake Hausmann, slapping some skin in the middle of the field:


Yep, there it is. This would be the down-low variation of the high-five. On this play, neither player was too slow.

The route concept here is called mesh.

It’s an air raid staple, and to understand why they slapped hand, we must talk about the concept. Here are a few ways mesh can be deployed to stretch offenses vertically and horizontally:

You’ll see two receivers overlapping through the middle of the field in the diagrams here, while outside receivers do any array of vertical routes.

Here’s one way an Urban Meyer team ran mesh in the past, straight from Meyer’s 2004 Utah playbook:

“B2” and “F3” are the receivers running the mesh concepts.

One receiver can effectively become a screen for another, especially if defenders are in man coverage, and create space for his teammate, because of how a trailing defender must adjust to avoid a collision.

For your viewing pleasure, here are Mike Leach’s Texas Tech teams running mesh in all different forms.

So, why the heck did those guys high-five?

I wish Hausmann and Saunders were congratulating each other for some joke they made in the huddle or playing patty cake in the middle of the Rebels’ defense.

What they’re probably doing here, however, is making sure they’re running the route concept correctly and acting out of force of habit.

Neither player gets on the field all that much, and this is garbage time of an early-season blowout. The point of mesh is to get the receivers as close to one another as possible without colliding. One of the ways to do that is by having receivers slap hands as they run by each other in practice (emphasis added):

The best way I’ve found to coach the mesh routes is to have the receivers slap hands as the reach the mesh point. The mesh point is six yards directly over the ball. They will take the most direct route toward that point and slap with their left hands. So, the man coming from the right will always go over the top and the man coming from the left will always go underneath. Forcing them to slap hands will train them to run right off each other’s shoulders and create a nice rub. If they always remember to slap with their left hand, then you will never have a collision.

I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen it go down in a game, though, until now. But hey, Meyer was a WR coach by trade. Maybe he wanted these guys to be ultra careful while they ran the play. Either way, it’s a funny visual.

It’s even funnier when the high-five doesn’t go off as planned like it did in the Iron Bowl.

The receiver (circled) who leaves his teammate hanging catches the ball, but it’s not because of the mesh’s ability to gain separation. His initial jab step opens up the hips of the defender the wrong way, and he gains the separation with his speed.

The least he could do is go back and give some dap to the teammate he left hanging though after the play.