Offensive Strategies as Seen Against Stanford
This is getting out a little late as Professor Jennings and I had a lot of work to do this week. Some involving his teaching position, and some involving rehabbing from this last weekend of great sporting events (minus everything in Happy Valley). I realize some of these things have been written about already but we’re going to expand on them and you’ll find new things here that are 100% accurate and a little more complex than they’ve been presented as.
Photo courtesy of Smart Football
Oregon used a common practice of trying to stop the zone read called scraping. Oregon often reads the defensive end on the backside of the play, so regardless of whatever else happens if the defensive end chases the running back the quarterback keeps. Defenses then began to designate the defensive end to slant inside and the linebacker fills, waiting to tackle the quarterback. Oregon countered this by changing who they read on the play, to the outside linebacker. Now the outside linebacker is being read and the defensive end is getting blocked. These small changes make a huge difference.
Here’s the rushing play Oregon ran that resulted in a 58-yard touchdown run by LaMichael James. There are trips right with the running back and linebacker to the right of the quarterback. This creates a numbers advantage on the backside as the pitch play requires the defense to play both sides evenly.
At the mesh point we see the line has gotten to the second level blocking the linebackers and all the linemen are engaged with their defensive counterparts. The outside defender, who is a defensive back who creeped up to the line of scrimmage. The back comes in and isn’t shooting down the line to catch LaMichael James and since he can’t make the play it is better for Darron Thomas to hand the ball off.
Here’s the entire point of the spread offense and zone reads. LaMichael James hits the hole and has a one on one with the safety. The safety doesn’t break down and LaMichael James is able to run right past for a touchdown.
This was an inside zone read as the line’s first steps were forward. You can see the gap formed from the linemen turning the defensive players towards each sideline. The safety is also playing deep in a cover 1 and is not in a position to make a tackle, nor do I think he could in this case.
Here’s a play that we actually looked at last week, and this pass play is actually a staple of the Oregon passing attack as it is easy to read and forces the defense to cover a lot of ground. This play has two receivers right, a receiver and a tight end to the left.
The first look here is Tuinei who was in the slot and goes out for a bubble screen. The outside receiver makes runs a ten-yard comeback. Thomas’ first read is to the screen but sees the cornerback is about to make a play, so he goes to his second option which is the receiver running the comeback.
Unfortunately, the camera cut off the receiver and safety, but the safety on the right rotated to cover the hitch route and the left safety fills to where David Paulson is running.
The fourth look is the receiver on the backside running a comeback route. The play is actually a mirror on each side. The running back plays the role of the bubble screen and David Paulson is the man in the middle who is the third look. Each packaged receiver route forces the defense to pick who to guard and eventually someone is going to have an advantage on their defender.
In this frame you see the receiver is one on one and the comeback route is almost impossible to defend if ran correctly. We see this play again later when it resulted in a Josh Huff touchdown.
This play was run later in the game and you can see that the bubble screen, deep comeback, and Paulson are all covered. The fourth route in Thomas’ progression is the deep comeback by Huff who broke away from his defender and turned this pass in to a touchdown. You can see that it is really easy for Thomas to go through his routes and find the easy target. There is a triangle created on the first side of the field read, and if all those are covered then it’s an easy key for Thomas to move his eyes to the other side of the field.
Here’s a great play that hasn’t been run yet this year. A lot of the time we see Thomas’ pulling the ball and running without protection. This play has two tight ends and two receivers to the right.
Oregon runs an inside zone read to the right but David Paulson, who was the tight end off the line in the H-back position, pulls to the left and doesn’t block the outside linebacker who is being read. The outside linebacker is scraping on this play.
David Paulson turns in to a lead blocker and hits the outside linebacker who is scraping the play. Darron Thomas got a lot of yards on this play and we see that this wasn’t a designed quarterback keeper later in the game.
We see the same formation as before but just on the goal line. Since the Ducks are in the red zone the defense is clouding the line of scrimmage and is in their 46 Bear formation.
David Paulson is pulling across the middle but ran in to the linemen who got blown off the ball. You can see though that the defensive player on the edge is staying at home to protect against the quarterback keeper. Had the quarterback kept the ball after the defensive player cuts in, Paulson would be able to pick up the defender who fills his place on the scrape, creating a clear path for Thomas’ to run in to the end zone.
The Ducks are on the goal line on this play and are lined up in the unbalanced formation where all the skill players are to the left of the quarterback. The defense has shifted accordingly and awaits what everyone knows will probably an inside zone read on 4th and 2, a Chip Kelly staple.
The safety and the linebacker scrape to the backside while the defensive end collapses and slants towards the ball carrier. However, Oregon had planned for this and instead read the linebacker instead of the defensive end. The linebacker cuts outside and Darron Thomas hands the ball off to LaMichael James who scores a touchdown.
Here’s an easy way for you to see what Darron Thomas is looking at. Look at that huge hole that forms in the line for LaMichael James to run through. Nice try Trees.