Oregon’s Offensive Gameplan and New Plays in the Rose Bowl
Chip Kelly finally toned down all the crazy plays we see in bowl games and went with a lot more of what got the Ducks to the big game. The only criticism I had of the previous bowl games was that the offense looked like they were running the offense for the first time. That’s because they were. Kelly brought in tons of new formations and tricks to avoid the strengths of the other team, and this time, he went more vanilla, stuck with Oregon’s strengths, and attacked Wisconsin’s weaknesses.
Before the game I met with a person who is very close to multiple people in the Oregon football program and he told me that there were going to be stretch plays and sweeps all day. The goal was to attack the edges. While not a huge surprise, it was good to know my pre-game assumptions were correct. How Oregon attacked the edges was the only remaining question. Below I diagram the key plays that brought Oregon a victory.
We saw this play and its close cousins many times. Here we see De’Anthony Thomas motion across the formation. We saw play action passes off this motion, jet sweeps, and in this case a sweep. The center and right tackle both pull to the right with the tight end and guard slanting inside to crunch the interior linemen. The player being read is the backside defensive tackle, he’s circled in the picture.
Once the linebackers realize that De’Anthony isn’t getting the football they begin to chase LaMichael James but are already a few steps behind. The receiver is blocking the defensive back in front of him and the tackle and center pulling are going to search and destroy on the outside. The defensive tackle stays home giving the Ducks a big numbers advantage on the outside.
Look at the huge alley created by the blocker. LaMichael James, on a 3rd and three, turned up field for big yards on this play. There are only two defenders in between James and the end zone, and one of them is getting blocked.
Here we see an overreaction to the triple option look. The player being read is the MIKE backer. The backer to the field side shoots to the outside to stop the Thomas-Barner option. The safety shoots up field to stop what he thinks is an outside zone read, but the play is an inside zone read, and thanks to the ambiguous backfield there isn’t a clear giveaway.
The line does a great job getting a push and everyone flows away from the middle of the field. You can see the hole form in the middle of the line that De’Anthony Thomas is going to run through.
There is so much green in front of Thomas! The safety has to come all the way across the field to be able to make a tackle but he won’t come within 8 yards of catching De’Anthony Thomas.
Here’s the play action look off the jet sweep we saw earlier. Oregon ran a jet sweep a couple times by this point so teams were looking to jump the run hard. Instead, we see Kenjon is going to fake as a lead blocker and he’s going to shoot up field. Then magic happens.
Paulson releases straight up field and you can see that he is already past the safety. Team speed. The defensive back moves up field to stop the running play but when Kenjon Barner runs past him he realizes he’s in trouble. If a receiver is even with a defensive back, then the back is beat. Here Darron Thomas can hit Paulson or Barner easily as they are wide open.
Thomas hits Barner going up the sideline, leaving David Paulson to block. Paulson didn’t get enough credit for his downfield blocking this game. Barner easily runs in to the end zone to tie the game up. 42 points in less than 20 minutes? Must be an Oregon football game.
Here’s the jet sweep look out of the formation. De’Anthony Thomas motions from the boundary and is going to take a handoff from Darron Thomas. LaMichael James is going to lead block and Lavasier Tuinei is going to pick up the safety (the cornerback guarding Tuinei is going to follow him to the middle of the field and give some leverage for James).
The Badger defense flows hard to the outside but there is a clear seal at the line of scrimmage. Three linebackers chasing after De’Anthony Thomas? Thomas has -800 odds of beating them to the edge.
Unfortunately not captured in the screen shots is LaMichael James great block on a defender. Look who’s downfield to block for the ball carrier, a man named David Paulson. De’Anthony Thomas is by himself in a race to the end zone. Thomas averaged 77.5 yards a carry. Hopefully next year he gets a few more touches.
Here is a classic Oregon play that we saw a few years ago, but haven’t seen much this season due to the lack of dependability at the receiver position. Oregon runs screens all the time as part of their up-tempo offense. Two receivers run forward to block while the third waits for the pass. Here the receivers are going to run forward and keep running.