Why are National Pundits/Sportscasters so myopic? We are hearing their SEC version of events again to explain the obvious to the rest of us, as it happened last January. You recall how we heard of how the Auburn running game destroyed us, yet with two minutes left in the game the score and YARDAGE was tied. Bottom line is– Auburn got it done in the final drive, and we didn’t, thus I salute them. We are hearing similar nonsense for this game without a perspective of seeing the big picture of what transpired. Let’s look at the facts and then dissect some of the plays involving our beloved Ducks.
We heard how the Defensive line of Oregon is “smallish” yet total up both teams on field in Dallas and you find the Oregon’s D-line was a total of fifteen pounds heavier than the Tigers. We heard also how we were dominated in the running game, yet the average yardage per rushing attempt was 3.4 yards for Oregon, and 3.6 yards for LSU; that is domination? Our running yardage was poor, (true) but our total yardage was higher than LSU’s 335 to 273, because good Pac-12 teams adjust to their opponents. If you focus on stopping the running game, we then turn to the passing game to move the ball. (240 vs. 98)
This was a game for Oregon’s to win, but the repeated mistakes of penalties, fumbles, and poor judgment by our ball handlers cost us the win. Yes, we had some bad luck in having both our star RBs go down and turning to a true freshman. But the fact is, when you carry the ball that way-loosely, (Above) any good team will strip it. (Stanford and USC would have done the same thing) The Tigers got 31 of 40 points from five drives with an average field position of the Oregon 28 yard line. That’s not SEC football—that’s GIMMIE football. You could lose to a Sacramento State doing that! (I know—that’s just crazy talk)
To be a great team you need balance to turn to whichever area is available, and the unspoken fact is how the expertise in the Oregon passing game has declined in the past three seasons. Our WR corps is a work in progress, a far cry from what I saw in Waco the other night from two other Spread teams. (TCU & Baylor) A common denominator in the last four losses to out of conference teams (LSU, Auburn, Ohio State, Boise State) has been poor QB play in each game. We have a great tradition of passing expertise at Oregon, and we need to return to it to provide the balance needed for the big games. In all four games it was the OFFENSE that let the team down, and not the defense being unable to hold up. We will get better and let’s look at some samples of how it is happening……
In the first quarter we ran a play that I call an Inside Option where we have a Speed Double Option, but the pitch man is to the inside of the QB and can get a shovel pass. We start in a tight Outside Zone Read formation. (Above)
The early part of the play draws a defender to the QB who pitches inside immediately. Note the great blocking getting set downfield. (Above)
LaMichael is off and running (Above) for a big gain as blocks are set after the early commitment of the perimeter defense by the Tigers.
Later in the game we begin the same play only starting out of the Inside Zone Read formation. The defense really commits inside to the RB, thus a huge lane is open for the QB to keep and run. While it is difficult to see—we have a bubble pass option at the bottom of the screen which keeps the corner from coming up quickly.
We have a big lane for Darron to run with superb blocking set up to enable him to get the first down. (Above)
We had a number of pass plays out of a new formation that I call the “Shotgun T” formation. (Above) A variety of choices are available between keeping players in to block or sending them out on patterns. We ran the ball once from it for a little gain, and I can attest to a whole play series being possible from it since I’ve noted other teams operating from this formation.
Early in the game we are threatening to score by lining up in an Inside Zone Read formation going to the right side. LSU is aware of where we’re attacking and is preparing to plug that gap.
Just at the snap we see our Offensive linemen begin to come out of their stance and we see Carson York leaning backward beginning his pull to the left for a Power Play!
This is an exciting picture as it conveys classic Smashmouth football from our Power Play. You see how Carson has kicked out the OLB to the left and David Paulson has completed a mammoth block to the inside that stopped the DE AND a Linebacker. He got a TWO-FER!
It’s another example of how important a great blocking Tight End is for our offense.
It’s late in the game and we see DeAnthony Thomas lined up in an Outside Zone Read formation going to the left, which is a typical play in the Red Zone.
The big surprise (Above) comes as we see Clanton pull from his left guard spot and lead DAT into the gap as a Power Play! It is very evident that it is NOT a Zone Read as Darron has turned to look only at the RB to make the handoff, and not a defender at the LOS.
We threaten a Bubble Pass at the top, (Above) which further spreads out the LSU defense and it allows us to get a good matchup inside for our blocking assignments. Clanton, Asper and the Offensive line have cleared out enough defenders for De’Anthony Thomas to score his first Touchdown for Oregon. Are we running the Power Play out of the Outside Zone Read formation now? I don’t think so as I believe a true freshman RB in his first game who was lining up quickly in a No-Huddle—simply messed up in which alignment to begin the play with. But they ran it anyway with success!
I am quite confident that this team will clean up the mistakes and play much better through the season; now let’s go win a Rose Bowl!
Win or lose—we love to learn about our beloved Ducks!
Charles Fischer (FishDuck)
Oregon Football Analyst for FishDuck.com
Top Photo from FishDuck.com Video