The Fish Report: Oregon’s New “Sweep Read”

Through this season I have often had much more interesting material to analyze than time would permit from a given game. This week is no exception as we had a number of new plays, formations, and play-action passes to enjoy looking at closely that resulted in some sweet touchdowns for our beloved Ducks.

There will be more time in the offseason to examine the passing game and our strategies on defense, but this week I have to announce some bad news and good news regarding a play on offense. I have been wrong in my analysis of it over this season, but the good news is that we are treated to something unique that the rest of the nation does not have on offense. Thus by learning of my error we also learn about Oregon’s new “Sweep Read” play.

“Oh how we love to learn about our beloved Ducks!”

Charles Fischer  (FishDuck)
Oregon Football Analyst for
Eugene, Oregon

Top Photo from Video

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Charles Fischer

Charles Fischer

Charles Fischer has been an intense fan of the Ducks for thirty years and has written reports on football boards for over a dozen years. Known as “FishDuck” on those boards, he is acknowledged for providing intense detail in his scrimmage reports and in his Xs and Os play analyses. He and his wife Lois, a daughter, Christine, and their dog (Abbie) reside in Eugene, Oregon, where he has been a financial advisor for 30 years serving clients in seven different states. He does not profess to be a coach or analyst, but simply a “hack” that enjoys sharing what he has learned and invites others to correct or add to this body of Oregon Football! See More...

  • Hss0

    FishDuck, could you include a review of the Straight pitch/toss play that Oregon ran signifigantly against Washington in the second half? I hadn’t seen that play really at all the entire year until the second half of the Washington game.

    • Anonymous

      Hello Hss0,

      Scroll up this page to the “The Playbook” and click on Fish Reports.  Then on the page you go to…click on 2011 Fish Reports….then on the page you’re taken to–scroll down the page until you get to “Something New from Dawg Training” and watch that video.  I go into the “Toss Sweep” play in detail and why it works.



  • bo

    man youre great and i totally enjoy your videos. they also helped me making my first playbook for a youth team in germany. i like it that you can admit your faults. thats true strength. respect for that.

    what i would like to suggest is to check the sweep play again. im not sure if it
    really is the traditional sweep blocking scheme, because you dont pull both guards everytime but different offensive linemen each play. as you closely watch the video again you can see at 2:27 that the center and the left guard are pulling. at 2:35 of the video it seems to be the left tackle and the center who are pulling. i think that is because kelly uses the “pin and pull” scheme that is similar to the zone blocking. you should read about that most important part of zone runs, the blocking. its very interesting and helped me a lot in understanding what teams are doing and why theyre so successful in the rungame. in a few words: the special thing about zone blocking (and also pin and pull) is that you dont need to draw up every defensive front that you will face to teach the offense line who to block. instead you have a system that tells the offensive linemen who to block by having a rule like: “when you have a defensive lineman in front of you (‘covered’) you block him. if you dont (youre ‘uncovered’), you help out the next guy or block a linebacker.” the defense line determinates who the offense line is blocking. that makes it much easier for the offense line to learn who theyre responsible for.

    here is some good stuff to read about zone blocking and pin and pull:

    keep up the good work, im really looking forward to more good videos that i know will come.
    greatings (and sorry for my english, im from germany)

    • Anonymous

      Hey bo,

      Another coach in Pennsylvania has been talking to me about the same concepts, but the zone blocking aspect doesn’t appear to be the same as “Inside” or “Outside” zone blocking, but I will check into it.  There is a ton of offseason coming up for that kind of study and new videos.  Thanks for your comments!


  • GrandpaDuck (not GrampaDuck)

    Hey Fish, great report.  I have a couple of comments to add.

    The sweep was an absolute staple of the 2008 team (remember JJ’s  “NOOOOOOO!!!” run in the CW) and then the play totally disappeared the next 2 years once Unger left.

    It has reappeared with Grasu becoming our center.  His effectiveness in blocking that play more than offsets his frequent slightly too high snaps and his tendency to get pushed around and bull rushed by physical DTs. I love him, particularly once they moved Asper inside to be his body guard.

    On the play against Oregon State at around 3:10.  The read of the “Inside Linebacker”, I believe is a fake, there was no real read on that play at all.  If DT was truly reading him he would have gone as the LB was leaning and too far inside to keep him from getting to the edge.  Fortunately, he didn’t keep it, because they would have been reading the wrong player.  The Safety, number 3, had outside contain and coverage of the QB and would have post-holed Thomas had he kept the ball.   I am one who believes Kelly and Helfrich when they state they seldom run real Read option plays anymore, particularly IZR and OZR plays.    Actual reads with a QB option are now rare and saved for special games and expendable QBs. 

    • Anonymous

      Hello Grampa,

      Now this is where good people disagree…and is who is being read, or if any is happening.  When you look at the blocking by the TE on that play….it is like a lane is being created for the QB to run if the ILB goes with sweep flow.  You’re skeptical that a read is taking place while another coach I know is CERTAIN a read is happening.

      This is where good people cheerfully disagree, state their reasons, which give us a chance to learn from one another.  In some cases–the only way we know for certain is if we’re in the huddle or locker room.

      Great stuff guys!  Thanks as I love this stuff,


  • Bill

    Have to agree with bo on this one fishduck looks like The “pin and pull” stretch play to me. Like the colts have run for awhile now.

    • Charles Fischer

      There is reasonable disagreement among coaches on this.  The true Outside Zone play that I show in the video is “stretch blocking” and stepping outward to get to a defender on the edge.  The Sweep play I refer to—looks much different.  Both plays are trying to make the edge, and have the back find a “zone” to run in. (hence the name) the purists would call the pin-and-pull a sweep technique that others have simply adapted to the Outside Zone.

      I’m not going to declare one side right or wrong, but have offered both, and you and others have offered their thoughts, which is what I want to see and I very much appreciate.

      One coach felt that the play was NEITHER, but a hybrid of the Outside Zone and Sweep?  Maybe that is the approach to take, and we won’t know for certain unless Chip/Mark tells us.  But I love this exchange as I learn more……

      Thanks again,


      • bo

        “the purists would call the pin-and-pull a sweep technique that others have simply adapted to the Outside Zone.”
        thats right. because on the traditional sweep it is determined who is going to pull but in the pin-and-pull (PP) the defensive front determines it by lining up either over a offensive lineman or not. the rules of OZ, IZ and PP arent identic, but the main principle stays the same: as an offensive lineman youre either covered or uncovered. this defines what youre going to do in IZ, OZ and PP. it would be nice to see a video about these three blocking schemes. but thats much work and i can tell by all the other great videos that you have your hands full. i appreciate the answer, respect for your work and lets go on and learn more together.

        greetings bo

  • Dylan Slaven

    Hey FishDuck…long time follower of your website. I just started a blog of my own You should check it out some time.

    I just wanted to point out that in the video at the 3:10 mark (and pictured above) you are technically incorrect in your assessment that Oregon is zone reading the Inside Linebacker. As you can see OSU is in a 4-3 Cover 4 Look at the start of the play while Oregon is running Ace (double tight). With Oregon in a double tight formation, OSU squeezed their OLBs so that they are head up and are in a better position to help out with the run. The linebacker you claimed as an ILB was the Will (or Weakside OLB). If OSU had been in a 4-4 or 3-4 you would have been correct in saying Oregon was zone reading an ILB as Will is normally the LB bumped in next to Mike. Sorry to bring up old reports, just wanted to help make your website the best it can be.