We at FishDuck.com have been looking at the plays that Chip Kelly springs upon his opponents, and for this game we choose to look at a strategy that was first noticed by our Senior Football Analyst, Josh Schlichter. Most of the major media are focused upon Oregon’s No-Huddle tempo and conditioning as they report the Ducks’ football success. We believe that a major factor in this game’s victory was the unique game plan assembled by Chip Kelly, and because it was so vast we cannot cover it all in one report. We will study the biggest undetected aspect first, and then savor the rest in a very entertaining off-season!
Oregon lines up with a Split End out wide, (Red arrow, above) and a Tight End up close to the formation (Lyerla with Green arrow), which “covers” him as a receiver. That means he is not eligible for passes, although the USC LB is back as if in a possible coverage stance. This appears to have been overlooked by the Trojan defenders, and the unbalanced line often is as it was at the beginning of the Stanford game last year. Chip pulled the Unbalanced Line strategy out of his back pocket after not using it for a year!
De’Anthony Thomas was in slot and went left in motion (above) to become the pitchman in the beginning of our Straddled Triple Option. Mariota is Zone Reading the Trojan DE, (Light Blue circle) and since he is “sitting” the proper read is to hand off as Marcus does. Note the beginning of some tremendous blocking as Lyerla stays in and blocks the DE outside (Orange arrow) while Clanton is keeping his man from making a tackle (Darker Blue arrow). We see Grasu going out to meet the LB, (Green line) and Jake Fisher is charging to take on the OLB. (Black line) The beginning of an epic block is materializing at the top of the screen as Will Murphy takes on the safety. (Yellow line) This is the beginning of some sweet hat-on-hat blocking!
Look how every Trojan is accounted for and blocked in this picture above, except for #96 who was Zone Read and left alone, as he has no impact on the play now. These are TROJANS who are getting blocked extremely well in the second quarter! Screenshots like this get an old offensive lineman like myself hopping in my chair…. Wow.
Barner has a massive hole to run through (Green dotted arrow, above) and notice how #15 Colt Lyerla for Oregon, to the far right, drove his man TEN YARDS behind the LOS! How breathtaking is that? We also see that the threat of the Straddled Triple Option on the opposite side pulled defenders over to guard MM and DAT (Burgundy arrows). This is spreading defenders even further away from the play!
Kenjon has cleared the LOS and is into the secondary and now has a fantastic block by Will Murphy (Green arrow, above) who is laying the wood on a Trojan. It frees him up for another fifteen yards!
The great blocking doesn’t end as Freshman Dwayne Stanford (Green arrow, above) is clearing the final hurdle for Barner to score for our beloved Ducks! In this play we ran to the “heavy” side of the unbalanced line and got perfect blocks from EVERY Duck on this play to score. They reported 273 yards by Barner BEFORE he was touched? Somebody better give some love to Coaches Greatwood and Frost for these exceptional plays. I know that I am grateful that they are at the University of Oregon!
We are threatening to score when we line up again in the unbalanced line with the Split End and TE (In Yellow circles, above) on the LOS. This means that our TE Lyerla cannot catch a pass again.
Our QB is Zone Reading the Trojan LB (Light Blue circle, above) and because he is sitting, Marcus will hand off to Kenjon. Below we see the Bubble is making the home team susceptible with TWO of our blockers out front and we see three USC defenders moving quickly to counter the threat (Burgundy circle).
Now I know that many say the success of this play was due to the No-Huddle and I acknowledge how it amplified USC’s errors, but the nature of our alignment FORCED them to cover us aggressively on our strong side. What we see above is an attacking play to the WEAKSIDE of the formation—away from the unbalanced line! We see great blocks by Johnstone (#64) and Grasu (#55), but a legendary block is coming from Kyle Long (#74) as he simply flings the Trojan defender out of the way! He played superbly in this game at guard, which is NOT his natural position. It may become a new home for him with a dominating performance like this!
The result of the deception by Chip and impressive blocking and running is another touchdown (above) by our Ducks!
It became evident that between the unbalanced line, and other “reverse” strategies we will cover later, that the Trojans could NOT depend upon their usual defensive keys to steer them to the ball. By mid-third quarter they began to doubt what they were seeing, hence they began to become slightly hesitant in pursuing the play. That instant of vacillation at this level is the same as being faster than the defenders, thus we can set our blocks faster and create bigger running lanes than we saw in the first half. I did not see the unbalanced line coming for this game, and obviously neither did Monte Kiffin. Yet Josh and I found at least six other components to Chip’s Game Plan that will make it a memorable analysis in the months ahead. Bon appetit!
“Oh how we love to learn about our beloved Ducks!”
Charles Fischer (FishDuck)
Oregon Football Analyst for FishDuck.com
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