Chip Kelly Slashes the Beavers Two Ways on One Play?

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck Fish Reports

Does Oregon have an audible at the line of scrimmage to change the defender being zone read on the play?  Sometimes the choice looks predetermined, but we might have some proof from the Civil War game that audibles are taking place as I suspected.  If so, this adds an enormous burden to opposing defensive coordinators, and offers us a hint of the savvy play of our young quarterback beyond the physical gifts he brings to football field.  This seemed to be a classic “ah-hah!” moment for me, yet I wonder if the “next-level” fan reading this would agree.  Let’s take a look at an amazing sequence of plays!

While Oregon lines up on offense, we see the Oregon State defensive end (above) yell and point at Colt Lyerla, who lines up as an H-Back across from him.  He yells to the end on the other side of the Beaver defensive line, to let him know that Colt is going to be running across the formation, or doing the “cross-buck” action referred to in our earlier reports. Our strategy here is to blast the OSU DE with a crushing block, and to me this has become a hallmark of our offense.

We see Lyerla apply the big block to the Oregon State defensive end (orange arrow, above), and with the forewarning from his teammate, the DE tries to fight off Colt’s block, but to no avail.  Clearly, the plan was to block the DE and have Marcus zone read the outside LB (light blue circle).

This is the NEXT PLAY!  Now we see OSU’s defensive end (above) left alone, as our QB zone reads him!  Since we are running no-huddle, this MUST be an audible at the LOS to switch from zone reading the Beaver OLB to the DE (light blue arrow).  Lyerla draws a bead on the outside LB, and the Beaver recites his final prayers.   Mariota notes the Beaver DE has drifted too far down the LOS, so he knows that if he turns on the jets, he can outrun the DE through the gap created.  Good gosh…look at the yellow circle, as Jake Fisher is out there earthmoving OSU’s inside LB!  It is so perfect that it brings a tear to the eye of an old offensive lineman like me.  Do you know how good an athlete you have to be to engage a fast Oregon State linebacker?  (Answer: much better than I ever was!)  Wow.

The Beavers were caught off-guard (above) by the same play … but with a different defender being zone read. The result was a 30-yard run by our QB.   One moment of hesitation, one step too far inside and BOOM, an explosion play against you!  All this was from ONE little audible at the LOS. This was a great call and superb, split-second recognition of the DE’s mistake by Mariota.

To adjust to the strength of our formation, the Beavers line up with six defenders to the right of our center (above).  Oregon State has “been there, and done that,” and they KNOW the H-Back (Lyerla) is going to cross and block either their DE or OLB.  They shift their defenders to the other side to stop Mariota from gashing them down the backside as he did in the last example.

Geez, they shifted so many players over to the their right side that it only leaves three on the left side (orange circle, above), with a fourth being the free safety, who is so far back that he’s not in the picture!

The play begins (above) and the Beavers try to stunt inside with their defensive linemen (orange arrows). The Duck offensive linemen have them easily handled, with #60 (Clanton) going after the OLB and Jake Fisher (#75) letting the DE go outside.  This is bad news for OSU, as we have our desired hat-on-hat blocking forming.

The OSU defensive line stunt (above) results in their getting jammed into each other by our offensive line.  Note the yellow lines as Dewayne Stanford (#18 at the top) has his man tied up - as does Fisher, and Clanton (#60) is headed for the OLB.  Oregon State has three defenders (orange circles) positioned to stop the block by Lyerla coming across, and to prevent Mariota from breaking loose again.  Mariota’s speed makes that threat so much more essential for OSU to try to stop it.

It is hard to see DeAnthony Thomas as he explodes through the huge hole (yellow dotted arrow, above) and turns on the jets to break into the clear.  An unexpected, but huge block came from redshirt freshman, James Euscher, (green circle) as he came from the backside of the play to tie up the LB, who would usually make the play in the gap that DAT is running through. All of the would-be defenders are blocked, and the free safety is so far out of the picture that when he does show up, he has a bad angle and cannot stop the big play emerging.

Take another look at the Oregon players in that screen shot above and consider the age/class the players are in.  Of the nine in view, only Clanton (#60, a senior) is an upperclassman.  Euscher and Mariota are redshirt freshmen, while Stanford is a true freshman. Meanwhile, DAT, Hamani Stevens, (#54) Hroniss Grasu, (#55) Jake Fisher, (on ground behind the play) and Colt Lyerla (stepping on the 30 yard line) are all sophomores.  EIGHT are underclassmen?  This is why we call it a young team!

It is yet another touchdown run by DeAnthony Thomas brought about not only by great blocking, but also by the entire sequence of plays.  (As I see it.)  First we zone read the OLB, and OSU stopped the play for a short gain.  The next play we audibled into zone reading the DE, and Mariota toasted him for a big gain.  Later, to stop the audible, MM, and the cross-buck blocking action, we saw OSU overcompensate to one side, and this opened up the blocking on the other side.  It also helps to have a QB who can make the correct zone read in milliseconds, and a RB that can take it to the house when the hole opens up!

Remember my friends … is not a Chip Kelly website; we are an OREGON website, and no matter who the coach is or what the offensive scheme is, we will study and learn from it.  The variations and techniques of other coaches can add so much to our football education.  On the other hand, if Coach Kelly stays at Oregon, we will relish learning his constantly updating refinements.  At … if he stays, then it is good.  If he leaves, then it is good.  It is GOOD-OR-GOOD, and those that know me hear that expression all the time. It is a fun way to approach life and the changes that inevitably occur.  Next week we cover probably the strangest play I’ve seen in the Chip Kelly era, and I hope you enjoy the nuances of it as much as I do.

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

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

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