Spring Game Coaching Surprises
Coaching surprises in the Spring Game? Besides the obvious of Mark Helfrich in charge, and more passes than usual – what is new that was unexpected? This unforeseen development is one I anticipated observing in the fall during our games, and did not expect to see it so soon. While it does not come directly from head coach Helfrich, we can ultimately attribute major credit to him the growth of an area of Oregon football that many fans have been hoping to see, and will now have their dreams realized.
I had the good fortune recently to listen to new receivers coach Matt Lubick speak about his coaching style and what he can bring to Oregon. Something he stated immediately is how well the Oregon wide-outs block, and in fact he felt they were the best in the college football at helping their teammates in this important area. Above, we see Bralon Addison blocking for Josh Huff, which helped our offense get an easy first down in the Spring Game. Coach Lubick explained how his best receiver at Duke (an all-time leading ACC leader in receptions), only ran a 4.64 forty yard dash! He was not a speed burner, but was a student of the techniques that the coach taught, and thus became a big star in their conference — even over all the notable athletes at Florida State over the years.
It is one thing to decide to pass more often, but you must have accurate QBs, and the receivers have to separate from defenders and get open. I was noticing how often in the spring game our WRs were open for easy passes from our signal-callers, and while I acknowledge that some walk-ons were defending, it did not account for so many passes completed such as the one to Eric Dungy on the sideline above. I sensed that something was going on….
It continued as we see B J Kelley execute a perfect short hitch route above to make the first down. Truth is, he was open for longer than you would think as he charged out of his stance and appeared to be flying downfield.
Above we see how Koa Ka’ai has run his pattern, caught the ball, and begun to turn up field while the defenders are still some distance away. These defenders are getting open!
As I watched this play begin the explanations of coach Lubick were coming to mind. Look how Addison cuts behind the other receiver planting hard on what the coach called the pressure step, and then popping the hips and whipping his head at the right instant. Add a juke after catching the ball, and it was a touchdown for Bralon Addison!
The touchdown catch of Huff above was a great pass from Marcus, but to get open in tight spaces you have to execute precise footwork to get open. This was a noteworthy slant route run because at the goal line you are usually seeing press coverage where the corner is right up in your face, which makes it difficult to shake him and get open in such a small route area. The corners will be looking for the slant!
Pardon the odd looking picture, but the network was interviewing Mariota in a split screen and this was the only way to show this final touchdown. Note how Chance Allen is charging out of his stance (above, and at top of picture) and headed up field. How do you run past the corner and get open in the end zone when the defensive back has that much cushion on you? Precise route-running!
Chance has approached the corner, pushed hard on the pressure step, and you can see how he has turned his head and shoulders inside. You don’t see the next instant, but the corner immediately reacted to what appears to be another slant pattern and he is moving to cover the inside. As the corner is lunging inside, our receiver (Allen) is about to cut outside and past him to the end zone. This is happening in fractions of seconds with precise footwork taught by our new receivers coach.
The ball is perfectly placed and Chance hauls it in for a sweet TD!
If we are going to stack up the points through the air this fall due to our new specialized instruction, then the redshirt freshman needs to learn to not to be on the bottom of a victory pile!
As I watched our receivers get open so easily on Saturday and was thinking about the coaching of fine points of route-running from our new coach, it reminded me of how over half of the receivers in the Pro Football Hall of Fame do NOT run faster than a 4.60 forty yard dash! Players such as Steve Largent and Jerry Rice are examples of WRs who mastered the techniques of getting open, and we now have a coach who can pass these secrets along to Oregon receivers.
We are beginning to see the impact of coach Lubick’s presence already in the performance of Oregon wide-outs, and I can only dream of the how impossible this offense will be to stop as our passing game expands to a truly balanced attack!
Oh how we love to learn about our beloved Ducks,
Charles Fischer (FishDuck)
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