Oregon Ran Sucker Plays on USC?
That is a bit provocative of a title, but what if it was true? Did Oregon hammer USC so badly with the running game in the past that it set up Southern Cal for their own Trojan horses? For the first time since the season ended, I enjoyed the company of the Grizzled Ole’ Coach as we worked through a three-hour skull session breaking down how we scored an amazing SIXTY TWO (62!) points in the Coliseum. We encountered some surprises that the emotion of the watching the game at that time clouds over, and how this first observation has not detected by any other media source. Coach Mike Morris comes through again for FishDuck.com!
This is the classic Power Play that Oregon has run for years and made a ton of yardage off of, as we see guard Mark Asper pulling above (Yellow Dotted Line above) and leading LaMichael James (Green Line above) into the hole. Note how LMJ began to the left of the QB and Masoli just caught the snap and turned to his left and handed off. It was a touchdown, as we tore through the USC defense with lead blocking plays like the Power, the Sweep Read, and the Quick Toss.
This year we were in a similar position near the goal line as in 2009, and this time it is Nick Cody pulling to his left. The RB (Barner) is to the left of Mariota as the play begins and it resembles the usual Power Play that USC has seen many times in recent years.
We see how the Trojan Linebackers moved over immediately to stop the Power Play. (Red Circle above) The flow of the USC defense is moving to stop what appeared to be a Power Play to our left. Yet look at Barner in the screenshot above! He is not taking it left, but going right? The strength of the blockers, the numbers dictate running left, but he is running right–thinking he can outrun the edge/contain defender?
Barner knows that his teammates at WR will make the blocks on the outside, but can he get jump on the contain defender who is responsible for the backside on this play? Note how usually if you want to pin a defender with your block, you go for their outside shoulder. But Jake Fisher (Green Circle above) knew that going for the outside shoulder would make the Trojan want to bounce outside and stop Kenjon. So look at how Jake blocked the INSIDE shoulder, as it would be for a Power Play to the left! Now the defensive end for Troy who was the backside contain defender–began sliding down the line of scrimmage. When he spotted Barner going the other direction, it was too late!
It is another touchdown for Oregon as Barner beat all the defenders to the pylon but one, and Rahsaan Vaughn (above) is giving a massive effort to prevent his defender from making the tackle. Blocks like these are legendary at Oregon!
I was marveling with the coach how the team totally sold the Power Play going to the left, and something hit me from the distant past. “Coach, isn’t this like the Super Bowl in the ’70s when Kansas City pulled a guard and All-Pro Defensive Tackle, Alan Page, would follow the pulling guard outside and the Chiefs would run the ball through the vacated gap? Wasn’t that a ‘Sucker Play’ as they called it then? Isn’t this Oregon’s version of a ‘Sucker Play?'” He smiled and agreed that it probably was, and truthfully–if I had been on the the USC defense, I too would have been suckered the wrong direction. It was a beauty of a play!
It was interesting that the Toss Sweep (above) was added to the gameplan for this game as our coaches must have felt that we could run wide on the Trojans. Note how the RB is to the right of the QB and how the pulling offensive linemen are going all in the same direction of the RB to clear the way for him. (We gained ten yards on this play)
In the screenshot above we see how the offensive line is going all-out to pull and sweep to our left. Note the blue dots, as our linemen REALLY sold the Toss Sweep going left by blocking superb seal blocks that would prevent USC defenders from getting to our outside left. Note also where DAT began in the backfield making it appear it would be a Toss Sweep, but he turned and went the opposite direction? It’s another “Sucker Play” variation off the Toss Sweep, and I love it!
De’Anthony Thomas KNOWS he can beat the Trojan linebackers to the corner and that he’ll pick up some great blocks downfield by Josh Huff and Bralon Addison.
Sure enough it is another great gain by suckering the Southern Cal defense one direction, running the other, and Thomas knowing he gets the best WR blocking in college football. The red circle above is Huff, and his Man-Blocks out there springing our RBs has been a delight to watch over his time at Oregon.
Would you call these “Sucker Plays?” (Trojan fans are exempt from answering.) It is like they are a running game version of play-action passes where Oregon makes the opponent defend a play, then fools them going the other direction. What made these plays even more fascinating, the Grizzled Ole’ Coach explained, is how the Ducks did not use them again this last year, but teams still had to prepare for them! Again my friends, it is not always the plays, or the blocking, but the GAME PLAN that can make the difference. It is evident that our coaches pulled out all the stops as this was a big game and had our complete respect and attention. Sixty Two points worth!
“Oh how we love to learn about our beloved Ducks!”
Charles Fischer (FishDuck)
Oregon Football Analyst for FishDuck.com
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