Oregon’s Superior Defensive Techniques School the Bruins

Featured Pic 1

from Video

We heard from ALL the coaches after the game about the extraordinary job done by our defense to hold UCLA to a couple of short-field scores, but HOW did they do it?  Offensive players expressed their gratitude at how our “Green Wall” kept us in the game until they could get things untracked.  At FishDuck.com, we have not touched on the specific methods used by our defensive line to capture those tackle-for-losses, or exhilarating QB sacks — until now.  Let’s take a look at the techniques that turned the game for the Ducks and against the Bruins – and learn how to spot them in the future!

Hart Swim 1

The most important and fundamental component for defensive linemen to learn, is how to disengage the hands of the offensive linemen.  The O-line wants to reach out and stop the D-line with their hands, thus, removing the OL’s hands clears the way to the ball carrier.  Many of us have heard of the “swim move” as being a staple of defensive line technique, and Taylor Hart (yellow arrow, above) demonstrates beautifully how to carry it out.  We see him here, beginning the first part of this move by blasting the arms of the freshman Bruin guard with his left arm, thus sweeping the offensive lineman’s arms under him.

Hart Swim 2Taylor has his left arm underneath, as the force of blasting the UCLA guard’s arms pulled them down, but Hart’s right arm is sweeping OVER the guard’s head in a swimming motion (yellow arrow, above).  It is quite a specific ‘one-motion’ technique that Coach Aiken teaches.  It was very difficult to catch this at the precise instant, because the Oregon defender carried it out so quickly.

Hart Swim 4This screenshot shows the incredible skill that the Tualatin, OR, defender displays.  We see (above) the yellow arrow pointing to his left arm that has blasted the UCLA guard’s arms underneath and away, while the green arrow points to his right arm sweeping over the top, in the freestyle-swimming motion.  This whole maneuver is done in a blink, and it has resulted in Taylor being unblocked and ready to destroy the play.

Hart Swim 3Hart (above) is just blowing up the play in the backfield for a superb tackle-for-loss, with a swim-move he completed in less than a second!  Wow.

Hart 1

Hart 2

Armstead:Bolo 1It is an important third-and-long play for UCLA, and we want to keep an eye on the Bruin RB who is responsible for blocking ‘Bolo,’ (No. 25, above) and also on Arik Armstead (No. 9, yellow arrow), who is positioned on the inside shoulder of the offensive tackle of UCLA.

Armstead:Bolo 2The yellow arrow, above, points to a variation of the swim-move done by Armstead, as his right arm has blasted by the Bruin tackle — notice that Arik’s left arm is “swimming” over the top.  He is cleared for takeoff!

The UCLA running back has come out to meet Bolo, but also wants to beat him to the spot on the outside (light blue arrow, above), so that he can drive the Oregon OLB away from the play and their QB.

Armstead:Bolo 3Armstead (yellow arrow, above) is gagging on his drool as he sees an unobstructed path to the QB, while the UCLA tackle is desperately trying to grab him.  In the light blue circle, we see Bolo beating the RB to the spot – much like the winner of musical chairs – and in order to make the turn, Big No.9 is beginning to employ the “Rip” move of driving his arms underneath the arms of the Bruin RB, using that leverage to turn the corner with his momentum headed to the QB.

Armstead:Bolo 4Both Oregon defenders (above) get to Hundley at the same time and gobble him up, while leaving Bruin players in their wakes.  How sweet it is!

Armstead - Bolo

Armstead - Bolo 2

Tony Rip Move 1Our final example of tremendous technique shown by Oregon defensive linemen, is also the most difficult to perform.  Tony Washington is using his speed to get to the backfield, but often the offensive linemen will use that speed to run him out of the play completely.  The way he beats that is with the “Rip” move.  Tony (above) is just beginning to come into the turn, but has positioned his right arm UNDER the arm of the UCLA tackle.

Tony Rip Move 2The next part of this technique is extremely difficult, as he “rips” his arm upward (yellow arrow, above) to gain leverage going around the corner.  Tony maintains his balance, while at a high rate of speed!

Tony Rip Move 3He is almost free!  Even more important is that his ARM is free (yellow arrow, above) and while the offensive tackle is pushing him away — Tony has that free arm to create havoc.

Tony Rip Move 4We all recall the result of Washington’s free arm; he uses it (above) to rip the ball out of the UCLA QB’s hand to stop the scoring threat!  There have been a number of NFL defensive linemen who have stated that this “Rip Move” is the most difficult maneuver to perform when combined with a speed rush.  It requires great balance, timing and athleticism.  Not many can do it at the highest levels, and it is thrilling to see Washington shock us with his skills at the Pac-12 level!

Washington 1

My feathered friends — we all know of the various coverages and blitzes that Defensive Coordinator Nick Aliotti attacks the conference with, but we are now becoming aware of the impact that Defensive Line Coach Ron Aiken is making on our defenders in the trenches.  I once spent a half hour listening to him talk to coaches about the HAND PLACEMENT of defensive linemen!  Can you imagine the complexity of it all if you need 30 minutes to explain it?  We are fortunate to have all his years of NFL coaching experience at University of Oregon.  It has reaped dividends already!

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

Charles Fischer  (FishDuck)
Eugene, Oregon

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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...

  • William Butters

    I find your tutorials fascinating, thanks Fischer….

  • Marshall to the HOUSE

    Great stuff. This is Oregons best defense across the entire two-deep roster ever. Love the physical play and especially the rip move and strip by Tony Oregon! The D line will be ready for Stanford. Go Ducks!

  • Jon Brand

    Charles – maybe you can help me, I can’t seem to find anybody who knows – during the 2nd half of the game, my brother noticed thru his binoculars that Marcus was wearing a brace on his left knee, something we had never seen before. I watched the 1 hour replay on the Pac-12 Network yesterday. Not only did Marcus not run the ball in the 2nd half, but he clearly looked like he was favoring the left knee. Nobody on any sites I frequent has even mentioned this. I know the Ducks don’t talk about injuries, have you heard anything?

    • Jon Brand

      Rob Moseley scolded me for asking, nevermind :)

      • FishDuck

        We don’t talk about injuries because the coaches do not want us to.

  • BrandonG

    It is also interesting to compare the footwork of the two moves put on by Taylor Hart and Arik Armstead. Hart used a quick side-step to his left that really took advantage of the offensive lineman’s attempt to move to his own left and get into position to apply a seal block on Hart. The “blast” part of Hart’s swim move pushed the offensive lineman further in the same direction that the offensive lineman was moving. I think that in a split second, Hart read that the offensive lineman was going to try to go left and apply a seal block, so Hart side-stepped to his own left and “blasted” the offensive lineman in the same direction that the offensive lineman was moving and swum through.

    Armstead applied a different footwork technique. Armstead jumped to the left, like he was going to hit the gap on his left, which caused the offensive lineman to move in that direction. Armstead then used the “blast” part of the swim move to push the offensive lineman further in that direction as Armstead cut back to the other side to finish the swim move.

    So it looks to me like Hart read the offensive lineman and took advantage of what the offensive lineman was trying to do, while Armstead essentially faked out the offensive lineman, and took advantage of the offensive lineman’s “bite” on Armstead’s fake. Both players took advantage of the offensive lineman’s momentum by blasting the offensive lineman in the same direction that the offensive lineman was moving.

    • FishDuck

      Brandon…that is good stuff. Thanks for your thoughts, and I agree that a large part of this is using the momentum begun by the offensive linemen. When I think of how big and fast they are–when they get going in a direction there is a lot of G-forces going.

      I look forward to learning MORE about the battle inside the trenches.

  • Doug Fur ’74

    Doin’ the swim, excellent. The over the top crawl and the rip breast stroke. I’ve seen a rip move, both hands from the center, up and out, in tae kwon do demonstrations. Brandon’s comment about using the opponent’s momentum is classic martial arts, using the opponent’s strength to defeat them. How else do smaller guys defeat the 500 lb. gorillas?
    To me the big hit, which gets the ooo’s from the crowd and “that must have hurt” from the color guy, is a waste of energy. Instead of face to face opposition, get the other guy to defeat himself and save your energy to get to the ball.