The Ducks will kick off their 2014 campaign against the University of South Dakota (USD) on August 30. As members of the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision, the Coyotes will be outmatched at virtually every position on the field and will have to play an amazing game, as well as catch a few breaks, to stay competitive against Oregon.
South Dakota’s Strength
USD, while going 4-8 against a brutal schedule in 2013, was anchored by a solid defensive unit and defensive coordinator Jason Petrino. Utilizing a 3-4 scheme, the Coyotes ended the year ranked 27th in the country in total defense, 9th in passing defense, and 1st in 4th-down defense. So, going into Week 1, let’s take a look at how USD will likely try to defend Oregon’s explosive offense.
In my opinion, USD will stay with their aggressive 3-4 scheme and will look to attack Oregon’s offense with a variety of blitzes and coverages. They will likely try to use deception and blitz aggressively to compensate for the challenges Oregon’s offense will present to them.
Attacking the Spread Offense from the 3-4
A key advantage to the 3-4 defense is the ability to bring pressure from many different places on the field. This creates confusion for the offensive line and forces the quarterback to account for the possibility of many different pass rush schemes. Even top-notch NFL quarterback’s such as Drew Brees find the 3-4 difficult to play against because of it’s complex blitz schemes that are easy to disguise.
Let’s take a look at some common ways the 3-4 implements the blitz.
The video above discusses some techniques on how to blitz from the 3-4 versus 2×2 and 3×1 formations.
This video above demonstrates many different blitz looks from the 3-4 from both the wide angle and end zone video clips.
Oregon also runs an aggressive 3-4 Zone Blitz package, highlighted in FishDuck.com’s video above. You can find out more about Oregon’s hybrid 3-4 defensive scheme here on FishDuck.com.
Oregon vs the 3-4 in 2013
In 2013, Oregon lined up against several teams that ran a 3-4 scheme. We will take a look at a couple of different looks and blitzes from Stanford game. In the first example we see a 5-man pressure from Stanford, and Oregon is able to pick up the blitz and gain positive yardage.
In this next example, we see Stanford aligned in a slightly different variation of a 3-4 Front.
3-4 Blitz Variations
Developing blitz packages from the 3-4 front is an exercise in creativity as there are so many possibilities. Coaches often use variations in personnel, alignment, and gap responsibility to create very effective schemes that are very difficult to react to from an offensive perspective. Let’s take a look at a few more blitz schemes from the 3-4 in diagram form.
There is no doubt that Oregon is the better team and should win big, however there is a reason the games are played, and we all know that the Gridiron is often a place of miracles and enigmatic upsets.
USD plays in the Missouri Vally Conference, one of the best in the country. A quick look at the 2014 FCS pre-season coaches poll shows that the MVC is represented by three teams in the FCS Top 15, including No. 1 North Dakota State. Also on USD’s schedule are Montana (No. 5), South Dakota State (No. 10), Northern Iowa (No. 15), Youngstown State (No. 21), and Northern Arizona (No. 25).
Except for North Dakota State (who beat the Coyotes 42-0 last year), USD was able to compete with the top teams in their division, beating Northern Iowa 38-31, and playing close games with other Top 25 teams. Finally, they weren’t completely blown out by Kansas last year either.
USD is comfortable in the underdog role, and Oregon would be wise to make sure they are not looking ahead to Michigan State on September 6th. As they say, “Take it one week at a time.”
Coach Levi Steier
Albany, New York
Top Picture from Video