For Duck fans today — there are a couple of tactics to watch for against our rival in the Huskies. First, note that their defensive tackle over Oregon’s center (the Husky nose tackle) is between 340 pounds and 360 pounds, thus he will give Hroniss Grasu and an additional guard blocking him some trouble. This could foul up our Inside Zone running game and open up tackle-for-loss opportunities for the other talented players of the Washington defense.
Watch for Oregon to run the Mid-Line Zone Read play where the Ducks zone read the nose tackle of Washington, Danny Shelton and effectively run away from where he chooses to pursue. In the Zone Read–we don’t block him and if he stands there and remains an obstacle in the hole? Marcus hands off to the RB going to another gap. If Shelton appears to want to chase the running back? Mariota will pull the ball and run right up the vacated middle following Grasu’s block on the middle linebacker. Does it appear we are NOT blocking the nose tackle during the game? If so–it means we are zone reading him! We have implemented this strategy before against superb nose tackles.
Another strategy to escape their superb outside linebackers AND nose tackle is simply running outside zone reads or sweep reads AWAY from how they are aligned, which could be an interesting chess game on the field. I would expect Washington to line up with strength on Jake Fisher’s side, thus we would be running with newbie tackles in Crosby and Pierson. Can we make those blocks? Will Washington adjust? Interesting possibilities to ponder as we watch…..
The third tactic to look for is the H-back or tight end coming across the formation and bashing the defensive end on the other side of the LOS. Oregon is running some variations of the Pistol look to allow NO ZONE READING of the defensive end, thus no risk of Marcus Mariota running. It is a way of protecting our QB, yet zone reading enough plays to keep the defense honest while running primarily a basic run-blocking offense similar to what we have done before. Marcus can run within these parameters, but it is done on our terms while exposing him to less ongoing pounding.
I would not be surprised to see any one or ALL of these strategies used today…and if Washington has not practiced against them? It is too late now!
Is my Husky Hatred Irrational? Maybe…but the Xs and Ox above are quite fun to watch for. Check for my analysis on Tuesday!
Top Photo by Kevin Cline