2015 Oregon Spring Game Analysis: Curious Oddities

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For this 2015 Spring Game analysis, I will focus on some of the odd things that emerged in the game and some of the single plays that amused me. These do not have a theme like last week’s analysis, but more of random curious plays that I believe you will find interesting as well. It was tremendous fun seeing our beloved Ducks out on the field again!

A throw-back in the Spread?

From Video

A throw-back in the Spread?

It has become reality; the ISO play is officially in the Oregon Spread Offense playbook. It is a play we saw in the National Championship game that is a throw-back to the old offenses, and I wondered if it was a play created just for NC? We start with twin backs slightly behind the QB — seen above.

A classic match-up of blocking back against the linebacker!

From Video

A classic match-up of blocking back against the linebacker!

In the ISO play, Oregon has everyone blocked on the line of scrimmage but left the linebacker on one side unblocked as he is going to be Isolated by the Ducks’ blocking scheme and is the target for one of the running backs in the backfield. One running back received the ball, and the other is drawing a bead on the linebacker unblocked. Above, we see with the yellow-arrowed line that indicates two competitors had a play-date coming up.

The Oregon Spread Offense introduces more smash-mouth to the Pac-12!

From Video

The Oregon Spread Offense introduces more smash-mouth to the Pac-12!

The blocking back — seen above — in this case, missed his block but the play still went for 10 yards! Oregon is ideally suited for this play of power that used to be out of the old “I” formation where the fullback would blast the linebacker. Now, though, Oregon has four running backs – Kani Benoit, Byron Marshall, Thomas Tyner and Royce Freeman – who can both run the ball or block for the other like an old-school fullback!

It is another example of pulling out plays that match our personnel by head coach Mark Helfrich, and integrating proven offensive concepts into the Oregon Spread Offense.

Rodney Hardrick is ready for a goal-line stand.

From Video

Rodney Hardrick is ready for a goal-line stand.

Linebackers at Oregon have been criticized in the past year, so I did take note of their performances in the Spring Game. Above is Rodney Hardrick getting ready to help make a stop in the Red Zone.

A pulling guard!

From Video

A pulling guard!

We just saw an old ISO play, but above is another smash-mouth play that the Ducks like — the Power Play. Look how the offensive guard pulled — green arrow, above — and is looking to lay the wood to the first guy he sees, which is probably the linebacker to that side, Hardrick — indicated by the yellow arrow above.  Look how the linebacker is coming up to fill the gap!

What GREAT technique!

From Video

What GREAT technique!

My friends, do you remember the painful analysis I created about the Ohio State Trap play and how our linebacker took a wrong angle? He needed to attack the inside shoulder of the offensive guard, and look what Hardrick — yellow arrow above — has done; he blew into the guard’s inside shoulder and stuffed the play. The running back — blue arrow, above — saw the gap plugged and had to improvise!

This is great linebacker technique!

From Video

This is great linebacker technique!

It was great fun to see how well Rodney took on the block and with the correct technique, helped the entire defense create a tackle-for-loss! (Seen above)

Just another Zone Read?

From Video

Just another Zone Read?

Above, it looks like the beginning of any other play, and note how the defense has seven in the box to stop the Oregon Offense.

Zone Reading the what?

From Video

Zone Reading the what?

Whoa! The offense is running an Outside Zone Read to the left  seen above — with some great blocks forming. Yet it appears that instead of zone reading the backside defensive end — quarterback Morgan Mahalak is zone reading the Inside Linebacker? Why?

Now it is clear!

From Video

Now it is clear!

Holy guano, Batman! Was that a great variation of the Zone Read or what? Look how the inside linebacker — green arrow, above — followed the flow of the Outside Zone to open up a huge lane for Mahalak — yellow dotted arrow, above — to run through.  Note all the other great blocks that created a massive opening!

By moving--the ILB got "blocked."

From Video

By moving — the ILB got “blocked.”

The Oregon offensive brain-trust analyzes who is moving the wrong way — seen above — and then zone reads them? Yet, if the ILB does not go with the flow of the Outside Zone Read, then he will not be there to help stop the play. This is going to be very interesting to watch for this fall! My friends, can you see the chess pieces on the field?

Watch Torrodney Prevot...

From Video

Watch Torrodney Prevot …

Above, we see the defense with seven in the box and the offense in a short Pistol formation. Hmmm! We have not seen that much since the first time against UCLA, and then it was used extensively in the Washington game. Note the yellow arrow above pointing Torrodney Prevot on this play.

He is not maintaining gap discipline...

From Video

He is not maintaining gap discipline…

What is Prevot doing? He is responsible for the outside gap and contain, and he’s moving inside? — yellow arrow, above. Meanwhile, the linebacker — green dotted arrow, above – is maintaining gap discipline and is plugging the gap that Torrodney is headed for! Two defenders running to one gap?

Giving up a touchdown.

From Video

Giving up a touchdown.

It is now too late; Prevot has moved too far inside — yellow arrow, above — and Mahalak has completed a superb zone read and pulled the ball out, as he noted the OLB moving away from his area. Due to other great blocking, Morgan had an easy jaunt to the end zone.

This was a tremendous zone read by Mahalak.

From Video

This was a tremendous zone read by Mahalak.

Let’s hope that Prevot turns it around, as I have not heard his name mentioned much in the practice reports and did not stand-out in the Spring Game. He was one of my favorite interviews last fall before the season, and I wish the best for him.

Let’s also give a big shout-out to the GOC — the Grizzled Ol’ Coach – for his significant contributions/analysis brought in to create this article. You and I both learn a ton from him!

Even in the spring …”Oh how we love to learn about our beloved Ducks!”

Charles Fischer
Oregon Football Analyst for CFF Network/FishDuck.com
Eugene, Oregon

Top photo from Video

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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...

  • CoachH

    The goal line play was actually a bad job by the linebacker. He should box that outside in, not inside out. He tries to spill the play but there is a kick out block and it leaves a great while on the power play. The defensive call was good and Freeman saw the backside rush. Freeman should’ve stayed true to the play and hoped that the QB would hold or slow down the rush. The whole was there though.