An Analysis of the Hungry Buffaloes

Strobeck-Colo-5847

Saturday, the Ducks are going up against the hungry Colorado Buffaloes in Boulder. The Buffs are 3-1 this year and have shown they have a very potent offense.

Quarterback Sefo Liufau is returning as the leader of the experienced offense. The Buffaloes are also returning Nelson Spruce, the star receiver from last year who can take a pass to the house at any moment. Finally, Colorado is returning many of its running backs from last year including 6’0, 235 lb. Christian Powell.

The sweep looks a lot like a zone read, but all blockers are blocking for the running back.

From video

The sweep looks a lot like a zone read, but all blockers are blocking for the running back.

Let’s start this analysis with the Buffs’ run game. Colorado is lined up in doubles with the quarterback in the shotgun and the running back to his right. The Ducks are lined up in a 4-3 defense, as you can see in the screenshot above.

The line seals the edge for the ball carrier, allowing him to get to the numbers.

From video

The line seals the edge for the ball carrier, allowing him to get to the numbers.

At the snap, Colorado’s offensive line is going to seal the wide side edge for the running back. The quarterback is then going to hand the ball off to the running back running across his front side, like a zone read. The receivers are running deeper routes to draw the corners away from the line of scrimmage.

Receivers need to be able to block for this play to work. That could mean getting away with a hold or block in the back.

From video

Receivers need to be able to block for this play to work. That could mean getting away with a hold or block in the back.

The offensive line doesn’t have to hold their blocks for a long time as the speed of the running back allows him to get to the outside quickly. As you can see above, there’s only one person who can stop this play — the corner.

The receiver gets away with a little block in the back here, but the Buffalo receivers are usually able to hold the blocks and allow the back to get outside.

The Buffs back is able to reach the edge and get down-field for a huge gain.

From video

The Buffs back is able to reach the edge and get down field for a huge gain.

Once the back gets to the numbers, he can turn it upfield for a big gain, as he does here. The Buffs average a hefty 272 yards per game rushing, about as many as the Ducks this year. So, watch out for the stable of Colorado running backs.

The Colorado passing game is interesting, as well. Mike MacIntyre, the Colorado head coach, loves mixing it up and throwing in some tweaks that will confuse the defense, much like Bill Belichick or Chris Petersen. Let’s take a look at one of these plays.

This play is definitely one of the most odd plays I've seen.

From video

This play is definitely one of the oddest I’ve seen.

As you can see in the screenshot above, the Buffs’ offense is lined up in a 5-wide formation with trips to the left and doubles to the right.

The odd thing in this case is the fact that the front receiver in the trips is the left tackle and the right tackle is now the tight end, who is eligible. The Bears’ defense is lined up in a 4-3, looking fully able to stop this play.

As you see, only 4 players are left to pass block, while 5 are going out for a pass and one is being used as a decoy.

From video

As you see, only 4 players are left to pass block, while 5 are going out for a pass and one is being used as a decoy.

At the snap, the bunch receivers run a screen to the left tackle, who is ineligible. The two receivers wide right are running a go and three-yard curl route.

The tight end, who is lined up on the line, as the right tackle, is also going to run a go route. The defense all the while seems as though they have not realized the left tackle was ineligible, as the linebackers are treating him as a threat.

The middle linebacker and safety have some miscommunication leading to a touchdown.

From video

The middle linebacker and safety have some miscommunication leading to a touchdown.

The safeties and linebackers have some miscommunication which leads to a wide open tight end and an easy 22-yard touchdown pass. Oregon’s defense is going to need to be on top of their game if MacIntyre decides to pull something like this out of his hat.

The defense needs to be ready to communicate properly in order to not give up some easy plays like this.

From video

The defense needs to be ready to communicate properly in order to not give up some easy plays like this.

Speaking of defense, Colorado’s defense has been much better than in years past, allowing only 16.5 points per game. This is what the Buffs have been looking for in order to take the next step. Let’s take a look at how the Buffs may try to combat the Ducks’ zone read.

The Buffs' defense has elevated their game this year.

From video

The Buffs’ defense has elevated its game this year.

As you see in the screenshot above, the Buffs are lined up in a 3-3-5 with the Ducks in their standard zone read formation.

There's a wall forming since the defense is stretching the play.

From video

There’s a wall forming since the defense is stretching the play.

When the ball is snapped, the majority of the front six is going to stretch the play by pushing left to the wide side of the field. The only defenders covering the quarterback are the right and middle linebackers.

Colorado doesn't have the most talented defense, but they have great discipline and make plays.

From video

Colorado doesn’t have the most talented defense, but they have great discipline and make plays.

As you also see in the screenshot above, the rest of the front six stretch the play wide, which creates a wall that the running back can’t get through. The result is a gain of zero and a long second down.

The running back has nowhere to go.

From video

The running back has nowhere to go.

The Buffaloes feel that they are at their peak since they’ve joined the Pac-12, and they are looking to prove this by upsetting a wounded Duck team. Nobody is safe in the Pac this year; there are no cupcakes or guaranteed wins.

Despite this, I think the Ducks are going to come out hungry for blood and get the victory, no matter the quarterback, 42-24.

“Oh, how we love to learn about our opponents on FishDuck.com.”

Rory Davidson
Football Opponent Analyst for CFF Network/FishDuck.com
Eugene, Oregon

Top photo by Craig Strobeck

Print Friendly

 Join the Greatest All-Volunteer Site!

FishDuck.com was in the top 1% again in the world among all active websites. It is amazing with it being All-Volunteer, as fans like you and me become Editors and Writers for one of the best Independent sites on the web. Like to write or edit and want to be part of something special?
  • Basketball Writer: Do you know the game and love to think about the upcoming season for our beloved Ducks?  Write about them!  It's fun doing homework on a winner!
  • Football Writer: Even with this season--we have tons of interesting angles to write about with upcoming changes and players to report on.  Join us!
  • Editor: We value the RARE BIRDS who like to edit among all these Ducks. For the right person--it is fun and very rewarding to help these writers who also treasure our Ducks!
  • All Positions: Send a resume' with full contact information and any writing samples you have to charles@fishduck.com  Again, these are volunteer positions donating five hours a week each.

Rory Davidson

Rory Davidson

Rory Davidson: Rory (Football Analyst) is a sophomore at Oregon in the fall (Class of 2018). He has been a devout Stanford football fan since he was 2 months old and is excited about the energy and greatness Oregon sports has to offer. For the past 6 years he has been doing advanced data analytics for his high school football team and working alongside the coaches to understand how they strategize about the game. He wants to integrate more statistics into his analyses and try to help readers learn about and understand the future of sports.

  • duckusucker

    (Just curious, Rory, if that’s a recent photo? I mean, you look 14 years old. Durn good insights for a kid that age— not unexpected horsepower from someone who must have graduated from high school at 12, however….)
    Anyhow, it’s bad news for our D that the Bison like to confuse defenders, isn’t it?
    And that they have an experienced 235-lb. battering ram of an RB.
    This game by no means is a lock.
    Or should I say “lockie?”