I am done defending Oregon Head Football Coach Mark Helfrich.
Sure … it really does not matter now as he twists in the wind during his final days at Oregon, but it is also because he no longer deserves my support with the travesty on defense that we saw in the 120th Civil War. He allowed what I have chronicled throughout the 2016 season; the failure to apply the most basic of defensive techniques by Brady Hoke’s Ducks defenders. This time though, the failure was in the context of defending what Oregon primarily originated in conference and used to destroy the Beavers in so many prior games: the Inside Zone Read.
For those wanting to read an Editorial–don’t freak out in advance about this article being complex, as it is not (which is why it is so maddening for me). It is an easy ten minute read due to the patience of the Grizzled Ol’ Coach, Mike Morris, who again taught me and all of us the bonehead basics of defending the Inside Zone Read. Let’s learn more football!
As the play begins above, Oregon defensive end Justin Hollins (No. 11 with dotted green line/arrow) is using the correct technique; he sees that the OSU offensive tackle is blocking down, or into Oregon’s defensive tackle, Elijah George, No. 74. Hollins goes off the Beaver tackle’s hip and will move inside to tackle the running back, Ryan Nall, No. 34 for Oregon State. So far so good, but we need to keep an eye on the Ducks linebacker (yellow arrow above).
When Hollins, (No. 11 above) goes inside, the linebacker (yellow dotted line/arrow above) for Oregon is supposed to read the block and see that when the offensive tackle blocks down, he must scrape quickly to the outside to replace the contain responsibilities of the defensive end. Because linebacker Johnny Ragin (No. 28 above) does not, the Beavers quarterback has a nice lane to run for the first down. Unbelievable. This is basic football.
The 16 second video above was in Oregon State’s first drive! The Ducks cannot claim they were fatigued yet as the game had just begun. What you see above is a senior in his last game not implementing the most basic of linebacker techniques … the scrape to the outside on the backside of a zone read play (I am muttering profanities as I watch it in Reser surrounded by Beavers who are howling at the easy ground gain).
Remember how I stated that Oregon’s Justin Hollins correctly came inside and tackled the running back? This time he decides to watch the quarterback (yellow dotted line/arrow above) and sit there while Oregon State’s Nall runs through a gap that would not have happened if Hollins had done his job and simply tackled Nall in the backfield!
Note in the 19 second video above how Oregon’s Jimmie Swain (No. 18 above) properly scraped outside, just as Ragin did not in the previous example. But now you have two Ducks defenders taking responsibility for the OSU quarterback and none taking the running back! How can the Brady Hoke let this happen all season? How can he let this happen on more than one play in the Civil War when Oregon’s defenders see this play literally every day in practice? How?!
On this play, the OSU tight end is checking where Johnny Ragin is moving to (orange dotted line/arrow above). If Ragin scrapes outside, then the tight end would block him. He sees that Johnny is charging inside, so the tight end can turn outside (black dotted line/arrow above) and block the corner.
Can you believe how stupid the screenshot above looks? The defensive end (Justin Hollins-dotted line/arrow above) is crashing down to tackle the running back as he should. But Ragin (solid yellow arrow above) went inside too. Thus we have two defenders who meet the Beavers running back simultaneously as the OSU quarterback breaks the back of Oregon’s defense yet again.
Sure enough, the OSU tight end (orange arrow above) is blocking the corner so the quarterback has a huge running lane, thanks to the botched defensive technique by an Oregon linebacker.
Linebackers are supposed to read blocking schemes and attack accordingly. When the offensive tackle blocks down–Ragin (26 second video above) should have scraped outside and he (or the corner) would stopped the quarterback cold in his tracks at the line of scrimmage. Again, the difference in the play’s result is not due to bigger linemen, or superior tactics by Oregon’s foe, but bad defensive coaching leading to basic, fundamental screw-ups by Oregon defenders.
What you see above is similar to what Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli did (164 yards rushing) to USC and Pete Carroll on the Halloween night game in 2009. Beavers fans will be reading this and laughing their asses off as the irony is just too rich for anyone to handle. The play that Oregon built their entire offense on, the Inside Zone Read, the play Chip Kelly made the foundation play at Oregon, one that Oregon defenders have seen a hundred thousand times in practice, is what defeated the Ducks in the 2016 Civil War.
The Oregon defense handled the Power plays, the Sweeps, and the passing attack of the Beavers well enough to win the game with the number of points that Oregon scored. Yet to be beaten by the Inside Zone Read that Oregon fiendishly tortured Oregon State with for years is worthy of my respect to my neighbors to the north, yet is also the ultimate in embarrassment and humiliation as a Ducks fan.
How Mark Helfrich could allow this to happen … to not get in the face of Brady Hoke and f**cking tell him how to defend the play that Helfrich and Oregon knows better than most teams in the nation? It is beyond me.
How Coach Helfrich did not get into team meetings and scream out loud asking whether Don Pellum lost his marbles as linebackers screw up gap integrity and take on the wrong shoulders of oncoming blockers game after game? It is unfathomable to me.
Mark … you have my respect as one of the best offensive minds in America, but allowing this terrible defense to continue committing very correctable mistakes all season long?
You deserve to be fired.
Charles Fischer (FishDuck)
College Football Analyst for FishDuck.com
Top Photo by from Video
Beavers Fans: You may comment below, but if you trash talk or gloat? I will delete you in a heartbeat. If you want to learn more about the Zone Read and the basic plays associated with it? I may be available for instructional purposes as six years of learning, 250 analysis articles, and 1.5 million views of my videos is about to go out the window in a few days with a new coach. –Charles Fischer email@example.com
Disclaimer: every writer on FishDuck.com is allowed to express his or her opinion in their articles. However, articles do not represent the views of the other writers, editors, coaching consultants, management, or the principals of FishDuck.com. –Charles Fischer
Charles Fischer has been an intense fan of the Ducks, a season ticket holder at Autzen Stadium for 35 years and has written reports on football boards for over 23 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, have a daughter Christine, reside in Eugene Oregon, where he was a Financial Advisor for 36 years and now focuses full-time on Charitable Planned Giving Workshops for churches and non-profit organizations.
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…
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