In the last couple weeks we have learned that Oregon’s offense going forward is going to be a mixture of what Willie Taggart brought from South Florida and the offense new play caller Marcus Arroyo helped orchestrate at Oklahoma State, with wrinkles from head coach Mario Cristobal’s days at Alabama. One of those Crimson Tide concepts is the Stretch running play.
First things first, I’m going to be honest with you: the Stretch is not any different at its core than the Outside Zone Oregon has been running for the last decade.
Nevertheless, there are a few reasons the Stretch is still utilized in college football. First, it’s a great complement to the Inside Zone. An offense can use the Stretch to take advantage of a defense that is attacking downhill, by getting the running back out on the perimeter. Another advantage I want to touch on is that the blocking scheme in a Stretch play creates cutback lanes that a back with good vision can easily exploit.
The idea of the blocking scheme is not only to get to the edge, but to cut off first level defenders and get offensive linemen to the second level, so that the running back can use those cut back lanes.
There are a few variations of blocking when it comes to the stretch. There’s covered/uncovered zone blocking, zone blocking on a track, straight up man blocking. Then there is what Oregon seems to be doing, which is pin and pull blocking.
As you can see in the diagram above, the uncovered linemen is going to block down on the first-level defender, while the covered lineman is going around the down block and up to the second level of the defense. This style of blocking allows the play to develop faster.
Let’s take a look at the video above. You can see that the frontside tackle is going to seal his defender to the inside as the frontside guard pulls to the second level. The same is true with the relationship between the center and the backside guard, as the backside tackle cuts the backside. From the get go, the H-Back is going to pull to the second level. Royce Freeman sees things open up on the outside and hits the hole for an easy touchdown.
I have also seen Oregon use a simple track blocking system. In this scheme, the offensive linemen come off of the line at a 45 degree angle and just block whoever crosses their face first. This tells me that the Ducks have a couple variations of the same play, which they can utilize against different fronts or personnel matchups.
The variations, on top of the bootleg looks you have in the play action game, will make the play more difficult to key on, which is always a plus for the offense. Look for the Stretch to remain an integral part of Oregon’s running game package under the Cristobal regime.
Coach Eric Boles
Top Photo Credit: Jerry Thompson