Oregon Special Teams Analysis: Swinging What?

How does Oregon get so many two point conversions?   We have a variety of plays that we have used over the years on extra points, and the Swinging Gate Formation is just one of the reasons Oregon puts the “Special” in special teams.  In every aspect of Oregon football we can see an attack style mentality, including after we score the touchdown!   We all know how the offense is known for its fast-paced tempo and we saw in the Fiesta Bowl how the defense stepped up their game to de-claw the Wildcats.   Now it is time to start paying respect to the creative play calling of Special Teams Coordinator Coach “Oz”.

In this picture above, we can see the typical formation that Oregon lines up in for the PAT.  The only thing is, this is not a typical PAT formation.  This formation is called the Swinging Gate, and the great thing about this formation is there are still seven men on the line of scrimmage, which means there are still six threats.   I have numbered all of the eligible receivers and “QB” above.  Obviously 5 and 6 are not in the screen, but this is what the whole formation would look like if we were able to view the All-22 camera.  The simple task of lining up correctly can cause problems if you do not spend adequate time in practice preparing for this.  By simply having the other team prepare for the Swinging Gate, they are having to neglect critical time on what they should be practicing.

This picture above shows the center throwing the ball at an angle to the up-back (Dion Jordan!) behind the offensive line.  (This skill of specialized snapping like this should not go unnoticed)!  At the same time the ball is hiked, the running back and quarterback take off running to the right to carry out a run fake.  This simple movement freezes a couple of defenders to help open run lanes for the true ball carrier.

Once the ball is in Dion’s hands (above) he has a 3-way go, or 3 points of attack (at least if it is indeed a run).  He can now bang it, bend it or bounce it.  This is better known as “running the pitchfork” according to my old friend Coach Proffitt.  The offensive line is more than capable of creating a hole for the back to bang it into the end zone.  We also know that we have the quickness to bend it back inside.  In this situation Jordan decides to bounce it to the outside, as all defenders are accounted for except the cornerback not visible in this picture.

As you can see (above), Dion notices two defenders on the right that are not being blocked or won’t be.  He must make a split second decision on where to go, and as stated above he decides to bounce it to the outside where he only has one defender to beat.  (He’s thinking like the pass receiver he was when he began his Oregon career!)

In the end (above), he had two men to beat because one defender slipped off of his block!  Jordan used a quick burst speed that will make him a first round NFL selection in April as he plunged into the end zone.  Two points!  First we stun the opponent with our quick score and then we line up and execute the two point conversion so fast that often the cameras don’t catch it live, and we as fans have to watch the replay.  Considering the speed we have here at Oregon, I would take those chances every day of the week and twice on Saturday (and frequently Oregon does)!

What most miss is the multitude of options on this play, the many moving parts that creates the hesitation in the defenders.  Making them freeze is the same as creating a great block, and because Oregon has used so many combinations from this formation — it creates a heightened anxiety for the defenders, which in turn creates defensive mistakes.  Isn’t it amazing all that is going on in split seconds?

This is just one play from the Swinging Gate Formation that makes the special teams at Oregon so fascinating.  I will be dissecting more plays from the Swinging Gate and other special teams plays in the upcoming weeks as I’m having fun sharing my observations as an analyst for a site I have enjoyed reading for a long time.

I may be in Texas, but like you…”Oh how we love to learn about our Beloved Ducks!”

Todd Moore
Oregon Football Analyst for FishDuck.com
Amarillo, Texas

Top Photo from Video

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