Conditioning. Tempo. Team Speed. Everyone knows of these components that the Oregon Spread Offense attacks the defenses with, and it is assumed that process can be confusing for defenses in lining up during the haste before the play begins. What about the other elements of the attack that create confusion? Today we look at how one facet of the Oregon Football Spread Offense can create a ton of indecisiveness for an opposing defense, and in this example, it was the Cougars of Washington State who were the “confused.” Special thanks to Coach Tony Hoolulu of Hawaii for his input into this analysis, and his shared enjoyment of our beloved Ducks.
We see a typical formation (above) for the Ducks as we have a WR and flanker on the left with a tight end and another TE backed up and to the right as an “H-Back.” The formation is called by many coaches “Load Right” as we have two TEs next to each other and threatening some powerful run-blocking behind them. Note that Devon Allen is going to come backward after the snap showing Bubble Read, while Keanon Lowe at the bottom of the screen is running a fade to the corner of the end zone.
It’s a Power Play — as analyzed recently, and yet even with the ball being handed off … the safety covering Allen is focused on him and coming up to defend. The play (above) goes for a little over three yards and is routine from this formation — yet all aspects of the play have to be defended.
This play has been done a hundred times from this formation.
The very next play (above), Oregon lines up in the “Load Right” again, only the pass routes of the WRs are going to be different. This time, while the WSU safety has to be conscious of the Bubble, Lowe also ran a slant for a touchdown against Wyoming from the same formation. On this play Devon is running a fade while it is Keanon running the slant inside.
Is it going to be a running play (above)? It looks like the beginning of the Inside Zone Read as Marcus Mariota is looking at the OLB on the far right for the “read,” and the RB is clearly running the IZR path.
Whoa! Mariota (above) pulled the ball out of the mesh, but not to run – he’s looking to pass!
The pass is a bullet to Lowe, who hauls it in for the touchdown! Note how the safety got caught up in the crossing action (green arrow) and is intent on Allen, but behind him.
The crossing action makes it impossible for the Cougar corner to stay with Keanon, hence how open he was. If you are the defensive back … how do you know if it is a pass or run? If you think it is going to be a pass — which route do you defend?
The Ducks are lined up in the “Load Right” formation again (above), with the two tight ends to the right, but what will the WRs to the top of the screen be doing? Is this run or pass this time? Slants and fade pass routes are open for the WRs if executed properly, as we noted in the last example …
Important screenshot! This is where I and the “expert commentators” on TV differ; the ’talking head’ felt that the Cougar corner (who is in “man” coverage on No. 85 Pharaoh Brown, above) let his eyes get fooled by looking into the Oregon backfield. Coach Tony explained to me that the corner does not have run responsibility on this play … just pass coverage on the TE, Brown.
Yet why would he hesitate and look at Mariota? It’s because he thinks he is being ‘read‘! Oregon does that often … Zone Read the defender on the edge.
In that case, if he is the “read” defender, then he has to stop Mariota from pulling the ball and running through an open gap (since the WSU defensive end is getting blocked down by our inside TE on the right side). It is a natural response on the part of the WSU corner to see if Mariota is going to run.
Check the direction of the TE (Brown, above) the WSU corner is supposed to cover! It looks like he is going inside to block the safety, suck the corner inside in coverage, and hence Mariota has an easy lane to a TD.
Oh, my gosh, the Oregon TE, above (Brown), is putting his hand out in anticipation of blocking the safety! The deception of the Cougar corner runs deep as the Oregon coaching staff teaches the TEs and WRs, (see Power Play analysis) all the tiny details to sell the potential pass pattern, or in this case, the block.
Now Brown has run past the corner (No. 4 in white), and at this instant, the WSU defender is having his “Oh, Crap!” moment.
It is a sweet touchdown derived from the finer points in deception to create the defensive confusion, and the Duck TE could not be more open!
If you are a defensive coordinator facing the Ducks, you have a near impossible job. Teach your defenders to stop the running game by watching and reacting quickly — and skill players in green run past you for touchdowns in passing routes.
Follow the WR/TEs fully in passing routes and you can get pulled out of the play, which creates a running lane for an Oregon running back! Add to that how you personally can get Zone Read by the Oregon QB? What is your key? You must carry this out in milliseconds to stop the Ducks from another explosion play!
This “Load Right” formation is not unusual at all, but we run a TON of running and passing plays out of it, and that is my point. The mistakes made from the Conditioning-Tempo-Team Speed, could also be occurring due to formation. It adds more confusion — as Oregon can - and does tons of nasty things from the same formation, which gets defenders thinking about all our options and slows them down, making them more vulnerable to Oregon’s team speed.
That, my feathered friends is great coaching.
“Oh how we love to learn about our beloved Ducks!”
Charles Fischer (FishDuck)
Oregon Football Analyst for CFF Network/FishDuck.com
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