Power on the Edge: Buck Sweep in the Willie Taggart Offense

Coach Eric Boles Analysis

With it being a bye week for the Oregon Ducks, I have decided to go back a couple weeks and take a look at a play Oregon used against the Utah Utes. The play is Buck Sweep, often referenced by Mr. FishDuck on the site as the Sweep Read. This is a play Gus Malzahn has famously run at Auburn; former Duck coach Chip Kelly uses a variation of the play as well. Malzahn and Kelly use slightly different versions, and we will discover that Willie Taggart‘s preference is akin to Chip’s.

For the sake of pure education and intrigue, I’m going to go through both variations of the Buck Sweep. I’ll be going through Malzahn’s version first, as his offense is where I was first introduced to the play.

The Gus Malzahn Buck Sweep

Above is a diagram showcasing the Buck Sweep that Coach Malzahn preferences. This diagram shows the back motioning into the backfield, but the play usually starts with the RB already in the backfield. However, pay attention to is the way the play is blocked, as the blocking is where the two versions differ.

Malzahn (above) uses a crack block from his slot. In this particular play, he likes to put a TE at slot, making the crack more effective. His playside tackle and center both block down on the defensive line, while his backside tackle basically pass blocks the backside. The H-back is going to seal the playside defensive end to the inside and both guards are going to pull to the playside. The first guard is responsible for kicking the overhang defender and the second guard is the alley player (the lead blocker, essentially).

The Chip Kelly Buck Sweep

Above is the variation Chip Kelly utilized during his time with the Philadelphia Eagles. This diagram shows a lot of different things that Chip could add to the play, such as reads and bubble screens, but he often ran the base version of this Buck Sweep. Again, pay close attention to the blocking here, as this is the version Coach Taggart implements.

In this variation above, the TE is still sealing the DE to the inside and the playside tackle is still down blocking. From there, things get a little different. The backside tackle and guard are zone blocking in the direction of the run, with one of them getting to the second level (typically the tackle). This leaves the backside DE unblocked, but he should not be a factor given the direction of the play. Thus, the center and playside guard are the pullers here. The guard gets to OLB and seals, as the center leads the RB.

Here is a video of Oregon executing Chip’s version of the Buck Sweep. The blocking is executed about as well as can be, and Royce Freeman picks up a 34-yard gain, cutting off of his pulling center.

This play is how you run Power on the edge of the defense. It’s also great compliment for the naked sweeps that Oregon has implemented into their playbook as of late. With Buck Sweep, you’re not necessarily trying to stretch the defense to an extreme. Rather, you’re pinning defenders inside the box, kicking out the edge defender, and getting your RB just outside of the box with a lead blocker.

The Buck Sweep is the perfect play to exploit both speed and power within an offense. It is a great addition to the Willie Taggart Oregon Spread Offense playbook, and it sure is fun to watch.

Coach Eric Boles
Newark, Ohio

Top Photo Credit: Kevin Cline 

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