Over the last few weeks, the Oregon Ducks have taken a huge step forward with their ground game. In the first four games of the season, the Ducks averaged 160 rushing yards per game. In the following four they’ve averaged 240 yards per game. During that recent stretch, Coach Marcus Arroyo has implemented a more robust set of run plays.
Against the Washington State Cougars, the Ducks rushed for a sweet 306 yards and introduced a new toss play in the process.
Oregon’s toss play is interesting because it combines two types of blocking schemes. Traditionally, a type of gap scheme is used to block for the toss play. That scheme usually has a number of linemen pulling to the outside while the rest down-block. Arroyo’s toss play implements a hybrid blocking scheme, combining a pulling lineman with outside zone blocking.
Notice how the tight end (diagrammed above) starts out wide and then motions in tight. The TE motion isn’t necessary to the toss play, but it gives the defense a little window dressing to look at. It’s also a look similar to some of Oregon’s inside runs and can thus be used to gauge the defense’s reaction to an inside run call.
At the snap of the ball, the motioning TE and the WR are going to get a double team block on the overhang defender. They will carry him as far as they can before one has to break off and seal another defender to the inside. The key to the scheme is sealing as many defenders to the inside as possible.
The left tackle is tasked with pulling to the outside and getting a kickout block on the corner. This kickout combined with the seal blocks inside is what creates the hole for the running back. The interesting thing here is that the rest of the offensive line is running an outside zone blocking scheme to the playside. The backside defensive end is left unblocked, allowing more linemen to get to the second level of the defense. This technique is viable because there is no way that the backside defender catches the RB on the toss.
In the clip above, notice the kickout on the corner by left tackle Penei Sewell (No. 58). In most situations, the defender is going to be overmatched by the OT, and that is certainly the case here, as Sewell essentially ingests the corner. The WR and TE create good seals and open up a nice hole for CJ Verdell, and the rest of the OL does a great job of getting a hat on a hat and getting to the second level of the defense. The RB at this point has only the safety to contend with, and Verdell breaks a tackle en route to a 10-yard gain.
I’ve been wanting to see a toss play introduced to the offense for some time now. I think it’s a beautiful counter to a number of Oregon’s inside run plays while keeping the physical nature of the rest of the ground game.
Coach Eric Boles
Newark, OhioTop Photo by Kevin Cline
Phil Anderson, the FishDuck.com Volunteer editor for this article, is a trial lawyer in Bend Oregon.
Eric Boles was born and raised in Central Ohio, 25 minutes outside of the capital of Columbus. He was raised in a University of Michigan sports household, but at a young age, converted over to the Oregon Ducks. Eric has a degree in Psychology from The Ohio State University, and had started a second degree in Middle Childhood Education. He is also the author of one, soon to be more, children’s book.
Eric had served as an assistant wide receivers coach for the Central Ohio Technical College football program. Now he assists with the football camp provided by his local YMCA’s day camp.
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