Sequentials … the Sequel: Marcus Arroyo Grows Up

Mike West Analysis

If ever there was a time for Marcus Arroyo to shed his image of being predictable, the second half of last Saturday’s game was it. Justin Herbert’s Helter-Skelter first half performance last week cast a chill through living rooms of Duck fans across the nation. Memories of flame-outs in Pullman and Salt Lake City last year reared their ugly heads as Herbert mimicked those awful images of yesteryear.

Who out there thought Arroyo was the man who would architect a comeback victory?

Respect the Power of Sequential Plays

Arroyo has an extensive library of sequential plays. Coach Eric Boles, Writer Joshua Whitted and yours truly have written about the types of sequential plays Arroyo has used this year. The most effective in Arroyo’s arsenal is the Run-Pass Option (RPO). Why? Because it combines a core play with a sequential play.

Let’s look at the first play of the clinching drive near the end of the game.

Arroyo calls an Inside Zone Read (RPO) play above. Watch the linebackers attack the line of scrimmage, leaving the middle of the field wide open. The safety is too far from the action to defend the pass. The result is an explosive, 20-yard gain. If the linebackers stay back, Herbert will hand off the ball (the core play). Since the linebackers attacked, Herbert pulled the ball and completed the pass (the sequential play). The defense will determine if the play will be a core play or a sequential play. That is why the RPO is so effective.

More importantly, the play action aspect of this RPO Play (above) looked similar to the RPO that resulted in Oregon’s first touchdown. When Arroyo calls this Inside Zone Read run two plays later, it results in another explosive play — this time a run for 20 yards because the linebackers reacted slowly out of concern the play would be another pass.

That particular series was an eight-play, 75-yard drive consisting of six runs and two passes. The first play opened up room for the running back to find holes on six consecutive runs due to the success of that particular play. That is why sequential plays are so important.

Something’s Happening Here

Herbert is deadly when Arroyo calls RPO plays. I believe RPO plays are so effective because Herbert reads quickly, and he is more fundamentally sound throwing the ball on RPO plays.

Arroyo wisely set his players up to succeed last Saturday in Seattle. He identified what was working for the offense after implementing some very good adjustments coming out of halftime. Arroyo also timed the use of his sequential plays better, resulting in more explosive plays. One of his best adjustments, however, was simplifying the offense on that critical go-ahead touchdown drive. Did anyone predict Arroyo would call that fourth touchdown pass?

The predictably unpredictable Marcus Arroyo. Man, lemon-lime Kool-Aid tastes so good.

Mike West
Las Vegas, Nevada                                                                                                                                                   Top Photo by Tom Corno


Phil Anderson, the Volunteer editor for this article, is a trial lawyer in Bend Oregon.



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