Oregon Keeps Defenses Guessing With Fake Screen Play

Coach Eric Boles Analysis

If there’s one thing that this Oregon Ducks offense does better than any before, it’s the screen game. Not only has Coach Marcus Arroyo designed some very effective screen plays, but he also has an uncanny feel for calling them at just the right time. This kind of success leads to even more effective constraint plays.

Multiple times this season, Oregon has gone to a fake screen/go concept after torching defenses with a variety of screen passes, and against the Arizona State Sun Devils, it emerged again.

Fake Screen/Go Concept

The fake screen/go concept (above) is exactly what it says it is. After receiving the snap, the quarterback pump fakes to the wideout running a “now” screen and then fires the ball downfield to the slot on a go route. It’s really that simple, but it’s quite devastating for opposing defenses.

In the case that the defense doesn’t bite, the Ducks also run a kind of smash/seam concept to the other side. On that side of the field, the outside receiver runs a slant and sit while the slot goes downfield on the seam. The first read on this concept is the seam as the offense tries to stretch the field.

Of course, the smash/seam becomes unnecessary when the fake screen and go works as well as it has for the Ducks this season. Above, Oregon runs the play to perfection against ASU in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game. You’ll notice how Johnny Johnson III sells the illusion that he’s blocking for the now screen before releasing downfield. Just as impressive is the pump fake from Justin Herbert, and the act of a leaping grab by Josh Delgado.

All of these pieces come together in a perfectly orchestrated play for six points.

The cool thing is that this is all set up by what has been an extraordinarily effective screen game by the Ducks this season. I can’t remember a time when the Ducks have used wide receiver screens as often, or as well. And when a team runs them as successfully as Oregon has, the constraint plays off of them become easy money.

Coach Eric Boles
Newark, Ohio                                                                                                                                                                              Top Photo Credit: Irina Filenko

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