Analysis: Oregon’s Domination of SIX NFL Defensive Draft Picks

Jeremy Mosier Analysis 24 Comments

Utah finished the the season ranked No. 2 nationally in total defense by allowing only 269.2 yards per game. Many had Utah as a lock to take the Pac-12 title and slide into the No. 4 seed in the College Football Playoff. The NFL also took notice as six Ute defensive players were selected in the 2020 NFL Draft. These accolades make Oregon’s offensive performance one for the ages as the Ducks rushed for 249 yards in the Pac-12 Championship after Utah had allowed 675 total rushing yards the entire season. In this analysis we will take a look at how Oregon was able to control an elite group of NFL prospects on their way to a 37-15 win in the Pac-12 title game.

Inside Zone-(WR) Kick

There was no play more devastating to the Utah defense than the Inside Zone-Kick. In the video above, we have circled each of Utah’s NFL draft picks to illustrate how Oregon accounts for each of them. Two offensive lineman will double team Utah’s best defensive lineman while Juwan Johnson uses a running start for the “kick” portion of the run play. By motioning Johnson, Oregon is able to quickly add another blocker before Utah can add another defender. The final play above shows how Oregon adjusts by throwing to the man in motion if Utah brings more defenders to stop the run play.

Wide Zone

The “Wide Zone” was a very effective run play (above) that can have a read component (QB can keep the ball) or an RPO (QB can throw the ball). This play was utilized when Utah aligned to stop the inside run, and Oregon usually executes this play with five or six blockers. The wide zone is not to be confused with the outside zone which often has the running back looking to get outside of the offensive line. Many of Oregon’s wide zone plays assign Penei Sewell (No. 58) to help on a double team which almost always creates a lot of space for the running back to the play side or cutback lane.

Seam Route

You will see how Oregon utilized a “seam” route to generate explosive plays against Utah in the above video. These routes were utilized once Utah played only one safety deep in order to add more defenders in the box to stop the run. Oregon employs double seam routes in the video above to attack the vertical spaces between the sidelines and safety.

Justin Herbert frequently threw away from Utah’s best cornerback, No. 1 Jaylon Johnson, who was chosen in the second round of the NFL Draft and is now starting as a rookie for the Chicago Bears. A rare exception was when Oregon’s Juwan Johnson was able to come up with a huge catch against the star defensive back to set up the Ducks’ second touchdown.

Oregon had two offensive lineman drafted, with Shane Lemieux (Guard) and Jake Hanson (Center) taken in the fifth and sixth rounds, respectively. Penei Sewell was the Outland Trophy winner as the top offensive lineman in the country.

It is enjoyable to look back and appreciate the skills in the offensive trenches for 2019, as it may be a while before you see this kind of talent and experience in the offensive line for Our Beloved Ducks.

Coach Jeremy Mosier
Geneseo, Illinois
Top Photo by Tom Corno

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


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Information from UO Athletic Dept. and Ticket Office:

I got off the phone with my ticket rep today, and he confirmed that for those who chose the “default” option with their tickets and donation, meaning that it gets applied to the next football season…those monies will be applied to the 2021 football season. Even though we have a 2020 season (without fans in the stands) I wanted to be certain that we were not donating and paying for an empty seat over November and December of 2020.

(We already are with Lazy Larry as it is…)

He also confirmed that Oregon’s revenue as part of the television contract will be 35 million, but the Athletic Department deficit will still be 80 million after that!

And you will want to check in to see Saturday’s article by yours-truly, as it is an important one.


I think the discussion of Utah football needs to fall back to what opposing coaches did differently then what oregon did. As an example on offense, prior to 2019 Utah was very conservative but also very efficient(imagine similar stanford or current oregon). Run the ball early and pick up 3-5 yards per run and if you get stuck in 3rd down it should be manageable. Well if you look at what happened under Andy Ludwig last year you’ll see advanced stats showing they were way less reliable on 1st/2nd downs this created a lot more 3rd and medium and long plays. Well most teams played Utah how you would play utah in the past, close to the line.

In the past Utah was very very conservative on 3rd and long so you’d play everyone close and get the stop. whether it was Andy or someone else Utah had changed up and was throwing more deep passes on 3rd down. Oregon’s coaching had done their job and was playing with deep safeties in this situation other teams weren’t.

now when it comes to Utah defense, Utah has been known for stout run D. to the point that their worst finish since 2015 was 3rd in the conference with 130yards/game. Well most teams because of this reasoning just passed the ball. the problem is that Utah had an elite pass defense last year. Utah’s run defense is anchored by their LB’s and while i don’t think they are bad, the struggled mightily against an Oregon offense in which they attempted to either cover up the LB’s or take them out of the equation by misdirection.

This will be long as I go through a play or two from each video. In the IZ-WR Kick video in play one you circle the 4 DL, and show sewell going down to get one LB, Hanson picks up the other LB and while Juwan picks up the DE it wasn’t really necessary at that point as all lb’s and dl that can make a play are covered. Verdell Hits the whole between C and LG and the only person to make the tackle is the deep safety over 10 yards back, who misses. If verdell was faster the corner wouldn’t have caught up.

play 2 same video, safety learned his lesson and is a few yards closer. the only difference here is the RG covers one LB, the other LB comes up to the line and the Safety then hits the wrong whole(Between LG and LT) while verdel bounced to LG and center.

video two clip one, It’s just a good read by herbert, the Lbs are taken out by the Oline leaving only the safety for the tackle.

I’ll see if I can find a video or two that demonstrates this but Scalley’s Run defense is pinned on the LB’s calling the right gap and not being covered up. Oregon just did an excellent job in their linemen getting to the second level or getting the LB’s out of position.


One of the most devastating plays in football is the ability to bust huge runs going right into the teeth of the defense. Gets in their heads. Thing of beauty to watch over and over….

Verdell is a cannonball. Dude looks like a mini hulk with his pads off. He had arguably our very best offensive lines to run behind. Watching that offensive line transform into one of the best in the nation was fun to watch. Looking forward to watching us “reload”.

Excited to watch Duck football. Haven’t been that interested to watch any college ball this year. Might have to start paying attention again.

Jon Joseph

According to Pro Football Focus, the best, IMO, evaluator of CFB talent, in 2019 the Ducks did have the best O line in the country.


Outstanding breakdown of some of the key plays! Loved the videos with the graphics, really made it easier to understand.

Let’s go Ducks! Win out and see where we land.


According to Jon Joseph the best any Pac-12 team can do this year is the Fiesta Bowl. (bummer)


Great information Jeremy thanks for the work.

On the first set of plays shown as examples it was easy to see that the Utah linebacker #26 was having a bad day. Simple blocks kept him from getting involved in the play and on one play the RB simply side stepped his tackle attempt at the line. Easy-peezy

In the second set of videos Justin really shined with his passing arm. Great throws. 


Thanks for the analysis of the beatdown, coach. There were a lot of Ute believers before the game, until the Ducks blew that up. What I think we can take from that is however dissatisfied we were as fans of the Ducks offense; how it ran, and threw over Utah’s heralded D, shows how good it could be.

Jon Joseph

Thanks Coach.

PLAY BALL! Pac-12 will play a 7 game schedule in 2020, with the 1st game kicking off the weekend of 11/7/20. 5 division games, 2 cross over games. 6 teams will get the short end of the stick with only 3 home games.

There will no doubt be bumps in the road. This weekend’s Notre Dame/Wake Forest game has been COVID canceled. And Boulder County has told CU not to practice for the next 2 weeks.

Also, with the late date kick off, all heck would have to break loose for the Pac-12 champ to make the 2020 final 4. Looks like 2020 will be The Run For The Tortillas; a spot in the Fiesta Bowl.

This is great news for 2021. Shough will get experience at QB as will a new O line, before tripping to Columbus, Ohio next season. The worm will have turned in 2021, with it being tOSU that will start a relatively inexperienced QB. Replacements for guys who have opted out, will also get playing time.

Playing in 2020 does not count against any player’s eligibility. Hopefully, including the champ game and a bowl game, the Ducks will play 9 games. Brady Breeze for example could play if he so desires, in 2020 and 2021.

Keep on stonewalling the studs!


A real bummer in that the best any Pac-12 team can do this year is make the Fiesta Bowl.

Jon Joseph

Andy Staples of The Athletic, has an article up today reaming Scott for doing nothing to get the Pac-12 champ in the final 4. Also reaming him for taking bonuses in this age of COVID.

As I have noted before, Scott supposedly reports to a ‘board of directors,’ right?


Hard to take that Scott rides over the “board of directors” like he does. Wonder what he’s got on them that they let him do that.

Jon Joseph

He played tennis at Hahvahd?


Oh good, that should make him an excellent football leader. What’s with these directors, presidents, chancellors. ?? There are only two original ones remaining that hired Scott, why can’t the remaining ones get together and fire Lazy Larry. With all the bad press Larry has receive over this last year it’s really surprising he is still around. @&%*#%$&#*$


The BoD, led by Schill are unlikely to have a functional backup plan so they’re just going to roll with Lazy Larry while they bury their heads in trying to rescue their respective universities from the financial gut punch of Covid. Stanford is likely the only campus where the concerns are simply daunting rather than ominous.

Jon Sousa

So, what’s the point of taking a “pay cut” if it just made up for later with a “bonus”?

Jon Joseph

AMEN. Scott must have some interesting photos?


So, Jon, where you write that, “all heck would have to break loose for the Pac-12 champ to make the 2020 final 4”. you’re saying that nothing has changed? You’re right again about this being great for Shough and the O-line, to get experience before beating the baby Buckeyes in the Horseshoe in 2021.

Jon Joseph

30, as noted in my reply to Jon Sousa’s excellent question, a lot rides on getting 4 home games and the 2 teams Oregon draws in cross division play.

If the Pac-12 wants even a scintilla of a chance at having a team in the playoff, it can’t have Oregon playing SC or Utah. But this is the Pac-12 so the Ducks will probably draw both the Trojans and the Utes and get the shaft with 3, not 4, home games?

Jon Sousa

Are we sure the PAC is out? What if the Ducks win every game by a good margin and also convincingly beat an undefeated South team in the championship game? Remember, the Ducks were top 10 in the AP poll to start the season before they were dropped from the poll after the first week.

The jump from 10 to 4 isn’t that unbelievable. The problem is that with all the teams playing a shortened season, there aren’t as many opportunities to lose.

Of course, I would not mind at all if the Ducks went 9-0 without going to the playoffs. It would create controversy nationally, which creates interest (good for recruiting). It would also mean the Ducks would enter next year riding a 12 game winning streak.

Jon Joseph

Not out per se, but the conference champion will have to go 8-0 with a champ game win. Even then with only 7 regular season games scheduled, I think it will be extremely hard to get in unless there are cancellations all over the place in the other P5 conferences. Say OK, Ohio State and Clemson go undefeated. A real likelihood of happening. Does an 8-0 Pac-12 champ trump a 9-2 SEC champ? Does it trump 10-1 SEC runner up?

We will have a better idea of whether a south team has a shot at being undefeated, along with the Ducks, when the schedule is released. Will USC still be playing at Oregon?

We need to hope that as the defending champ Oregon gets 4 home games. There was a discussion about not counting the cross over games when determining the division winners, but this did not get approved.

I think we will see a big variance in cross over game SOS? For instance, the Ducks could get SC at home and also play at Utah? Meanwhile, CAL draws UCLA and Arizona. I’d love to see the Ducks with its S division games vs ASU at home and at Arizona?

In the SEC, the bottom teams got the difficult 2 extra game draws. In the B1G, Ohio State got off easy. In the Pac, we’ll probably see the better teams with the tougher cross over games?


Maybe I’ve misread the articles about the PAC-12 resuming play, but isn’t it a 6-game regular season, plus the conference championship game? So only one team has a chance to go 7-0? And would 7-0 be enough to go to the playoffs even if all the other conferences’ teams lost at least one game?

Jon Joseph

Great call and my bad. There will be but 1 cross over game scheduled, The weekend of the championship game, like the B1G, as I understand it, there will be 5 other games in addition to the champ game with the games seeded by team records to date.


The schedule is set to be released next week, and not surprisingly the purple thing from up north is already crying. It’s a foregone conclusion that Oregon will be one of the teams with 4 home games, and of course Oregon, “gets” to play Oregon State, they also do, but that’s irrelevant.