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.
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.
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
Top Photo by Tom Corno
Phil Anderson, the FishDuck.com Volunteer editor for this article, is a trial lawyer in Bend Oregon.
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