Oregon Football: Is Joe Moorhead Adding the New GoGo Offense?

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck Analysis

Oregon fans have heard much this off-season about the innovative, up-tempo Run-Pass-Option (RPO) offense new offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead ran at Fordham (picture above),  Penn State and Mississippi State. Yet I believe there is a possibility of even more innovation by Coach Moorhead this season in the form of the GoGo Offense, an entirely new offense that correlates with the objectives of Head Coach Mario Cristobal and Coach Moorhead.

What is the GoGo Offense?

The GoGo is a No-Huddle-Up-Tempo offense that aligns two running backs in the backfield side-by-side to one side of the quarterback. The running backs take off from this initial set in multiple ways to create favorable match-ups and open lanes conducive to a power running game. This set can be used to run ISO-type plays, with one of the running backs operating like a traditional lead fullback, or it can assign the outside running to lead-block a Speed Double-Option as we saw in the days of the Wishbone.

The GoGo often motions a slot receiver into the backfield, creating an enormous amount of action for defenders to keep track of and react to in milliseconds. Add the fatigue component of the up-tempo, and the GoGo becomes very good at inducing mistakes by the defense, leading to explosion plays by the offense.

The running backs are aligned next to the quarterback in this formation.

To counter the offensive firepower of the GoGo backfield, defenses will typically add an extra linebacker to the box to stop the power running plays, placing the wide receivers in favorable one-on-one pairings with corners and safeties. For teams that have the height, speed and athleticism at WR positions, this becomes a passing game coordinator’s dream. One receiver at Howard University averaged over 27 yards a catch due to these attractive match-ups!

The originator of this offense, Brennan Marion, was the offensive coordinator at Howard University when the biggest upset in the history of college football occurred as the Bison (a 45.5-point underdog) beat UNLV in Las Vegas in 2017, 43-40. If undersized players three time zones from home can achieve this, imagine what high-end FBS talent could generate within this offense?

Coach Marion went on to become the offensive coordinator at William & Mary when they also exploded in scoring, and he is now the wide receivers coach at the University of Hawaii under former ASU coach Todd Graham. Coach Marion’s story is extraordinary as he was a receiver in the NFL and played for Gus Malzahn at Tulsa.

The quarterback (No. 12) is in the Shotgun with the running backs beside him.

From an analysis standpoint, there is a ton to learn about the quarterback run-options, the RPOs and the passing game and much to ponder as to whether, how, and how much the GoGo might be used at Oregon. However, I will leave the x’s and o’s for Coach Jeremy Mosier and Coach Eric Boles over the next two days, as their articles will give you more information about the unique components of the GoGo offense (note it is GoGo, and not Go-Go, and this comes from Coach Brennan Marion).

In short, you will need to see more to understand, and you will receive more information over the next two days. But the objectives of the GoGo offense were succinctly stated in a podcast interview when Coach Marion was the offensive coordinator at Howard University as he explained….

“We want to run the ball. We will line up in a lot of different formations and play smash-mouth, physical, right-at-you football. We emphasize two running backs and are a power-running team. We run our plays quickly with a very fast tempo and the defense cannot tee-off on one thing because there is so much going on the backfield.

Coach Brennan Marion

Operating the GoGo requires a running quarterback, which may explain why Anthony Brown was brought in as a transfer? Certainly, Tyler Shough has shown speed equal to or superior to Justin Herbert, thus another dovetail in terms of personnel. OC Joe Moorhead is known to emphasize a running quarterback in his prior RPO offenses, thus another philosophical aspect that points to the GoGo offense aligning with Oregon’s current offensive coordinator.

Is the GoGo the Next Big Thing?

Just as Chip Kelly/Mark Helfrich stormed the conference with an up-tempo, Zone-Read Spread Offense, it is not a stretch to think that the GoGo could give the Ducks a leg-up on the Huskies and other Pac-12 opponents. It could also help offset the inexperience of Oregon’s five new offensive linemen and quarterback in 2020, while enabling the offense to score scads of points to complement the Duck Defense. This could become the new “thing” of college football.

Do not be surprised to see parts of the GoGo Offense this fall with a number of college teams, such as Coach Marion’s Hawaii Rainbows. Plays in the GoGo were run last year by Ole Miss and Oklahoma, although they had not yet installed the full offense. NFL teams have been gathering information on it, although the Bears and Cardinals did run plays out of the GoGo in 2019.

Above is another formation variation as the two running backs are offset a stride and forward of the quarterback.

Where is This Coming from Mr. FishDuck?

I do not know for certain that Oregon is implementing it this fall, as this is not like 2010 when I announced Oregon’s new 3-4 defense and had it confirmed by defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti. It created quite a buzz online that summer until Coach Kelly finally admitted to the Oregon media in August of that season that, yes, the Ducks had moved to a new 3-4 defense, a fact that had gone undetected by the entire Oregon Media prior to my announcement.

This is also not like the 50 (that’s right, fifty) Oregon Spread Offense Instructional videos I created in 2011-2012 that have been viewed nearly two million times. As fans we all learned together about the Kelly/Helfrich offense and Nick Aliotti defense from those videos, but, again, they were created after-the-fact.

Cyrus Habibi-Likio could be an ideal running back in the GoGo offense.

I have no such confirmation this time.  Truth be told, it is educated conjecture on my part. But philosophically, it fits with Coaches Cristobal and Moorhead on so many levels. They certainly had a significant introduction to it when they interviewed Coach Marion this last spring for the Oregon wide receiver coach position that ultimately went to Coach Bryan McClendon.

If the Ducks implement parts of the GoGo offense, then at minimum it will increase the defensive preparation time needed for Oregon opponents by a large factor. When GoGo offense prep time is added to the Duck Pistol and Shotgun prep time for foes coming to Autzen? I call that “good-or-good,” and it will be fun to watch for.

“Oh, how we love to ponder about Our Beloved Ducks!”

Charles Fischer  (Mr. FishDuck)
Eugene, Oregon
Top Photo from Twitter

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



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