Oregon Football: Speed KILLS, or it KILLS YOU

VandownbytheriverDuck Editorials 19 Comments

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There once was a time when nobody used tempo to beat their opponents.

Chip Kelly changed all of that and put teams on their heels and exposed any and every mental miscue, miscommunication, alignment, or mental error made by defenses. Quite simply he forced other teams to be so mentally prepared and ready that they started faking injuries to buy more time.

Where has that gone? Our up-tempo isn’t fast any longer. Is our offense these last years not capable of forcing the issue? Are the Ducks no longer capable of playing fast?

We see so many other teams running up-tempo offense with success, but somehow our up-tempo never ever reaches the alacrity of Chip Kelley’s teams. What gives?

Speed kills. Tempo demands mental proficiency from every defense on every play. Is our reduced speed and tempo killing us?

VandownbytheriverDuck
Great-Wide-Open, California
Top Photo by Kevin Cline

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DonealDuck

Even worse, the Oregon defense, in Avalos’ second year, had become unable, on many plays, to be set up and aligned in time. Last year’s defense against a CK offense would have been totally lost half the time.
I noticed that part of TD’s intro as new DC was ‘simplification and faster communication’ – I doubt i was the only one noticing last year.
Go Ducks

FishIceCream

I’d wade in by just saying that I think the strategic side of football has always been an action – reaction relationship between offense and defense. Kelly is in general a great offensive strategist, and we had him as a coach at the perfect moment when his innovation caught everyone else flat footed.

In general, my impression is that the defense has caught up at this point, in terms of how they handle substitutions and the personnel. Even at the pro level, you see many teams going lighter; either they are in a true nickle or one of their linebackers is a player who would have been a strong safety 20 years ago, and the other safety position is given to a guy who can cover well enough that he might have been a corner back.

I also get the impression that some teams are starting to initiate the pendulum swing back the other way on offense – if most teams are running an up-tempo, three receiver offense, we will run an old school offense and get an edge because the defense is not used to practicing against that, and may have to substitute out their regular players to match up.

I am no expert, so maybe that is all poppycock!

In any case, thinking back to the Pac-12 championship game, it seemed like there were long stretches of the game in which the Ducks were running what I’d call a “smart tempo” offense.

They get out quickly into position and then hold there, ready to go but maybe going through check offs or getting a modified play from the sideline. This forces the defense to get set up, because the ball might be snapped at any moment.

From what I saw last season and my reading, I think that Moorhead is a great offensive coach, and I’d like to see more of that style going forward. It’s not that you are going full speed all the time, but you are putting the defense in the position of having to play as if you will be running up tempo.

Maybe I am just being a little curmudgeony, but if he’s allowed to run the offense like that, I think it will be great. Unpredictable is the key.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

As I wrote right here, college football and even Nick Saban now acknowledges that you must score boatloads of points to win. The average of the Ohio State, Clemson and Alabama in the past three years was averaging scoring 45 points a game. The last two National Champions averaged 48 points a game.

IMHO…Cristobal’s strategy will not win a NC in today’s climate. Oregon scoring an average of 30.70 points over the last three years may win you a Pac-12 Conference championship, but you will not win in the Playoffs.

Drake

Running uptempo can definitely create advantages for an offense. We have seen it happen at a very high level. While it puts pressure on opposing defenses, it also puts pressure on our defense as well. It works very well when the offense is being efficient and moving the football.

An uptempo offense by itself doesn’t win games, it requires elite athletes at the skill positions, and a solid defense. With that said, it seems like the Ducks could be a solid candidate to run it very well.

Being able to run an offense at an uptempo pace is important for many reasons. An elite defense is not going to be caught flat footed by an uptempo offense for an entire game. However, being able to change tempo at any moment can create temporary chaos for that same defense.

We should definitely have uptempo as a part of the offensive arsenal.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Anything Chip did well, Cristobal does not want to implement. There is an established pattern of that philosophy with Mario, and the institutional knowledge of running the No-Huddle and the original Oregon Spread Offense has been lost at Oregon.

Interesting take, and I think you are spot on to the trend. This is Cristobal’s team, system, and he has control. There is strength in believing in yourself, and not following others. The problem is when you don’t learn from others, and move forward.

The spring game was troubling with some of the same patterns. He does such a great job with the O-line. His insistence on impact play calling isn’t the Peter principle in play, just a lack of willingness to let others have control. If Moorhead struggles in certain situations where Cristobal’s tendencies seem to take over it will be a very concerning trend indeed.

Logger29

Agree, the pinball machine scoring monster that was the Duck offense or at least the style in which it was done is probably over. It seems clear to me Mario is building a complete team on both sides of the ball, stocked 2 to three deep with talent.

Mario, I believe, wants a defense which forces lots of three and outs and/or turnovers. He wants a competent offense that uses the short field the defense creates to put up points behind a punishing line. Mario is pretty old school and that style of play beats teams down physically. Points from long clock eating drives start to pile up in the second half when physically beaten opponents cry “no mas, no mas.”

I sure hope it works out. If not the people who hired him may be the ones hollering “no mas!”

ptdduck

Completely agree. Furthermore, we live in an era of creating big plays through the passing game and we haven’t embraced it. It looks like we have the receivers to make plays and I really hope JoMo has the quarterback and the freedom to attack teams. We need to be much more aggressive on offense.

Santa Rosa Duck

Thanks for the article Mr. Vandownbytheriver. Neil Young would recognize you.

I think this is the year that Mario brings it all together. Defense, a wide open offense and a big upgrade in special teams. GO DUCKS!

Notalot

Now. That’s what I’m talkin’ about. Burner speed.

BTW, I attended the Southern Grand National Drag races a few weeks ago. 325 mph 1/4 mile in 3.xxx secs. Speed kills. Funny cars doing 320 mph!

ptdduck

This question was equally relevant about 4 years ago. We’re a defensive oriented team and the offense is more about controlling the clock and playing physical football. We live in the golden era of passing except we haven’t embraced it.

Logger29

Hey, sorry to post a none related topic, but how about 12 straight men’s conference track and field championships!

Baseball on verge of a conference championship as well!

Women could make some noise in the softball tournament.

In a generally crummy year caused by this awful virus Oregon athletics (even though only viewed from afar) have brought me a lot of joy.
A big thanks to the Duck coaches and athletes.

PittDuck

Logger29, I believe that the men of Oregon secured its 14th-straight Pac-12 title this year! Speed definitely kills!

Notalot

Logger29. I’m still clamoring for Johnson-Cristobal and Hayward-Autzen double team recruiting of 2-sport Jaguar speedsters. Oregon deserves the fastest skill position athletes.

Mallard

The days when a fast football player could contribute to the Ducks track program are long gone. The track program has vastly upgraded its sprints athletes to the point they need to be a conference contender to contribute. The training of the track sprinters to reach these current levels is so great an athlete could not be part-time at track and be a real contributor. The scholarship of a football/track athlete would have to come from the football program and the main time and training would have to be directed to football. The strength training for football would impede the ability to perform at a contributor level in track.

Oregon could not realistically tell a recruit they could be a major contributor in in both football and track. Track could agree to let a football player try, but it would not really be worth the track programs time and effort.

Haywarduck

Tyreek Hill and this guy? They’re out there, it is just getting the football program to look for speed again.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rsYnNXK5qc4

Logger29

Interesting and accurate observation. Kelly and his staff introduced a conditioning program unlike any other in college football. I got a kick out off watching line men run the basketball weave during warmups.

Certainly playing fast forced defenses to think fast. Playing fast added the element of physical fatigue as early as the first quarter to defenses problems. Often the Ducks would run the same play two or three times in a row. The defense knew what was coming but was too gassed to stop it.

Kelly’s “blurt” offense made defensive depth a must and may have lead to the evolution of the linebacker position from the big run stopper to a hybrid safety type.

All things change. I’m excited to see what comes next.

Haywarduck

Great point, and track speed kills too. We need to up our overall speed program to, again, shake up the rest of the college football world.