The Moorhead Offense: Oregon’s Newly Revised Shotgun DIVE Play

Coach Eric Boles Analysis 13 Comments

Prior to the 2020 football season it was unclear whether there would be any games played at all. The lack of clarity and the restrictions placed on practice once a season was confirmed, made the install of a brand new offense all that more difficult. Coach Joe Moorhead was tasked with implementing his RPO-heavy offense through Zoom meetings and a handful of in-person practices ahead of the season opening. All things considered, the Oregon Ducks offense was efficient in many areas.

Now that Coach Moorhead has had an entire spring, and will have an entire fall camp, more of his offense is expected to show up in 2021. The scheme is shaping up to be a good mix of the Pistol formation favored by Coach Mario Cristobal and the Shotgun that Oregon fans are more accustomed to. One of the disadvantages of the Shotgun is that its alignment has been known to tip off which direction a run play would be going. This has forced offensive coaches to create constraint plays, including Coach Moorhead.

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The Oregon Ducks Dive

One of the new constraint plays utilized by the Oregon offensive coordinator is a same side Inside Zone scheme. Because that can be a mouthful, I will refer to this as the new Dive play going forward. The Dive play gives the Oregon offense the ability to run the Inside Zone in either direction without having to flip the running back, and in turn tipping off the defense. Like the majority of Coach Moorhead’s run plays, it falls firmly into the RPO camp. (Run-Pass-Option)

The play is blocked exactly like the standard Inside Zone. If an offensive lineman is covered up by a defender, he is going to block that defender. (An offensive lineman is considered covered if he has a man head up on him or shaded to either side) If the lineman is uncovered, he will step to the next playside gap and either help a line-mate with a double team or climb to the second level and get the linebacker.

The running back’s aiming point is the same as the Inside Zone, though his path getting there is slightly different. Instead of crossing the quarterbacks face, he will take a jab step toward the quarterback and go downhill, aiming at the playside guard’s inside leg. Based on how the blocks express themselves, the RB can either press that frontside A-gap or look for the cutback.

What makes this Dive a constraint play off the Inside Zone, is how with the Inside Zone, the running back is targeting the A-Gap on the opposite side of where he lined up, whereas with the Dive, the RB is targeting the A-Gap on the same side he lined up. Hence the RB path and blocking match, thus defenses cannot “know” for certain which A-Gap Oregon is attacking by where the running back lines up.

In the clip above from the Spring Game, you’ll notice that there is a screen attached to the run, making it an RPO. Because of the way that Coach Moorhead tags pass concepts to his runs, the “now” screen pass option isn’t always the second choice for the quarterback in this play. The Ducks are able to attach any of their RPO concepts to any run in the playbook. This allows the offense to have a lot of variety in play selection while keeping things simple.

The two plays used in tandem makes preparation all the more difficult for defenses, and yet you sense so much more of the Joe Moorhead offense will be unveiled this season. Fun for us to watch for, and a headache for the conference defensive coordinators!

Coach Eric Boles
Newark, Ohio
Top Photo Credit: Truong Nguyen

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Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Thanks Coach Boles, as this is something that was needed in the offense; a variation of the most foundation play of the Oregon Offense, the Inside Zone, to confuse opponents. Now, when the Shotgun formation is lined up–no assurance as to which “A-Gap” Oregon is attacking!

Everyone–do know that a couple more analysis articles will be coming out over the next two weeks concerning the Joe Moorhead offense!

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J Duck

Love these little articles. Triple Quack Day to start out July. Go Ducks!


Nice to have the reasons and subtle differences of a constraint play explained.

Winning the unglamorous battles in the trenches will probably determine just how far this team will go this year. Top-ranked teams are expected to move the chains in short yardage situations. Execution by the OL is so important on the quick hitting run plays.

We have an OL that has the potential to be one of the best in the country. Not that I want summer to be over, but I can’t wait to see this team play.

Santa Rosa Duck

Thanks Coach Eric, even a slow person like me can pick up the nuances when you explain them.

64 Days to Kickoff! GO DUCKS!


Thanks, Coach. Brilliant as always.

Lou Farnsworth

As always Coach, an outstanding “X’s and O’s” presentation! Thank you so much for what you bring to our FishDuck table.

Questions. So the Dive is a constraint play to the Inside Zone read, and with a screen pass attached, (is the screen always playside?).
In addition to this Dive, are there any other constraint plays that Coach Moorhead uses specifically to take advantage of the defense shading towards where the Inside Zone would normally go? Such as a Fly Sweep going in the opposite direction?


Thanks for the article. Good coaching points on footpath!

It’s nice to be able to tag all runs with an RPO. Fantastic!

Jon Joseph

3 new ‘commits’ yesterday. Keep it up Mario!


The Ducks recruiting class opened the day ranked 20th in the nation. They closed the day with the 9th ranked recruiting class in the nation!

Not a bad day at all. Go Ducks!


Rivals links just to provide info.

WR Nicholas Anderson 3*
IOL Cameron Williams 3*
OT Michael Wooten 3*

Anderson and williams are both out of texas and are likely due for pretty big jumps in the recruiting. Anderson has a total of 27 offers, while Williams has a total of 31 offers. In both cases it is likely we beat out some big names to secure their commitment. Notre dame for Anderson and Texas for Williams.

Wooten on the other hand only has 4 offers at this time. So the staff must have found something that they really like. maybe one of you more talented people can watch his huddle and find what oregon is looking at.

Jon Joseph

Thanks UD. I was hoping someone less tech-challenged would come with the info.


I like this (as much as I can like an A-gap dive). Thanks Coach for drawing it up and explaining its nuances and the strategy.

Will the 2021 offense be more explosive? Will the RB’s produce significantly improved stats? Is this one of many new wrinkles we will see?

Go Ducks!

Jon Joseph

Thanks Coach. Always enlightening.