Blast-From-the-Past! Fresno State and Tim DeRuyter

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck Editorials

It is hard to believe that it has been nine years since Tim DeRuyter came to Autzen Stadium as a head coach (before he joined Cal), when he brought his Fresno State Bulldogs to Eugene to play Chip, Marcus and Oregon’s Spread Offense in 2012. Oregon raced to a 35-3 lead with 1:40 left in the second quarter, and this simply looked like another Oregon blitz that buries an opponent before they can get their bearings.

The Bulldogs made great halftime adjustments on defense, something Chip Kelly was quick to credit Fresno State coach Tim DeRuyter (Oregon’s current Defensive Coordinator) with doing. Oregon would only score one touchdown in the second half and would have the lead closed to 35-19 with 9:40 remaining in the fourth quarter, as FSU quarterback Derek Carr was doing damage to the Duck defense. Remember how you heard about DeRuyter’s defensive tactics? They were on full display, as the Bulldogs had three sacks in the game and eleven tackles-for-loss.

De’Anthony Thomas ran for a long touchdown in mid-second quarter.

The most painful part was DeRuyter’s defense creating turnovers (as he is known for) as the Ducks lost three fumbles in the second half. The speed of Oregon threw Fresno State off in the first half, but the Bulldogs outscored Oregon in the second half. It was frustrating for Oregon fans, but it demonstrated that nine years ago, DeRuyter knew how to turn a defense around in his first year as head coach.

FishDuck writer Nathan Roholt noted how everyone was struggling with the correct pronunciation of Marcus Mariota, as it was the redshirt freshman’s second game is all. He wrote at the time…

“Marcus Mariota (or is it Mario-tawww!?) followed up his spectacular first game with a rocky performance more expected from a redshirt freshman–taking three sacks and losing two fumbles and at times appearing off-target.” 

Who would know that nine years later, both quarterbacks in that game would be teammates in the NFL with the Las Vegas Raiders!

Fresno State has a history of making it difficult on the Ducks. Oregon won the first overtime game in NCAA history at Fresno back in the 90s, and later would barely survive another overtime game at Autzen with the Bulldogs. They had a extraordinary running back that day, and I remember fuming about how good that player was as he just about won the game himself. Michael Pittman went on to a superb NFL career, and if the name is familiar, it is because he is the father of Oregon receiver Mycah Pittman.

Glad this Pittman is on our side!

The videos below are all the same, but I placed them so you will not have to move up-and-down as you read and view. My friends, these are the highlights from that game as well some plays from the Tim DeRuyter defense. The video is nine years old and looks it, but it is still fun anyway to see our heroes in action.


This first play above is a Straddled Triple Option that I did an instructional video of right here, and in the play–note the twin backs formation, (makes it easy to go either direction) and how at the mesh Mariota is seeing that No. 20 of FSU is “sitting” thus Marcus hands off to Barner on the Inside Zone. This play has an Inside Zone going to the left and a Speed Double-Option to the right and which option selected is predicated on the reads of the defender. Kenjon Barner No. 24 gets a tough seven yards on this, but the key is that the defense knows they have stay true to their gaps on this side and defend them.

The second play above at 16 seconds is the another Straddled Triple Option, but time the defender being “read,” No. 27 leans inside and starts to chase the running back, thus Marcus pulls the ball and moves to the right in the Speed Double Option. Note Mariota approaches the outside defender to option and when the defender commits to the QB, then MM makes the pitch to De’Anthony Thomas who was the other running back in the formation.

The blocks on the outside are epic, as is the extra gear that DAT has to score the TD. In the replay–watch the left defensive end move inside and look at all the white jerseys staying on the right side to defend the Inside Zone, thus fewer defenders on the other side.

The third play above at 59 seconds is astonishing from De’Anthony Thomas; it is a standard Outside Zone Read and while the defenders were looking to string this outside–DAT plants and rockets off. Note the tackler coming up behind and he moved to his right at the precise moment–after the game he admitted he “felt” the defender, the safety No. 18 behind him. Whew!

The fourth play above at 1:46 is the third option of the Straddled Triple Option, where the quarterback keeps the ball! What a great play … too bad we never see it again.

The fifth play above at 2:13 is another standard Outside Zone Read, but Barner finds a cut-back lane due to the over-pursuit of the defenders to the outside. Next play he scores!

The next play above at 2:35 is another OZR, but gets nothing and surprisingly the ball comes out and fortunately goes out of bounds. The play after that you want to watch closely to see the Tim DeRuyter defense in action. Note how the defender is actively looking to punch the ball out and thus there were two fumbles back-to-back?

The next play above at 3:17 is a Coach DeRuyter Safety Blitz that hurts to watch!  Can you lip-read Mark Helfrich at the end?

Let’s end this with a sweet touchdown at 3:46 above as it was an Inside Zone to the right, but Barner could see the defensive linemen slant to his right,(their left) and in milliseconds made the cut to “bend” to a touchdown. (Remember when we covered the “bend” right here?) Note the defensive line slant really stand out in the replay. Really superb vision and running by Barner!

Do you have memories of that game? Thoughts about what you are looking forward to seeing with Coach DeRuyter’s defense?

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

Charles Fischer  (Mr. FishDuck)
Eugene, Oregon
Top Photo by Kevin Cline

Next Article is tomorrow!

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