The Oregon Offense: The Freeze Option

Coach Eric Boles Analysis

After a  tough week one win against the Fresno State Bulldogs, the Oregon Ducks look to build off of the offense’s strong points. Though the Bulldogs are an extremely well-prepared football team, the Ducks often made things more difficult on themselves than needed, as they kept things as vanilla as a spring game. That was actually by design as the Ducks prepare to play the Ohio State Buckeyes, and wanted as little of their offense on tape as possible.

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The Freeze Option

When Oregon needed to put the game away, they turned to a wrinkle that Coach Joe Moorhead introduced last season; the Freeze Option. The Freeze Option is designed to look like an Inside Zone (Out of the Pistol formation) at the snap of the ball to “freeze” the defense, and then quickly becomes a Speed Option. The Ducks used this play to produce their longest run of the day against the Bulldogs, and to seal the victory.

With the Freeze Option, the offensive line will block in the same way that they would if the offense was running the Inside Zone. In the diagram above, they are blocking the Inside Zone to the right. If an OL is covered by a defender, he will block that defender. The uncovered OL are going to target the next playside gap, and either help the covered OL or climb to the second level of the defense.

At the snap of the ball the running back is going to jab and take a step downhill as if he’s coming for the handoff, right before getting wide and into pitch relationship with the quarterback. The QB momentarily opens to, again, mimic the look of a handoff in the Inside Zone. After a beat, he runs downhill, attacking the backside defensive end. The defensive end is the read key. If he stays home to take away the QB run, the ball is pitched to the RB. If the defensive end widens to take away the RB, the QB will run the ball inside of him.

In the clip above, you can see how the mimicking of the Inside Zone keeps the defense at home long enough for the offense to block who they need to. Anthony Brown (No. 13) gives a little bit of a pitch fake, getting the defensive end to bite just enough to allow him to take it to the house.

Though the Oregon Ducks didn’t show many wrinkles in their week one win, I fully expect them to show much more at the Horseshoe, and the Freeze Option is sure to be a part of it.

Coach Eric Boles
Newark, Ohio
Top Photo Credit: Twitter

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