The Oregon Ducks offense has been consistently good at running the ball through the first half of the 2021 football season. They are one of just two teams to rush for at least 180 yards in each of their games while averaging 210.3 yards per outing. They have done so with a great stable of running backs, and an offensive scheme by Coach Joe Moorhead that puts those backs in favorable situations.
The Speed Option has emerged as a go-to play for the Ducks during Coach Moorhead’s short tenure. They have gone to it in a multitude of ways including from the Pistol, from the Shotgun, as a Freeze option and now with something else added to it: The Fly Sweep Threat. As the Ducks use more and more of the Fly Sweep, they have started to add that wide receiver Fly Sweep motion to the Speed Option play.
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Against the California Golden Bears, Coach Moorhead unveiled his most recent wrinkle for the classic play. It’s no secret that Oregon has been quite successful when using the Fly Sweep this season, and opponents are watching for it. To take advantage of this reputation, the Ducks are using that motion to trick defenses and get linebackers flowing in the wrong direction.
After completing the fake to the wide receiver going right in the Fly Sweep motion, the rest of the play is executed to the left the way that the Speed Option is usually executed. The offensive line is going to block Inside Zone towards the playside in this case. Linemen that are covered, whether head up or shaded to either side, is going to take on the defender covering him. Those OL who are uncovered are going to look to help the next playside lineman in a double team before heading to the second level of the defense.
That is true for all except the playside offensive tackle. Because the EMOLS, or end-man-on-line-of-scrimmage, is going to be read by the quarterback, the tackle doesn’t need to block him. This allows him to work back with his line mate on a double team before moving on to seal off the second level defender.
From here, the quarterback and running back will enter what’s called pitch relationship. This pitch relationship usually has the the RB maintain a distance of one yard back and four yards wide from the QB. You’ll notice in the diagram above that the RB comes from the backside of the play to get into pitch relationship. This is to make the timing work as the QB has to fake the Fly Sweep first. It’s much like the timing of Triple Option, and that’s even a play that could be used in the future from this same look.
In the clip above, Anthony Brown (No.13) makes a great read on the EMOLS. The threat of the fly sweep has already swayed the decision of the LBs and the EMOLS to stay home to take away the threat of Brown. Travis Dye (No.26) gets the first down and more behind a great downfield blocks by the receivers.
The read on the EMOLS is superb because this is the exact spot where Brown has gotten himself into some trouble this year by depending too much on his own athleticism and trying to fake the defender. I believe this shows that he’s a very coachable player, as I’m sure the decision-making is something they worked on.
Every week it seems as though Oregon finds different ways to enhance their base plays. As I eluded to above, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this look become a true Triple Option down the road. Or, a play-action pass. There really are a multitude of things that the Ducks could do to a defense from this single look.
Coach Eric Boles
Top Photo Credit: Twitter
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Eric resides in Central Ohio, just outside the capital city of Columbus. He is a former offensive assistant and return game coordinator for the Ohio State – Newark/Central Ohio Technical College Titans football program.
He is an OSU-N graduate, having completed a Bachelor of Arts program in psychology.
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