Moorhead Offense: Oregon’s Split Zone RPO

Coach Eric Boles Analysis

Coach Joe Moorhead is known all throughout the coaching ranks as a master schemer and architect of one of the smartest RPO based offenses in the nation. He has designed an offense with the Oregon Ducks that allows them to keep the physical style of run game they’re known for, while adding another layer. The RPO system that Coach Moorhead has installed allows any of his pass options to be attached to any of the run game. This has made Oregon’s rush attack that much more explosive this season.

The Split Zone RPO

One of the packaged plays that the Ducks have used to huge success this year is the Split Zone RPO. The play takes a simple play, the Split Zone, and adds an extra dimension to it, which keeps defenses from bearing down on the run. But, when they do, the offense has the ability to make them pay for it.

In the Split Zone, the offensive line is going to block Inside Zone in the direction of the play. If the lineman is covered by a defender, including being shaded to either side, he is going to block that guy. If the OL is uncovered, he will look to create a double team to the next playside gap or move up to the second level and block a linebacker. The double team blocks are meant to be carried until the second level defenders attack, prompting one of the linemen to come off of the double team and take him on.

The running back in Oregon’s version of Split Zone is going to take a playside jab step and head straight downhill towards the line of scrimmage. This path by the RB allows him to see how the blocks are unfolding, and gives him the opportunity to decide which A-gap he’s going to press.
The Our Beloved Ducks Forum is BACK! Come get the links to Oregon Sports articles, the press releases from the Oregon Athletic Department and the news from your fellow Duck fans. It is the only safe place on the web for Duck Discussion, so join us over there!
The difference between the Split Zone and this particular RPO version of the play, is what the tight end does, and the option that it gives the quarterback. Instead of blocking the backside end, the TE will continue on to run a banana route, or a speed out, behind blocking wide receivers. The option comes into play as the QB watches to see what the backside outside linebacker does. If the LB stays upfield, or widens to play the TE’s route, the QB will hand the ball to the RB. If the LB crashes in on the run, the QB will pass to the TE. There is also a version where the QB has an option to become a run threat, making it a triple option of sorts.

In the clip above, you can see that the OLB stays home which prompts the quarterback to hand the ball off. The offensive line does a nice job of picking up all of the defenders that they need to, including a scraping linebacker, and CJ Verdell makes it, almost unimpeded, to the end zone.

The Split Zone RPO is a perfect example of the type of offense that Oregon continues to evolve into. It has a physical downhill running game combined with a passing element to keep defenses on their toes. And it’ll be exciting to see how it evolves even further.

Coach Eric Boles
Newark, Ohio
Top Photo Credit: Twitter

Come join us in the new Our Beloved Ducks Forum, where you get the news about Oregon Sports and is the safest place on the web to read and post your opinions!

New 2024 FishDuck Publishing Schedule….

During the off-season the publishing schedule will consist of articles on Mondays and Tuesdays. Do keep checking as new articles could be published during the week when a writer has something to say.

In mid-August of 2024, we will go back to the seven-days-a-week of articles during the football season as we did in the football season of 2023.

The Our Beloved Ducks Forum (OBD) is where we we discuss the article above and many more topics, as it is so much easier in a message board format over there.  At the free OBD forum we will be posting Oregon Sports article links, the daily Press Releases from the Athletic Department and the news coming out every day.

Our 33 rules at the free OBD Forum can be summarized to this: 1) be polite and respectful, 2) do not tell anyone what to think, feel or write, and 3) no reference of any kind to politics. Easy-peasy!

OBD Forum members….we got your back.  No Trolls Allowed!