UCLA GameDay Thread: Watch for Chip Kelly’s Best Play

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck Editorials

This is the official GameDay thread for discussing the game with UCLA before it begins, during and after the game ends. Yours-truly will have a game reaction article on Sunday, and an Opinion-Editorial article on Monday, so let’s have some fun pondering it all. I regard this game to be a tough match-up for the Ducks because of how well the Bruins run the ball.

A challenge for Oregon, (as noted by Jon Joseph in the forum) how the UCLA weakness in the secondary is not something the Ducks can easily exploit. We simply have not been throwing the football downfield as effectively as all would like to see, thus I see issues in keeping up with the scoring of the Bruins. A big part of that difficulty for the Ducks is one of the fundamental plays of Coach Chip Kelly‘s playbook that he scored reams of touchdowns with when he was at Oregon.

The Outside Zone Read is a base play, but when executed well, is lethal in it’s attack in addition to the spin-off or constraint plays that can come from it. The Bruins have some tight ends that can make-hay off the play-action series that Chip devised at Oregon, which makes stopping it that much harder. Coach Kelly does not believe in a big playbook, but doing what you run extremely well and knowing the defensive strategies that his team will face to counter this play.

Above is the instructional video I created about the Outside Zone Read just over ten years ago, and very little has changed. It is all in the details and the execution of the play that made it so explosive. At that time both running backs Coach Gary Campbell coordinated with Offensive Line Coach Steve Greatwood the nuances of how Oregon was going to block the play, and how the running backs could read those blocks. It is not complicated, yet it is difficult to implement at the level that Oregon did back then.

The picture at the top of the article (fittingly against UCLA) illustrates the dilemma teams have; if you do not secure the edge, then the running back will speed down the sideline for a touchdown. In the process of securing the edge and gaps before the edge–you can easily be “walled-off” to the outside and the running back has wonderful cut-back lanes. It was painful to watch the Bruins do that to LSU knowing that I had not seen that kind of gashing on a cut-back explosion play since when….you-know-who was here.
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Above you can see how the Wildcats taking away the perimeter opens up cut-back lanes inside.

Arizona placed a priority (above) at guarding the edge, as every defense is based upon that concept. Yet above you can see how defenders are being walled off to the outside and an explosion play is about to occur as LaMichael James has planted his foot to begin his inside cut-back. As you watch UCLA today, note how their backs are not as shifty as a LMJ or Travis Dye, yet they read their blocks extremely well and with their size–are difficult to bring down once they’ve planted their foot and exploded into the hole.

I’ve been told more times than I can count that, “Chip’s offense doesn’t work anymore, and you need to give it up.” Let’s see how true that is today with the Bruin Outside Zone Read against the Oregon defense!

Charles Fischer   (Mr. FishDuck)
Eugene, Oregon
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