Coach Dillingham and Oregon’s New Counter Tunnel Screen

Coach Eric Boles Analysis

Through the first five games of the season, the Counter has arisen as a favorite of Coach Kenny Dillingham and the Oregon offense.  The Ducks are averaging 229 yards on the ground and are the No. 10 rushing offense in the nation. Part of their formula to success has been their ability to efficiently execute a number of different Counter runs.

Another reason Coach Dillingham’s offense has been so potent is that he has been great at using constraint plays. That being the case, it stands to reason that he would utilize a constraint play (a variation off an original play) for one of his offense’s staples, the Counter, in the Counter Tunnel Screen. Due to the efficiency at which the Ducks run the Counter, the Counter Tunnel Screen has the ability to break wide open.

As far as the offensive line is concerned, the backside guard and tackle carry out their traditional Counter assignments. The guard will pull and kick out the playside edge defender as the tackle pulls through the gap behind him, creating a running lane for the back. Initially, the playside tackle, guard and center down block as usual, but after a beat, they release to the perimeter for the Tunnel Screen.

The second half of the play takes place on the backside of the Counter. The wide receiver releases on a bubble, just like he does on the Counter run, but after a couple of steps, he works his way back inside. From there, he gets the ball and makes his way up field behind his OL escort. The WR’s motion is like a counter itself: a counter in the counter to the Counter.

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In the clip above, the Ducks run the CT (Center/Tackle) Counter out of 21 personnel (2 RBs, 1 TE). Everyone does a fantastic job with their assignments, and Noah Whittington picks up 10 yards and a first down. Notice how Chase Cota runs the Bubble Screen on the backside of the play.

Just when everyone thinks that Oregon is satisfied with heading into the second quarter, they go hurry-up and run another play within 12 seconds. They stay in the same personnel package and formation to run the Counter Tunnel Screen. You can see how Cota runs the same bubble motion as before and then works back for the ball, accelerating up field for a 49-yard touchdown.

The Counter Tunnel Screen is a great constraint play, and it’ll be interesting to see what else Coach Dillingham has up his sleeve as the season progresses.

Coach Eric Boles
Newark, OH
Top Photo Credit: Eugene Johnson

Phil Anderson, the FishDuck.com Volunteer editor for this article, is a trial lawyer in Bend Oregon.

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