Oregon’s Lanning/Lupoi Fire Zone Blitz

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck Analysis

The Fire Zone Blitz is still alive and used at Oregon by Coaches Dan Lanning and Tosh Lupoi when they wish to apply maximum pressure in scenarios with seven yards or more for the opposing offense to attain a first down. Last time we reviewed simulated pressures, where the rush was only with four defenders, but from unpredictable directions.

A Fire Zone Blitz from the Ducks are when they rush five defenders, with a 3–3 coverage shells behind it—three deep defenders and three underneath defenders. Although the Fire Zone Blitz can be run out of many fronts and alignments, the key aspects are the weakside defensive end or Drop-End on the line of scrimmage away from the blitz dropping off into coverage, while the blitz pressure is coming from an overload on the opposite side of the field.

Let’s take a look at how Oregon successfully ran this blitz in two games recently…

Fox Sports Video

This was a big stop on fourth down versus the Cougars!

BYU needed to get a rally going and it was 4th down and 10 when Coach Lupoi dialed up the Fire Zone Blitz to stop the Cougars. Note (above) how Oregon’s left defensive end is lined up on the line-of-scrimmage…he will drop off as the Drop-End, and cover the short zone on his side of the field, the flat. He is responsible also for the running back in a flair-pass situation as well.

Oregon intends to overload BYU’s left side of the offensive line and hopefully get a four-rushers-on-three-blockers advantage.

Sure enough the running back went into a pass pattern, (above) but our Drop-End (Bradyn Swinson) had him covered. Despite the Ducks’ numbers advantage, the left side of the Cougar offensive line held up for a bit, but the coverage downfield was good enough buy time for Oregon’s blitzers to force the quarterback out of the pocket and short of the first down!

You won’t see Lanning/Lupoi rush five or six very often, but the continued growth in the skills of the Duck secondary may allow Oregon fans to see more of these blitzes as the season progresses.

Screenshot from Pac12 Video

Noah Sewell is in the middle of the blitzing action again!

In the last game against Arizona we had Noah Sewell (above) doing an overload blitz on the left side of the Wildcat offensive line, while the Drop-End for the Ducks (Mase Funa) has less area to cover when he is on the boundary side. Sometimes, like the last play–things don’t turn out as you draw them up, but can be quite successful regardless.

What is remarkable (above) is how Oregon still mucked up the play for Arizona, even though the Wildcats kept eight blockers in a maximum pass-protection mode. The Ducks did well with their five-on-eight because the coverage downfield held up long enough, and the rush kept the Wildcat QB distracted enough when a pass receiver did break free. But the QB could not see him in time, and thus another sack in the books!

Watch for the Fire Zone Blitz on the field, and for more analysis articles at FishDuck because…

“Oh, how we love to learn about Our Beloved Ducks!”

Charles Fischer   (Mr. FishDuck)
Eugene, Oregon
Top Photo by Joe Jackson Jr.

Want a trip down memory lane? The video below is the Fire Zone Blitz video yours-truly created 11 years ago, and it is fun to see the same tactics in action and watch some famous names in past Oregon defenses carry them out.

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