The Will Stein Oregon Offense: Split Zone Triple Option

Coach Eric Boles Analysis

A huge part of Coach Will Stein’s offense with the UTSA Roadrunners was the RPO. Every team in college football runs them to some degree, but Coach Stein’s system is built around them. Though the Oregon Ducks offense will largely stay the same as this past season, fans can expect to see an uptick in the use of RPOs.

Split Zone Triple Option

Coach Stein doesn’t just use one type of RPO either; he uses them all. He incorporates pre and post snap RPOs, some that attack the backside, some that attack the front side and even some in the seam. Just about every run play that Coach Stein calls has a pass option attached to it. The one we’re taking a closer look at here is a Split Zone Triple Option version.

In this example, Coach Stein ran the Split Zone Triple Option from a 22-personnel look while actually using 12-personnel (1RB, 2TE) on the field, but he has the ability to run it from any set in the playbook.

The blocking scheme is that of a traditional inside zone. If an offensive lineman is covered by a defender, they will block that defender. If they’re uncovered, they will take a step to the next playside gap and look to help a line-mate on a double team or move up to the second level of the defense. Because it’s of the read option variety, the backside edge (green circle) will be left unblocked and read by the quarterback.

The wide receiver and backside tight end run vertical routes mostly to force the defense to play coverage and clear out that portion of the field, though the wheel route could be an additional option for the QB.

At the snap of the ball the QB reads the backside edge defender. If that defender stays put (sits) or widens, the QB will hand the ball off and the running back runs inside zone. If the defender bites and moves toward the running back, the QB will pull the ball. From there, he has a couple more options. If backside linebacker (yellow circle) is too far inside, the QB can simply throw the flat route to the slot receiver coming from the second RB position. If the LB rushes out to the flat, the QB can run it.

In the clip above, you can see that the edge defender bites down, prompting the QB to pull the ball. At this point, the LB is way too far inside to be a threat to the flat, so the QB hits the SR for a decent 6-yard gain. The TE also looks like he could be an option to receive the ball depending on the play of the corner, though I’m not completely sure if that’s the case here.

The RPOs that Coach Stein will assuredly install into the Ducks playbook will only work to take the offense to the next level. They already have a ferocious run game, and the added pass option elements will help to keep defenses uncomfortable.

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

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

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