One way that offenses can be efficient at a high rate is to consistently move the chains in short-yardage situations, and that is no different in Coach Will Stein’s system. One of his favorite plays to keep the chains moving, while commanding the UTSA Roadrunners offense, was the Empty Diamond QB Draw RPO — another play Duck faithful can expect to see this season.
The play itself is extremely simple and all has to do with numbers. The offense is going to attack the defense where they have a numbers advantage. There are three options in this RPO concept, and the defense can’t bring numbers to all three areas at once. This forces the opponent to have to be nearly flawless if they want to keep the offense from picking up the first down.
Before the snap, the quarterback is going to count defenders in three different areas. The first is to the side of the diamond alignment. Here the running back, slot, tight end and wide receiver execute a now screen going to the running back. If the defense has more than three defenders, or the total number of blockers, the screen is a no-go. If they’ve deployed three or less, that’s where the ball is going.
The next area the QB can count is all the way on the other side of the formation with the single receiver. Most times only a corner will be with him. If that corner is playing off and there is no underneath defender, the QB is going to have pretty easy access to the slant. It’s also a possibility that the WR can be taught to convert the slant into a go if the corner presses. And if there is no safety help, that’s a house call.
Finally, if numbers on both perimeters are in favor of the defense, the box is going to be light. If the box only has five defenders in it, the QB has five offensive linemen, and they’re going to keep him fairly clean on the draw.
In the clip above, you can see that the now screen has four defenders over top of it. That’s one more than the offense can block there — that’s a no-go. To the single receiver side, the safety is in a great position to be able to jump the slant route — can’t go there either. But the box only has five defenders. The OL picks these guys up and the QB makes it about eight yards before he’s even touched.
In this clip, it looks like the overhang defender to the left of the formation could really play either the screen or the box, so the QB gets the ball out to the slant. The WR has a drop here, but the QB made a good decision, nonetheless.
The sheer number of weapons that the Oregon Ducks offense has should be enough to make the Empty Diamond QB Draw RPO fly against any defense this season.
Coach Eric Boles
Top Photo Credit: Nancy Paiva
Phil Anderson, the FishDuck.com Volunteer editor for this article, is a trial lawyer in Bend Oregon.
Eric resides in Central Ohio, just outside the capital city of Columbus. He is a former offensive assistant and return game coordinator for the Ohio State – Newark/Central Ohio Technical College Titans football program.
He is an OSU-N graduate, having completed a Bachelor of Arts program in psychology.
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