The Oregon Ducks Offense: The Texas Cross

Coach Eric Boles Analysis

A lot of people will blame either aggressive game management or play-calling for the Oregon Ducks’ loss to the Washington Huskies. But aggressiveness has successfully been a calling card of this team and play-calling is often the low hanging fruit used to explain why a play didn’t work out. However, the way a play is executed in key moments can change the tide of a game among two fairly evenly matched opponents.

It’s not a ton of fun to dive into a play that should have worked, but didn’t, from a game that ended up not going your way, but that’s exactly what we’re going to do. That play is one we’ll be referring to as the Texas Cross.

The Texas Cross

To be fair, plucking a play from a handful of misses by the offense is nitpick, but it’s a good example of how the execution of a play can change things. Outside of those few misses, the offense had a hell of a game, racking up 541 yards. They were right on par for how they’ve played the rest of the season but unfortunately, they seemingly missed twice on the Texas Cross — arguably for touchdowns.

The main route combination in the play comes from the bunch formation in the diagram above. The WR at the point of the bunch runs a seam route. He’s mostly running defenders off, but should the coverage not go with him, he’s a viable option.

The WR to the right side of the bunch runs the crossing route and the tight end runs the Texas route right behind him. The combination of the seam and crossing routes should pull enough coverage away for the Texas to be open. If that doesn’t end up being the case, of the defense is in man coverage, the crossing route will have a good shot at being open.

The WR to the left of the formation runs a comeback route. If the corner is playing off, the comeback is a good option as the receiver will have plenty of space to work.

In the clip above, Bo Nix decides to throw the hitch. He trusts his guy here, but the corner is playing pretty tight coverage and doesn’t give up any ground. You’ll also notice that the defense is in man and the crossing route is open for first down, and maybe a touchdown. In this case, Nix trusts his guy to make him right. Unfortunately, the Husky defender plays the ball well, and Troy Franklin isn’t able to come up with it.

As I stated above, I’m not going to pick at the offense’s performance — they had a really good day — but this is something that the Ducks have surely seen on film and will use moving forward. This is a program that takes full accountability from the top down, and they’ll do everything they can to learn and improve. That’s what great teams do.

Coach Eric Boles
Columbus, Ohio
Top Photo Credit: Truong Nguyen

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In mid-August of 2024, we will go back to the seven-days-a-week of articles during the football season as we did in the football season of 2023.

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