The Oregon Offense: The Hoss Concept

Coach Eric Boles Analysis

As I write this article, according to ESPN, the Oregon Ducks sit as the number two passing offense in the nation as it relates to yards per game, at 339. A lot of that has to do with the shear amount of talent on offense, including a quarterback in Bo Nix who has seen just everything a defense can throw at him. Another factor is the ability of Coach Will Stein to put his players in advantageous situations.

One of the concepts Coach Stein uses to put his offense’s receiver talent on display is the Hoss Concept. The Hoss is also known as the Hitch/Seam and is a very simple concept that is just as effective against zone coverage as it is man, with simple reads for the QB. In fact, a good portion of the QB’s reads happen before the snap of the ball.

The wide receiver to the side of the Hoss, the left side of the formation in the diagram above, runs a hitch route at about five yards. If the corner is playing off, the QB has a pretty easy access throw. In some offenses, if the CB is pressing, the WR can convert his route into a go route.

The slot receiver runs the fade up the seam. Pre-snap, the QB is looking to see whether the defense has one or two high safeties. If it’s two, the fade won’t be an option as the split safety to that side is going to carry anything vertical. In some cases, the slot has the option to convert his route into a post against split safeties, though I don’t know if that’s the case in Coach Stein’s offense.

The tight end is split out also runs a hitch, one that mimics an out route at first. His route occupies the underneath coverage and acts as the third option against some coverages.

On the backside of the play, Coach Stein has simple concept with the WR running a quick slant to hitch and the running back on the swing.

In the clip above, the Ducks are in a 2nd and 37 situation. Nix could have easily taken the WR hitch with the CB playing way off, but that would have only made the third down marginally more manageable, and he’s already seen the cover one look.

The defense ends up playing man coverage and cannot account for the speed of Tez Johnson’s speed. Nix gets the ball to him on a rope, and Johnson’s afterburners hit for a 48-yard touchdown.

Coach Eric Boles
Columbus, OH
Top Photo Credit: Craig Strobeck

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

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