OC Stein’s Oregon Offense: Capitalizing on a Strength

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck Analysis

The 2024 Oregon Spring Game did not show much of the offense anticipated this fall, it did give me many clues that got me excited, and made me do some research about two plays along with a strategy by Oregon Offensive Coordinator Will Stein that was intriguing. Imagine my surprise to realize to find one of these plays within my own FishDuck Analysis Library from the past! I took a break from my fun at Bovada football betting to study Stein’s emphasis on utilizing a 2024 strength on offense, so let’s get to it!

Watch Josh Connerly Jr. pull… (Screenshot from Pac-12 Video)

You heard Yogi Roth on the Pac-12 Telecast of the Oregon Spring game marvel at the skills of Josh Conerly Jr. Yet he made no comment about the unusual play that Conerly was involved with. You do not see a tackle pulling very often at all, so when you watch the video below, watch Josh Conerly (Red arrow above) as the play develops. What he does is remarkable…

It is not uncommon to see our tackles pull on a Counter play as shown in a recent analysis article, but in that context Oregon’s offensive tackle is pulling to the other side of the line-of-scrimmage from where he began. In the example above, you see Conerly pull and go inside, as he is looking for an Inside Linebacker to hit between the “A” gaps.

I love this play, as B1G linebackers are going to be a tough bunch, and having our star offensive tackle take them on and clear like a fullback–with a head of steam–bodes well for the success of that play. Against the right defense it seems it could be an easy five yards, especially with Jordan James bulling forward, or Jay Harris with his size.

Yet this is not the first time I’ve seen a play like this, and I consulted with FishDuck.com Analyst Coach Eric Boles, who thought (like I) that it was a version of a Dart play that I did an analysis about over a decade ago at Oregon. FishDuck.com Analyst, Coach Jeremy Mosier, did an analysis of the Dart play that prior OC Joe Moorhead ran at Penn State. Yet Coach Mosier felt this play with Conerly was more of a Power Play, where we pulled a tackle instead of a guard.

This illustration shows the right offensive tackle pulling. (Screenshot from Coach Mac Video)

This makes the most sense to me, as I look at other examples online. Above is a coach explaining how he calls it a Dart play, but it operates darn-near like a traditional Power Play, pulling the tackle and seeking out the linebacker, just as you would with a guard traditionally. The bottom line is that using Josh Conerly Jr. this way is a wonderful method to fully utilize his speed and mobility, as it helps Our Beloved Ducks gain yardage, and improves his own NFL prospects.

Watch Ajani Cornelius lead the way with perimeter blocking… (Screenshot from Pac12 Video)

However, Oregon has more than one outstanding offensive tackle as recognized recently. Both Duck tackles are listed in the top ten of all offensive tackles in the nation. Run blocking and pass protection are the primary reasons why, but their mobility is another element as shown also by Ajani Cornelius in a play at the Oregon Spring game. Before we get to the video, please note where he is located with the red arrow above.

Good gosh, look at him pulling and leading the blocking on the perimeter. To get up to the sideline so quickly? It shouts to how he could be very valuable with other plays, such as a Tunnel Screen, especially with his aggressiveness. This is not the first time that Oregon has pulled an offensive tackle on an outside play under Dan Lanning as Coach Boles pointed out with this Bunch-Toss play in 2022.

Great to see the Bunch-Toss pulled out again to show us all the speed of Cornelius, and how that play fits the Oregon personnel in an ideal fashion. It makes me wonder when we will see the Tunnel Screen again as well, as both of Oregon’s tackles not only have the savvy for the open field blocks, but they clearly relish making the big hits.

Both plays in the Spring Game demonstrated the mobility of Oregon’s tremendous offensive tackles, and it warms my heart to see Will Stein create opportunities for them to help the team and raise their stature through innovative play design by Oregon’s offensive coordinator. Something new that will be fun to watch for this fall because…

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

Charles Fischer   (Mr. FishDuck)
Eugene, Oregon
Top Photo by Tom Corno

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