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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Oregon's spread offense, how to stop it


The Rose Bowl sets up to be a fantastic battle of imposing wills.

Will Oregon's offense impose their fast break tempo on Ohio State, or will it be the Buckeye silver bullet defense that flexes it's muscles to pound the Ducks into submission?

There are tons of questions surrounding Oregon's spread offense, and more importantly their bread and butter: the read option.
  • What are the keys?
  • What are the reads?
  • How do you defend it?
First of all let's review the spread offense.
The main goal of the spread is to stretch the field horizontally, forcing the defense to defend from sideline to sideline. The offense is looking to stretch and distort the defense to open up multiple creases, thus giving themselves multiple options.

Offenses want to put the pressure on defenses to make quick decisions, and most importantly defend in the open field. In fact decision making and open field play is the crux of the read option on BOTH sides of the ball.

The one thing to keep in mind about Oregon is that they love "smoke and mirrors," tons of movement and misdirection to get the defense out of position. The hard part is seeing this for what it really is, mainly window dressing covering up a familiar option attack.

Every option play leaves one defender unblocked that the quarterback will option off of (keep, pitch, or dive), and the Ducks' read option is no different. It may vary who they leave unblocked at times, either the defensive end or defensive tackle, but the plan remains the same. Force the defender into jumping one of the options, leaving the defense out leveraged with little time to rally to the football.

The reason Oregon has been so successful is because QB Jeremiah Masoli has done a superb job making good decisions, and hitting the defense where it hurts. The Ducks' offense is like a metronome staying on pace and chipping away at opposing defenses, forcing them to play perfect on every play. They know that one defensive mistake can lead to big gains and big points.

Which leads us to stopping this seemingly unstoppable attack.

To be honest there's no real secret, dominating the trenches is paramount. Don't allow horizontal creases, and the offense won't have any options.

Then the defense has to put the pressure back on the offense by forcing the quarterback to be perfect under duress. I'd bring heat early and often to make things happen quickly, now the creases don't have time to become huge gaps. When things happen fast the defense can resort to old fashioned football...see ball, hit ball.

The last and most important part is being able to rally to the football.

Relentless pursuit covers up all mistakes, when someone misses their
assignment there's four more guys to clean up the mess. It has to be eleven defenders playing with one heart beat, nobody trying to make "the big play." You try to do too much or be the hero, and that's when the Ducks strike.

Football is a simple game, forget about all the exciting schemes and you're left with fundamentals. The team that dominates the trenches and wins the run game, is almost always victorious.


Win your one on one battles on each play and you'll ultimately win the war. Can the Buckeyes find a way to slow down this juggernaut attack? Will the Ducks waver amidst the silver bullets flying? The Rose Bowl approaches...

BallHype: hype it up!

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great analysis. This was, in part, the basis of success for the opposing teams in the last couple of Championship games. Make the defense commit to a defensive position (e.g. stop the long pass or defend against the run) and then exploit what you are given (short pass underneath the coverage). We need to make assignments and keep them

Anonymous said...

I have no prediction about who will win the Rose Bowl. But I don't understand why this analysis helps defend specifically against the spread.

The Oregon offense plays fast tempo and the players have speed, though they are generally outweighed. Your defense needs to be well-conditioned and fast, just like Oregon's offense. By this time in the season, they either are or they aren't. If not, it will be a long, unhappy day. If so, they need to play disciplined man-to-man defense. If they can stop the passing attack early, they can cheat a bit defending the run, especially laterally.

The spread offense really is an innovation and improvement of the game because it uses more of the field for the offense. If the two teams are roughly equal in raw athletic ability, the speed of the spread will usually win vs. the brawn of a "traditional" defense. (The reverse is not necessarily true of a traditional offense.)

As for coaching, Tresell is a good coach, but Kelly is a real innovator and improviser -- and he thinks fast, and far ahead. If the defensive coaches don't adjust as quickly, the fast-paced offense can confuse defenses. Then the pressure becomes mental as well as physical. This leads to blowouts.A high scoring game should favor the Ducks.

pinotchio said...

Rally to the ball can be deadly against Oregon. Big mistake. This sort of thinking has led to many big plays for the Ducks when a defender leaves his assignment to pursue a runner who does not actually have the ball. Defending the spread is all about staying home and making plays when the ball does come your way.

Anonymous said...

The author is correct, there is no secret to defending Oregon's run-oriented spread.

USC did it pretty well, trailing by only 7 at the half.

The key is conditioning. Oregon practices at light-speed every day, routinely running off 6 or 7 plays in less than 2 real-time minutes. Actual games are like slo-mo for them, so the 2nd half is where their tempo and superior conditioning takes over.

See USC being outscored 23-3 in the 2nd half.

From our seats in Row 6, you could see USC's D-Line was gassed. Hands on hips between plays, gasping for air. Guys tapping their heads, asking to come out....but with Oregon back on the ball, lining up within 10 seconds of the previous whistle, they couldn't get a sub into the game on most of Oregon's drives.

PAC-10 refs and chain gangs had to up their conditioning to keep up with Oregon this year. Early season complaints that they weren't spotting the ball for the next play quickly enough.

Ohio State's chances might improve if the Rose Bowl assigns some fat, slow Big East refs who can't keep up.

Anonymous said...

Kiffin @ Tennessee has the right scheme to stop it. They ran it really well against Florida. The LB's run to the open spot of the the line, which is usually the opposite direction the OL is going. The LB will then run into the ballcarrier, which is going the opposite direction of the majority of players, O and D. Tressel needs to get the film of that game.If you just rally to the ball, especially not going after the QB, you will get rolled. Being a UW fan, I've watched this for a few years now. You can't play traditional D.

cacarr said...

This author is clueless.

Anonymous said...

Tennessee's scheme won't work against the Ducks because they often check defensive alignment before running the play, but they don't always, this limits the amount of adjustments the defense makes. They also run plays very quickly which limits calls sent in from the sideline. This makes the defense rely on it's base defense alot, which then gives the offense the advantage.
Pressure early doesn't work because Oregon likes to run quick outside passes and screens to its receivers, or seam passes to the tight end early in the game to keep the defense honest.
The only real way for the defense to defeat this offense consistently is for the DT's to be able to penetrate, causing havoc in the backfield. This goes against the grain of most current "gap control" defensive schemes. It also means that the Defense needs to have superior Defensive linemen.

Anonymous said...

OSU defense is ideal for Oregon offense: We have extreme power in the middle with Larimore, Heyward and Simon,(Oregon has no answer to this) and we have 4.5 speed at the ends with Gibson and Williams,the back seven are quick and great tacklers. PLUS, we have great depth so by 4th quarter most players will have played half a game and be ready. Oregon has not played a team with the running power we have AND running QB we have. We will be Stanford PLUS against them.

Hope the betting line goes up! Time to make money.

Homer said...

That comment about Oregon not having any answer to Ohio State's Dline was pretty funny. Perhaps that writer would be interested to know that Oregon's O-Line outweighs the defensive line at 3 of 4 positions.
Plus, Oregon's O-line is so well conditioned and athletic I can guarantee you that Ohio State's dline will be gasping for breath.

Depth? Considering Oregon's no-huddle offense routinely gets the play off with 20 seconds left on the clock there is no time for defensive substitutions. At least they can rest on the sideline because Oregon's average scoring drive is 3:45.

Oregon loves one-dimensional teams. We'll gang up to stop the run and force Pryor to beat us downfield. Are you really confident in that passing attack? The only reason Stanford was able to beat Oregon was because of Luck's pinpoint accuracy downfield. Pryor is nothing compared to him.

Anonymous said...

The reason Oregon's offense is so dangerous is not just the system. Masoli is a master at running it and he has all the tools. Csat quick reactions, even quicker RBs, James and Barner, an All American caliber TE and WR Jeff Meahl who excells in getting open and holding onto the ball.

The Ducks offense is so fast at transitioning into the next play that the defense has no time to substitute. The Big DL players will be gassed by halftime. The Ducks rule the second half.

Stanford was extremely fortunate that they played practically a perfect game and Luck and Gearheart were totally in the zone that day. Ducks were coming off a 27 pt win over USC and started flat and then regrouped.

Watch the Ducks last drive in regulation against Arizona.

OSU is a great team, but they are in for a very long day.

Anonymous said...

You should watch this video of the Ducks last year's Civil War blowout of a very good Oregon State team (that beat USC)

Be afraid. Be very afraid

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDU_jAcmkS8

Anonymous said...

QUICK HITS
•Oregon and Ohio State both played USC and Purdue in 2009. The Ducks went 2-0 against the common opponents while the Buckeyes were 0-2.
•UO is 4-2 against its last six top 10 opponents, including a 2-0 mark this season.
•The Ducks are one of only five teams in the FBS to face five top 25 teams to date in 2009 and have the best record of that group at 4-1. The others are Arizona, Washington, USC and Oklahoma. Six of UO’s ‘09 foes are ranked in the final BCS standings.

BlockO-CEO said...

History Lesson
Ohio State—Oregon Tidbits


• This will be the eighth meeting between Ohio State and Oregon.

• Ohio State leads the all-time series 7-0 (1958, 1961, 1962, 1967, 1968, 1983, 1987).

• Ohio State is 6-6 all-time in the Rose Bowl.

• This will be Ohio State's first Rose Bowl appearance since their 1997 win over Arizona State.

• The first ever meeting between the two schools was in the 1958 Rose Bowl, a 10-7 Ohio State victory.

• This will be the first meeting in which Ohio State and Oregon are both ranked in the top 10.

• Oregon is 1-3 all-time in the Rose Bowl, the programs only win coming in 1917 over Penn—no not Penn State, just Penn.

• Oregon's last Rose Bowl appearance was a 38-20 loss to Penn State in 1995.

Anonymous said...

that was then and this is now, unless you think OSU gets spotted two TDs for what happened three decades ago.

History won't help OSU on NYD. Ducks 42 Bucks 27

Anonymous said...

Purdue beat OSU. Ducks beat Purdue THIS YEAR

USC beat OSU. Ducks clobbered USC 47-20 THIS YEAR

The sweater vest guy knows this.