Turns out the Ducks' offense really is simple. They're mostly in a three wide set with one back and one TE. They run a lot of the same plays over again, and the defense mostly knows whats coming, yet they can't stop it. Sometimes opponents can slow Oregon down early in the game, but its only a matter of time before Oregon wears them out and puts up their customary 45-50 second half points. Sometimes teams will result to pretty cheap ways of slowing Oregon down also, such as Cal did last year by faking injuries in between plays as you will see here:
Kelly only recruits fast guys, and by spreading the field out with these guys, it forces the defense to spread out and cover them. Unlike in a lot of other spreads, Kelly doesn't spread the field out to pass it, rather, he wants to open up space for his speedy RB's - such as LmJ who led the nation in rushing last year - and QB's. He uses simple math to give his team a schematic advantage. If he spreads the field out with four receivers, the defense will spread four defenders out as well. Oregon has five lineman, a RB, and a QB who is also capable of carrying the ball. This creates a seven on six advantage for the offense. Because the defense will leave six defenders in the box, and a free safety over the top.
That safety is sometimes the object of kelly's attack. As I wrote about before, and showed the video as well, from the 2010 Oregon/SC game, the poor trojan safety was forced to make a decision on what receiver to cover. Which ever one he chose, the other was gonna be open. In this case it was Jeff Meahl, who had a career night.
Kelly's favorite play is the zone read, which I'll write more about in a different note/blog. Basically it's like this: They use a TE, which allows the Oregon offensive line to get a double team on three of the opposing four man line. The backside DE is left unblocked. After the initial double team one of the lineman will come off on a LB. The QB reads the unblocked DE. If the DE pursues the RB, the QB will pull the ball back and run a bootleg. If the DE doesn't pursue to RB, the QB will hand it off.
Now to combat this the defense has come up with the "scrape exchange" where the unblocked DE will crash down and make the QB keep it. The inside LB will meet the QB at the edge. But Chip is already one step ahead of you. Instead of leaving the DE unblocked, they will leave the backside DT unblocked. The QB will now read the tackle. And more than likely, the inside LB has already pursued himself out of position, creating a huge hole right up the gut of the defense. This is the same tactic Oregon used against Stanford last year, as you will see from this clip: the Ducks hung 52 that day on Stanford, a defensive unit that ranked in the top 5 nationally, and would not lose another game all season.
the Ducks hung 52 that day on Stanford, a defensive unit that ranked in the top 5 nationally, and would not lose another game all season.If the defense drops another defender in the box, the QB will just throw a quick screen pass to one of the receivers who suddenly has a two-on-one advantage. The defense ties to play games with the QB by running a guy in and out of the box on every play. Once again, Chip is one step ahead of you. He runs his no huddle offense at break-neck pace. The players don't even say anything, they look to the sideline to get their plays, line up and go. The defense has no time to play games, and they barely have time to line up. This is how Oregon wears the defense out.
Another play the Oregon offense uses successfully is the jet sweep. They will motion a receiver to the QB and give him the ball on the run with the RB out in front as the lead blocker. When the Ducks pass, the offensive line uses a slide protection blocking scheme. Just like in the run game, the offensive line will zone block the gap next to them, leaving the last man unblocked, in which case the RB will cut him. They also use this blocking scheme when they roll out. This time the RB will go playside and the QB will roll away from the unblocked DE. They like to use basic flood routes when they do this. The outside receiver runs a streak, another runs a deep out, and another runs to the flat. One of their dropback plays is the drive concept. One receiver runs a shallow cross in front of the LB's, and another receiver runs a dig route behind them. Hitting them up with what is called a high and low. They also use a lot of four verts, especially if the defense is in cover 3.
Chip Kelly's offense is innovative and fun to watch, which is why I decided to study it. He'll run the zone read until the defense adjusts, then he will punish them with constraint plays. The speed at which he uses his offense is sophisticated, and has a built in counter for what the defense tries to do. Using this philosophy, Chip Kelly has put together one of the greatest offenses off all time, and is why I feel confident that Oregon could win every game with him as the head man. Will they? No, but as long as he's around...the future is very, very bright!