Monday, March 12, 2012

Breakin It Down: From Oregon vs. SC 2010

As you should know by now, I am a HUGE football X's and O's type.  I love the strategy involved, and learning how plays work.  That's what makes studying Chip Kelly's offense so fun; there's so much strategy involved.  I decided to take a play from Oregon's win over SC in 2010 to illustrate this.

Now, this was also a good choice because you had TWO coaching genius's matching wits in Oregon's Chip Kelly (offense) and USC's famed defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin.  It was a cat-and-mouse affair, which you figured it would be.

One of the cat-and-mouse games Kiffin and Kelly played was with the backside safety.  Kelly would line up in trips (3 receivers to one side) and look to run the ball, with the constant threat of the QB pulling the ball out to run to the backside.  This combined threat of BOTH inside AND outside runs, with the overload of three receivers to the right, forced Kiffin to overload his defense to the trips side, and keep a safety deep.

To help against the run, however, he often dropped his backside safety near the line to help in run support.  Kelly's response was simple:  run four verticals straight up the field, letting the innermost receiver to the three receiver side work across the field to the backside.

If the now-single deep safety played to the trips side, the receiver who crossed was wide open; if he ran with him, the other slot receiver was open.  So either way the safety is murked.

From this set, LaMichael James had a number of big runs, and Jeff Maehl had a career night, including this touchdown catch:


  1. Kiffin's defense was far, far too aggressive in that game. I remember it well. He frequently does that though, forcing you to hit low percentage plays. It's just a very dangerous way of playing defense if the other team has a number of play makers (an an aggressive coach not afraid of turning the ball over).

    You'd have to think that Kiffin expected to win the battle up front and get more pressure on the quarterback. Just didn't happen.

    1. Not that year, or the year before. Oregon made USC adjust TO them by changing the way they condition and practice, and the type of athlete's they recruited on defense. This year they went with smaller - more athletic - LB's for instance. Must've worked because they finally beat Oregon, unfortunately.