Smart Football on Oregon's Offense

Smart Football on Oregon's Offense

Submitted by JeepinBen on November 15th, 2012 at 9:44 AM

Chris Brown (@smartfootball) has an excellent read up on Grantland about Chip Kelley's philosopy regarding offense. 2 things that really stuck out to me (besides the great scheme and play breakdowns) is that Kelly was actually an O-Line coach to get his start, and he really only had 4 blocking schemes for his OL in 2008. Thing 2 was that his absolute goal is to run the ball up the middle on you. Give it a read.

While the coach-player interaction may be limited during Kelly's practices, it's significant before and after them, mostly in the teaching of scheme. At its most fundamental, Kelly's system is a carefully organized, carefully practiced method for forcing defenses to defend the whole field, and then exploiting those areas left exposed. And the first tool Kelly uses is a surprising one: math.

"If there are two high safeties [i.e., players responsible for deep pass defense], mathematically there can only be five defenders in the box. With one high safety, there can be six in the box. If there is no high safety, there can be seven in the box," Kelly explained at the 2011 spring Nike Coach of the Year Clinic. The easiest case is if the defense plays with two deep defenders: "With two high safeties, we should run the ball most of the time. We have five blockers and they have five defenders."

Courtesy of Chris Brown

As Vanderbilt's excellent offensive line coach, Herb Hand, recently told me, "I tell my offensive line that if the defense plays two safeties deep, it's like spitting in your face — it's a lack of respect for your run game." Oregon's run game doesn't suffer from any lack of respect; as a result, they rarely face two-deep defenses except on obvious passing downs.

When a team brings that extra defender into the box, the calculus for the offense changes. "If the defense has one high safety and six defenders in the box, the quarterback has to be involved in the play," Kelly explained. "He has to read one of the defenders, in effect blocking him. We can block five defenders and read the sixth one." Marcus Mariota, Oregon's dynamic freshman quarterback, has been an excellent blocker without hitting anyone at all.