Fee Fi Foe Film: Oregon State Offense

Submitted by Ace on September 9th, 2015 at 4:58 PM


Oregon State dispatched Weber State, which went 2-10 last year at the FCS level, by the score of 26-7 in their opener last weekend. Despite the final score, however, the offense struggled to find a rhythm. The two-quarterback battle between true freshman Seth Collins and redshirt freshman Marcus McMaryion ended in the third quarter when McMaryion tossed a pick six on a screen pass. Even when accounting for the experimentation with multiple QBs, 391 yards on 5.0 yards per play against a low-level FCS team isn't great.

That said, Collins showed off electric running ability, and there are enough playmakers around him to make the Beavers dangerous if Michigan can't shut down the run game. Whether OSU can show off a second dimension will go a long way towards determining their success.

Personnel. Seth's diagram [click to embiggen]:

Oregon State will frequently lift Jarmon for a second tight end or an H-back.

Spread, Pro-Style, or Hybrid? Spread-to-run. The only times Oregon State didn't go shotgun were in third- or fourth-and-short situations.

Basketball on Grass or MANBALL? Gary Andersen's squad used a lot of gap blocking principles, even in an offense heavy on read option plays.

Hurry it up or grind it out? Somewhere in the middle. OSU didn't huddle but they kept a leisurely tempo; I'd assume having a true freshman at QB limits how much they can do in this regard.

[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown.]

Quarterback Dilithium Level (Scale: 1 [Navarre] to 10 [Denard]): Seth Collins, who's been named the starter for Saturday, gets a solid 8. He rushed for 152 yards on 17 carries, showing ability on both designed runs and scrambles—he's got excellent straight-line speed and he's shifty to boot. He can also do this:

A hold downfield brought that play back a ways but that gives you an idea of Collins' athletic ability.

Dangerman: Collins is their most dangerous threat the way this offense is constructed; the threat of the QB run is the basis for everything they do. Storm Barrs-Woods is an ideal back to have flanking Collins. He averaged over six yards per carry last year and is a very reliable receiver out of the backfield; the broadcast mentioned he reeled in every catchable ball thrown his way in 2014, per Pro Football Focus. Collins got the big plays in this one largely because Weber State keyed on Barrs-Woods.

Zook Factor: Nothing of note. Andersen rightly elected to go for an early 4th-and-1 just outside the red zone that got stuffed.

HenneChart: This one requires a preface. Collins' performance looks good in the chart; that's due in large part to an almost complete lack of a downfield passing game. Most of his attempts came on designed rollouts with easy, quick reads underneath. His downfield throws were limited to contested-ball shots down the sideline; he missed a couple and DO'd one for the game's final touchdown. The middle of the field was ignored entirely.

Weber State 1 10 (3) 1 3 -- 2 -- 1 3 69%

Collins turfed an eight-yard hitch and otherwise looked relatively accurate, but it's hard to tell if he's a good decision-maker based on this game; the first read was usually open and close to the line of scrimmage.


Yes, very spread:

Formations Run Pass PA
Gun 45 19 7
I-Form 1 -- 1
Ace -- -- --
Heavy -- -- --

And very run-heavy:

Down Run Pass PA
1st 20 9 3
2nd 18 3 2
3rd 6 7 3

Oregon State tried to stay on schedule with their running game and succeeded until they got into the red zone, where their offense tended to bog down. Their offense is pretty simple but does a good job of testing the run defense in multiple spots. Barrs-Woods and backup running back Chris Brown tend to get carries up the middle; they both go north-south without much dancing and the interior line got nice push in this game.

Collins is a constant threat to keep and hit the edge. Receiver Victor Bolden, who can play outside or in the slot, does a lot of fly sweep action as the primary ballcarrier, a read on an option, and simply as a decoy; he's fast enough that he must be accounted for on the edge.

With those main threats, Oregon State is something of a modern triple-option team. They show a lot of the same pre-snap looks and motions, especially that fly sweep, and have a lot of variations on the main theme—they can hit quickly with the jet sweep to the outside, slam up the gut on the dive, or let Collins pull and test the edge. They utilized misdirection early—their first play was a successful QB sweep with Collins away from the jet sweep action—to keep the defense off-balance.

The offensive line looked decent, not great. They had more success running to the right, where former blue-chip guard prospect Isaac Seumalo is back after missing last season with a foot injury—he got very good push in this game. Center Josh Mitchell is generally solid and was talked up as the leader of the line, but he's a little mistake-prone; he picked up a hold when he let a DT knife by him for a would-be sack.

The tackles weren't tested at all in pass protection; I thought their right tackle looked like a weak point in the running game. The left guard was fine with the exception of the failed fourth-and-one, when Barrs-Woods had a big hole on a power but the LG was so slow to the hole they collided in the backfield:

line to gain was the 20

Mitchell also couldn't hold his block there, which ultimately resulted in the tackle.

The receivers didn't get too many chances to show off their ability. Bolden caught three passes for six yards... with a long of six (a touchdown when WSU failed to cover him). He's undersized and mostly runs underneath stuff when he's not motioning into the backfield. Jordan Villamin is the big downfield target and he hauled in the only big downfield completion of the game, a 44-yard touchdown down the sideline against single coverage. He had a couple other chances for tough downfield catches that he couldn't bring in. He'll test Michigan's corners.

I don't remember Jarmon being targeted at all; ditto the tight ends and H-backs. Woods is a threat as a receiver; the second-longest completion for OSU was a 14-yard slip screen to him. Third running back Deltron Sands had one catch for a three-yard gain but looked like an athlete who could be touch to corral in the open field.

Unless Oregon State really opens up the offense—unlikely with a true freshman at the helm—then I think this matchup bodes well for Michigan. Mario Ojemudia does a good job playing both men on read options and Michigan looks to have a killer quick-hitting edge run defender in Jabrill Peppers. The Wolverines can stick Jourdan Lewis on Villamin to neutralize OSU's main downfield threat.


Here's a quick look at one of the ways OSU got a big gain for Collins. Video first:

They're in a shotgun three-wide and Bolden is already in motion when the camera cuts to the broadcast angle.

At the snap, this becomes a read between the fly sweep and a QB keeper. Barrs-Woods acts as a lead blocker for the sweep while the right guard pulls to lead for a keeper.

Weber State has a free hitter (by design) and Collins does a great job of holding the mesh point until he commits to the sweep.

Waiting as long as he did also allowed the pulling guard to get around the left guard, who ceded too much ground on his block and got into the path of the pull. Collins waits, pulls, and heads straight upfield.

Collins ends up with a 13-yard gain that could've been more. The tight end (#10, near the left hash) doubled back to block a linebacker who was already going to be taken out by the pulling guard.

Instead of having a lead blocker as he burst into the secondary, Collins has to angle out of bounds to avoid pursuit. Still, this was a good play and just one of the many ways OSU utilized the fly sweep motion to keep the defense off-balance.



September 9th, 2015 at 5:31 PM ^

I'm guessing that OSU will rack up a fair number of yards with their quasi-spread and mobile QB, but as the field gets shorter they'll run out of options and probably not get many points.  Until we hold any offense in check, ever, especially a spread offense, I've been clubbed into submission to realize that we'll underperform what it looks like on paper. We'll give up more yards and points than logic would suggest, but will win the game.  I do think we'll get some TO's in this game, and end up on the right side of the TO +/- for a change.


September 9th, 2015 at 5:36 PM ^

an ability to throw in the middle  of the field(obvously to prevent turnovers) as well as possessing a freshman QB should limit the effectiveness of their offense.

I think they will move the ball initially with scripted plays.  The key is how they react once UM adjusts to what they are doing. With a freshman QB there is only so much you can do.


September 9th, 2015 at 5:39 PM ^

At some point in the game their Bolden is going to run up against our Bolden. :-)

Here's hoping our DL gets penetration and disrupts.  I want to see their backfield in a state of chaos all afternoon. 

Duval Wolverine

September 9th, 2015 at 6:51 PM ^

After watching Oregon st vs Weber St, I have full confidence in our defense to stop their offense.  Their QB is quick but was playing against lower level competition that were able to stop some of their drives and held them to 13 pts through 3 quarters.  I also believe their QB will have a hard time staying in the game after taking a ton of hits from our bigger and more physical defense at his size (he looks rail thin).  Offensively we should be able to move the ball through the air without much resistance.  Weber St had guys wide open all over the field that game but the QB struggle alot with accurancy, and could not make them pay for their poor coverage.  

Cranky Dave

September 9th, 2015 at 7:15 PM ^

in first game wasn't great those damn running QBs make me nervous. I hope/expect to see Ross more in this game. I don't worry about the passing game at all though, unless Collins starts racking up yards on the ground.


September 10th, 2015 at 7:42 AM ^

West coast team traveling to the EST zone for a noon start with a freshman QB doesn't bode well for the Beavers; however, over the last 8 years I have learned that nothing with Michigan football is a given. One of the easiest fixes should be the turnover margin yet last week, they picked up right where they left off. If Rudock manages the game efficiently and the defense can generate turnovers Michigan should win and I stress SHOULD.


September 10th, 2015 at 7:42 AM ^

West coast team traveling to the EST zone for a noon start with a freshman QB doesn't bode well for the Beavers; however, over the last 8 years I have learned that nothing with Michigan football is a given. One of the easiest fixes should be the turnover margin yet last week, they picked up right where they left off. If Rudock manages the game efficiently and the defense can generate turnovers Michigan should win and I stress SHOULD.