The most understated aspect of the Civil War this week is the monumental battle between our offensive line and the Beavers very talented Defensive Tackle, Stephen Paea. I still wince watching last year’s Civil War game as he ruthlessly abused nearly all the members of a highly decorated Oregon O-Line that currently leads the nation in total offense and scoring. He pushed Holmes back three yards into the QB on one play after he had barely handed the ball off, and on another he blew 320 Lb. Mark Asper two yards backward off the LOS nearly into the path of the Outside Zone Read play. He is not that big, but typical for DT size, and while he is weight room strong—in particular he is FOOTBALL strong. He routinely blows up double-teams and is the only player that I’ve seen tackle LaMichael James with ONE hand! (Remember how strong LaMike is!)
The other problem? We have a “familiarity” component in that both sides know that Paea OWNS them. They know he can blow them backward, and he actually stronger this year? Holy Crap. Many would tell me to “chill” since we’ll wear him down by mid-second half. The problem with is that we need to score a bunch of points by then, and Stephen Paea at 75% is still stronger than anyone we got on the Offensive Line. I hate to say this but, he has made some plays that I didn’t see Ngata do! This guy can personally disrupt our running game, which can change the flow and result of the game.
What did we do last year? We “Zone-Read” him. That means that we would run the play away from him, not block him, and let him decide who he was going to chase. If he ran after LaMike, then the QB would pull the ball and run through the gap vacated by Paea. If he stayed put to guard that gap from backside QB runs—then our objective is completed as he is out of the play. Either way we win as he chased the wrong ball-carrier from his Defensive Tackle position. So Oregon State Defensive Coordinator Mark Banker implemented a clever strategy to move Paea around and even put him at Nose Tackle! That really created some problems for us as he blew Jordan backwards, so we attempted to Zone Read Paea in his spot in the middle of the field. It wasn’t a great solution as a NT can take an angle to cover BOTH ball carriers, which defeats the purpose of the Zone Read. Nonetheless we ran some Outside Zone Reads where the ball was handed off before Paea could obliterate people.
What do we do this year?
No doubt—Zone Read him again when he plays DT and run the play AWAY from him. When Banker puts him in the middle at NT, then run the Outside Zone Read quickly, with no reading—just hand off, and assign TWO players to the seal block on Stephen. If we can get outside quick enough, then he’ll be left behind in the mass of bodies trying to pursue. I would decline doing our usual Power Plays as he can blow them up on either side of the line. I expect Banker to move Paea around at the last moment, and remember that we can adjust accordingly by moving our RB from one side to the other. (You see that all the time)
When it comes to the passing game---we need to do the type of play-action passes that generated three TD passes against Arizona. A play-action that can delay him for a second is all we need in addition to the other two seconds it would take him to get to the QB. Do NOT do any pocket passing as he won’t just penetrate the seams of the pocket—he will blow people backwards into the QB and will stop the play without the sack! Truly, this will become a game-within-a-game for us to watch with interest as it will alter the course of the game one way or the other. Got any other ideas? I’m quite interested…..
I look forward to watching this matchup in slow-motion high-def. over and over; I hope it goes our way!
We love our Ducks,