After the disastrous loss to Utah last week, Oregon rebounded with a 41-24 win at Colorado this week. The Ducks got back to their pre-Marcus Mariota days, running the ball 60 times while only throwing 21 passes. The defense looked shaky, but got back to their "bend but force turnovers" gameplan. Let's take a look at some of the big plays from this game.
Royce Freeman 29-yard touchdown run
After a Colorado fumble (the Buffs second turnover of the first quarter), Oregon got the ball in great field position and wasted no time in putting up the first score of the game with this Royce Freeman touchdown run.
Even though this play ends up being Royce Freeman doing Royce Freeman things, the play called by the Oregon offense here is an interesting one. Oregon comes out with two receivers and a tight end to the short side of the field, and Colorado counters by shading their linebackers to that strong side.
When the ball is snapped, the Oregon right guard Cameron Hunt pulls toward the strong side of the field. But instead of following the pulling blocker, the play is run to the gap that Hunt is leaving on the weak side. In addition to this, left guard Matt Pierson is responsible for getting to the second level of the defense and blocking the inside linebacker.
Hunt pulls and the gap opens up for Freeman - for a split second. But before Freeman can actually get through the hole, right tackle Tyrell Crosby gets pushed back just enough that the gap closes. This is where Freeman takes over, making a great cut and beating the Colorado defender to the edge.
Sefo Liufau sacked by Rodney Hardrick, fumble recovered by Oregon
The Oregon defense was interesting to watch in this game. There were frustrating moments, like when Glen Ihenacho insisted on giving Nelson Spruce the biggest cushion I think I've ever seen:
I'm renaming the 25 yard DB cushion the Ihenacho.— Matt Takimoto (@takimoto23x) October 4, 2015
and it's tough to tell how much was Oregon improvement, and how much was just the Ducks having better athletes across the board against Colorado. But Oregon did get back to their forcing turnovers way of the past, turning over the Buffs three times on Saturday night, including this strip sack by Rodney Hardrick.
On this play, Oregon is playing man-to-man on the outside, with one deep safety over the middle. Up front, the Ducks line up five down defenders, one of which drops out in to zone coverage at the snap. Rodney Hardrick blitzes after a half-second delay.
The Colorado running back doesn't see the blitz, and jumps into the middle of the line to help out with the pass protection.
This gives Hardrick a free route to the quarterback, where he is able to force a fumble that the Ducks are able to recover.
Taylor Alie 43-yard touchdown pass to Jalen Brown
After a steady dose of the Oregon took its toll on Colorado throughout the game, the Ducks were able to take a shot in the fourth quarter to restore their two touchdown lead.
The lone quarterback passing highlight from this game was entirely set up by the running game. On this play, Colorado lines up with 7 1/2 defenders in the box (we're counting the DB at the bottom of the screen as a half because he isn't in the defined 'box', but he clearly comes up in run support before the ball is snapped.
The Ducks run a play-action, roll out look that basically cuts the reads Taylor Alie has to make in half, since he is only dealing with half the field. There are three routes for him to choose from, and the routes are pretty much the same, just to varying lengths.
The Colorado linebackers bite hard on the play fake, giving Alie plenty of time to pick which of the three options he wants to go to. He recognizes Brown is in single coverage and launches the ball to the deep option. The pass isn't perfect, but is good enough for Brown to make the catch and get in the end zone.
It's interesting to see this kind of gameplan from Oregon, after the pass-heavy system we have seen the last few years with Mariota at quarterback. Get ready to see the Ducks continue to run the ball 60+ times a game, and every once in a while take shots in the passing game like this.
Bralon Addison Beautiful Pass of the Week
Just your average 40-yard pass that hits Charles Nelson in stride for a touchdown. Is there anything Bralon Addison can't do?