Football season is officially underway. Last Saturday, Oregon opened up their season with a 61-42 home win against Eastern Washington. Just about every prediction we made before the game came true - Vernon Adams shined against his former team, the Duck's depth at the offensive skill positions is downright scary, the front seven looked strong and the secondary looked really bad for most of the game.
Let's take a look at a few plays from this game.
Vernon Adams 6-yard touchdown pass to Bralon Addison
The first play we are going to take a look at is Vernon Adams first touchdown pass as an Oregon Duck.
The Ducks begin this play with a pretty standard three wideout, one back, one tight end set. Before the play begins, Adams motions Addison towards the middle of the field. The Eastern Washington defensive back goes across with Addison, showing Adams that the DB is in man-to-man coverage.
When the ball is snapped, Oregon fakes a running play to Royce Freeman. In order to truly sell the run, the Oregon offensive line zone blocks to the right while Adams fakes the handoff to Freeman. This action sucks in the Eastern Washington linebackers and safeties, who move right with it. The safety over the top of Addison is also sucked in, leaving the cornerback on an island.
While the play fake is carried out, Addison shakes his defender and cuts out towards the corner of the end zone. Adams is able to take a few steps to his left and hit a wide open Addison for his first touchdown in an Oregon jersey.
Vernon Adams 46-yard pass to Dwayne Stanford
This play is a fantastic example of the 'pocket quarterback' training the Pac-12 Network color commentator repeatedly mentioned during the game. Adams goes through every possible read on this play and ends up delivering a strike to Stanford down to the 1-yard line.
On this play, Oregon lines up with Freeman in the backfield, but motion him out before the snap for a empty backfield look. EWU counters this with a 2-deep safety look, with their corners playing man on the outside and their linebackers playing zone in the middle of the field.
After the snap, Adams looks to Freeman in the flats as his first option. If Adams throws to Freeman, the corner would be able to come up and make a tackle near the line of scrimmage.
Adams shifts his feet and looks to his tight end Evan Baylis, who is running a corner route towards the sideline. Adams sees the linebacker in front of Baylis and the safety covering the deep zone behind him and moves on to the next read.
Adams then turns towards the middle of the field for his third option Bralon Addison. The safety turns and runs with Addison when he makes the cut on his post route. This leaves the EWU defensive back in one-on-one coverage with Stanford streaking down the field.
Adams reads the safety's decision and delivers a nice pass into Stanford who gets tackled a yard short of the end zone.
Eastern Washington 2nd Quarter Drive
Now that we've looked at the good things that Vernon Adams and the offense was able to accomplish, let's take a look at the defense, and some of the things that look a little scary going forward. This EWU drive ends in an interception where West thought he had a free play, but before that EWU was gaining huge chunks of yardage every play.
The first play EWU runs is just a simple flair screen to the slot receiver. On plays like this, the number one priority of the defensive backs on the screen side is to force the receiver back towards the middle of the field where they have help. Arrion Springs, who is the furthest outside DB, gets cut blocked by the receiver blocking him. The main reason this play is so successful is a combination of a great block thrown by Cooper Kupp and poor pursuit angles taken by Oregon defenders. Kupp's block ends up taking two defenders out of the play because of those two factors, and Rodney Hardrick takes a poor angle and can't get to the receiver in time.
On the next play, we see everyone's favorite Don Pellum move, the classic 'rush three, drop eight in coverage' that drives Duck fans everywhere to pull their hair out.
Jordan West has plenty of time and space to step up in the pocket and deliver a strike to Kupp who finds a soft spot in the Oregon zone behind the linebackers and in front of the safeties. Kupp makes a few guys miss after the catch and ends up with a 30-yard gain.
The final play of this drive is nearly a carbon copy of the first play, with the flair screen to the receiver out of the trips formation to the wide side of the field. This time Springs is able to force the receiver back into the middle, but he is still able to pick up 8 yards. The play after this one was the interception.
This is the problem with this young Oregon secondary against teams that move the ball quickly through the air. When people discussed before the season how inexperienced this secondary is, it seemed like the inexperience would rear it's head in very obvious ways - blown coverages, missed tackles, etc. From what I saw, there was not that many huge blown coverages against Eastern Washington. But what we did see what many little mistakes - like not containing the edge on a screen, or soft spots in zones - that will be a huge problem all season is Oregon isn't able to get consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
Royce Freeman Run of the Day
If this is your first time reading one of these X's and O's articles, I like to end these article on a happy note, to make sure the last thing you reading isn't negative after a win. That happy note is almost always a Royce Freeman run. This week is no exception
I've watched this GIF 1,000,000 times and I don't plan on stopping any time soon.