Welcome to ATQ & A, the somewhat regular column in which we pose a question to the Addicted to Quack staff. This week we ask the question:
“How many carries is too many carries for Herbert?”
As we all know, Justin Herbert was injured during last year’s contest against California. On a 7-yard touchdown run Justin Herbert broke his collarbone, and although the Ducks went on to win that game, Oregon’s offense became atrocious without its hometown hero.
Because of the sudden drop off in quality after Herbert’s departure, Duck fans will be holding their breath every time he decides to take the option. Still, Oregon’s recent success is built off of the idea of the mobile quarterback, and to under-utilize Herbert’s size and speed could cost the team some wins.
So how much is too much? Last year Herbert played in 8 games, had 44 attempts for 183 yards, and five touchdowns. How many carries should he get per game this year?
Or Not to Run?
Mariota’sMustache - Part of me wants to say zero. After seeing what can happen to a perfectly good season after Vernon Adams Jr. and Justin Herbert suffered injuries, I’m tempted to send Herbert out there in a plastic bubble. However, it would be foolish not to take advantage of his natural skill as a runner. Most of the time, he had a great sense of when to tuck and run, and it made Oregon’s trio of deadly running backs even deadlier. One of the biggest concerns for this year’s team is our receiving corp; forcing the defense to gameplan for Herbert’s ground game would certainly help them out. As long as Herbert plays it safe, and learns when to slide, I think we can keep him relatively healthy and Duck fans happy.
-ANSWER: Eight carries a game.
hythloday1 - It’s tricky to give a specific number, because most quarterback carries in the offense Herbert was running are off of an option play, so the defense is dictating whether the QB keeps or not. But that said, I’d like to see fewer QB runs in the stat book than last year, though for different reasons than you might think. First, according to my tally sheet more than half of Herbert’s officially recorded carries weren’t actually designed rushes, they were the result of something going wrong: a scramble when the pocket collapsed, a botched snap or handoff and he had to fall on it, or a sack (the NCAA, for no defensible reason, records a sack as a rush with negative yardage, unlike the sensible NFL - and no one should ever have to say that last bit) ... obviously reducing this type of “carry” would be great. Second, as I wrote about last month, the RPO in the playbook last year was almost entirely fake and a run all the way, and defenses were leaving the pass option part of that very lightly defended in order to pack the box ... I’d like to see Herbert entrusted with actually passing out of that scheme a lot more.
ANSWER: Five designed runs per game.
Joseph Yun - From a draft evaluator’s perspective, it would behoove him to run more when the pocket gets dirty and he has to extend the play ala Russell Wilson. Oregon has stability in the offensive line to blow open holes in the run game. While the Ducks aren’t completely barren in the backfield (after losing all time Duck Royce Freeman to the pros) but Herbert might be the most established weapon. Mr. Arroyo should pay a visit to Philadelphia and learn from one of the best RPO gurus in Eagles HC Doug Pederson. The way he called the Super Bowl was a master class in offensive play calling. I’m not saying Herbert is a Marcus Mariota level athlete (no one is, really) but he has a decent modicum like an Aaron Rodgers (when healthy). Arroyo will definitely have to find the balance in designed runs and read option plays before the law of diminishing returns sets in.
ANSWER: 10 per game dependent on effectiveness of the running attack.
allthebacon - Am I the only one concerned that the deemphasis of the QB in the run game makes it easier for the defense to stop the rest of the offense? Personally, Herbert could not run all game, but he has to be a threat to run. I think that we need to stop running dummy options, dummy RPOs, and force the defense to defend everything.
ANSWER: For Oregon to be successful next season, Herbert must run somewhere between 65 and 38 times next season.