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Colorado Buffaloes Vs Oregon Ducks: Film Study

This week Oregon comes to town, one of the more prolific offenses in the country. They're high tempo and highly variable in their formation sets which makes them very difficult to prepare for. From five receiver sets to shotgun options, as shown below, this is an absolute nightmare for defensive coordinators.

Below is the option play Oregon ran last week for a 16 yard touchdown against Arizona State. It's different than the usual option as the quarterback is in the shotgun with two running backs stacked behind him. The option play makes a defense read their keys and properly assume responsibility for each option man. If one of the defenders ineffectively reads their keys, an option can go a long way.

In this situation, QB Darron Thomas will fake to the first running back (red arrow) and run an option with the back running back towards the top of the screen. ASU middle linebacker Vontaze Burfict bites on the first fake to the running back. The outside linebacker (orange circle) and the safety (yellow circle) have quarterback and pitch man responsibility. Look how far that safety has to run to get to the running back. You can see the two wide receivers to the top of the screen against man to man coverage (green rectangles). Their blocks will be crucial in making this a three yard run or a touchdown.


Both wide receivers (yellow arrows) are in charge of blocking the corners (green rectangles). The outside linebacker (orange circle) is keying on the quarterback in this option situation.


Darron Thomas fakes to the first running back. The middle linebacker and the outside defensive end bite on the fake (purple arrows). The defensive end not keeping contain and forcing an early pitch allows Thomas to stay flat with the line of scrimmage and get outside quickly. Look at the outside linebacker now on an island waiting for the safety to take a long run to make a play on the running back. The linebacker's job is the force a pitch and not allow Thomas to take the ball right up the middle of the field.


As you can see circled in purple, ASU's middle linebacker and defensive end are stuck inside. The outside linebacker (orange circle) and the safety (yellow circle) are collapsing on the play but as you can see, no one has the running back. The safety takes a bad angle to get to the running back and clearly it looks like the outside linebacker believes he has responsibility for the quarterback.


As you can see below, both the outside linebacker and safety are focused on the quarterback. The safety even pulls up so no one is accounting for the running back. The wide receivers are in position to make blocks on the corners.


Thomas makes the pitch to the back with both the outside linebacker and safety well behind the play now.


The safety's bad angle causes him to miss the tackle. Look at the two blocks of the wide receivers. Fantastic job by Oregon here and a very poor job by the corners to force this play inside to a trailing safety and outside linebacker.


The safety (circled in orange) makes a diving attempt at the back but the tackle is missed. The wide receiver is still holding his block. Touchdown Oregon. Great play design with poor defensive recognition. That being said, Oregon makes you prepare for so many looks that the defense never gets a ton of reps the week leading up to the game defending the option or the screens or the draws or the five receiver sets.