Monday, January 10, 2011

Oregon's Inside Zone Series

In honor of tonight's game I figured I would try to throw together something to maybe look forward to tonight from Chip Kelly and Oregon. I'm going to briefly discuss Oregon's inside zone and the series that Chip Kelly has built off of it.

Inside Zone

First, we have their base inside zone play. Oregon is much more of a zone team than Auburn (whom I've covered recently). Oregon runs a lot of zone, both inside and outside.

Here is a diagram of their base inside zone play (taken specifically from their game against Stanford this year). LaMichael James, Oregon's star runningback aligns in the slot to the left and motions across the formation and into the backfield. Stanford is aligned in an even front. Like most of the teams running zone read, Oregon leaves the right defensive end unblocked and QB Darron Thomas reads him for either give or keep. Oregon will also have their #3 run a bubble route which is always an option for Thomas to throw to if he pulls.

Zone Bubble

The next play in the series is the bubble off of the inside zone action. While Thomas (QB) usually has the option to mesh with the tailback on the zone and run the play from there, he also is afforded the option to simply catch the snap and throw. I'm assuming this comes from a pre-snap read and determining if the trips side of the formation has leverage. Below we see an advantageous alignment which allows Thomas to throw the bubble immediately after catching the snap. The rest of the offense (o-line and tailback still execute the zone play as called.)

Bubble Now

For inside zone plays with two receivers aligned on the backside Chip Kelly will replace a bubble by #3 with a now screen by #1. On this play Thomas will ride James the tailback on his read, and make his decision from there. On this play specifically Thomas notices the NB creeping into the box before the snap and committing to the run after the snap. Thomas fully rides James and upon disconnect immediately throws the Now screen out to the #1. The offense clearly has leverage on the outside with the ability of the #2 receiver to block the CB and the NB having abandoned coverage responsibilities.


Off of the zone bubble concept Oregon will throw a play-action bubble/slant series to take advtange of corners and safety's who jumping the bubble. Thomas will quickly ride the tailback then shoulder pump to the bubble and hit one of the slants behind it. Very simple stuff.


The final play in the series is just the next step from the bubble-slant concept. However, instead of throwing a slant after shoulder pump to the bubble Thomas will look to hit the #2 who has run a seam route past the creeping safety. The outside receiver will either run a slant or a curl and is also another option if the safety stays high and runs with the seam.

Now Oregon isn't the only team to run these series of plays, I saw Michigan on more than a few occasions this year utilize these. Oregon's big impact comes from the fact that they go fast...really fast. Along with that they line up and go from sideline to sideline across the field, getting defenders moving. During a few series alone Oregon would simply go from inside zone, to bubble, to screen, to bubble the other way, to inside zone. It appears to me that for the most part Oregon is definitely more uptempo than Auburn, yet like Auburn is still relatively simple scheme wise. They execute well and do this at a fast paced.

All I know is I am excited for tonight. Hopefully it's a great game and both offenses show some new things.