What hath RichRod wrought?

With last night’s evisceration (and if you want to see an amazing stat, check out the time of possession numbers from the game:  has a team ever lost a game by 47 points before while running up a 17-minute advantage in TOP?) in mind, this is a timely article on the rise of running quarterbacks and the success of the zone-read option play in college football.

The stats show that we’ve entered a new era of offense.

… Four of the nation’s top 18 rushers in the Football Bowl Subdivision — Robinson, Martinez, Newton and Nevada’s Colin Kaepernick — are quarterbacks.

Robinson leads the nation with 1,096 yards rushing in seven games. To put that in perspective, Nebraska’s Eric Crouch ran for 1,115 yards overall on his way to the Heisman Trophy in 2001. Robinson already has run for more yards this season than Vince Young, Tim Tebow, Michael Vick and Tommie Frazier gained in any season during their storied careers and he’s closing in on the single-season record for yards rushing in a season by a quarterback (Air Force’s Beau Morgan had 1,494 yards in 11 games in 1996).

But it’s not just the big-name quarterbacks who are gouging defenses with their legs.

According to STATS LLC, quarterbacks have accounted for 15 percent of all rushing yardage in the FBS this season. That’s the highest total in the past 15 years. As recently as 2006, quarterbacks accounted for just 8.9 percent of the yards rushing. In 1996, that total was just 5.3 percent.

Quarterbacks have rushed for more than 18,700 yards this season — already more than in any entire season between 1996 and 2000. In all, 16 quarterbacks rank in the top 100 nationally in net rushing yardage. If that holds up, it will by far be the highest total of the past 10 years…

It will be interesting to see how defenses adapt.  Judging from Oregon’s play last night, they’ve got their work cut out for them.

36 Comments

Filed under Strategery And Mechanics

36 responses to “What hath RichRod wrought?

  1. gastr1

    Oregon was downright frightening last night. Just from an organizational perspective–how they mercilessly attacked defensive disorganization–they were amazing. How the hell do you stop that…I look forward to seeing someone come up with a way.

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    • Biggus Rickus

      I was left wondering if their offensive line is that good or if UCLA was just confused every play. Or some combination of the two. Because UCLA got absolutely no penetration on any run or pass while I was watching.

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  2. The Realist

    The Ducks are some baaaad dudes. You can stop them only if you catch them. Darron Thomas looks like Dennis Dixon 2.0. When he can complete 70% of his passes for 300+ & 3 TD’s with no picks… AND pull it down and run it for nearly 10 yards per carry…

    That should be against the rules.

    My only concern is their defense. I think a competent offense that can keep the ball away from them and convert TD’s when they get into the redzone can beat them. If Oregon can’t get into a rhythm, they will have trouble moving the ball. I don’t even want to say it, but Oregon should hope and pray that Boise State isn’t their opponent if they make it to the BCS title game. Oklahoma, on the other hand…

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    • gastr1

      That’s what I was thinking…you have to play ball-control as much as you can and push their offense into being more predictable.

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  3. Biggus Rickus

    I would be interested to see what kind of change there was in QB rushing production when the wishbone and veer came into vogue in the ’70s.

    If you have the right QB pulling the trigger and a good offensive line I really don’t see how you can stop the spread the way Oregon runs it. They use the entire field and run it so fast that the defense is left in a constant state of confusion. Of course, if they brought it to the SEC, some coach would complain and officials would force them to slow down.

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    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      The SEC refs would just flag them every time they had a big play against Bama, FLA or LSU. Also, the refs would stand over the ball after marking it ready for play until the Bama, FLA and LSU defenses were set. That would slow them down. The rest of the SEC teams would be on their own though.

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      • Bulldog Joe

        If they wanted to stop it, they would do it with illegal substitution penalties, as they did in Richt’s first years.

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  4. A Different Jim

    The problem with this system is the damage done to the quarterback over time. RichRod could run his system in a weak conference and win with no defense. However, his system is not working in the Big 10 because the beating his quaterback is taking over the season. Last year he ran one quarterback in the ground and this year he is running a different quarterback in the ground. If he was smart he would play both as part of his game plan. In a weak conference RichRod could get away with no defense and no kicking game but not in a league where all lof the other teams have the same level of talent. So, how many times in the past has Oregon looked great only to have the quarterback get hurt late in the season. Then there is no more talk of Oregon playing for a national championship or their quarterback winning the heisman. You could get a big quarterback like Fla or Auburn but you still need a good defense as you will not be as explosive as the Oregon or Mich quarterbacks.

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  5. Brandon

    Defenses will adjust, a good swarthy defense with speed like Alabama’s last year would make them look human.

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  6. Hogbody Spradlin

    What goes around comes around. These guys line up like single wing tailbacks most of the time.

    I don’t know X’s and O’s, but seems to me one way to beat it is have a three man unit at one position, whose one and only job is the QB. You’d have to keep rotating the players so they stay fresh while stud QB wears down, and they’d all have to be big and fast enough to deliver punishment to the QB.

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    • Ausdawg85

      When, exactly, would you be able to rotate them? That’s Kelly’s whole philosophy…no time for D adjustments during a drive.

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      • Hogbody Spradlin

        True but not necessarily 100% effective. There are always clock stoppages. Your subs would be pre-planned. While Oregon’s sideline is holding up their funny pictures your man could be running on.

        Another random thought. Something tells me these hurry up offenses are a double edged sword. I can’t put my finger on it, but I just think that if they were that great someone would have thought of the idea already and it would have been more durable.

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        • gernblanski

          Hog … the fact is even with clock stoppages Oregon is averaging just 15 seconds to snap the ball. Your d-line subs would have to sprint onto the field and line up immediately. Run a play or two and then sprint off. Repeat every couple of downs.

          The only true break for the defense is when your offense is on the field or half-time.

          A conventional no-huddle takes about 20-25 seconds to snap.

          Their practices are designed to refine their offensive process. For Kelly everything is about speed and precision from the minute the offense steps on the field for a game or a practice.

          He has purposely simplified the offensive schemes because he believes in speed and precision more than sophisticated plays.

          He adopted the pistol to his offense a few years ago (he used to run everything out of the shotgun) when he realized that the ball gets to the QB about 1 second faster than in the shotgun. Plus his backs would get a moving start to bring them up to speed faster.

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        • Mayor of Dawgtown

          This thing works both ways. The weakness is ball control. If Oregon played Bama, Bama would hold the ball for 9 minutes on a drive that scored a TD. Oregon then would get the ball and Bama would stop them 3 and out. The Oregon D would then have to take the field with about 3 minutes of rest and the process then repeats itself. By the end of the game Oregon would be playing offensive linemen on D because all the D-line would be totally exhausted. Bama wins 35-7 or so. UCLA-Oregon game in reverse.

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          • gernblanski

            Perhaps but UCLA had a 17 minute advantage in time of possession and it did not do any good.

            I agree with your assumption but that presumes that Alabama could stop Oregon consistently and Oregon’s defense would be no match for the Tide running game.

            Kelly himself has said that his defense has been the unsung heroes of the season because they have been getting off the field when needed. They did give up 31 to Stanford and ASU but some of that was self-inflicted by mistakes in the Oregon offense.

            I think the fact that they scored 52 on Stanford (which plays more of power game like an SEC team) shows something.

            Oregon can be beaten and someone will do it eventually, but it really is something to watch for the time being.

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            • Mayor of Dawgtown

              Despite the 17 minute UCLA time advantage Oregon actually ran more plays than UCLA. The fact that UCLA used more time per play in a perverse sort of way actually helped the Oregon D stay rested with substitutions.

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  7. Macallanlover

    Regardless of how offensive their unis are, that offense is just fun to watch; you cannot help but admire the flawless execution. It would be nice to see them face a talented defense occasionally, but when it gets boring after the blowout begins, the Oregon cheerleaders are just as impressive as the offense.

    You can open up the polls for me now Senator, I had Oregon #1 last week, and there is zero chance that is changing after watchng that demolition. Neuheisal could have have told his players at halftime to start staying in bounds on runs and reducing the amount of time left for Oregon to run plays. They had no answer, none.

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  8. Russ

    As an engineer, I was sorry to see UCLA score that late touchdown. It’s not often that you see someone lose by an order of magnitude (60-6).

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  9. Turd Ferguson

    As impressive as Oregon was last night, didn’t Tennessee keep it a low-scoring tied game going into halftime? Granted, Oregon absolutely wore them out in the second half, but if Tennessee had a little more depth and talent on defense, they might have at least stayed in it ’til the end.

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    • Biggus Rickus

      They did. It was actually one of the better performances against them. They still gained 447 yards and scored 48. That 447 is their lowest yardage total on the year.

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  10. Ausdawg85

    Watching last night I still couldn’t help but think, Lord, I don’t want to see that at Georgia. But it’s impressive, being adapted at the HS level, and would probably use the kind of talent we have on offense right now very effectively.

    Times are a changing…

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    • JK

      Boring as hell to watch. And not because the game wasn’t competitive. Just a boring, boring scheme to watch. Its like its not even football. But it works so I’ll guess get used to it.

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  11. gernblanski

    Even with depth UT would have had a hard time stopping Oregon. Depth does not do you any good if you cannot get the reserves on the field.

    One of the truly interesting things of this offense is that they are averaging just 15 seconds to snap the ball after placement. Kelly’s system is fairly simple and meshes the pistol with the single wing, the triple-option and the spread. The players are taught in practice to do everything at full speed and to run the ball to the referee after being tackled or forced out.

    They run their offense at high-speed with precision to wear down the opposing defense.

    Keep in mind that UT’s D-coordinator is Wilcox and he was Boise’s D-coordinator last year. Boise held Oregon to just 8 points. Boise’s is good but it certainly does not have the “depth” that a UT does. UT gave up 38 unanswered points on defense with the last coordinator who truly stopped the Blur offense.

    I do not think a traditional defensive system that relies on size up front will work as your big guys get too worn down by the speed of their opponents.

    These two articles do a great job at breaking down Oregon’s offensive success:

    http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=easterbrook/101012_tuesday_morning_quarterback&sportCat=nfl

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/02/sports/ncaafootball/02oregon.html?scp=1&sq=oregon%20ducks%20offense&st=cse

    Certainly Kelly’s success this year says a lot about the importance of practice schemes and philosophy and how it translates into the game.

    There may only be two ways to beat Oregon this year:

    1. Be like Auburn and have the ability to score a lot of points too. Match them point for point and try to have the ball at the end.

    2. Be like Boise last year and have your 11 best and well-conditioned tacklers on the field. Perhaps you play with just 2 or 3 traditional D-Line players and then have 9-10 linebacker/d-back hybrids who can match the Ducks’ speed.

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    • Easterbrook’s piece was pretty thoroughly debunked here and here. There’s video evidence, too.

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      • Biggus Rickus

        Easterbrook is a smart guy who is wrong about almost everything when it comes to football. It’s truly amazing.

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        • Mayor of Dawgtown

          I realize that Easterbrook’s piece on Oregon was not 100% right (particularly about the pass routes) but saying he is “wrong on almost everything when it comes to football” strikes me as a little extreme. I’d say the article was mostly right if you ignore semantics. And hey, I definitely saw some pistol last night. Plus,the play where the wideout loops behind the QB, the QB fakes a handoff to the back going into the line and runs wide with the wideout trailing is definitely a “triple option” just not run out of a wishbone or split-back set. Cut the guy some slack. The article was informative. The Oregon offense is difficult to explain.

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  12. 69Dawg

    The only way to beat them is to blow them up. Notice that their O line is good and there is no penetration by the DL. If the D can penetrate they can disrupt and win but they have to be fast while they are at it.

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  13. keith

    Hit the QB everytime. Everytime. HARD.

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