Oregon played USC this past Saturday and after a slow first quarter that put them behind 10-0, Oregon went on to outscore the Trojans 56-14 during the next three quarters.
The Ducks were able to find the end zone 8 different times in large part of Oregon’s quick game tags with zone run. No matter how USC tried to stop Oregon’s dynamic offense, the Ducks were still able to find a number advantage either in the pass game or in the run game.
I was pretty excited when I saw Oregon successfully attack USC with these concepts because I wrote an article covering this very topic of tagging quick pass game with zone read just days before this game.
Oregon’s Quick Game Tags With Zone Run
Here are a few plays and video clips from last Saturday of Oregon tagging their quick game with their zone schemes.
Outside Zone Tagged with Bubble & Hitch
Oregon’s second touchdown of the night was set up by a five yard hitch that was tagged with outside zone.
The Ducks were on the 10 yard line when they lined up in their two back set with two receivers to the right, and one receiver to the left.
Here’s how the Ducks drew up this play and how USC defended it:
A few things happened (rather quickly) for Herbert to get the right pre-snap read to throw the hitch.
First, Herbert sends his back on the left in motion to the right. He identifies the Safety to the field bounce with motion, taking away the number advantage to the right. Herbert also identifies the Corner on the single receiver side start to creep towards the LOS showing a blitz off the edge. This alerts Herbert that the five yard hitch route will come open. His pre-snap read of the corner is confirmed once Herbert receives the snap, so he rips the ball out of the belly of the back and quickly throws the hitch route to the boundary.
Here’s the play that put the Ducks just inches away from a touchdown.
If Oregon hadn’t tagged the hitch route with the Outside Zone to the boundary, then they would’ve had to burn a timeout because USC was blitzing right into the run, or suffered a loss and would be staring at a 3rd and long instead of 1st and goal at the half inch line.
That’s why tagging quick game with the run game is so efficient because it gives the offense multiple options. As a coach, you don’t have to worry about getting caught with the wrong play anymore now that you have the ability to attack both coverage players and run defenders at the same time.
Outside Zone Tagged With Quick & Fade
Oregon tagged their quick pass game with Outside Zone all night long, and they did it again here with a quick (now screen) and a fade route. The ducks lined up with TE as a wing to the right and two receivers outside of him to the boundary. The single receiver, Juwan Johnson, was by himself to the field.
Here’s what Justin Herbert saw after he got the play call:
Right away Herbert counts 7 guys in the box and knows he doesn’t have the numbers to run outside zone since his TE is releasing down the seam.
He checks the two receivers next and sees that USC is playing tight to the LOS and are ready for the quick screen out to the receiver off the ball.
That brings Herbert to Juwan Johnson who is all by himself with a press Corner and plenty of field to work with on his fade route. Herbert quickly punches the ball in the belly of the back to let the fade route develop, and then rips it out to throw the ball outside and away from the Corner. Johnson makes a great grab and comes down with it for another touchdown.
Take a look at how Oregon executed the quick game tagged with outside zone:
Clearly, USC put enough guys in the box for Herbert to go away from the run. At that point, it’s about numbers and who has the best matchup, and Juwan Johnson against a Corner on an island is a matchup that Herbert will take every time.
Outside Zone Tagged With Bubble & Slant
Oregon shows two backs again with two receivers to the field and the single receiver to the boundary. This is very similar to what they showed in the first play above. In this play, Oregon motions the near back to the two receivers side to run the bubble/swing route. The single receiver on the boundary is now running a slant.
Here’s the play design and how USC defended it pre-snap.
In this pre-snap look, Herbert initially gets a 7 man box with the Nickel defender just outside the Left Tackle. He also has a Corner playing tight to his single receiver, and the other Corner tight to the #1 receiver to the field who is off the ball.
Once Herbert sends his back in motion, the Nickel player bounces with the motion, which means USC has 6 players in the box to defend the run. This gives Herbert the green light to run Outside Zone once the ball is snapped.
Let’s go to the video:
Now, I know what you’re thinking…
“Big deal, it was a 2 yard run”
And yes, you’d be right, it is a 2 yard run. However, this play was called on 1st and 10 and although it was only 2 yards, it keeps Oregon’s offense in rhythm and on schedule with their tempo offense.
I think if Herbert had a chance to run this play again, he would throw the ball to his running back on the bubble/swing route. Although USC bounced with motion and has 3 defenders to that side, the only immediate threat is the Corner, who will be blocked by the #1 receiver. With the other two defenders playing off, and Herbert’s ability to quickly get the ball out to the athletes in space, I would say that Oregon has a play on the perimeter as well.
Tagging Quick Game with Zone Run
Tagging quick pass game with zone run is a great way to dictate the type of look you’ll get from the defense. Whether the defense decides to stack the box to defend the run, or spread out and defend the pass, you’ll now have an answer for whatever you get.
These concepts are simple enough for High School players to run and effective enough for the top teams in college football to implement.
Start tagging your quick pass game with zone run and take advantage of the numbers and matchups you get!