Football-mania has taken over the country and the excitement is building. At the college and professional levels, coaches are getting more creative and doing new things offensively that have never been done. The high point totals and flashy offenses have made the game more fun to watch than ever before.
It seems that no matter what day or what time of day it is, there is a football game on a channel somewhere in the cable listings. Not only are there more games on TV, there are more viewers than ever. Each game is pulling ratings that no other sport can dream of competing with. However, these millions of fans are missing a ton of the game as they watch.
Each of these college and NFL teams watch hours and hours of film each week, preparing for their upcoming opponents. These highly trained athletes and coaches nit-pick every aspect of their own game, study tendencies of their opponents and game plan for the upcoming weeks.
While watching Oregon play, it is very easy to get caught up on how fast the offense is run and watch the incredible skill on the field. I get caught up in it too. Watching De’Anthony Thomas run the ball is something special, Marcus Mariota has an incredible pocket presence and Colt Lyerla is very talented and freakishly athletic. But there is so much more away from the ball that you miss while you watch those guys.
My guide for watching Oregon Football away from the ball…
Lyerla (#15), Josh Huff (#1) and Bralon Addison (#11) – These three are all instrumental in the passing game as the top three targets for Mariota. But what no one sees is that they are the also absolutely crucial to the running game. All three of these receivers have vastly improved their blocking in their time at Oregon. Next time Thomas, Mariota, or Byron Marshall head for the corner, the success of that run may just depend on a block by one of the receivers on the outside.
Hroniss Grasu (#55) – The relationship between Grasu and Mariota has been fairly well documented. Grasu is seen as one of the best centers in his class. The thing that sticks out to me is just his complete control of the offense. We talk about quarterback and linebackers as leaders of their respective teams but in a fast paced offense like the Ducks’ the center is crucial to the efficiency of the line and of the success of the offense. As his vision and leadership continue to anchor the offensive line, this offense should continue to fly.
Taylor Hart (#66) – Hart may not be the flashiest defensive player on the field at any point but he is so fun to watch. When you want to see an example of effort, look no further. Against Tennessee, Hart only posted three solo tackles but his effort and ability was huge in stopping the Tennessee running game. Watch Hart and you will see him running right along with Linebackers to make plays down field, you will see him stretching the play out all the way to the sideline and you will see him rush the quarterback hard off the edge.
Play calling – This is a facet of the game that Oregon has completely revolutionized. We have all seen the big play calling signs, the board with 4 pictures that all represent some aspect of the play. There will also be 3 or 4 backup quarterbacks standing there with red baseball hats on, signaling in the plays and formations. Some of these signals will just be dummy calls to throw off the defense. The interesting thing to me is how quickly and efficiently the Ducks can get into their offense. Very rarely do they ever look confused, they are hardly ever penalized for illegal formations and they always look so crisp in the execution of the plays. If you can make any sense at all out of the play cards and predict the play, you have a better football mind than I do.
Unfortunately the Ducks have a Bye Week this week, but as they enter Pac-12 play, keep these things in mind and enjoy Oregon football from a different angle.