Hey, there's this now!
I have been working on this Oregon wrap-up post since last week, and rather than let it die a sad death along with the other ideas I never got to (weekly Brian Murphy ghostwriting column, R.I.P.), I thought I'd let it see the light of day in a FanPost.
Warning: It's long. And educational. And full of numbers, diagrams, screengrabs, and stats. Let me know what you think of it in the comments ... if you make it that far.
Oregon vs. Boise State Highlights
Oregon vs. Boise State statistics
- Total Yards: Oregon: 152, BSU: 361
- First Downs: Oregon: 6, BSU: 22
- Yds/Play: Oregon: 3.5, BSU: 4.1
- Yds/Poss: Oregon: 10.9, BSU: 25.8
- Avg. Start: Oregon: 32.1, BSU: 33.5
- Turnovers: Oregon: 2, BSU: 3
- Swing Points*: Oregon: 0, BSU: 2
- Yds for Points*: Oregon: 54, BSU: 144
- Wasted Yards*: Oregon: 98, BSU: 217
*Swing Points (pts on defense, special teams or drives < 25 yds)
*Yds for Points (yards on scoring drives (including penalties))
*Wasted Yards (Yards on non-scoring drives (including penalties)
Wasted yards is what stands out most to me in these statistics. It was obvious that the Broncos left points on the table, but this stat really shows just how much they actually threw away. It is also interesting to note that Oregon barely managed enough yards per possession to gain a first down.
1st down play selection for Broncos
Stats: Boise State ran the ball 27 times on first down and passed it seven times on first down
Breakdown by quarter:
- 1st Quarter: 7 runs, 2 passes
- 2nd Quarter: 6 runs, 4 passes
- 3rd Quarter: 7 runs, 1 passes
- 4th Quarter: 7 runs, 0 passes
Think Boise State wasn't serious about establishing the run? These stats show a couple of things.
- Running was definitely a priority.
- Boise State was having success running the football. If they weren't, you would have seen those numbers start to even out after the first quarter. In the second quarter, things were most level. But in the second half, there was only one first down pass called by the Broncos: Kellen Moore's pass to Richie Brockel that resulted in a fumble.
- The fourth quarter numbers can be credited to the Broncos' attempt to run the clock out.
Fumbling, no thanks to themselves
Stat: Only one of Boise State's six fumbles was forced by Oregon
Richie Brockel's fumblerooski following his reception is really the only fumble you could say that Oregon caused, and even it wasn't anywhere close to a strip. Boise State's other fumbles: a botched shotgun snap, Jeremy Avery dropping a pitch, another botched snap, a botched snap on a two-point conversion, and a ball that slipped out of Moore's hands. Those unforced errors make the turnover stats look a lot different.
Third down and relatively long for Oregon
Stat: In their five first half third downs, the Ducks needed an average of 9.4 yards for the first
It's hard enough making first downs against the Bronco defense, but it's a lot harder when you have third and long on almost every series.
Jeremiah Masoli's tendency to throw right
Stat: Masoli threw right eight of ten times in the first half
For all intents and purposes, Jeremiah Masoli had a horrible game. He was ineffective on the ground, and he was mediocre through the air. If receivers could have helped him out a little more, his numbers would have looked better than they ultimately did. Still, one night of putzing it up against the Broncos probably hurt his NFL draft stock more than he will ever know.
One of the most interesting parts to his night was his religious commitment to throwing right. There are a couple of reasons he could have done this:
- Oregon gameplanned to throw at Kyle Wilson, thinking he was beatable.
- Masoli was more comfortable throwing to Jeff Maehl, one of his most experienced receivers.
I'd like to propose a third, more likely option: Masoli had no idea what he was doing. Out of the first two options above, I seriously doubt that No. 1 is accurate. Wilson is one of the best corners in the country, throwing his way was not working even when they tried it, and there are other ways that offenses would and should attack the Bronco D. No. 2 doesn't make sense either, since Masoli had TE Ed Dickson at his disposal, arguably a better disposal than Maehl.
So we're back to Masoli having no idea what he was doing. I credit the Bronco defense for disguising its coverages. Butu I blame Masoli for not going through his progressions and not bothering to look a different way. Part of the problem might have been Chip Kelly's playcaling, but when you run a spread offense there is more than one place to throw the ball on the field than at the other team's best corner.
Boise State will motion you to death
Stat: The Broncos' 18-play first drive saw at least 12 plays use motion.
The Broncos are known for their shifting and motioning, and Thursday night was no exception. Yet for some reason, Oregon didn't seem to know what was going on. Several times they looked confused at the line of scrimmage and didn't adequately move to cover the changing offensive formation.
It should be noted that the motion statistics cannot be 100 percent accurate since ESPN has a propensity for not showing plays until they are about half over.
The most important drive of the game
At the start of the second half, Boise State received the ball with a 13-0 lead. The drive began on their 36 yard line. Here is that drive.
1 and 10 at the BSU 36
D.J. Harper started the second half as the feature back, and following a 32-yard kickoff return by Titus Young, the Broncos were set up in good field position. The importance of the opening drive cannot be understated. If Boise State went three-and-out, the Ducks would have had some good momentum to possibly jump back into things. A long drive with points, and the game would feel much more out of reach than it already was.
The first play of the drive was a simple running play to Harper. No one pulled. Everyone took the man in front of them. And Harper found a hole behind Richie Brockel's lead block to pick up five yards.
2nd and 5 at the BSU 41
Tyler Shoemaker took a swing pass in the right flat and muscled his way for three yards. The crowd was decidedly weak on its "Shoooooo" chant.
3rd and 2 at the BSU 44
An absolutely beautiful play.
First off, Boise State had to have this. A three-and-out, and they were in trouble. The formation showed power with two tight ends (Efaw and Gallarda) and a blocking back (Brockel), and Oregon shifted its defense to the wide side of the field - the left side of the formation.
Efaw went in motion right, and the Oregon didn't really follow, choosing instead to defend the wide side of the field. At the snap, Kellen Moore faked a toss left to Harper, freezing the defense momentarily. At the same time, Efaw and Gallarda - both at the right side of the formation - held blocks for a second or two before releasing into their patterns. The fake blocks might not be clear from my hodgepodge play design, but they were there. I promise. Brockel went right at the snap and sat in a curl in the area that Gallarda and Efaw would eventually vacate.
The route combination between Gallarda and Efaw, coupled with the excellent play fake and blocking, proved to be key. Efaw took his route deep, driving off the outside linebacker. Gallarda came underneath Efaw's route and faded toward the sideline about eight yards from the line of scrimmage. Gallarda was covered by DE Kenny Rowe who looked lost in coverage. Kellen Moore floated a beautiful pass into Gallarda's arms for the eight-yard gain and a much-needed first down.
1st and 10 at the Oregon 48
This was the offense's biggest play of the game, D.J. Harper's 33-yard scamper down to the Oregon 15. The above play design is how things should have gone. Harper and the Bronco offense had to adjust a little bit.
The formation had a TE left with a blocking back in front of Harper (as you can read below, blocking backs for Harper was an interesting theme). Oregon gave a similar look to what it showed often throughout the night, with one safety deep and the other close to the line. T.J. Ward, Oregon's best defensive player, lined up over the tight end.
At the snap, Thomas Byrd got pushed deep into the backfield by a strong rush from the defensive tackle. Brockel went left, forcing the offside DE to go wide. Will Lawrence and Matt Slater performed a textbook combo block on the other defensive tackle, with Lawrence sliding off to take on LB Casey Matthews.
Harper adjusted to Byrd's block by making a hard cut left, immediately after the handoff. Harper's movement forced Oregon LB Spencer Paysinger (#35) to pursue left, taking him out of the play once Harper cut back.
Lawrence's block on Matthews proved to be a huge key to the success of the play. In the above picture, you can see Lawrence at the left, pushing Paysinger who is facing the completely wrong direction. Matthew's technique is not awful; defenders are taught to turn around and dig in rather than give up ground. But Lawrence completely had him beat.
Michael Ames' block turned out to be rather interesting. Facing a defender lined up to the outside of him, Ames managed to allow his guy to work across his face and all the way back into the middle of the play. Harper adjusted again by changing directions to his right, allowing Ames to continue to push his man down the line.
At this point, Harper has a lot of blue turf in front of him. Ames closed down his man, Lawrence still has Matthews wrapped around his finger, and all that's left is for Harper to make a man miss. That man ended up being safety Javes Lewis who had Harper dead to rights and completely whiffed.
Harper took off down the sideline for a 33-yard gain.
1st and 10 at the Oregon 15
2nd and 3 at the Oregon 8
On successive plays after Harper's run, the Broncos took it right up the middle of the Duck defense, using a trap block. On first down, Lawrence pulled right, behind the center, clearing a hole for Jeremy Avery to pick up seven. ON the next play, Boise State ran the exact same thing only reversed, allowing Kevin Sapien to pull to open a hole for Avery to gain five.
1st and goal at the Oregon 3
2nd and goal at the Oregon 1
3rd and goal at the Oregon 1
It took the Broncos three cracks to get into the end zone, but scoring a TD seemed like a foregone conclusion after the way BSU had marched down the field. Harper's TD run, an off tackle handoff to the right, behind Michael Ames, was one of the most well-done one-yard runs you will see. He had three Oregon players ready to make the tackle outside the end zone, but he spun back inside at first contact and fell across the goalline for the TD.
D.J. Harper and a fullback
Stat: D.J. Harper lines up with a fullback 80-90 percent of the time he is in the backfield
Harper and Avery are going to be a dynamic one-two punch all season long. And they apparently are going to do it with very different personnel.
Avery ran almost exclusively out of the single back set on Thursday night. Harper ran almost exclusively with a fullback. Anyone have any reasons? I'm open to anything.
Boise State's refusal to blitz
Noted: The Broncos were able to put pressure on Masoli with the front four and an occasional extra rusher. And that's it. The rest of the defense was afforded the luxury of sitting back and waiting for Masoli ducks to float their way.
Oregon's love of the three-man front and the zone
Noted: Oregon took a similar approach as Boise State by preferring to drop defenders into coverage rather than all-out blitz Kellen Moore. In the majority of plays in the first half, Oregon brought three or four rushers, many times blitzing a linebacker and dropping a defensive end.
Here's where you can tell a big difference between Masoli and Moore. Masoli was unable to find the open man and deliver an accurate, timely throw. Moore found the open man and hit him with regularity. It's interesting how two defenses can approach the game similarly yet come away with different results because of one special player. That special player was not Masoli on Thursday.
Other odds and ends:
- Ugh. Gray numbers on jerseys? And people thought it was hard to recognize players before.
- Venable seemed to handle the lion's share of spying on Jeremiah Masoli.
- The creativity just wasn't there for the Oregon offense. Too many of the same plays. Not enough adjustments.