The reason I say contain, and not stop, is that no defense in the country is going to line up and stop Oregon unless Oregon shoots themselves in the foot. They are simply too talented to stop if they are executing.
Anyways, Oregon's base running play is the Zone Option. It works like this:
At the snap, the O Line will move in unison in one direction. They are looking to double team the playside D Lineman, and from those double teams achieve push into the second level, and one lineman will disengage to pick up a second level player, depending on the movements of that second level player. They will often leave the backside end (or furthest outside defender on the line) as the "Read" man. If this player comes upfield, the QB hands the ball to the RB. If the read man crashes down the line, the QB pulls that ball out of the RB's gut and runs around the end, opposite of the offensive line movement., which looks similar to a QB running a Play action naked boot.
Here is how you slow it down.
Decide which player you want running the ball. James is the best runner, but will also be running into the heart of the defense. Thomas is an excellent runner in his own right, and when he pulls the ball he will be going directly into the open field, which is open because of the fear of James breaking one causes the defense to flow towards James. You can only truly stop one, and for the cougs I think that one has to be James.
What this means is sending that last guy on the line, the Read Guy, crashing towards james from the backside. This will cause Thomas to pull and head towards the area vacated by the end. Here is where the scheme comes in, and it requires putting a "spy" on Thomas. As soon as the defense recognizes the zone read, whoever is covering Thomas (be it an OLB or a safety or whomever) needs to A.) Get to the outside of Thomas and force him back to the pursuit and B.) make the tackle in space when presented with the opportunity. Holding outside contain is the key, because if Thomas gets to the far sideline with our defense chasing James you can say goodnight to us keeping them under 600 rushing yards.
This accomplishes two things. Firstly, it keeps the ball out of the hands of a Heisman Candidate as much as possible, which is obviously a good thing. Secondly, it requires Darron Thomas, who while a superb athlete and offensive weapon is NOT the best player on that offense, to beat us. He probably can, but allowing their best player to do whatever he wants to us is a surefire way to get rolled on by the Quack Attack.
I played in this offense in high school and, not surprisingly, we had a duo of backs that both averaged near 100 ypg on the ground. The most frustrating thing for our team was when that backside DE just simply crashed down and forced our qb to pull the ball and run it himself. This led to good gains by the QB at times, but when they had someone on him it would lead to rushes for loss and marginal gains.
Here's hoping the coaching staff figures out some way to slow them down, and hopefully our offense can find itself in a shootout and keep this thing respectable.
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