Has Anyone Noticed OREGON Lately?

Gerald BallCorrespondent ISeptember 28, 2008

First things first. I am an SEC fan who hates Pac-10 football. With that out of the way, the offense that Oregon has been putting up this season is unreal.

Now understand that this is coming from a person who prefers defensive football. Not much use for the 4-3 and hate the 4-6. But the 3-4, 3-3-5, and 4-2-5? Now that is football. 

I must ask: why don't more teams run a 3-4, 3-3-5, or 4-2-5? The first two are greatly suited to defending the spread option teams like Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, Florida, Penn State, Texas, Ohio State, Michigan, West Virginia, and OREGON.

The NT and MLB/ILBs overwhelm the interior blocking (never a strength for spread teams) and the extra edge players can get to the edges, cut off lanes, and fill the gaps.

Meanwhile, the latter two are excellent for defending spread passing games like Purdue, Auburn, and half the Big 12 (Kansas, Missouri, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Colorado, Oklahoma State).

Why? You replace a front-seven player with a defensive back, the rover. If the QB is a scrambler, you spy him with the rover. If he isn't, you alternate between blitzing the rover and dropping him back in coverage.

Basically, if offenses aren't going to use true fullbacks and TEs and are going to abandon having physical guards and centers, MAKE THEM PAY FOR IT!

Of course, most college football programs don't run these spread offenses, you might rejoinder. Well, these defenses are quite good against conventional offenses, too, and even more so because offenses will rarely see them.

In any event, we are talking about a Pac-10 team here, so all discussions of defense have to stop. (To think that in the early 90s, there were not only the Desert Swarm defense at Arizona and excellent Don James defenses at Washington.)

I was willing to be deluded by USC and UCLA for awhile, but after BYU (59 points in 2 1/2 quarters!) and Jacquizz Rodgers, please. 

But sadly, there seem to be no great defenses this year. Several good ones, but none like the dominating ones like LSU in 2003, the smothering ones like Florida in 2006, or the opportunistic ones like Virginia Tech in 2004, or the absurd quasi-NFL ones of Miami from 2001-2004. 

So I must acknowledge excellence wherever it occurs, and right now the Oregon offense is excellent. 32, 32, 44, 63, and 66 points!

Now I am aware that the Big 12 offenses are putting up similar numbers. But has any team in the Big 12 done it against two conference foes (Washington State and Washington) and in two tough nonconference matchups (Purdue and Boise)?

And even more impressively: Oregon is doing it with like their fourth- and fifth-string quarterbacks. How many QBs does Oregon have? Where do they find these QBs? And if they are all that good, why don't they transfer for playing time elsewhere?

Actually, if Oregon is going to win big with this offense, they really do need to restrict their recruiting to the types of dual-threat QBs that make this offense special.

Dropback passers, even those who can scramble, just can't cut it against fast defenses in offenses that require the option.

I still remember Oregon QB Kellen Clemens' response to the woofing of USC's defensive players about since they completely shut down Oregon's very similar offense that they would be able to defend Texas.

Clemens' response: "I AM NOT VINCE YOUNG."

Oregon doesn't need Tim Tebows, Vince Youngs, or Terrelle Pryors, but there are plenty of guys almost as good (guys who can get to the edge on the run/pitch option plays and get upfield on scrambles) willing to come to Eugene.

The thing is that if Oregon keeps rolling up points like this, they are going to HAVE to start making headway in recruiting. They would become the place to go of choice for players that USC aren't really interested in.

If they were running the same scheme as USC, that would be a problem, but since their scheme is different, then it would be enough to make them a contender in the Pac-10 and nationally.

On offense, that is. There is still the little matter of defense. Of course, Oregon could do what worked well for Nebraska all those years: take the guys that won't get playing time at RB and QB and move them to linebacker and safety.

(Incidentally, that is another advantage of recruiting dual-threat QBs rather than dropback passers who can run a little.)

A wealth of linebackers and safeties equals personnel for the 3-4 or 3-3-5 defenses! Imagine all of the blitzes and coverages to mix up Steve "I am just as good as Norm Chow...or then again, maybe not!" Sarkisian offenses. 

But for that, Oregon would need to care about their defense to hire an elite coordinator. But since this is the Pac-10, we know that it isn't going to happen.