There are some interesting items to watch for in this game today against UCLA, as if there was not enough drama associated with this Pac-12 showdown. Yet in discussing some Xs and Os with FishDuck Analyst, DazeNconfused, recently–we observed some new play roll-outs in the last two games within Oregon’s offense by offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham that hint at more. However there are two other elements that could impact today’s game that we should take a look at since I have not observed them being covered by other media outlets.

The crowd impact could be muted by the rain, but not the way you would think. When noise studies were done in the past, what fans are wearing does affect how sound is absorbed or reflected. Thus if they are wearing rain slickers with the rubber/plastic covering–these materials will swallow the sound, and not reflect the roaring crowd thunder throughout the stadium. Illegal procedure penalties brought about by crowd noise can turn UCLA touchdown drives into field goals, or stop drives altogether with low-percentage third-and-long scenarios.

When thousands of fans are wearing rain gear–will our Autzen crowd advantage be diminished?

From Fox Sports Video

The 4-0-4 defensive alignment is tough to run the ball on.

Will Oregon’s 4-0-4 Alignment Ruin the Bruin Rushing?

The screenshot above is from an earlier analysis, and shows how Oregon has used the 4-0-4 defensive alignment in the past to stop running inside the tackles. This is from the 2013 Alamo victory over Texas with the Duck defensive ends positioned on the inside shoulder of the offensive tackles, (a 4i technique) that along with a Nose Tackle (a 0 technique) and two inside linebackers–can stuff the “A” and “B” gaps inside.

For stopping the UCLA running game–the success of this alignment and its execution could be the difference in the game. The objective is the plug the Inside Zone Read gaps, and make Bruin running backs “spill” to the outside where our “Alley” and “Force” defenders await. Oregon has the ideal personnel to play this alignment in a big nose tackle of Taki Taimani, and defensive ends in Brandon Dorlus and DJ Johnson.

The inside linebackers of Noah Sewell and Justin Flowe make this an imposing interior defense to run against, although I would caution that every offense or defense has downsides to match the advantages. The negative element of the 4-0-4 defense is the difficulty of putting a pass rush forward; when the defensive ends already start on the inside shoulder of the offensive tackle–it makes it more difficult to get outside and around the perimeter of the pocket.

I would look for the pass-rushing pressure to come from Overload Blitzes on the edges with linebackers and safeties, with an occasional corner blitz coming the boundary (short) side of the field. In the end–I believe that Coach Dan Lanning’s philosophy has been to place the pressure of the pass defense on the secondary, and not on the pass-rush. Thus what is discussed above becomes a very plausible strategy to slow the Bruins down.

Twin-Backs Portend More Dillingham Surprises?

Coach Dillingham unveiled a nasty new play series against Stanford that originated from a Chip Kelly play initially revealed in 2012 at USC. (And this play series was not reported in any media outlet–I am doing defensive analyses, and thus could not mention it until now) Another new play series featured twin backs next to the quarterback, and we saw that again against Arizona in various degrees. I could not help but run the tapes in my mind of the Chip Kelly offense a decade ago. If Dilly would pull one play out of the past…would he pull another that matches up with twin-backs wonderfully?

The Straddled Triple Option play (Video is above) was a primary play of 2010 that put us into the National Championship game as Darron Thomas made superb decisions with the Inside Zone Read aspect of the play, and again with the second component, the Speed Double-Option. I was putting things together thinking about the twin-backs, how Bo Nix is also an experienced savvy quarterback with Zone Reading, and has already shown a flair for the Speed Double-Option element before.

Could Dilly hurt UCLA with an old Chip Kelly play?

The answer is absolutely, either now or later in the season as it stretches the defense and creates mistakes in defensive run-fits…and frankly, that play matches up extremely well with our personnel. A surprise like this would not be the first time either, as Mark Helfrich popped it on Washington on this same weekend in 2014 (a 45-20 victory) after having the play on the shelf for four years. Now this is all dreamy conjecture on my part, but it is fun to  ruminate on and watch for later today.

“Oh, how we love to ponder about Our Beloved Ducks!”

Charles Fischer   (Mr. FishDuck)
Eugene, Oregon
Top Screenshot from Comcast Sports Video

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