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All-22 Review: Oregon offensive line vs. Iowa State

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The Ducks lost to the Cyclones, but it wasn’t an offensive line issue. Even without Penei Sewell, Coach Mirabal has a strong performance against a tough defense.

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NCAA Football: Oregon Spring Game Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

This piece is part of a series following the Miami Hurricanes offensive line heading into the spring of 2022. The ‘Canes O-Line is coached by Alex Mirabal. Coach Mirabal has followed Mario Cristobal from Oregon where he was the OL coach of the Ducks.

You can read more about the depth chart and OL roster in the link above, while reading more about Coach Mirabal by clicking this link. Let’s take a look at the Ducks O-Line performance against ISU’s odd front defense from the 2020 season. Oregon doesn’t lose the bowl game because of the O-Line play. It was more the turnovers from the QB’s and running back, and the lack of accuracy of the passers.

The OL played a great game while combating the many fronts, pressures, twists, and stunts of the Cyclones.


QB Power RPO

This tackle for loss is on the QB. Ducks run QB power with an RPO attached. The entire point of the RPO is that when ISU rolls down and aggressively plays the run, the Q needs to throw the RPO to the RB up the seam.

In the run concept, the ISU defensive lineman ‘wrong-arms’ the guard trying to kick him out (block him to the sideline). That’s a great technique I love to use because it forces an inside run to bounce outside. This time, it bounces to the waiting LB.


Pass protection

Good looking pass protection here all around. The RB sticks his head in there to pick up the blitz. That was something Cam’Ron Harris did really well for Miami and they lost it when he was out for the season with an injury.

The RT probably didn’t need to turn his shoulders and hips entirely in the 2nd shot above, but he gets turned back by the 3rd shot with his outside knee in the crotch of the defender.


QB draw with smart splits

Oregon using smart splits here against ISU. If ISU is going to keep a 5-tech with a 0-tech, that’s a hell of a bubble to run to. Using the RB as a lead blocker is a great idea.

The LT has an easy turn out block against the 5-tech, and the RB leads on the LB. The 0-tech (NT) is an easy combo block for the LG and center. If the RB holds his block it goes for even more yardage.


Screens

You have to LOVE the way Mirabal’s players block out in space. I hope to see more RB delay screens to Jaylan Knighton in ‘22. Again, the Ducks have those lean and athletic linemen and that’s why I see Jalen Rivers and Michael McLaughlin thriving for Coaches Cristobal and Mirabal.

On the first screen, the RG misses his block.

The 2nd screen is much smoother in the blocking scheme. Either way, they ran screens to perfection at Oregon in ‘20.


Split Zone

Ah, split zone. One of my favorite concepts. Oregon runs it well, along with RPO’s and the play-action off it to keep defenses honest. 48, the H-Back, is a dominating blocker. He’s pancaking guys, drive blocking, down blocking. I hope they can get Will Mallory up to that level in ‘22.

When the Ducks get the wide zone going to the H, now the split zone works. LB’ers are reading cross back. The LB will get drawn by the H going against the grain and the RB can keep play side. If the LB chooses to ignore the H’s flow the cut back is wide open.


Pass pro: What makes bad pass pro vs. good pass pro

After watching the end zone cuts of ISU vs Oregon, I believe Mirabal coaches pass pro similarly to the way that I have in the past, which makes me feel comfortable in discussing the technique.

Rather than kick-slide, I believe they’re using drive-catch. That’s a technique discussion for sure, but it’s a difference in the weight, balance, and footwork. I believe in drive-catch, and LeCharles Bentley’s methods.

When working big-on-big like this, the linemen need to keep the defender in a ‘knee to crotch’ relationship. At tackle, you can see that on display in these two clips and screenshots.

Above- the top frame is the RT getting his outside knee too far outside of the DL. This allows the DL to move inside on him and the tackle has to hold him.

The bottom frame is showing the OT’s knee through the crotch. You can literally see his foot through the DL’s split legs.

Above- On the left, you can see the bad form hurt the pass pro of the RT. The outside knee is too far outside of the DL and the DL makes an inside move that requires the RT to hold him and basically sling him down. It goes uncalled!

On the right, you can see the tackle using drive-catch properly. He doesn’t over set and keeps his outside knee in the DL’s crotch. When the DL comes inside the RT can jab him and balance up, they essentially meet squared up rather than with the DL inside of the RT.

Above- as labeled, this is the good rep.

Above- this is the bad rep where drive-catch isn’t used properly.


Buck sweep

Again, Mirabal’s guys are great out in space. On this buck sweep (pin-pull) the use of more mobile, agile linemen allows for flexibility in who pulls. Also, no. 48 at H-back is getting after it again.

Unlike issues you saw with Miami on pulling plays where Navaughn Donaldson or DJ Scaife couldn’t ‘get there’ to the linebackers, Oregon’s linemen don’t have that issue.


The Wrap

Hopefully you can see while there were technique errors here or there, the unit played well overall and did a fine job against the variety that ISU brings on defense. Oregon wasn’t hindered by their OL in any way. They played well in the run game, screen game, and in pass protection.

Neither QB was pressured before their second or third hitch, and if Shough stepped up in the pocket or Anthony Brown had any pocket awareness or accuracy, this could’ve been a different outcome. Turnovers also killed the Ducks offense, and wore down their defense.

Next up: All-22 analysis of returning Miami offensive linemen.