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BCS Championship Review

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Chris Brown, over at Smart Football, reviewed the BCS Championship game. His second point is what really stuck out to me during the game. I watch a lot of PAC 10 ball, so I was really amazed at how Chip Kelly called the game.

Really, I think both coaches outschemed themselves.

First, Chip Kelly. His modus operandi this year has been:

1.  Zone read and variations

2.  Play action/Screens

3.  under 15 seconds between plays

I’m not sure coach Kelly has these defined  like this, but maybe he should.

The first two points are what many teams do frequently. The third point is Oregon’s strength. When I Tevo an Oregon game, I cannot skip ahead 30 seconds between plays. When a play ends for Oregon, I have to rewind 20 to 30 seconds, and then skip 30 seconds forward so that I don’t miss a play.

In the BCS Championship Game, Oregon started out with spread passing. 3-and-out. Then there were 2 drives that Oregon operated under the afore-mentioned parameters. Oregon 1)ran the ball effectively (3+ yards per) and 2)mixed in screens and play action, while 3)maintaining their usual pace. In fact, their pace was incredible- I had to rewind a full 30 seconds then skip 30 second in order to catch the next play. They were spending less than 10 seconds resetting and snapping the football. Auburn was gassed- evidenced by a 12 men on the field penalty and DL player taking a knee on the sideline. You weren’t hearing Nick Fairley’s name, except when a 15 yard penalty was involved.

Oregon got out in front and got a 2-point conversion. It felt like Oregon football. It was tough going, but it was fast-paced and methodical.

And then Kelly came out 1&2)throwing,  going 3-and-out, especially in the second half, and 3)letting the play clock roll down into the 10 second area- unheard of. A lot of gadgets and misuse of the field (bunching to the boundary which naturally limits available grass) and Fairley and Co. get a second wind and tee off on Oregon.

Oregon’s offense was generally ineffective and overschemed. The ball was not put into the playmakers’ hands enough and the fundamentals of the system were ignored.

Auburn took advantage and held Oregon to 19 points.

Auburn’s offense is based on misdirection power football. They are dependent on a bigger line that can pull and lead, and a big QB to pick up 2-3 yards when needed. Passing is based on man routes, and this game showcased double-moves and formations creating natural mis-matches in coverage. The Auburn OL was impressive in protecting Newton, who I think is overrated at QB, but indispensable to the scheme in picking up the 2-3 yards sometimes needed (like Tebow).

Auburn’s running game became effective in the 3rd and 4th quarter, when they leaned on it more. Dyer picked up chunks, it fed the play action, and Newton himself converted 3rd down and short a number of times.

Auburn’s passing game with man routes counted on wide open receivers or throwing the ball up and counting on bigger, better receivers to get it. Auburn had both, and Cam Newton found those well. And when coverage was good, he found yardage with his legs.

Oregon was generally effective in limiting Newton’s big plays, limiting the Auburn run game, and limiting big plays. Auburn’s most effective offensive plays seemed to be bubble screens, flat throws, and out-and-up patterns.

Auburn’s offense was not dominant, nor was it particularly effective. 22 points would be a goal for any defense to be proud of holding Auburn to.

Overall, I think I learned some limits to the Spread Running game. Urban Meyer made a good comment post-game: the spread option offense has the need for a big back or QB to get the yardage in the red zone/GL+5 (Oregon lacked this, Auburn had this) and reinforced the importance of sticking to what one does best.

I thought it was a sloppy, unintelligent game overall, with both coaching staffs overscheming. In the end, Auburn settled into their bread and butter first (out of necessity to run the clock) and came out on top. There is a certain strength in knowing what you do best and doing best what you do best.

In the end, the defenses get the game ball, for making plays and capitalizing on offensive wonkiness. For the game ball, I would give it to Nick Fairley, if he wasn’t such a dishonorable player, so I give it to Auburn’s #5 Michael Dyer, who made tough, determined yards and won the game for Auburn.

If Oregon wins, the ball goes to Casey Mathews, who caused a game-changing fumble out of Cam Newton’s hands as well as being in the thick of the Auburn offense all evening. Yet another underrated Matthews. (I coached his older brother Bryce in High School- nowhere near the motor/determination of Clay jr. and Casey).

For me, the game was a snoozer- Two struggling running offenses trying to do too much outside of what they do best and man passing routes that ended up looking and feeling clumsy an simplistic. Not a great offensive game, regardless of the yards earned an not an interesting game, really.

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Written by Jon Ellsworth

January 11, 2011 at 1:15 pm

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