Charting Oregon – What You Can Do, Now We Can Do Too

Wow.  When I said buckle up, I meant it in theory, but I wasn’t sure what it would look like in person.  Then game time hit and Huskers offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf put out one of the most interesting F U games I’ve ever seen, going Gun with 11 personnel for the overwhelming part of the day and slamming an offense that looked strangely like an Oregon Ducks offense right down Brady Hoke’s throat.  Amusingly, Brock Huard referred to it as a “pro style” offense at the same time Langsdorf kept dialing up QB run after QB run packaged with RPOs to constrain the apex defenders.  What we saw Saturday was anything but pro style, instead picking and choosing from the best concepts around right now in college football to leverage Armstrong’s legs and other talented skill position players that Langsdorf simply never had en masse at Oregon State.

And it was capped off by a brilliant marriage between Armstrong and Cethan Carter, both of whom completely flummoxed the Ducks’ defense for much of the day.  Though Armstrong wasn’t great through the air in the first half, he turned it around in the second half and delivered a classic gut check performance when his team needed it.  We talked last week about how Armstrong was quietly delivering one hell of a season coming into the Oregon game.  If there were any doubts about whether those numbers were bloated simply by weak competition, #4 erased them against a true Power 5 team, hanging up 295 total yards and 4 TDs.  Fittingly, the knockout blow came on a Lead Draw/Y Stick RPO, with Armstrong pulling it down and housing it from 34 yards out.  It’s a play that Langsdorf dialed up 3 times in the last 6 minutes alone, forcing Oregon to deal with the twin terrors that Armstrong and Carter have become.

Let’s take a look at how Langsdorf and company pulled chapters out of the Oregon playbook to beat the Ducks over the head with them.

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Fresno State – New Year, New Looks

Game 1 of a new football season.  No better day of the year.  Your team hasn’t lost yet, you’ve spent all summer sipping on Kool-Aid while turning every player on your team into an All American, and your coaches can do no wrong.  Then game time hits, you get a punt blocked, drop a routine hand off on a jet sweep, mix in a few untimely penalties, and suddenly you’re in a first half battle with Fresno State.

Thankfully the Husker offense not only settled down in the second half, but made some timely adjustments to take advantage of Fresno State’s overly aggressive defensive fronts.  Let’s take a look at a few of the things the offense got done, as well as our first peek at Banker’s 2016 pressure package.

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UCLA – Living that Two-Back Lifestyle

If, like many other Husker fans, you like to see two backs behind the Nebraska quarterback, the UCLA game was for you.  Of Nebraska’s 80 plays, 35 of them (44%) involved some version of a two-back formation paired with Tommy Armstrong’s own run threat.   There was also no surprise on Langsdorf’s part, as he sent the message early on with extra backs that he didn’t think UCLA could stop his rushing attack.

A large part of that was the personnel mismatch between UCLA’s front 7 defenders and Andy Janovich as both a runner and a blocker.  UCLA didn’t have an answer for Jano in either respect.  Another part of that was the ability to create motion out of the backfield while freeing up Tommy Armstrong to do his thing on the Read play.

In this post, let’s take a look at three very different ways that Nebraska employed their two-back personnel, as well as a passing concept they continually went to against UCLA.

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Charting UCLA – We’ll Do What We Want

Nebraska-UCLA was an offensive beat down.  No other way about it.  Nebraska had 5 first half drives with time on the clock.  They scored a touchdown on 3 of them.  One ended with a red zone fumble (after an uncalled defensive face mask) and the last was a punt.  6 second half drives.  2 touchdowns, 1 field goal, 2 late punts and 1 ended by the final whistle.

It really didn’t matter what Nebraska ran because UCLA couldn’t stop it.  Inside Zone, Outside Zone, QB Draw/Counter, Power/Counter, Lead Draw, Jet Sweep, Fullback Dive all got play.  And they came out of a large dose of 2 back sets, with 32 of 62 carries coming from 21, 22 and 23 personnel.  Some of these came from Split Back shotgun formations, while others came from various iterations of the I Formation.  Let’s take a deeper look.

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