Last Tuesday, tWWL's columnist Gregg Easterbrook, who writes the Tuesday Morning Quarterback, an NFL (not college) discussion series, attempted, and utterly and embarrassingly failed at writing an article regarding the Oregon Ducks' no-huddle offensive scheme and philosophy.
Yesterday, I requested that we stop calling Oregon's offense a blur offense because of how horribly written the article was, and adopting his moniker just lets the article gain validity.
Some X's and O's experts have already broken it down here and here, and I'll be channeling their takes. Also, I won't be linking to the article, just use the Google Machine if you have the mental stamina.
I'll discuss the actual pace of the offense first: Easterbrook implies as if Oregon is the only "real" team to run a no-huddle by saying,
Oregon is not the only college team to be snapping really fast. Two weeks ago, yours truly watched Amherst, an elite academic college, run a version of the blur, snapping in an average of 18 seconds; Amherst is undefeated and averaging 40 points a game. But 15 seconds 'til the snap -- the actual average being posted by the Ducks, not a boast -- is unprecedented.
Teams like Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Auburn would take that as a slap in the face. Chris from Smart Football responds:
The idea of a no-huddle spread offense is rather old (people may remember that the first iteration of Smart Football was called "The No-Huddle Spread Offense site," and it came out in 1999 — and it wasn’t new then, either). And of course, Gus Malzahn (who wrote a book about the no-huddle) of Auburn and formerly of Tulsa (which leads the nation in total plays run) has been doing this at least as long as Chip Kelly.
Not only that, but Easterbrook attempts to address the inner workings of the Oregon Offense:
The blur offense combines four existing ideas -- the "pistol" set developed at the University of Nevada (itself a high-scoring team, averaging 43 points); the single-wing run fakes used since football became a sport, then forgotten as old-fashioned, and now revived; the triple-option that is a standby of high school and college football, though very rare in the NFL; and the spread set that was considered radical a decade ago but now is practically conventional.
After watching the Oregon-Stanford game, not only did they not score using the pistol, they hardly even used it. Michael from Braves & Birds agrees. Not only that, but the triple option concept was used a total of 4 times against Stanford. It was not conventional.
Easterbrook on the Pistol
The pistol set means the quarterback is 4 yards behind center, rather than 7 yards as in a shotgun. (A pistol is smaller than a shotgun.) Like the high school version of the spread, the blur involves lots of hitch screens, in which the quarterback quickly throws sideways to a wide receiver who's hitching. Being only 4 yards behind center means the quarterback gets the snap a bit faster and the hitch screen throw has slightly less distance to travel, arriving one second earlier. Saving a second helps accelerate the tempo. In the pistol, the tailback is behind the quarterback rather than next to him as in the shotgun. This means the tailback takes his handoff moving forward with momentum, rather than standing still as in a shotgun's draw action.
I’ve never heard someone claim that an advantage of the Pistol is that a screen pass gets to a receiver quicker. We’re not talking about a second faster; we’re talking about a fraction of a second faster. The major advantage is the second one that Easterbrook briefly describes: the offense combines a traditional downhill running game with the advantages of the shotgun (quarterback gets the ball facing the defense).
Also, the draw bit is incorrect.
The runner is just as flatfooted in the pistol, and downhill as the spread.
Easterbrook also ignorantly claims that there are 20 plays in Oregon's offense:
The blur offense has maybe 20 plays, though several involve an option about who carries the ball. A very simple playbook allows Oregon to perfect the execution and snap really quickly. Players on the field couldn't possibly understand hand signals for a conventional 50-play college playbook.
Not only has he not looked through any film to see that the Ducks have at least 20 different variations of formations alone, he ignores Urban Meyer's concepts, who ran the same concepts when they felt like it with Tebow.
This pretty much sums it up (from Braves and Birds)
One last thought on Easterbrook’s sudden infatuation with Oregon: it’s not surprising that he would fixate on Oregon’s version of the spread (as opposed to Florida’s or Michigan’s, for example) because Easterbrook loves to bitch about "football factory" schools and by focusing on cute little Oregon with its coach from New Hampshire and its Donald Duck mascot, he doesn’t have to worry about sullying himself. If only he understood the terminology that he tosses around.
So yes, I am kicking back. Don't spread his weak articles around by using his cute moniker. If you are going to act like an expert, which Easterbrook is in regards to journalism, academics, and pro football, you have to make sense, and not make up random facts that appeal to trending football discussions.