No-rest offense helps Ducks become 'lethal,' control game's tempo

2009-11-20T00:00:00Z 2014-07-08T16:18:42Z No-rest offense helps Ducks become 'lethal,' control game's tempo Patrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
November 20, 2009 12:00 am  • 

OREGON DUCKS

The challenge was laid out early in fall camp - a test by a coach who values "winning the day," to see how fast the Ducks could be.

As offensive coordinator for two years, Chip Kelly liked his teams to play fast and for his players to set themselves quickly to the line of scrimmage, almost always without huddling, and run a play.

The Ducks often snapped the ball right away; if not, they sat at the line of scrimmage, changing the play, preventing the defense from inserting new players. Last season, Oregon held the ball less than any team in America.

As a new head coach, however, he vowed to be even faster. In a sport where offenses were praised for establishing a steady burn, Kelly wanted firecrackers.

So the Ducks' offense took the challenge in the fall, rattling off 13 plays in a jaw dropping minute-and-a-half.

"And that was when we weren't even in top condition," tight end Ed Dickson said.

When the UA plays its most important game in more than a decade Saturday night - like the Ducks, the Wildcats' Rose Bowl dreams likely will be determined by the outcome - the first step will be getting accustomed to Oregon's offensive tempo.

The second will be fighting off second-half exhaustion.

The Ducks' spread offense is unlike any in the country, and not just because it combines the modern spread offense with an old-school triple option.

"We want to think that we're introducing something for the future," Dickson said.

Only eight teams in the country average more than Oregon's 37.10 points per game - yet only five have held the ball for less than Oregon's 26 minutes 40 seconds per game.

By contrast, the Wildcats average 32:49 per game, 6:09 per game more than the Ducks and the sixth-most in the nation.

"As a quarterback, it does take a while to wrap your head around that," quarterback Jeremiah Masoli said of his offense's speed.

Masoli had never run the no-huddle offense before transferring from City College of San Francisco before the 2008 season.

"When you're out there on the field, there's no time for resting," he said. "The only time I get to rest is when (running back) LaMichael (James) will break off a long run and I get to walk down there."

Last season, Masoli's spotty play resulted in UO needing a touchdown with six seconds left to defeat Stanford. The next game, however, the quarterback excelled against Arizona. He posted a season-high 387 yards, throwing for 298 yards and rushing for 89 in a 55-45 win.

That's when the offense "started getting lethal," Masoli said. It hasn't stopped since.

Since losing the opener at Boise State, the Ducks (8-2) have lost one game, beating three teams in the top 16. Five times, Oregon has won by 23 points or more.

James, who replaced the suspended - and since reinstated - LeGarrette Blount, has rushed for 1,253 yards, 60 short of the Pac-10 freshman rushing record set last season by Oregon State's Jacquizz Rodgers.

The Ducks have scored the most points in the conference and, despite their defense being on the field so much, have given up the fewest points.

To try to prepare for Oregon last week, Arizona State put a running back at quarterback and made sets of play cards to show the scout team without huddling.

Oregon won 44-21 anyway, scoring 31 points in about the first quarter-and-a-half.

Physically and mentally, the Ducks pressure teams from the first snap.

"It's a tremendous advantage," Dickson said. "It allows us to get our plays off before the defense gets set."

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Pac-12 South football standings

  Conference Overall
Team W L T PCT W L T PCT
Arizona 7 2 0 0.778 10 3 0 0.769
USC 6 3 0 0.667 9 4 0 0.692
UCLA 6 3 0 0.667 9 3 0 0.750
Arizona State 6 3 0 0.667 10 3 0 0.769
Utah 5 4 0 0.556 9 4 0 0.692
Colorado 0 9 0 0.000 2 10 0 0.167

Pac-12 North football standings

  Conference Overall
Team W L T PCT W L T PCT
Oregon 8 1 0 0.889 12 1 0 0.923
Stanford 5 4 0 0.556 7 5 0 0.583
Washington 4 5 0 0.444 8 5 0 0.615
Cal 3 6 0 0.333 5 7 0 0.417
Washington State 2 7 0 0.222 3 9 0 0.250
Oregon State 2 7 0 0.222 5 7 0 0.417
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