There are encouraging signs that the Oregon State Beavers are starting to climb back into Pac-12 relevance after a tough couple of years. One sign is their commitment to the ground game with creative formations and concepts. Ryan Dukarm looks at how the Beavers are utilizing a jet sweep read option play to boost their rushing attack this year.
The Oregon State Beavers have begun their return to college football relevance, beating the Cal Golden Bears in double overtime 47-44 for their first Pac-12 win in almost two years. Their successful stepping stone of a season has come behind a very successful rushing attack, averaging over 200 yards per game on the ground. One way they stress opposing defenses is their version of the read option run, where they use a receiver in jet motion with the quarterback rather than the traditional QB / RB read.
While the Beavers offense runs this play out of a variety of formations, there are a number of features that connect the jet sweep read option they like to run. They generally use wide receiver Victor Bolden Jr. as the motion man, and he has shown great athletic ability and elusiveness in the open field on these plays. Additionally, every time they run this option play they pull the backside guard to the playside and leave the end man on the play side unblocked.
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One of the nice things about this play for the Beavers offense is the numbers advantage and confusion it creates. Rather than using a running back in the read option decision, the Beavers use the receiver in motion and send the back out to the edge as a lead blocker for the possible handoff. In addition, the movement of the receiver can cause the defense to overcommit to the jet sweep, which allows the quarterback to keep the ball and run down the vacated middle of the field.
Another advantage for the offense on this play is the fact that, regardless of which player ends up running with the ball, there is a lead blocker. If the quarterbacks keeps it, the pulling guard is leading up the middle of the field. If he hands the ball to the receiver in motion, then the running back becomes the lead blocker as the play moves to the outside.
Give to WR
We’ll first look at an example of Oregon State giving the ball on the jet sweep after reading the unblocked defensive end. This example comes from the second quarter of the Beavers’ game against Idaho State, with 11:07 remaining. The Beavers have a 1st and 10 at their own 31 yard line with the ball on the right hash. Oregon State has 11 personnel in a Gun Right Trips Left formation, and Bolden (#6) is the middle trips receiver who will come in motion.
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The key read for quarterback Darell Garretson (#10) is Idaho State defensive end Chance Salutregui (#87). The Oregon State offensive line will leave Salutregui unblocked and force him to choose a player to defend, which then dictates Garretson’s decision.
If Salutregui keeps his contain and gets outside to defend Bolden, then Garretson keeps the ball and follows his pulling left guard, Fred Lauina (#64), up the middle. However, if Salutregui slides inside to defend an interior run, Garretson will hand the ball to Bolden, which is what happens on this play.
Once Garretson hands the ball to Bolden the play is destined for the outside, where running back Ryan Nall (#34) is lead blocking, knocking the safety backwards and helping Bolden pick up a gain of 11 yards.
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Because Salutregui committed to the inside run, Garretson made the easy decision of giving the ball to Bolden on the jet sweep. Bolden takes the handoff at full speed and beats the recovering Salutregui to the corner, allowing him to follow Nall’s block for a big gain.
The flip side of the jet sweep read option is when the defensive end commits to the outside sweep and forces the QB to keep the ball on an interior run. Within Oregon State’s design of the play, this is where the pulling guard becomes the lead blocker, rather than the running back heading straight to the edge to block for the possible jet sweep.
The first example of the quarterback keeping the ball on the jet sweep read option again comes from Oregon State’s win over Idaho State, with 8:33 remaining in the first quarter. The Beavers have 1st and goal at the Idaho State 7 yard line. Oregon State again has 11 personnel, with three receivers to the left, running back Artavis Pierce (#21) is in the shotgun to the left of Garretson, and receiver Seth Collins (#22) in the right slot. Both Bolden and tight end Ricky Ortiz (#42) are on the line of scrimmage to the left, technically making Ortiz an ineligible receiver were this to become a pass play.
Salutregui will again be the unblocked man on the line of scrimmage, but this time Collins will be the receiver in motion. Once the ball is snapped Salutregui is forced to make a decision on who to defend. He chooses the outside sweep to Collins, and gets upfield and outside of the handoff to defend the edge.
Seeing this, Garretson pulls the ball out of Collins’ belly, and begins running up the middle. He is led by Ortiz and pulling right guard Gavin Andrews (#62), who gets around the center and onto the second level. Ortiz gets just enough of linebacker Mario Jenkins (#47) to slow him down, forcing him to stop his movement and avoid the tight end’s block.
Andrews makes the key block on this play against defensive back Jayson Andrews (#4) to lead the way for Garretson.
Ortiz slowing up Jenkins forces him to dive at Garretson, which allows the quarterback just enough of an opening to get into the endzone for the touchdown.
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The final example of Oregon State’s jet sweep read option comes from their loss to Boise State, as they face 1st and 10 with 11:33 remaining in the third quarter. The Beavers are in the same formation as the first play highlighted against Idaho State, with trips left and Bolden split to the right. Boise State right defensive end Sam McCaskill (#94) will be left unblocked on this play.
McCaskill sees Bolden in motion, and at the snap plays with outside leverage to take away the jet sweep. Quarterback Conor Blount (#12) reads the play correctly and keeps the ball, following his blocks from Nall and Andrews. Nall leads to the outside, cutting out the legs from LB Ben Weaver (#51), while Andrews leads right up the middle.
After seeing Blount pull the ball down, McCaskill does an excellent job of recovering, changing direction, and diving at Blount’s ankle to bring him down for a gain of 5 yards.
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The Beavers are off to an encouraging start to the 2016 season, and they look primed to begin their climb back to college football relevance. Much of this has come from a commitment to the run game, and the jet sweep read option has become a valuable piece for the Oregon State rushing attack.
Follow Ryan on Twitter @DBRyan_Dukarm. Check out the rest of his work, including covering the UCLA Bruins’ use of Spot Concept, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ end around rush, and Buffalo’sdouble track block scheme and deep passing game.
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All film courtesy of the Pac-12 Network at FoxSports1.
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