Oregon State's 3rd Down Package vs. Utah
The Beavers have one of the better 3rd Down plans in college football. I take a look at their 'Double Mug' pressures they used to beat the Utes earlier this year.
Leave it to the PAC-12 to finally have a collectively strong year in the conference the same year it is scheduled to get disbanded. Outside of Stanford and Arizona State, the conference has 10 teams .500 or better, with USC, Oregon, and Washington all undefeated. The conference currently has seven ranked teams, most in the Power 5.
For Oregon State and Washington State, the future is unclear. Still, heading into the middle part of the season, both teams are sitting in striking distance of playing in the conference championship. The Beavers’ only loss this year is to Wazzu, while the ‘Cougs are coming off a crushing defeat to UCLA (who is having a great year, too). Oregon State will look to make history in its final year with the old version of the PAC-12. Never in the school’s history have they won 10 games in back-to-back seasons. 2023 might be the year.
There was a time in the mid-2000s when the Civil War between the Beavers and Ducks meant something nationally. ‘06-’08 saw Oregon State record nine wins in three straight seasons (’06, they won 10). It took four years, but Head Coach Jonathan Smith has built a consistently good squad, with last year’s team going 10-3 with a win in the Las Vegas Bowl over Florida.
The defense has been an essential part of the rebuild in Corvallis. DC Trent Bray is a former Beaver LB and has been coaching within the program since 2012 when he was a Graduate Assistant. A brief departure to Nebraska with former Head Coach Mike Riley (‘15-’17) saw him leave the program, but he returned on the original staff Smith assembles. Last year, Bray was charged with calling the defense.
2022 saw the Beavers’ defense soar to #9 in DFEI, a metric that tracks overall efficiency (BCFToys). Though 2023’s unit is not at the same level as the previous year’s defense, Oregon State under Bray has become a must-watch on 3rd Down. Outside of Stanford, the Beavers run the most Simulated Pressures on passing downs than anyone else in the Power 5.
41.8% of the time, Bray will show five or more but only bring four. Their overall Pass Blitz Rate (PBR) is not that high (only 39.7%), but their scheme designs are something I have been watching for several years now (PFF). Currently, the Beavers sit at #41 in EPA/Play (CFB Graphs) and #56 in DFEI. Still, there is much to take away when you watch Oregon State on defense.
Last year, ESPN used the graphic above to illustrate the dichotomy within the Beavers’ defensive philosophy. On early downs (1st/2nd Down), Oregon State had one of the lowest blitz rates in the FBS, but on 3rd Down, that number shot up to 26th. 2023 has a similar trend. According to PFF, on early downs, the Beavs blitz 27.2% of the time. Enough to rank 47th out of 69 Power 5 teams. Like last year, their Blitz Rate (BR) jumps up on 3rd Down. Oregon State is blitzing on 3rd Down 46.8% of the time, enough for 18th best in the P5.
Last year’s favorite 3rd Down blitz was a ‘Mars’ path (above), which I wrote about this past March (link below). When reviewing their match-up against Utah, the pressures were much more varied, and Bray used a mugged alignment for most of their 3rd Downs.
The Beavs were able to limit the Utes to just under 200 total yards of offense. More impressive was Oregon State’s 3rd Down defense, which held Utah to two total conversions on 13 tries (and 1/4 on 4th Down). Bray spammed the Utes with mug alignments and constant pressure.
A powerful platform used on Microsoft® Visio & PowerPoint to allow football coaches to organize, format, and export Playbooks, Scout Cards, and Presentations efficiently.