The Ducks won’t miss facing a Mike Leach-coached Washington State football team. Over the past five years, the Ducks won just once against WSU, and that came on a last second field goal a year ago.
Slowing Leach’s air raid offense proved a tough task for any defense. The Ducks certainly weren’t alone. They gave up over 300 yards passing and over 30 points of offense in each of the past eight meetings.
Fortunately for the Ducks, Leach is off pirating in Southern waters now. But, a new marauder is leading the Cougar program now in former Hawaii head coach Nick Rolovich. In Rolovich, Washington State has once again found a brazen leader with a very distinct offensive system. He brings the run-and-shoot east with him, and it provides a different challenge for defenses around the Pac-12 conference.
The run-and-shoot can be pass centric. There’s a reason Hawaii ranked fifth nationally with 337.1 yards per game in 2019. Washington State led the nation with a 437.2 pass yard clip per game. But, as the name indicates, it also features the run-game more prominently than the air raid.
While the Rainbow Warriors averaged 42 passes per game last year, they also ran it 28 times per game. That’s a stark contract from Leach’s offense, which averaged 55 pass attempts per game to just 16 runs. Rolovich’s offense appeared even more balanced in Saturday’s 38-28 season-opening win over Oregon State in Corvallis in which they passed it 33 times and ran it 30 times. The Cougars actually gained more rushing yards (229) than passing yards (227) in the game.
“I think people hear run and shoot and they see the spread, and they think ‘Oh, it’s going to be passing’,” said Oregon defensive coordinator Andy Avalos, who coached against Rolovich at Hawaii while at Boise State. “But there are some run schemes that present some issues. Rolo is committed to running the ball, and they’ve done a good job with that. We saw that the other night in their game.”
According to Avalos, stopping the run is the first order of business when facing this offense. It’s a run offense which is “diverse”, according to head coach Mario Cristobal. Expect to see traps, inside zones, counters and a variety of draw plays coming from a spread formation which often features four wide receivers. He also said the team utilizes the running back in swing passes and in the screen game effectively.
“It’s just very multiple and you’ll see that on multiple sets,” he explained. “Typically you’ll see four wides in there, but they move around and put them in situations and spacing and split wise, that allows them to create what they want from a distribution standpoint in the passing game.” Read from source….