In his four years at Oregon, Chip Kelly wowed the nation with his prodigal offense, thought to be an offensive guru whose schemes left opponents breathless and bewildered. Upon closer examination however, the crux of Kelly’s success came not from his game plans, but from his process.
When Chip Kelly was announced as UCLA football’s next head football coach, I began researching what he did at Oregon. I wanted to know why he was so successful, how was he able to win the conference three times and go to four straight BCS bowl games (in four years) at Oregon, a place that doesn’t usually get first pickings on recruits. How was he able to average over 40 points a game during his tenure?
The more I delved into it, the more I realized that how Chip Kelly’s program operated was more important than what schemes it used.
This article focuses on the Oregon offense, and I will write a separate article about the Oregon defenses at a later date. Without further ado, lets get into it.
“I think the coaches that are the best, really what they do is make the simple seem complex to their opponents, but they make the complex seem very simple to their own teams.”
The best way to describe Kelly’s offensive philosophy is in his own words, “I think the coaches that are the best, really what they do is make the simple seem complex to their opponents, but they make the complex seem very simple to their own teams.”
In this article by Business Insider, the author mentions that Oregon’s offense, contrary to what many may believe, was fairly simple, only running four different running plays.
But remember what Kelly said about the simple being complex to their opponents? Despite the small volume of plays the offense was fairly unpredictable, relying on fakes and misdirection to befuddle their opponents, often to great success.
If you want to see it for yourself, I suggest watching this video of the Oregon offense against USC in 2011. Notice how the Trojan defense struggled to consistency diagnose what the Ducks were throwing at them, giving up 29 points in the first half.