UCLA Football: Implementing the pass with the option

PASADENA, CA - NOVEMBER 24: Theo Howard /
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Implementing the pass with the option (cont.)

Watching practice, I got into a discussion with another UCLA writer, Tony Siracusa of Last Word on College Football. In discussing how the option could benefit the Bruins, he said something that I think some UCLA fans might misinterpret. “Some people think Kelly is going to throw the ball around like Mike Leach at Washington State. If you remember Kelly’s last season at Oregon with Marcus Mariota, they did not throw the ball that much.”

In 2012, Oregon threw the ball 373 times (35.7%) as opposed to running the ball 672 times (64.3%).

I believe the misconception comes from hearing the word “spread”. Yes, Kelly is going to spread the field, but his priority is running the ball, unlike Leach who’s priority is throwing the ball.

Kelly wants to deceive defenses and though it will happen on the ground, the passing game will serve an important role in getting the ball downfield.

The advantage of this is that the quarterback does not have to have a strong arm, but needs to be able to make quick decisions, make quick reads and use their feet. He also has to be on the same page as his receivers.

Another part of Kelly’s offense relies on reading defenses as he looks to exploit mismatches and get his players into position to make plays, especially in open space, this is where his receivers come in. Running backs are going to have to make the quick choices trying to run through gaps and finding holes, but if the defense has them covered, a quick pass to the second (or third) level of the defense will be effective tools to moving the offense.

Though I would not rule them out, don’t expect to see long bombs down field. Kelly is methodical in his approach and does not want to waste a down on potential drop. Every play Kelly gets will be thoroughly assessed with every options meticulously studied.

If a play calls for a pass, then Kellly’s receivers are going to have to be ready and from what we have seen in spring practice, they are starting to take shape, just as the run game is doing.