Basic UCLA Offensive Tenants Under Chip Kelly
Shotgun vs. Under Center
Blur was exclusively shotgun, while UCLA this year was 85% shotgun and 15% under center.
Plays from under center wound up with a slightly higher success rate (45% for under center vs 42% for shotgun). They were more successful under center with lower yards per play (only 3.9 YPP) because it was used earlier in each set of downs (average down of 1.6 for under center and 1.9 for shotgun) and with fewer yards to go (average 7.5 to go under center and 8.7 to go from the shotgun). Running 84% of the time they lined up under center was reliable (despite the obvious run tendency) but unspectacular comfort food for this offense; it only resulted in 10 or more yards nine times out of 112 run plays.
Passing from under center was an example of an inability to capitalize on a tendency breaker (the Blur was legendary for successful tendency breaking). They play faked on 15 of their 18 passes from under center (a much higher play fake rate than other situations), but struggled to connect with a 1.6 YPP and 22% success rate for under center passing. This is an example of a decent enough under center play action pass design the young ones couldn’t quite pull off. Improving passing by exception from under center should be a point of emphasis for the coaching staff (if they plan to keep mixing it up from a pure shotgun).
The Blur offensive line action tended to employ straightforward hat-on-hat zone blocking or a single sweeping/pulling lineman cutting across the formation (from the back side to play side on power plays). This year, UCLA used those two approaches (with as many as 3 pulling linemen), but also incorporated double team and second level action that probably has a formal name, but I’m casually calling double-and-climb (this article describes a lot of the concepts – see the sections on “SKATE, STAB, GROUND” and “SWAP” techniques). This action is where lineman will briefly double team at the line of scrimmage before moving further downfield to get at a linebacker or safety in the designed run gap.
Chip used this in the NFL with the Eagles, but I haven’t found any Oregon examples. Here is an example of it going well this year. Here is an example of it going badly early on without Boss Tagaloa. This video from the summer of 2018 projecting Kelly’s UCLA run game basically nailed it and covers most of the basic run blocking concepts.
This offense needs agile offensive lineman that can work together to coordinate double team hand-offs, and can very quickly get across the formation. The Center and Tackles do the most pulling, but guards do sometimes too. The installation and learning curve of double-and-climb is probably a large driver for early season struggles and late-season progress. Having the line mostly intact next year means that steady progress will be preserved and built upon.