Tuesday Tape Room: Oregon’s tempo beats you mentally

Tuesday Tape Room is Pac-12 Networks football analyst (and former USC assistant coach) Yogi Roth’s chance to break down tape in search of details worth focusing on — similar to what’s happening in team meetings throughout the conference today.

This is the week that Pac-12 fans have circled all spring and summer.

This is the week that Chip Kelly and Lane Kiffin have tried to avoid talking about all season.

This is the week that matches up old school pro-style football against the new age up-tempo spread scheme.

Yes, it’s Oregon at USC. Finally.

As coaches go into the tape room in Eugene and Los Angeles this week, they will be seeking ways to stop one another. It's safe to say that won’t be easy for either squad - USC, in particular - as no one has made Oregon look human this season.

Yet while the Ducks average over 500 yards of offense and over 50 points per contest, what stood out in the tape room was not their often-discussed play calling, their relentless defense or their physical running attack.  It was what their tempo does for an opponent’s mentality during a game.

To beat the Ducks, a defense must properly align pre-snap and remain disciplined when filling their respective gap. When Oregon gets moving on offense, it is easy for a defender to be a foot off of his alignment and, thus, a foot off of his gap, which typically results in a big play for the Ducks.

In Saturday's game against Colorado, it was evident late in the first quarter that Oregon's quick alignment, shifts and motion caused the Buffs defense to wear down mentally, as they were not aligning properly. Watch sophomore Greg Henderson (#20), one of CU's top defensive players, in the slot at the bottom of the screen covering De’Anthony Thomas (#6), who goes in motion toward the Oregon sideline.

Defenders are taught to remain in front of offensive players when they cross motion, or to 'beat them to the spot,' and because Henderson is a foot behind Thomas, he ends up getting stuck behind the #BlackMamba. And as we have seen all season long, if you give Thomas a foot, he can take it for a big gain.

While Oregon doesn't score on that play, Chip Kelly recognizes Colorado’s mental fatigue and keeps his foot on the gas. Three plays later, the Ducks find the end zone as the Buffs continue to misalign pre-snap.

This will not show up in the stat sheet, but the mental pressure that Oregon’s tempo imposes on its opponents will most likely give Lane Kiffin and his staff a sleepless week, as the Oregon at USC matchup is here. Finally.

Follow former USC assistant coach and New York Times best-selling author @YogiRoth for insight on @pac12 football.

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