Confessions of an Option Tackleback

Just when you didn't expect it, the Oregon Ducks pulled another trick out of their, uh, hat, last week against USC. During the 3rd quarter, quarterback Dennis Dixon unveiled a weapon, unknown even to the Oregon coaching staff. Little did anyone watching the game know that a monster play had been born -- Geoff Schwartz, option tackleback. A play that we will never see again.

On the first play of Oregon's first possession in the second half, the Ducks set up in a 2-back veer formation with Dixon in the shotgun between the two backs. The game was tied at 10 and tight end Ed Dickson went into motion from the right side. Geoff Schwartz was in his usual right tackle position when the ball was snapped, and he immediately took on USC's Lawrence Jackson. Dixon meanwhile faked a hand off to Jonathan Stewart going straight up the middle, then Dixon faked a pitch to Andre Crenshaw going left. Dixon took off to the right, only to see Jackson coming back towards him for a sure tackle. It was then, and only then, that the quick reacting Dixon did the unthinkable -- pitched the ball to an open man, who turned out to be Schwartz. Catching the ball cleanly, Schwartz did what comes naturally to an offensive lineman suddenly finding himself with the ball -- he started running for the goal line.

Unfortunately, Jackson responded quickly and held the ramblin' Schwartz to a 3-yard gain. Not bad really considering that Schwartz ended up in the official box score as Oregon's third leading rusher for the game behind Stewart's 103 yards and Dixon's 80.

As he walked back to set up for the next play (you can insert huddle if you'd like, but Oregon doesn't use a huddle) Schwartz seemed to say to fellow lineman and good friend Josh Tschirgi, "why did he throw it to me?"

After the game in the media conference Dixon explained the play by saying, "I saw something big wearing black (Oregon's uniform for the USC game) and pitched it."

For Oregon Head Coach Mike Bellotti though, the play may go down in history as a one-of-a-kind football play, but it won't stay in the Oregon playbook.

"I'm sure that will be on SportCenter, that was a designed play as you can probably tell," kidded Bellotti in the post-game interview. We like Schwartz's ability in the open field."

Just in case though somebody out there really thinks the play might work somewhere else, the good-natured Schwartz went with the flow and answered some questions about running the ball as any good option tackleback would!

Schwartz Reveals Secrets to Running the Ball.


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