Fearful of Intercepted Signals, Ducks Call Audible With New Symbols for Plays

"There were a couple times last year when we kind of felt like our signals were, maybe, compromised," Oregon offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich tells John Hunt of The Oregonian. So what will the Ducks do to counter that in 2010? To the untrained eye, it might look like squawking in Egyptian.

⇥So this spring, Oregon is instituting a new system of signals. In addition to the gesticulations from the sidelines, members of the team will be holding up poster-board-sized placards, each containing four images.⇥⇥

⇥Those images can seem a bit peculiar. One is of the planet earth, another is a shamrock, another is the face of Shaquille O’Neal, another of a sprinting wild animal. To the untrained eye, there is no rhyme or reason to the images, but to the Ducks, they are signals that are easier to see and harder for opponents to decipher.⇥⇥

⇥

⇥The idea originated in the previous bowl game, when Oklahoma State used such a system against the Ducks in the Holiday Bowl.⇥⇥

Dr. Saturday has a picture of that Oklahoma State system, which looks to me like algebra mixed with bingo and Scrabble and thrown on a neon-colored piece of poster board. It seems inscrutable enough to conceal the calls, and simple enough for players familiar with the system to digest a play swiftly.

But that's not the only thing Oregon's doing. Lineman Mark Asper, who I suspect is probably the best quote in Eugene, also notes that snap counts might be bizarrely coded.

⇥“The code word for going on two might be, you know, “Mickelson,’’ because he always comes in second – stuff like that,’’ Asper said, referring to the golfer currently near the top of the Masters leaderboard. “So if the quarterback says Mickelson, it means we’re going on two. It’s usually funny, to help you remember it.’’
Lefty probably won't find that funny, but as a betting man, he might be wise to lay some money on the Ducks early this fall, before all of this offseason's problems slow the Quack Attack in conference play. I'll bet undermanned teams like New Mexico and Portland State that have to deal with Oregon's speed without even a hint as to what's coming will be on the painful end of blowouts.

(HT: Dr. Saturday.)

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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