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August 12, 2013

Kiffin, Cowboys defense prepping for zone read offense

The Cowboys defense got a glimpse of the zone read offense in the 19-17 loss to the Raiders last Friday and it wasn't pretty.

Raiders backup quarterback Terrelle Pryor six times for 88 yards in the game. 

Cowboys defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and his troops get a pass for that performance because they didn't work on it at all in practice before the game. 

There will be no excuses when the regular season starts. The Cowboys have two games each against the Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles _ two teams who use the read option as a big part of their offense. There is also a good chance they see Pryor again when they face the Raiders on Thanksgiving Day.

It's no surprise the Cowboys took time in Monday's practice to work on the read option, using receiver Dwayne Harris as the scout team quarterback.

"I think we're going to see if from a lot of different people," coach Jason Garrett said. "Certainly the teams that have done it and it's been effective for them, they will probably have the same type of package and they will grow their package. As you know, it's a copy cat league in a lot of ways so other teams certainly will make it part of what they do on offense. So, we have to be ready for it. This is a good week to do that, last week, as you know we played Sunday in Canton and turned around and played Oakland on Friday night. So it was a short week in terms of installation and working on any new stuff. This is a longer week for us and it gives us a chance to work on some of those things that will show up on the season on both sides of the ball."

The Cowboys have the added advantage or disadvantage of Kiffin facing the read option _ especially that of Eagles coach Chip Kelly _ during his time at Southern California the past three years. Kelly's Oregon offenses averaged 601 yards and 50 points against Kiffin’s USC defenses, including a 730-yard output in a 62-51 victory in their final meeting in 2012. 

"Well, Monte’s just a great coach," Garrett said. "He’s been a great coach for a long, long time. We have a good defensive staff. A lot of those guys have come from the college game. Monte being there just recently helps. He faced Chip Kelly when SC played Oregon, and regardless of that, the challenges that we’re going to face with Philadelphia and some of the other teams are going to be significant for us. They’re significant for the league. And we’ve got to be on top of that."

Clarence Hill



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