“Oregon loses against physical teams.”
What has been the Achilles heel for the Ducks in the past proves unfortunately true, once again. The crux — the Cardinal ran the ball more than 50 times. They dominated the trenches on both sides of the ball and established a simple blueprint for other top teams: run the ball, control the clock, pressure the quarterback, and run the ball some more.
If next season is going to be any different, the Ducks must start getting to work now. They must focus on recruits with better size and strength. The returning defensive lineman must also put on weight to compete with more physical teams. Oregon is built for big mobile men on the offensive line who can get into spaces to block, and beating other teams with our speed is not the problem. I would think Jim Radcliffe, the Strength and Conditioning Coach, will make the bulking up of the DL guys a major point of emphasis in the winter workouts. But it’s not only the sweat — it’s the nutrition. And that, my friends, is a Duck forte’.
The turnovers and penalties were also a major deterrent for any hopes of winning last Thursday. If you look at a match-up between the elite programs of LSU and Alabama, they had 11 penalties — combined. The Ducks had 10. Penalties kill drives and make scoring much harder. On defense, it opened up opportunities on third downs for Stanford that could have been third-and-longs instead of third-and-shorts. And, like any level of football, losing the turnover margin, loses games more often than not.
If this program is serious about a national championship, the players and coaches must start walking the walk. We know a perfect season is hard.
Now we need to know the strategy going forward or the results next season may be the same.