FishDuck and Coaches Comments: “Disappointed With Winning”


I admit it.

I am one of those spoiled Oregon fans that others write so negatively of. I don’t just want to win … I want Oregon to win big and when they don’t, I am disappointed. However, since I began this website I’ve been able to view the Ducks through the prism of a 30-year ticket holder and one who has the benefit of comparing the 2016 version of Duck football to past teams. This has been a great era for Oregon football, and I don’t want it to end, hence why I and thousands of other Duck fans are hoping/wishing for Oregon blowouts to affirm the status quo of Oregon being an elite team.

We did not score enough nor make enough stops on defense against two weak opponents to start the year, to confirm my lofty predictions before the season began - and it is disconcerting to all. This website is going to be moving through a transformation over the next year, and the beginning of those changes will become apparent shortly, beginning with this article forward. I am going to give my thoughts and those of a coach or two to give you a taste of the future.

Offense: Unfulfilled, but Immense Upside

That subtitle says it all; we are not there yet on the offensive line – as evidenced by confidence shown by the coaches in play calling – but what has been done thus far is impressive considering the circumstances.

Yesterday the Ducks had one true starter on the offensive line for the majority of the day in Cameron Hunt (who was called for a couple penalties), as Terrell Crosby was forced to the sidelines in the first half. Oregon had Brady Aiello playing alongside Shane Lemieux on the left side, with center Jake Hanson next to him for three redshirt freshmen in a row, with the right side manned by Cam Hunt, Doug Brenner, or Evan Voeller at guard. The right tackle was redshirt freshman Calvin Throckmorton or Zac Morgan to have two newbies at that spot the entire game.

Charles Fischer is moving to more Analysis?

From Video

Charles Fischer is moving to more Analysis?

What I watched with the offensive linemen was impressive at times in how they already understand zone blocking and how simply shielding – at worst – can still create a running lane and how to effectively double-team and then peel off to the linebacker, can assure eight or nine yards often in Oregon’s running attack. Now, they got beat at times and made mistakes, to be sure, but the talent and the good plays (which were more numerous than last week) pointed to how this offensive line is on the road to ultimately being very good.

Pass protection is something they are still mastering as they got fooled by some stunts or reacted a second too late, yet that can and will be overcome with the intelligence and talent I have witnessed. They will improve, and – because of the extreme number of skill players – will still help score a boatload of points. This offense can become the scoring machine I envisioned, but it was unreasonable of me to think that they could do it quickly. Even the most talented players have to learn and put in their dues, but my optimism for this offense will ultimately become a reality.

I am delighted to see the coaches loosen up with more downfield passing, allowing Pharaoh Brown and Devon Allen to re-emerge as weapons. This bodes well for elevated scoring through the season. The best part of the offensive analysis process is reviewing the poise and savvy of Dakota Prukop as he leads this team with his many skills. The Grizzled Ol’ Coach felt that, just as a good point guard helps his teammates score …

“Dakota Prukop made everyone else better in the Virginia game … as well as any Duck quarterback ever.”

Dakota Prukop using his wheels...

Gary Breedlove

Dakota Prukop using his wheels …

He stood and took a hit to deliver incredibly accurate passes, he made great decisions in the Zone Read, he ran for key first downs, and showed great poise and leadership in directing the team. “An average or inexperienced quarterback would not have won that game against Virginia,” stated retired coach Mike Morris.

He went on to say how an average quarterback would have been sacked as many as five times but that Prukop escaped, and how “if that was not a Mariota-like performance, then it was only a slight notch below it.” For a more apt comparison he cited, “Think of Vernon Adams with legs.” (Speed)

Dakota’s performance also points to a prolific scoring offense this season, as his progression in implementing the Oregon scheme was quite an upgrade from his first game.

The Oregon Defense: Brace Yourself

I have been appalled at what I have seen from the Duck defense in the first two games.

Keep in mind that this website is going to become more of an analysis location for college football, and not just Oregon football over the next year. So the focus will be upon learning, which comes from both the good and the bad plays, and we will be reviewing both sets of plays in the future as we did in last week’s analysis. Thus I will not be the usual Duck homer of the past. When I discuss a negative, however, I will back it up with screenshots and video for use as learning tools to better understand and appreciate this wonderful game we love.

That won’t begin until next week, as I wish to allow the bloodletting at Nebraska (or the improvement) occur on defense before I begin to analyze and dissect the positive and negative plays. I will give you some initial thoughts from the GOC, as well as my own, from the first two games – and it is nearly the opposite of what we saw on offense.

We have significant questions about the tactics, the techniques and the coaching taking place on defense. This is not a complex defense, taking one gap, yet I saw as many as three defensive linemen on one play doing the two-gap! This meant that instead of having their head and shoulder in the gap, they were hand fighting the Cavalier offensive linemen, did not get off their blocks and watched the running backs zip past.

I watched in horror as two linebackers covered the same gap while the other inside gap was open –  guess where the Virginia running back was making 8-10 yards a crack?

Brenden Schooler makes his first interception!

Gary Breedlove

Brenden Schooler makes his first interception!

I noted how deep the Oregon linebackers were playing due to the observation of coach Morris, and how, instead of charging their gap and getting leverage on a lead blocker, they were hesitant, which defeated the purpose of lining up deep. In short, this is not the “Green Wall” that I envisioned and hoped for when Brady Hoke was hired as the new defensive coordinator.

Some would say there was a large rotation to keep defenders fresh, while I saw it as “throwing mud against a wall to see who could stick.” We trotted out numerous linebackers who made the same mistakes, and frankly I am not sure we can solve those issues anytime soon. Players are not following their reads, and the tricky blitzes have had either minimal effect, or have opened up big plays against the Oregon defense.

One prediction from the GOC is to watch for backup strongside linebacker Jonah Moi to get a shot at middle linebacker, based upon his play.

The defensive coaching staff pulled safeties from the three-deep (Fotu Leiato III) and even a true freshman who played the fall camp at corner (Brenden Schooler). I was encouraged that perhaps a new talent might have been found, since Schooler seemed quite comfortable in his center field role as the free safety, having played that position in high school.

We have a mess on the defensive side of the ball, but it is one that can be improved to adequate if responsibilities are followed and correct techniques applied. The GOC was not optimistic about that prospect as he felt that,

“Nebraska has a running quarterback that will give the Ducks trouble, and the Cornhuskers could score 45 points or more. This game will indicate our potential success against Pac-12 opponents, since this conference is offensive minded.”

We are back to the old days where Oregon won by outscoring opponents, and the question now is whether the offense can progress quickly enough to put up the kind of points that will be needed to win the upcoming shootouts.

Tomorrow we will cover a unique new play in the Oregon offense, and next week we will begin to learn about how the 4-3 defense operates, looking at both the positive and negative plays as learning tools. The emphasis will not be to complain but to learn and to be able to anticipate and appreciate the great plays of the future as they occur.

Top photo by Gary Breedlove

Charles Fischer  (FishDuck)
College Football Analyst for
Eugene, Oregon

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Charles Fischer

Charles Fischer

Charles Fischer has been an intense fan of the Ducks for thirty years and has written reports on football boards for over a dozen years. Known as “FishDuck” on those boards, he is acknowledged for providing intense detail in his scrimmage reports and in his Xs and Os play analyses. He and his wife Lois, a daughter, Christine, and their dog (Abbie) reside in Eugene, Oregon, where he has been a financial advisor for 30 years serving clients in seven different states. He does not profess to be a coach or analyst, but simply a “hack” that enjoys sharing what he has learned and invites others to correct or add to this body of Oregon Football! See More...

  • DuckNV

    I have lots of questions about linebacker coaching. It seemed that once they eliminated Dye with blocking there were a lot of big holes to run through. With the relative youth of the team it may be too early to tell, but from comments about Pellum’s ability to coach linebackers, I was expecting an improvement over the past few years where his focus moved to the entire defense. I have some real trepidation about how our front 7 are going to perform against most of the teams going forward. Hopefully this is just a transitional period and things will solidify in the second half of the season. It’s hard to see how the defense will become fundamentally sound in week three when that couldn’t be accomplished from the start of fall camp through week two.

    • I am in agreement with EVERYTHING you wrote, as there are real questions considering Pellum only has three positions to coach. It is quite possible that Hoke not having experience at being a DC is coming back to haunt us.

      Crossing my fingers!

    • Anthony Joseph Gomes

      dont forget that the linebacker position for the ducks is a complete rebuild with 3 starters graduating and the 4th starter AWOL for possible domestic violence issues. innocent until proved guilty in the SEC and ACC. guilty until proved innocent in the pac12.

  • Platypus

    Thanks Charles, looking forward to what the new transition brings football enthusiasts around the country. I agree going forward the defensive coaches have too find a way to simplify the scheme even more if the players are getting it. However, this week against the Huskers should not be an issue, Oregon will win with it’s offense.

    • I hope you are right, but we have a ton of new starters on offense and they have not experienced a home field such as what they will see in Lincoln.

    • Anthony Joseph Gomes

      i dunno. nebraska is sort of an enigma to me coming into this game. are they more like the 6-7 team they were last year or the 9-4 teams they fielded each of the 10 years before? if the latter we may have to work for it. in fairness to nebraska last year all the games they lost were to fairly good teams so even the bad record last year may be deceptive. that was their problem under pelini too, which is why he got fired. failing to prevail against strong competition which hopefully next week will be the mighty ducks.

  • LADuck

    Great article, Charles. The new site direction sounds like a positive move also. Pure football.
    In all seriousness, the Ducks need to move Henry Mondeux to middle linebacker. He played it in high school as well as tight end. He has the power and speed to massively plug gaps and he’s smart enough to be the defensive QB. If he drops 25 pounds he’s playing about the size of Brian Urlacher or every MLB at USC or Alabama. Football is a mean game, our opponents need to start being afraid to play Oregon again.

    • Anthony Joseph Gomes

      mondeaux weighs 280 which is a bit too big for linebacker. mondeaux runs the 40 in the 4.8-5.0 second range which is slow for a linebacker and fast for a defensive end. im a duck so i go with fast.

  • Boggs

    Fish, the thing that makes me concerned about this team is that the players seem satisfied with their performances in weeks 1 and 2. In my opinion, the second half performances of both offense and defense have been atrocious. I want to see Hoke, or somebody, go off like Saban did this weekend. We cannot tolerate our defense giving up those gashing runs or our offense losing juice like they’ve been doing.

    • Anthony Joseph Gomes

      what makes you think they are satisfied with their performances in the games first of all. the look on their faces after the game? they spoke to you personally?>

      • Boggs

        I’m not comfortable disclosing my relationship to players, but I also watch every player interview posted. They are freely available and can be quite revealing.

        • Anthony Joseph Gomes

          it wouldnt compromise anything to admit you had no relationship with the players at all and thus they give you no inside information whatsoever. which would put you in the same category with the typical fan such as myself and which is what i suspect to be the case with you.

          • Boggs

            Anthony, consider thinking before you post. It will save you heartache in the long run. Obviously if I had no relationship with any player I would have never made a statement such as “I’m not comfortable disclosing my relationship to players.”

            Setting literally all of that aside, I didn’t need a personal relationship to any member of the team to determine that “the players seem satisfied with their performances in weeks 1 and 2.” That conclusion is obvious from the many player interviews publicly available online.

  • Anthony Joseph Gomes

    this was a really frustrating game to watch and i did not enjoy watching the game at all for 2 reasons. first the arkansas/TCU game which i really didnt care about went into overtime and chewed up the entire first quarter so i basically missed that. then about 3 minutes into the third quarter the officials simply took over the game for about 10 to 12 minutes. 22 penatlies that went for 227 yards(about 2/3rds of VAs entire offensive output) which were actually pretty evenly distributed but it looked like oregon got the worst of it. big plays were wiped out and brought back. VA stalled on 4th down twice but the yellow hankie came out and kept the chains moving. remember the first time we played VA and colt lyerla who always had very reliable hands suddenly dropped 3 passes? and then he goes up to chip and begs to stay in the game? i personally think lyerla was guilty of point shaving. lyerla was always griping about how he thought they should be paying him if you recall. also consider that the rating committees switched from ignoring points scored as a factor in rating a team to giving it some consideration. the reason for that was because they were concerned about point shaving and i wonder if that isnt what happened in this one. the point spread was 24 and once oregon started to power over that magic number the yellow hankies came out in force. point shavers will argue that its not really cheating because the team that should wins still wins, the loser doesnt feel so bad and leaves with a certain amount of pride, the gamblers that should win do win and ESPNs talkiing points make more sense. i actually enjoyed the oregon/ohio state game more than this one and we lost there.

    • Buckeye Steve

      Trust me you will be cursing Brady Hoke come October….