2017 Oregon Football: Unlike any Season EVER

My friends, the title above is true. I am still blown away just thinking about it.

As a 30-year season ticket holder and lifelong observer of Oregon football, I have never gone into a Spring or Fall Football Season like 2017, and it will be that way for all of us; we have never had a season in our lifetime that has this many questions before the first game.

Usually we have three or four storylines or themes to keep an eye on for Spring Football and Fall Camp, but this year it seems like there are thirty or forty questions that the Taggart-era Ducks need to answer. Indeed, we know hardly anything about the coaches, the schemes Oregon will be running, and how they intend to use both current players and new recruits.

In fact … it is all questions. There is no status quo going into spring. This is unchartered territory, folks.

Prior to this year, we knew the coaches, we knew what they would run, and how they would utilize the talents of the players. Oh sure, you had a new coach here and there, but continuity was the hallmark of the program. Thus our questions were few in contrast to what we will be watching for and learning now.

Terry Wilson (left) and Justin Herbert.
Photo by Gary Breedlove

Is Coach Taggart going to adjust his offense (his quarterback at South Florida was running a lot) to a more balanced approach, as Helfrich did to utilize the skills of Marcus Mariota? Terry Wilson looks more stout as a runner, and has quicker feet than Justin Herbert, and there are rumblings that Travis Jonsen has changed his body and improved his skills significantly in the off-season.

Or will Taggart retain his run-heavy offensive emphasis and thus open the way for a new QB starter at Oregon?

It will be interesting to see who the “Jets” will be within the new Jet-Sweep Series in the Oregon offense; will it be Tony Brooks-James or Charles Nelson? Or will it be a freshman stepping in at that role such as Jaylon Redd, Daewood Davis or Cyrus Habibi-Likio?

Heck … I have significant questions about some returning upperclassmen! Can Royce Freeman make it through a season without being beat to heck? In the Cal game (long before the season ended), he had no wiggle or speed to turn the corner like we saw earlier in 2016 against Virginia. Can Darren Carrington put his issues aside and have the blockbuster year everyone thought would happen a season ago? Will Charles Nelson get his head back together (that was one curious phenomenon; he was making poor judgments from the very first game last year)?

Defensive Coordinator Jim Leavitt runs a 3-4 defense, but will he run it as a one-gap defense as Oregon employed in last year’s 4-3 defense, or will he operate a two-gap 3-4 defense as Nick Aliotti and Jerry Azzinaro did in the past? The difference in technique used and the type of player profile along the defensive front is vast between the one and two-gap defenses. Further, can these coaches teach their chosen schemes effectively? This is fascinating stuff to watch for.

You need a run-stuffer like CU had last season.
Photo by Rhianna Gelhart

Something that helped Leavitt at Colorado was a dominant 325-pound Nose Tackle (above) who commanded double teams on every snap, while Azzinaro had to make do with a 275-pound Oregon defender in the center of the Duck defense. Can Rex Manu or new freshman Jordan Scott fulfill that important zero-technique role for Coach Leavitt? I cannot recall ever having this many questions about a Duck football team going into a spring or fall football, and that does not even account for the fact that we know nothing about this new staff.

This is the single most interesting football season at Oregon, ever. The upcoming drama and entertainment of seeing it unfold has not ever happened in my lifetime, and here at FishDuck.com we plan to dig into the offense and defense and pass along all that our coaches discover as we always have.

“Oh how we will love to learn about our Beloved Ducks!”

Charles Fischer (FishDuck)
College Football Analyst for CFF Network/FishDuck.com
Eugene, Oregon

Top Photo by Craig Strobeck

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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...

25 Responses

  1. Platypus says:

    There’s a lot of optimism for this team and coaching staff… I hope fans keep a level head about this season. I personally think it could be an outstanding year for the Ducks but my enthusiasm is tempered somewhat by understanding that other then having some of the same players coming back, EVERYTHING about this program is new. By fall we shall see if the players put in the extra time learning the play books or if they bring some of the same baggage from last season.

    • Jim McDonald says:

      Quit being negative you haven’t witness losing before the Bandwagon not far off the ground jump off we need real Ducks fans …Losing the civil war was the best thing that could happen new Blood from Players On up to our coaches & yes the fans We needed this soooooooooooooooooo Bad. Go Luck to my Ducks .

      • Platypus says:

        I’ve been a Duck fan since the 50’s so that should squelch that thought. Also I was not being negative but was offering up a word of caution for fans in case this season doesn’t go as planned, just like Coach T’s coaching staff.

        • Jim McDonald says:

          they will be better of with new Blood I promise you these kids will be great students & good citizens we will be proud of them & your right you have been a Ducks fan longe your older then I am My Dad went to Pleasant Hill while he was in Hospital asst coaches back then visited the High school players if they were in the Hospital even gave him a Black & white program Just have faith I will never lose my faith in the Ducks

          • Jim…I know Platypus, and he is quite a devoted Oregon fan and friend of this site. For him to offer some caution is warranted, although I am one of those, like you, that believes it is all going to be great with the new staff.

            Some of the current players may not mesh with the new position coach, or maybe the parameters of the position the player is at does not match up with his skill set now.

            While none of us want to see it–some talented players will leave after Spring Football, and it may not be anyone’s fault but simply the change. But I believe we will be fine over the longer term….

          • Jim McDonald says:

            I agree Charles Go Ducks I apologize to Platypus Its great to know Another 2 real Duck fans

        • Jim McDonald says:

          Hi I apologize …Jim

  2. August Howell says:

    Good stuff Charles. I cannot wait to find out the answers.

  3. oregonxyz says:

    my questions for the defense:

    I noticed that a lot of DTs have been signed, but very few DEs (the last few seasons) – so will the DEs in the new 3-4 be more stout like DTs, or will they try to use 250 lb DEs?

    Will some of those more athletic DEs move to TE?

    Will the new coaches be able to “coach up” older DBs like Amadi, Springs, Robinson, Ty Griffen, etc – and make them play like “playmakers” — or will the coaching staff just go straight to the new DBs they recruited next year?

    Will Lovette stay at CB? or move to offense

    Will the safeties get more “physical”?

    What will the nickle look like?

    Does Bryon Young have a position he can play?

    What kind of blitzing and stunts will they employ during games? – at what situations?

    • Thank you oregonxyz….that is a great questionaire for the coaching network at FishDuck.com to begin investigating once Spring Football starts.

      Great stuff, and again….what we don’t know about the team now is massive compared to what we DO know. This is actually going to be great fun learning and pondering what we see…..

  4. Anthony Joseph Gomes says:

    I saw travis jonsen on the bus a month ago and I saw no great physical transformation. it must have happened very quickly if it did.

  5. Scott Duke says:

    Do you really need 5 paragraphs to tell us what we already know, that things are different this year?

  6. cfluegge says:

    And guess what, Fish? You actually get to watch the practices! At least this spring… It will be like the old days, right?

  7. bcasp says:

    dont forget we still can use taj griffen on those jet sweeps also.

  8. Eric Simpson says:

    Can’t people enjoy Charles for his optimism and downright positive joy in his outlook? Pick on somebody in the mirror. This dude is an extremely bright light here. He isn’t a know-it-all or some egoed writer like Charlie Brown’s ‘bad grief’ (pun intended). Pick on the writers who are attacking Oregon football and the same FEW slimes that insist grabbing out of context ‘news’ so that they can get their hits and ratings. With Charles, you get an honest person. He’s obviously humble and is in this, ALL IN FOR OUR DUCKS! Get behind him, quit picking on him. Pick on our ‘enimies’ out there that only care about themselves and what little they can garner to forward their weak careers.

    Go Charles! Go Willie. Around Oregon of late I’ve heard these beautiful words comin’ in on a nice, cool and refreshing wind…’Have a great day, everyone, if you want to!’

    • Eric,

      I am listening to Jim Rome while going to an appointment and just caught the tail end of an interview. It was a college football coach, and did not notice the name at the end–but caught his byline of what you wrote…”have a great day if you want to!”

      Rome was fascinated by the expression and talked about it for a couple of minutes afterward. I was struck by it and was thinking about it over the next day or so, as it was unique.

      I had no idea it came from our future coach!

      Thanks for having my back Eric, and thanks for reminding me of something special about our coach.

      • Eric Simpson says:

        The FEELING of what we tend to label ‘love’ is within us as is what we most often refer to as ‘hate’. These are not plucked from a tree. Things can be ‘bad’ and I can get into the hate or keep my focus and deal with ‘it’ from THAT place. Even in the midst of a pretty bad day, I can usually find many things to appreciate. Life itself is so often over-looked. I’m not even saying one needs religion. Regardless of anything else, we share the GIFT of life. Personally, I’m with Willie and want to have a great day! And I ‘have your back’ because you are HONEST! To ‘report’ athletes went to the hospital (pretty serious, right?) and then not take the time and effort required to present the ENTIRE story is just WRONG. How many college athletes were in the hospital in, say, January of this year? Why? These people’s training is far beyond what ‘we’ understand. Are we being fair to take three athletes and ‘report’ a tiny fraction of the details and not provide comparisons and….???
        HONESTY-Charles Fisher, what a GREAT and refreshing human being you are and I will always have ‘that’ back! Thank you very, very much.

  9. MAITAIDUCK says:

    Thanks Charles and appreciate all the hard work all you guys do. I’m looking forward mostly to Leavitts new Defense and how the D Line and LBs adjust. There is a lot of talent already there. Scott I’d assume will see playing time as a true Freshman. He is very stout at the run and hard to move and quick on his feet for a kid over 340. Manu was always suited to play NT and Hoke should of realized from the get go he needed to keep the 3-4 because of all the personel that were already on board for that Defense. He was the biggest MISS HIRE in a long long time. I’ve been a fan for a long time and I’m ready for Oregon to take that next step. The offense should be good enough to get 8 to 9 wins alone and it will be up to our D to see if were a 10 win group. Can it get done? HELL YEAH. GO DUCKS.

    • Maitai….I am agreement with EVERYTHING you wrote. I drank the Kool-Aid thinking that the Hoke hire could work out, and now I can compare and ask myself,” would I rather have a D-Line coach who has never been a Defensive Coordinator attempt it, or would I rather have the National DC of the Year?”

      No brainer, and I did not realize the difference a year ago. I see it now!


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