Have you ever had such conflicting feelings from an Oregon football game? Such despair at all the injuries and such pride in how the defense continues to improve in perhaps one of the greatest games by a Duck offensive line – when the team really needed it. Simply put …
“I am pissed at the coaches, yet I am proud of what they are creating.”
Let’s get the NEGATIVE over with and move on …
I think Austin Meek of the Eugene Register-Guard summed it up the best when he stated that “the Ducks can weather an injury to anybody else — but they cannot win long-term without Justin Herbert … There’s no reason to be reckless with a player that means so much.” Amen, and well said.
I will never be the quality of writer that Mr. Meek is, and my summation of the coach’s decision to run both quarterbacks is a bit more prosaic, as I felt it was stupid as hell.
All my predictions and concerns coming into the season and in the early weeks of the season are unfortunately coming to pass: the concern about the few receivers of experience (both were missing from this last game), the running of the quarterbacks, and the likelihood of newbie coaching in the Pac-12 resulting in a 6-6 year for our Beloved Ducks.
I felt we needed eight wins to keep the recruiting momentum going, but now the coaches have a good excuse: “We would have won eight were it not for the injuries.” There is truth to that statement, and with the energy these coaches have, we will be alright with the next group of recruits that will build a national championship at Oregon. Barring a miracle, I see a shot at two more wins this year (Arizona and Oregon State) when Herbert returns from his injury.
In the meantime my season tickets to the upcoming home games are kind of a waste for me and thousands others … aren’t they?
How ’bout that DEFENSE?
Don’t you want to just hug Defensive Coordinator Jim Leavitt? Yet I cannot ignore the amazing job of Defensive Line Coach Joe Salave’a with a group that is gaining confidence and a nasty attitude as the season progresses. The stats blow my mind — seven sacks, 11 tackles-for-loss and a total of eight yards rushing by Cal? Creating a game-securing fumble in the fourth quarter? Un-frickin’-believable …
Henry Mondeaux is re-emerging as a classic 3-4 defensive end as he did two years ago, and the pass rushing of Jalen Jelks is becoming nationally relevant with his insane stats. Cal head coach Justin Wilcox stated in an article on ScoopDuck that, “Oregon might be the fastest team they’ve played from a defensive standpoint.” Whoa. That is the same talent as last year’s disaster. Thus, they are playing faster under these new coaches. The future is so bright, and it is so much fun with so many exciting plays on defense by so many young players! (Great to see freshmen Brady Breeze and Billy Gibson getting major minutes!)
The Studs that Reside on Oregon’s Offensive Line …
Coach Mario Cristobal has created a culture and technique that is turning Oregon’s offensive line into something I’ve never seen in my years of following Oregon football: real studs. I was concerned going into the season about whether we had enough knowledge for the transition to the new offense, the size/strength, and the attitude needed by the offensive line. I was wrong.
Look at the incredible road-grading that is occurring above by the Oregon offensive line. (The blue line is the line of scrimmage.) Look how far the offensive line is blasting out Jerry Azzinaro‘s Cal defensive line! (Is my giddiness too obvious?) The yellow arrow is running back Tony Brooks-James, and the green arrows are the studs that reside on Oregon’s offensive line.
Be proud, because as an old offensive lineman I know that I am.
Watching it in slow motion (above) makes it that much more fun. (And I can watch these over and over!) Oregon was obliterating Cal with the most basic of all running plays for every college team, the Inside Zone Read, that yours truly chronicled six years ago. It is the No. 1 hit in the Google search among over eight million others! Has FishDuck.com made a permanent imprint upon the web with college football? Cool!
The success of the Inside Zone Read is not entirely due to the superb blocking but rather the reading of the blocks by the running backs. Former coach Gary Campbell did a great job teaching Oregon’s running backs how to follow the blocking, and coach Donte’ Pimpleton has continued it.
Note above how Kani Benoit looked to his left and saw the Cal linebacker covering two gaps (red circle above) and how Benoit cut (yellow arrow above) to his right when he noted the blocks forming (green arrows above). This was done in milliseconds. Such vision and great decision-making!
It just about brings tears to this old fart’s face watching such a wonderful running game materialize before me. The running backs have the training ingrained within them, and the offensive line now knows they can do this. It also makes me wonder about the near future and the upcoming games. What can they do?
Look for me on Sunday Afternoons …
My friends, it is hard to analyze a game when I still have my emotional blinders on that want the Ducks to win so badly. It clouds my view of the game, and frankly I see things a few days later in film study that I cannot see in the first 24 hours after a game. My upcoming game FishWraps will be published on Sunday afternoons — as soon as I can get it done when there are late-night games.
There are so many good things happening, so I will try to focus on those improvements in the program and not the bonehead decisions that put this season in the dumpster. I call it as I see it and give credit where due in both directions. I do believe coach Willie Taggart is on the right track, but I also believe the prescient words written by yours truly about the staff learning (at the fans’ expense) are valid too.
This will only make the wins in future years that much sweeter. In the meantime, “oh how we love to learn about our Beloved Ducks!”
Charles Fischer (FishDuck)
Top photo credit: Scott Kelly