For the first time in the three year existence of this site — we are not doing an analysis this week. Before the days of FishDuck.com, I would simply delete the loss in the DVR and never even want to look at it again. Now I am supposed to analyze it for you, but the pain and the flood of emotions that hit me are the same as all of you face. I can’t.
I have learned that the best time to analyze a loss is six months later in the late spring/early summer, as by then the pain has subsided and we can be more objective in learning from it. At FishDuck.com — we are also fortunate to have guest coaches breaking it down for us, as we had this last summer from Coach Curtis Peterson, and Coach Levi Steier. We can also approach it from a positive learning experience mode as I did recently concerning our problem with sacks.
While there is a ton of good things in the Arizona game to review, and quite a few tough things to learn from in that contest, I am struck even further by the reaction of many Oregon fans to the loss. This is an Opinion-Editorial piece that will make many of you angry, but I do believe that we all need to reassess what it is to be an Oregon Fan at this time.
Fans don’t know JACK …
One coach I work with never goes to Oregon games anymore because, as he says, “I cannot listen to the stupid things the fans say.” I was surprised to hear him state that until I had a film-viewing session with him, and I realized how little I really knew.
Now keep in mind that, growing up, I played for five years (up through high school) and had studied the game quite a bit. I also gained some notoriety by being the first in the state media to reveal our new 3-4 defense to the public in the summer of 2010 … but even with all of that — I was stunned at how much more there was to the game.
Let’s put coaches at a 10.0 in football knowledge, and most fans would place themselves as a 7.0, including me before this experience. The reality is that most fans are a 1.5, and my job on this site is to be the bridge between the coaches and the fans.
I’ve created more than 100 analyses, and spent hundreds of hours consulting with coaches, and I can say with absolute certainty that 99%+ of the fans don’t know JACK about the game — and sometimes it seems they don’t want to learn, yet still spout their nonsense [/rant]) I personally am not qualified enough to comment after what I have determined that I don’t know — yet we have fans who admonish coaches about things of which they really know nothing.
Who are you going to get?
What do Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, Steve Spurrier, Les Miles, and Bob Stoops all have in common? They each have won at least one National Championship and all five of those coaches lost two games last year, as did Mark Helfrich. All of them have also lost a game so soon into this season … so if you advocate firing our staff, who are you going to get who is not locked into his current gig and has done significantly better recently?
Have you looked around the conference at the history of the other teams and the massive turnover throughout the years? Washington fired Lambright immediately after it was shown he was not Don James … and the program slid downward until it actually hit an 0-12 season from subsequent coaches who were well respected.
Fire this staff and lose the incredible expertise of John Neal, Steve Greatwood, and Gary Campbell? That is what a new coach will do, thus we could become the “Tire-Fire” that is now Michigan. You run a huge risk of tanking your own program by knee-jerking a decision emotionally.
Who are YOU to judge?
So many of us fans demand not just wins, but wins that are pretty enough for our entitled sensibilities. These coaches put in incredible hours to win; do you do the same at your job? Are you as good in your profession as what you are demanding of them?
Twenty years ago — after the ’94 Rose Bowl the story was circulated of a local businessman who was key to the program. (This was before Phil Knight.) If anyone had the right to be judgmental, he could, as he had built a prosperous business, and had great health and family.
Truly he was an exceptional human being and Rich Brooks was grateful for his support at a crucial juncture for the program. If anyone could have told Coach Brooks what he should be doing, this man had the track record of success to justify those “suggestions.”
But he never did.
He never told Rich how to do anything, because he knew how little of football he was truly aware of … and knew that Coach Brooks was working like crazy and trying his hardest to improve not only the football Ducks but of his beloved University, as a whole. These coaches want to win so bad that losing can actually make many of them ill – physically; a perfect fan like this businessman is what Oregon needed then … and now.
Our Offense Suffers because of Chip Kelly?
Yes, it is true. At Oregon we are still building the talent level on defense, and we have always won by outscoring the opponent and having a defense that is average, at best, and yet makes enough key plays to secure the win.
Arizona scoring 31 points is not a crushing event when our offense scores 52 points — as they often do. But how can you score that many points with a true freshman at one tackle and a walk-on at the other tackle? I’ll tell you — you can’t.
Why don’t we have some junior or sophomore tackles to fill in as other elite programs do? Because we had poor recruiting at that position for a two-year span under Chip Kelly, and we have yet to catch up.
St. Charles (Chip, not me) would have a struggling offense if he were here now for the same reasons, but at least he would take responsibility for it. Coach Helfrich has to deal with it without a word about the truth of why we are in this difficult spot.
If we were to have the usual replacements, the offense would score in the high 30s-to-mid 40s — with room for more) and we would win without injuries to the quarterback. Our former coach is revered – and rightfully so — and I made a ton of instructional videos about his offense that are still viewed every hour of the day. However, he was not perfect, and learned on the job, as well.
Oregon should be better …
Be realistic; do you really think you know more than the coaches? I heard people spouting about us not running Marcus Mariota more during the game as we were walking to our cars the other night. Yet none of us knew that he was slowed down by minor injuries from the WSU game.
“Why aren’t we blitzing more?” Perhaps it’s because the coaches know that the fifth defensive back coming in tweaked his ankle in practice and cannot cover the opponent in the slot. So we have to rush only three to facilitate a drop into an easier eight-man zone defensive coverage. There are tons of things about the players, injuries and knowledge level that make up the game plan by the Oregon coaches. You simply cannot judge, because you do not know these inside facts — even if you do have the knowledge of the game, which the average fan most certainly does not.
“Why aren’t we running screen passes to slow the blitzes?” Perhaps it’s because it takes more timing and communication than we have time to cover in practice with the new starters — thus we have to keep the game plan simple when we have inexperienced players starting. So what do we do when the simple plays don’t work? (Fans … you answer that …) You do the best you can – which is what our coaches are doing.
What are the Best Probabilities?
This coaching staff is superb, and given time it will prevail. You cannot have a new head coach along with new offensive and defensive coordinators without some OJT taking place. Look around the conference at the head coaches; they all learned their bones somewhere else before coming to this now, very difficult league. [Editor-in-Chief (EIC) comment — This intuition is spot on.]
How many times in your profession were you told not to do something because it did not work? Yet you tried anyway because you were now doing it and thought you could do it better. It is quite possible that some of that is occurring with our newbies on the staff, and we have to be patient as they figure it out.
We could fire them all and have some poor upcoming years in getting new players to fit the new coaching staff, or we can have some years that are successful, but not as good as fans want while the current coaches learn. I believe they are very talented, and if we give them four years total — they will have us back in the Top-5 consistently. We are in the second year of that (first year for Don Pellum) timetable that I would ask fellow fans to honor.
“I don’t see the same emotion from the players.”
Perhaps, again, this is part of the learning curve as every coach wishes to do it his way, see the results and then change to a different approach or go back to how it was run before. We must let that happen, as I am convinced that not only can this coaching staff succeed at the level to which we seem to be accustomed – but the downside risk of making a change is so enormous that the probabilities are clear to many of us. The upside potential of this staff vastly trumps the massive risk of making a change.
“Charles … you are a Suck-Up and a Sunshine-Pumping Tool.”
I get that a lot, but my view is based upon a rational, mature approach to my beloved Ducks. This site is about learning and pondering; we will deal with the negative, but we won’t be nasty about it. I was at Autzen Stadium 20 years ago during the Utah game … and noted the 35,000 on hand during the crunch time of the game.
Thursday night we had 58,000, thus we have 23,000 Bandwagon fans who will be with us only when we’re winning. This program needs better fans than that and I challenge the readers of this site to rise beyond their emotions.
Quit acting entitled and look at the reality of how other teams in the conference have fared and just how lucky we all have been during this wonderful ride to the top. I have faith that we will be back there again — with patience.
Will you reassess what it is to be an Oregon fan? [EIC note — How dare anyone BOO our Ducks — shame on you.]
Charles Fischer (FishDuck)
Oregon Football Analyst for the CFF Network/FishDuck.com
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