MAD AS HELL: Terrible Defensive Techniques Taught at Oregon

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck Editorials

I am mad as hell.

I have had three Coaching Consultants on the Analysis team tell me that,

“If my players in high school used defensive technique like that – I would be embarrassed.”

I can hardly believe my eyes, as coaches sit with me through intense “Skull-Sessions” and detail the bad technique being exhibited on defense. Could we have better talent? Sure, but that is a recruiting conversation for another time, as the the talent does not matter if the technique is taught wrong or simply not learned by players on defense.

Are we experts at We are not professional analysts, but all (save FishDuck, himself) have been paid to coach football. When it comes to Oregon football … nobody has studied the Oregon offense and defense more thoroughly and have detailed these examinations as we have – with more than 250 analysis articles over the last five years. It is beyond aggravating when you see Basic Football 101 - the fundamentals – being ignored by the team you love.

Where did my anger come from?

I have been going through an incredible season of learning football by citing examples as to how to not do it! I’ve enjoyed learning more than any fall, save the first one when the wonders of the Oregon Spread Offense were unfolding before me. But week-after-week of seeing the same issues continuing has brought me to a point where I must use my editorial platform to shout for major changes to the Oregon defensive coaching staff to stop this madness.

This is not what Brady Hoke wants...

From Video

This is not what Brady Hoke wants …

The correct technique is the difference between a huge tackle-for-loss by my beloved Ducks or it is a touchdown against us. Above you see, with the yellow arrow, that if that linebacker had taken on the other shoulder of the Husky and ripped up through underneath the arm? He would be square in front of the running back, who would have hesitated and got tackled by the blitzing corner. (Dotted green line and arrow)

Instead it is a touchdown, and it has nothing to do with size or talent; it is all technique. Speaking of crappy linebacker technique? Look at the green solid arrow, as the linebacker is taking on the offensive lineman head-on-head – which is always a disaster and leads to being shielded from the play at best, and road-graded by a player 80 pounds heavier at worst.

I challenge you to get mad WITH me!

From Video (Peter Finch in "Network:)

I challenge you to get mad WITH me!

It is madness. How do they not know which shoulder to take or not to take a lineman on directly? We analyzed this play and others where players used the wrong technique or did not know what gap to take! (Cruise through it as it is an easy 10-minute read, and you will learn a ton about the Ducks’ defensive issues.)

The game against Washington reminded me of what William Boyd, UO President, said after losing 5-0 to San Jose State in 1975,

“I would rather be whipped in a public square than sit through another game like that.”

Usually the problems can be identified as taking the wrong gap, hesitation by linebackers when they could have stuffed a play early or flat-out bad technique by both the defensive linemen and linebackers. The Ducks have two highly paid coaches who have to coach only two positions (defensive tackles) and three positions (linebackers). It is all they do and yet players are not in position and not doing it correctly often enough when they do.

These defenders in one-gap assignments are not like quarterbacks; they don’t have to read defenses, make offensive line calls and read the plays signaled in rapidly. They just have a few things to master, and they are not doing that right!

Mistakes, not talent cost this touchdown.

From Video

Mistakes, not talent cost this touchdown.

I do not fault the players when I see an image as above. When you see two Oregon defensive tackles next to each other like above? Someone screwed up. In this case the freshman defensive tackle slanted into the wrong gap, which left the huge hole in front of the USC running back. (He should be in the open gap in front of the running back.)

The linebacker above to the right is a decent athlete who does not have a clue how to play linebacker. The poor guy set his feet to take on the behemoth coming at him! Instead of recognizing quickly the open gap and zipping by the Trojan lineman – he waited too long. Instead of ripping his right shoulder up through the right arm and shoulder of No. 60 to fill the “B” gap? He tries to take him on? Holy Crap!

If the defensive tackle is in the right gap and the linebacker either moved up quickly or executed the right technique? The play is stuffed at the line of scrimmage, and it is all coaching my friends - from poor technique and not knowing what gap to attack. (Read more about the defensive issues in the USC game here.)

It is defensive madness....

From Video

It is defensive madness …

We had a suggestion given for a new defensive coach recently and he is versed in the combination of philosophies of Rocky Long, (San Diego State is surprising everyone with being ranked 7th in the nation for scoring defense) and Derek Mason - the former Defensive Coordinator and guru at Stanford – head coach at Vanderbilt. (Vandy held Auburn – a team that could stick 60 on the Ducks – to 23 points on Saturday.)

Washington built an incredible defense from the ashes of a 0-12 season, while Vanderbilt is holding opponents to only 21.6 points per game right now? If they can do it - so can Oregon and they should.

Does Vanderbilt have better athletes on defense? Hell-no, yet Auburn had to fight to the last play to win; good defense keeps you in games and gives you a chance to win.

When Oregon is giving up 42 points a game … what chance to win is there in that? This offense has five starters as freshmen, yet they are scoring an average of 38 points a game; imagine if the Ducks were scoring the 38 points per game and only giving up 21.6 points a game like the Commodores?

We might have only one loss right now.

Coach Mark Helfrich is one of the best offensive minds in America, according to those that know and study what he has done at Oregon. Keep him and get a real Defensive Coordinator at Oregon before I lose my mind!

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

Top Photo from Video

Disclaimer: Readers: Every writer on is allowed to express their opinion in their articles. However, articles do not represent the views of the other writers, editors, coaching consultants, management, or the principals of    Charles Fischer

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