The Schooler Move? “I call this a CLUE”

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck Editorials Leave a Comment

We have all been guilty of playing down a development that has huge implications by making a joke of it, or rationalizing it away. With my beloved Ducks–I’ve rationalized extensively with two out of the three Mark Helfrich recruiting classes, and I’m sure many fans are not giving much thought to the announcement earlier yesterday about moving Brenden Schooler from safety to receiver.

I was stunned.

The reason is that it violates a basic axiom that most coaches live by, and that is to have your best athletes out on the field where they can make the biggest impact.

I was having breakfast with a retired coach recently who told me how much he admired Mike Bellotti. But all coaches will disagree on some strategies, and this coach brought up a very good example. Years back Donte Rosario, was a tremendous athlete who was put at tight end instead of his other favored position — middle linebacker — and that puzzled this coach. He explained…

“When he has a good game at tight end he catches like what….five passes? At the MIKE {linebacker] he would have impacted every defensive play. Play him where he can help the team the most!

Kevin Cline

Charles Nelson has to stay healthy…

Schooler was good enough at safety to allow Charles Nelson to return to receiver, and he flourished in the position for a newbie. His instincts were superb, even if his technique was not always textbook. We Oregon fans have seen this before so many times; a new freshman starter really jumps ahead in his sophomore year. That year of experience on the field — and building of the body off of it — manifests itself in big plays at Autzen the next year.

The defense will miss those big plays for five passes a game?

I have no doubt he can help make some plays at wide-out. But this says a ton more about the situation at receiver than anyone could have imagined. Consider how long it takes to get the playbook down and develop the precision needed to run routes that gain separation? Fall camp? He can’t possibly make a fraction of the impact at receiver that he could at safety, and I know this retired coach is probably chewing the inside of his cheek thinking about it.

If you had any concerns about whether we would be “OK” at receiver–today’s announcement was one big clue. We also learned that Alex Ofodile is still hurt and not available, while Charles Nelson has been sitting out with a tweak in the hammy. Dillon Mitchell is recovering from the heat and … we have a ton of freshmen.

I’m sure you heard as I did that Taj Griffin is returning the slot. What? That experiment with him and Tony Brooks-James was already done and declared over. (My sources told me that some guys have the intense receiver mentality, and some are really more of a running back. And there is that pesky downfield blocking…)

Gary Breedlove

Taj Griffin was born to run … and fly.

If I weren’t so damn old I’d be stamping my feet in a tantrum. Taj is ideal to be our Jet Sweeper! He likes to run outside and fast, so let him!

Do I think Taggart is an idiot?

Of course not, as he was our pick on this site to be Oregon’s new Head Coach just two days after the Helfrich firing. I’ve stated publicly about where he is going to take us, and we are seeing the evidence pile up in the verbals in recruiting.  Either these moves at receiver are completely dumb or completely desperate … and I think you know which one it is.

I wrote about my concerns at receiver recently, and how the lack of depth at the position made the loss of Carrington disproportionately damaging to our offense. The Ducks are trying to run a Power-Spread Offense like Alabama’s, without the Tide’s big linemen. These are not the same zone blocking techniques from what Steve Greatwood taught; anyone think there could be some transition issues for the offensive line after what you saw of switching from a 3-4 to a 4-3 on defense last year?

Kevin Cline

My dear,….I feel the same way about Schooler on offense.

No sweat, as we have a superb quarterback in Justin Herbert who can keep the defenses off balance with the passing attack. But now?

This might end up the worst year of point production for an Oregon offense in longer than I can remember. I hope I am wrong, but you cannot ignore these clues. (And this site does have a better track record with predictions than most…) Yes, some great things may happen, but that is lower probability than what I am seeing. My six win prediction might even be a tough draw…

On the bright side? With the four interceptions by Schooler last year–he does return with more passes caught for Oregon than most of our current receivers!

But that is making a joke of a recent development, and my defense mechanism for my beloved Ducks cannot help but kick in. There are times when I have to look at what coaches do, and ignore what they say, or what is reported. After drinking the Brady Hoke Kool-Aid last year, I am prone to be more realistic and listen to my head and not my green bleeding heart.

Enjoy the journey, because it is going to be an interesting one!

Charles Fischer   (FishDuck)
Eugene, Oregon

Top Photo of Brenden Schooler by Kevin Cline

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