It is easy to stay safe and later ridicule others who stick their neck out on predictions, so I have not been one to worry about the blow-back from my prognostications. I was pretty good last year in predicting seven wins, but we won’t talk about 2016 … as that brings me back to 50/50 like everyone else. We all are hacks just guessing (including the professional sportswriters — they are only better than us at writing, and that is it!), so what is my crazy prediction based upon, and what could go wrong? Let’s buckle up …
Sometimes, to understand the opportunity you have, you must compare it to what you don’t have. Next year the Ducks play Stanford, Washington, USC and Auburn away from Autzen Stadium. With a new quarterback (no Justin Herbert) and without Troy Dye, Jalen Jelks, Ugo Amadi and Justin Hollins? Yikes. This year’s schedule by comparison is lined up as a dream for doing well, especially with those five players noted who will not be on the team in 2019.
My prediction of 11 wins assumes only two losses the entire season, including the bowl game. This is not only an aggressive pick, but one that assumes the best Goldilocks scenarios for Oregon occurring. We must have luck with injuries, and I am counting on a number of question marks about the team to be answered in a positive way. Eleven wins is not a high probability, but it is fun to cheer for the best outcome.
I am anticipating beating one of the two heavyweights that come to Eugene, Stanford and Washington, and losing one on the road that is unanticipated, such as at Utah or up in the Palouse.
How can a victory come over one of the teams that has beaten us badly in the last two years? It will come from a mental edge that Oregon gets from not being “the hunted” at this moment. It is like Oregon going into Tempe last year to play Arizona State, a team known to have many offensive talents. While the Ducks respected them, it is hard to get “up” for a team you have beaten eight times in a row. I see a similar attitude in the Cardinal and especially the Huskies when they visit Autzen this year, and that helps the Ducks.
To me, the biggest reason for my change of prediction from eight wins to 11 is the presence of Tabari Hines, the graduate transfer receiver. This fellow changes everything for the offense, as now the Ducks have a wide receiver who can get open when needed, and make the big play that Oregon lacks from their WR corps at present. He will open things up for the other receivers and tight ends, and thus the passing offense will flourish from his pressure on a defense.
The impact of the new passing attack that can rack up yards on opponent defenses will open the running game up that much better, and the Ducks will score a boat-load of points as a result. Thus it will take some pressure off the Duck secondary, which is young and vulnerable as yet. Yep — all this from the addition of a receiver who has already caught passes for over 1,400 yards in his career. You cannot understate the importance of a proven WR who has faced Clemson and Florida State defensive backs and has succeeded. Experience matters.
What COULD make it Rain in Autzen?
A writer for this site (who has been quite knowledgeable in the past) revealed on the subscription site ScoopDuck.com (A site I suggest, as I am subscriber) that he has contact with two former players who have been to several practices and scrimmages in August.
“The passing schemes have not changed noticeably from last year. Both noted a lack of intermediate routes. This attack seems to be intent on deep play action, and lateral screens off of the running game.”
Oh crap. That is what Retired College Coach Ken Woody was telling us after the Boise State fiasco last winter. Geez, I hope that Cristobal carries out what he promised in the off-season, that he was looking for balance between passing and running, and balance between passing deep, intermediate and short routes. This is a major item to be looking for in the first three games.
“Herbert has been excellent, especially making better reads. BUT, lacks touch. Meaning he tends to throw only bullets. He puts the ball in the right spot the majority of the time however, there is often so much on the ball that it leads to additional drops. This is fine when you have first round talent at WR, however we don’t. This is what so many people missed with Mariota. He always threw a catchable ball.”
You are nodding … you’ve seen it too: passes thrown too hard, and yes, to me an important virtue of a QB to have — what makes him stand out — is to be able to have a quick release to rifle a pass, but make it catchable. That is what makes the elite QBs who have the best completion percentages. I hope that Herbert is coached into letting up on the macho stuff so he can move into elite status.
Other questions that remain are about the play-calling and game planning by the offensive staff; for all the complaints about Helfrich, these were not an issue when he was here as OC or HC. These questions have not been answered by the current coaching staff as yet. (Scroll below)
FishDuck.com going full-time? Well, at least during the week this season as we will have articles from Monday through Friday, and if we miss a day — check back, because another one is coming soon! It was not my plan, but some superb writers wanted to join us and are easy to work with, so why not? Charles Fischer
The new revised offense — will it work to the degree that is possible? Will they run enough Zone-Read to keep the defenses honest and allow the extra blocker on the playside? Are they going to mix up the pocket passing with the play-action passing? So many questions, which add to the drama and interest to watch unfold before us …
These are certainly aspects that could ruin my prediction, but in the end, my optimistic, bleeding-green side has to prevail and stick with a total of 11 wins between both the regular season and bowl the Ducks will play in.
If that result should occur? There will be no ceiling too high for the future of Oregon football. I’m betting that this staff gets it done.
“Oh how we love to ponder our Beloved Ducks!”
Charles Fischer (FishDuck)
Top Photo by Kevin Cline