I’ve been blustering about the Oregon offense and how I feel it is vastly underachieving its potential. Yet listening to Joey Harrington on Talking Ducks the other night helped give me a little different perspective on it. His 2001 team was truly the No. 2 team in the nation, yet that team won a ton of close games and the winning point-margin for the season was not impressive as you see below. Joey referred to the Cal win last week as something you would see in the NFL, and had that game been on Sunday instead of Saturday, everybody would be praising the team and the coaches.
I thought further about the point-margins as Oregon football historian and professional writer Brian Libby also brought this to my attention recently, and I have a summary listed below. These were all good teams, and they are being compared to the present in terms of the average point-margin, which is the difference between points scored and points allowed.
Year Record Final Ranking Points Scored Points Allowed Point-Margin
2011 12-2 No. 4 46.10 24.60 21.50
2010 12-1 No. 3 47.00 18.70 28.30
2012 12-1 No. 2 49.60 21.60 28.00
2014 13-2 No. 2 45.40 23.60 21.80
Now: 4-1 No. 13 34.20 9.80 24.40
2001 11-1 No. 2 34.30 21.30 13.00
2009 10-3 No. 11 36.10 23.80 12.30
Staring at these and pondering gave me further perspective in that the surprise element of running the No-Huddle and teams simply not being prepared for it are long gone. Additional points in the point-margin because of that factor will simply never happen again. I will certainly also admit that the talent at running back and receiver was far superior on some of those teams compared to what we have now. So the question that I had to address personally was …
“Am I being fair in how I’m comparing the present to what I want for the Ducks and what they can actually achieve — especially compared to the past?”
I am certainly a little torn on this issue, since I believe that our current point-margin of 24 points is actually quite good historically. But it is not due to the offense, as it is a credit to the defense. Being realistic, having a season average of holding opponents below 10 points per game is untenable with the more potent offenses Oregon has yet to face. Yet you would also think that the offense would get better, right?
Or, as Harrington showed us in 2001 … maybe it doesn’t matter. Getting the win, however gritty, is really all that matters, right? Logically that makes sense to me, yet emotionally I feel this offense is leaving points on the field, as both the coaches and players could produce more results. Yet we could slip through the conference — not because of superior team play, but because the conference looks weaker than it did on opening day.
We can grind this out in a cerebral way, but we also have the eyeball test. And that is highly subjective, as I’ve noticed in the comments this week from this superb Oregon football community. Internally, my Duck head and heart are squabbling, and I think I’m just going to have to slowly process the feelings versus what makes good intellectual sense. (If I keep this up, I may need to chat with some of the mental health professionals that participate on this site!)
But you all know me by now, in that I love to do the pondering stuff and find some evidence that may almost prove my assertion, yet there is enough ambiguity left for the astute members of this site to point out factors I had not accounted for. I look forward to some of you helping to set me straight …
The picture above is a ghastly memory, and it was the beginning of the end for coach Mark Helfrich. A couple of things consistent with Colorado since that day in 2016 is quarterback Steven Montez (No. 12) and a Buffalo offense that can put a lot of points on the board. Frankly, watching their offense this season is highly entertaining, as so much of it is what Oregon used to do, and they have good balance between running and passing.
Their weakness is on defense, and they have a ton of injuries that should make them vulnerable to giving up even more than the 33 points per conference game they typically allow. The question becomes, can our offense use this as a great opportunity to make Puddles do a ton of push-ups?
“Oh how we love to ponder about our Beloved Ducks!”
Charles Fischer (FishDuck)
Eugene, Oregon Top Photo by John Sperry
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