Coach Woody Analysis: Ducks Collapse in the Desert

Coach Ken Woody Coach Woody's Analysis

Oregon was shocked by Arizona State’s Jayden Daniels, an 18-year old freshman quarterback, who blitzed the Duck secondary for 408 yards passing, including going 5 for 5 on deep bombs. Three such bombs resulted in touchdowns, paving the way for a 31-28 win and an end to the Sun Devils’ four-game losing streak.

Oregon’s defense looked lethargic, and it showed up in poor downfield tackling, an anemic pass rush and lack of hustle. It wasn’t until the latter stages of the game that the defensive players looked intense or worked up about the disaster that was unfolding in their hands. And by then it was too late.

Offensively, the same thing: senior quarterback Justin Herbert looked out of it, throwing successive interceptions to light the ASU fire in the fourth quarter. However, arguably the pivotal play of the game came on Oregon’s third drive in the first quarter. With the score tied, and the Ducks fourth-and-one on the ASU six-yard line, coach Mario Cristobal pulled out the Auburn film and gave it another try along the left side of the offensive line. The result was the same: stuffed Duck, and for the rest of the game, the Quackers labored from behind.

Above, the Duck defense is out of control and out of position to make a tackle on quarterback Jayden Daniels. Troy Dye (No. 35) runs by him and Bryson Young (No. 56) pressures Daniels, but is so intent on getting a sack that he makes no effort to bat down the pass.

Cornerback Deommodor Lenoir (No. 6), who was beaten several times on deep passes, misses the tackle on the receiver, who makes a 23-yard gain. Oregon’s only saving grace was that a penalty for an illegal shift against ASU nullified this play — a penalty that is called when an offense has two players go into motion and they don’t set for a second before snapping the ball.

Above, the offensive line blocks a running play (an RPO perhaps?) and Travis Dye fakes a run (or not). Herbert sees one-on-one coverage on Johnny Johnson III (No. 3) who threatens an inside move with a head and shoulder fake to hold the corner, gets a step, and beats him for a 28-yard gain. With Herbert’s throw, you wonder why the Ducks don’t do this more often, like Arizona State did in going 5 for 5 on deep shots.

Behind perfect protection (above), Daniels has all day to survey the field and launch a 57-yard moonshot to Frank Darby (No. 84) for a touchdown to tie the score 7-7. Jevon Holland (No. 8) is beaten on the play, as he was suckered on the hesitation of the receiver and could not recover. Thomas Graham (No. 4), the corner, tries to slow Darby on his release but does a poor job.

Holland, too, fails to slow Darby, not even to holding him so he can’t beat him deep. In that case, it would have been smart to take the penalty rather than giving up an easy score that never should have happened against good two-deep coverage.

As Yogi Berra would have commented, “this is deja vu all over again.” A brutal reminder of the ill-fated fourth-and-one against Auburn, the Ducks repeat the blunder (above). Lining up in the pistol formation with the designated running back seven yards deep, the Ducks are stuffed, along with any momentum they might have had in the first half.

There is a hole on the left side, behind the guard and tackle’s blocks, but it takes too long to get to it and the outside penetration from a corner stops the play. This should never happen to a good offensive running team. “Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results.”

When you have nine defenders playing the inside run, you should run or pass somewhere else.

The above play was both a poorly designed and called play, both by formation and the movement of the tight end Hunter Kampmoyer (No. 48). First, there is not much lateral motion forced on the defense, so they stay put. Second, a defender is aligned outside where the play is intended to go, so there is no one to block him; if he doesn’t get faked inside (and he shouldn’t), he’ll stop the play.

Finally, the tight end releases at the outside defender, which is going to hold him outside. But, if Kampmoyer had blocked the outside defender successfully, the play might have had a chance. As it is, he runs by him and the linebacker makes the tackle for an embarrassing nine-yard loss.

Above, Herbert badly misses Josh Delgado (No. 83) on an outside route as previous mechanical faults rear their head. His footwork is poor, he doesn’t step off his back foot and his follow through forces the ball to sail to the right, which happened several times on this bad night.

It is possible that one of the receivers was not where they should have been, which caused Herbert to clutch on his delivery as if he was caught off guard. But that’s just supposition at this point.

Above, the remarkably poised 18-year-old signal caller steps back and heaves a beauty to Brandon Aiyuk (No. 2) for an 81-yard score and the dagger to the Ducks’ heart. Lenoir (No. 6) is once again beaten on the deep route, as is the safety Verone McKinley III (No. 23), who may have been coasting a bit coming over to help. With that down and distance, there is no way the Ducks should have been in man coverage as the result of the play showed.

Daniels completed 5 of 5 deep throws for completions of 57, 34, 33, 26 and 81 yards and three scores. Both Duck corners were victimized for biting on fakes by the ASU receivers, who were also faster than them.

The Ducks have a week to get straight and ready to face rival Oregon State in the Civil War. What they’re looking at on defense is an OSU offense that is every bit as good and explosive as the one that just took them to the woodshed. As a result of their own win over the Sun Devils and an inherent disdain for the Ducks, the Beavers will bus into Eugene fully believing they are the better team, and will dedicate themselves to that end.

If the Ducks aren’t careful, they could have a two-game losing streak going into a Pac-12 conference championship that will have seriously lost its luster.

Coach Ken Woody
Eugene, Oregon Top Photo by Irena Filenko

Want to learn from Coach Woody in person? He will be analyzing the prior game each week this season at the 6th Street Grill in Eugene on Wednesdays from 6:00 to 7:30 PM with video analysis and opening it up for questions. Join him and learn more football!  Charles Fischer

Spencer Thomas, the Volunteer Editor for this article, is an attorney for the Social Security Administration in Atlanta, Georgia, and coaches football at Hillgrove High School in Powder Springs, GA.


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Ken Woody is a former Fox Sports football commentator who played defensive back, receiver and kicker for Oregon from 1966 to 1970. He coached college football for 18 years, including stints as an assistant coach at Oregon, Washington, Washington State and Utah State, and was head coach at Whitman College and Washington University-St. Louis. He writes x’s and o’s, a weekly column in the Register-Guard, RG online coverage of Duck football and is the author of “After Further Review—an inside look at what’s really happening on the football field.” Woody is on KUGN (590 am) 2:45 before kickoff and 30 minutes after each game with coaching and game analysis.

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