Mario Cristobal hopes that new OC Joe Moorhead’s impact on the offense will match that of DC Andy Avalos‘ 2019 impact on the defense.
After two seasons of rabid debate over the state of the Oregon offense, Duck fans are still abuzz of the recent hiring of Moorhead. He was widely regarded as the top OC hire of the offseason and most agree that it was an outstanding hire. Oregon enthusiasts are now trying to piece together what they can come to expect under a Moorhead-run offense.
In a recent article, the Oregonian’s Andrew Nemec had a chance to speak with Moorhead and unearthed some golden nuggets of information:
“I think the amount of times we ran Trace (McSorley) [at Penn State] and the kid at Fordham is probably representative of what you want it to be — probably between 10, at a minimum, 15 at an absolute maximum,” he said. “Now, things that happen by improvisation on their own, that’s that. We don’t want to make a living running the quarterback, but anytime he’s a plus-one in the run game, you want to force the defense to defend every blade of grass in the width and length of the field and when the quarterback can be a threat to pull one and run the ball it forces defenses to play you differently.”
Other highlights from that conversation included:
— During his senior season at Penn State (2017), McSorley ran the ball 170 times for 798 yards and 12 touchdowns in 13 games, while Oregon QB Justin Herbert carried the ball a total of 58 times in 14 games, averaging 4.1 carries per contest, and of course more than 25 percent of those were in his last two games.
— Moorhead’s base 11 personnel, no-huddle scheme is built on running to establish the passing game, to reach as close to 50/50 run-pass as possible.
— He aims for 65 percent completions from his quarterbacks and harps on explosive plays, turnovers, and third down and red zone conversions.
Quarterbacks: History is on Oregon’s Side
I’ve read many comments from those who are worried about replacing Herbert. Nightmarish flashbacks of 2015 after Vernon Adams went down with injury are coming back to haunt people, but I have faith that no matter who is taking snaps next September (probably Tyler Shough), the Ducks will be fine.
From a historical perspective, we really should have nothing to worry about. The biggest worry in recent history in replacing a graduating starter was in 2008 when Justin Roper was the starter before injuries started happening and Jeremiah Masoli took control of the reigns. But before that, you’d have to go back to 1981-82 when Kevin Lusk and Mike Jorgensen — replacing the great Reggie Ogburn — were sub-par replacements until a young local Sheldon High School gunslinger named Chris Miller trotted onto the field early in 1983 season.
Since Miller: Musgrave, O’Neil, Graziani, Moss/Smith, Smith, Feeley/Harrington, Harrington, Fife/Clemens, Clemens, Dixon, Roper/Masoli, Masoli, Thomas, Mariota, Adams, the Adams injury disaster, Prukop/Herbert, Herbert ….
In the instances where names are separated by a forward slash, there was a hiccup in determining the true starter, but nothing of the free-fall after Adams was hurt in 2015. Of course, the Dennis Dixon injury in 2007 will pop up in the minds of many fans, but the current Oregon roster appears to have enough talent that if the presumed starter Shough goes down, Oregon should still be formidable with whoever takes over.
Somebody will step up this off-season as the No. 2 guy, and many are very high on Jay Butterfield.
The state of the OL: Shane Lemieux, Jake Hanson, and Calvin Throckmorton are all gone. “Only” Penei Sewell remains, which is one monster of an “only.” But with the OL being Cristobal’s baby, and the way he’s recruited that position, I have little doubt that the Ducks will be fine up front.
Tight Ends: After a long run of producing quality tight ends that could go back as far as Doug Herman in 1984 (nope, I can’t reel off 40 years of tight ends off the top of my head like I can quarterbacks), the Ducks have some questions at the position. Spencer Webb, Cam McCormick, Patrick Herbert, Hunter Kampmoyer … who will step up and be the guy?
Wide Receivers: Much like the TEs, until three years ago, you could always count on the Ducks having quality wide receivers. But after the recent drop-off, things improved some in 2019. The young talent has arrived, and Mycah Pittman appears to be on the verge of a huge breakout.
The million-dollar, off-season, doesn’t matter, blood-boiling, “what if” hypothetical, being shamelessly placed in this article to stir-up trouble and heated debate:
What if Marcus Arroyo hadn’t left?
Would Cristobal have let him go? Or would he have stuck beside his friend? I think more Duck fans than others would be rabidly calling for Arroyo to be fired (like me). I mean seriously, people can say all they want about the lack of elite skill position talent, but Oregon’s offensive puppet-master was far too often not pulling the right strings.
If he hadn’t let Arroyo go it would be “the” topic of the 2020 off-season, warranting about 90 percent of the discussion.
I think Cristobal would have made a change. With all the clamoring, underachievement, and with Herbert leaving, it would have been the right time.
But what if he didn’t?
Somebody had better call 9-1-1.
Spokane, WATop Photo From Video
Natalie Liebhaber, the FishDuck.com Volunteer Editor for this article, works in the financial technology industry in Bozeman, Montana
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