The Fascination Factor with new offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead is through the roof for Oregon fans with tidbits gleaned from interviews and articles on this site about the new assistant coach, plus some analysis of his offense previously run at Penn State. Oregon’s new OC has operated out of the Shotgun Spread Offense in the past, and he puts the quarterback in a position to make decisions that can send him running up-field. All of that is exciting, but the real question in back of everyone’s mind is, “will Coach Mario Cristobal let Coach Moorhead truly run a more wide-open offense?”
Or are we relegated to more Pistol plunges?
Full Disclosure: If you are an Oregon fan who takes any criticism of the football team as a personal affront (see No. 35 and in particular No. 52 at the link), you may want to skip this article. If you love so much of what head coach Mario Cristobal is doing (as I do with recruiting, hiring coaches, culture building, and honesty), but would like to still consider ways for the team we love to improve, then read on and see if you agree with my thoughts. I’d love your civilized feedback, (as this site is known for) regardless.
I am not sure how to understand the intransigence concerning the Oregon offense since Cristobal arrived. I keep stating that he is learning on the job some of the obvious stuff that we older fans have witnessed many times with different coaching staffs, and this “learning” has come at the expense of the fan experience. You cannot imagine my frustration of seeing other teams run the former Oregon Shotgun Spread Offense in its entirety and score boatloads of points as Oregon once did. The plays are still there … heck they reside in the Oregon Football Analysis Library at FishDuck!
The original Oregon Shotgun Spread Offense can be operated while being tougher in the trenches and without pulling the center to the perimeter; we know this because Clemson won National Championships twice with the Ducks’ prior offense, and by utilizing the aforementioned additions to this offense. It can be done, but Cristobal did not want to. It is as if he wanted to do anything on offense other than what Oregon established its reputation on, and built the brand with. So, he has been wandering through a mish-mash of the Pistol and the Shotgun trying to find a substitute that can work to score as many as the 43 point-per-game average of that glorious eight year period from 2008-2015? (Versus 35 points per game last year.)
If the new Joe Moorhead offense works this fall, then finally Mario Cristobal can say he did it “his way.” But if Moorhead decides to revert back to his own playbook, (in the Shotgun offense) and what has worked in Eugene for the glorious eight year stretch (the full original Oregon Spread Shotgun) within his new RPO offense, how will Cristobal view that? Will Mario be satisfied that he purged enough of what worked so well at Oregon? (The Shotgun Spread offense continues to succeed nationally, and Joe Moorhead did not run the Pistol before.)
The good news to me is how the offense ultimately did not matter as much in 2019, as it was the team’s experience factor, (or lack thereof) that I’ve written about and was the primary driver for the final tally of this last season. It was acquiring the hardening, the new mental resolve that only comes from living through the two painful losses. So perhaps it turned out for the best? Cristobal could see scads of points scored by the Shotgun Spread offenses at Ohio State, Clemson, Oklahoma, Alabama and can now pivot back to what is obvious?
Would that development be due to experience or maturity?
A Unique Opportunity…
For so many years we scored so many points in the Mike Bellotti West Coast passing offense, and progressed to even more scoring with the Chip Kelly Shotgun Spread offense, while the fans always complained about the defense being the weak link. For the first time in Oregon football history the Ducks return a top-five rated defense of which is a miracle in Eugene, thanks to Coach Cristobal. But what if the Oregon offense were to average 43 points this season?
Coupled with that acclaimed defense, how high would the upside be for Oregon football?
“Oh how we love to ponder about Our Beloved Ducks!”
Charles Fischer (Mr. FishDuck)
Top Photo by Tom Corno
Chris Brouilette, the FishDuck.com Volunteer editor for this article, is a current student at the University of Oregon from Sterling, Illinois.
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