Ten years ago, Oregon burst onto the national scene with an offense that had never been seen before. The Ducks used warp-speed tempo, multiple formations and unconventional schemes that had defenses scrambling to line up before the snap. From 2009-2014, the Ducks appeared in two National Championship Games and four Pac-12 Championship Games while winning two of three Rose Bowl games and a Fiesta Bowl. These feats were accomplished with recruiting classes ranked 34th, 30th, 12th, 12th and 14th nationally.
Fast forward to the modern era, and it is hard to imagine teams with similar recruiting results such as NC State (34th in 2014), Nebraska (30th in 2015), Florida (12th in 2016), Miami (12th in 2017) and Auburn (12th in 2018) vying for national or even conference championships. Defenses have adjusted to the “blur” offense, and conventional wisdom is that elite coaching and elite recruiting are necessary ingredients for national championship contention.
And the Ducks, for the next season,may finally have both.
Enter Joe Moorhead, who has garnered national praise as one of the brightest offensive minds in college football. He will be added to an elite recruiting staff that has taken over the West Coast with their second consecutive No. 1 ranked recruiting class in the Pac-12. Oregon has only recently become a national recruiting powerhouse and recently won a Rose Bowl with a simple (but effective) smash-mouth running style.
Oregon’s recruiting momentum has not slowed, as they have commitments from four blue-chip prospects from California for the 2021 cycle and are ranked in the top five nationally on Rivals. The Ducks have shifted to big-game hunting mode for their final available slots, as they are pursuing both the No. 1 and No. 2 players in the nation at the same time. The base of talent being built is obvious to all, and now even the national media are noting the rise of an elite program in Eugene.
Vertical Passing Concepts
In Moorhead’s introductory press conference, Mario Cristobal detailed the many strengths the offensive coach had on his resume. Cristobal also alluded to the improvements they expect to see on the offensive side of the ball for the upcoming season — specifically, “stretching the field“:
“Regardless of how good or bad you have done the previous year, you always want to improve. We certainly see opportunities to improve in stretching the field and some of the things we do with our tempo. We always want to run the ball better, the laundry list is always going to be long but at the same time acknowledge some of the good things we have done and do everything we can to enhance those things.”
The above video shows how coach Moorhead stretches the field by attacking the space between the cornerback and safety. This allows the quarterback to read one defender and throw to the space that is uncovered by a defensive back. While this concept is not new, Moorhead simplifies these concepts and installs ideal timing to produce explosive plays.
With the Ducks’ recent elevation to “elite” status in terms of recruiting and coaching, it’s high time to ponder whether Oregon football is on the verge of contending for a national championship. Perhaps Cristobal is seeking to do what Alabama, (Lane Kiffin), Clemson, (Tony Elliott), and LSU (Steve Ensminger) did by bringing in an elite offensive coordinator to maximize talent.
We know how those teams have done the past three years with the right OC to lead them.
Is Joe Moorhead the final component that shouts to the college football world that the Rose Bowl was only the beginning for Our Beloved Ducks?
Coach Jeremy Mosier
Top Photo by Harry Caston
Andrew Mueller, the FishDuck.com Volunteer Editor for this article, works in higher education in Chicago, Illinois.
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