Was the Rose Bowl Just the Beginning for Oregon?

Jeremy Mosier Editorials 38 Comments

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.

YouTube

Joe Moorhead diagrams a flood concept.

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
Geneseo, Illinois                                                                                               
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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Charles Fischer

News Update:

“The NCAA Board of Directors reportedly approved a blanket waiver Friday, which will allow fall sports athletes to retain their eligibility for the 2021-22 season. 

According to Nicole Auerbach of The Athletic, that means athletes will retain a year of eligibility regardless of whether or not they participate in their fall sport’s 2020-21 season.

For example, if a senior football player plays this season in the fall or spring, they will still be eligible to return next season. Auerbach noted that senior athletes who want to return next season will not have their scholarships counted against the limit of their schools.”

Annie

It will be interesting to see how many seniors choose to come back for the 2020 2021 season. Also, how will it affect the underclassmen, who might have been looking to step up and fill some of those positions the seniors would have been leaving.

BigDucksFan

Very good point. Some players will have to wait yet another year and when it’s time for them to move on they won’t have that many years of actual play time to take to the NFL.

Jon Sousa

I, for one, think that Brady Breeze really needed this year to impress the scouts and up his draft stock. He was shining his star brightly in the last 3-4 games, but the coming year he would have started the whole year and been able to put up some good numbers.

Will he come back for a whole year????

Last edited 1 month ago by Jon Sousa
BigDucksFan

Nice article Jeremy.

A worry I have is that of recruiting and Oregons attention to QB’s and receivers in that respects. I would have liked to see more attention given to the OL and RB in recruiting the star players. Yes star QB’s and receivers are needed but without a great OL you won’t have the time for attacking the cornerback and safety and without a franchise RB you won’t get that one yard run when it’s 4th and 1 and you “run left” (again and again).

DonealDuck

The QB’s and receivers were needed, after having to bring in grad transfers for several years at QB and having no scholarship QB with any experience on the roster; and in the case of receiver, having the ‘dropsies’ in 2018, along with inabilities to get open when needed or stretch the field.

I do not believe OL or RB are being neglected, however. As long as Mario is at Oregon, i believe O-line will always be a priority. Last year, 5 offensive linemen were part of the recruiting class, along with a stud RB like you want, Trey Benson. This year, so far three high 4 star O linemen have committed, and Oregon is projected for borderline 5 star Penei’s cousin, and is in the running for a 5 star, Bryce Foster. Seven McGee, who has been committed to Oregon for a couple years and was a 5 star before he sat out last season, and is a DAT-like RB, is in this year’s class.

And what I am most excited about is Oregon’s new-found prowess in recruiting for the defensive side of the ball!

BigDucksFan

I look forward to seeing Trey Benson play. (actually right now I look forward for any Duck to play)

Interesting about Penei’s cousin. I wasn’t aware of that but it certainly puts me in a better mood.

My main disappointment of the Ducks not playing this year was I really wanted to see this defense dominate like we all think they can.

DonealDuck

https://www.oregonlive.com/recruiting/2020/08/jackson-light-oregon-ducks-ol-commit-delivers-impressive-downfield-block-video.html

This is video of Oregon’s ‘lowest rated’ O-Line commit in this years class, Jackon Light, in his first game this season

DonealDuck

I also am excited to see Trey. He was totally underrated by the recruiting services, being over 6 foot and over 200 pounds as well as a championship sprinter. He is projected to play college ball at 220 to 230 pounds, and with his speed, I think he is apt to be the type of ‘stud’ RB fans are clamoring to see.

Jon Sousa

Over the last few years we have done very well recruiting the O-line. Not doing bad this year either, so I miss your point??

O-line commits:
2017 – 1 4*, 3 3*
2018 – 2 4*, 2 3*
2019 – 2 4*, 1 3*
2020 – 2 4*, 3 3*
2021 – 2 4*, 1 3*

That puts 7 4* on the roster right now and 9 4* on the roster next year, unless Sewell goes pro, which everyone assumes but is not a given. (If he stays, like 3 or 4 guys did last year, he would also be able to play with his brother and probably his cousin.)

The 10 3* that will be on the roster next year are not chopped liver either.

For comparison, Alabama (still the gold standard), in those same years has recruited a total of 5 5*, (3 of which were in 2017 – might be gone next year), 10 4*, and 4 3*. Which would give them a probable 2 5*, 10 4*, and 4 3*.

Alabama is still definitely a step or two ahead of Oregon, but what can you expect when Alabama has 17 national championships (4 out of the last 10) and Oregon still has 0?? Next year ‘Bama will probably have 12 elite recruits on roster to Oregon’s 8 or 9.

My point: Oregon is doing very well recruiting the O-line, and many elite recruits mention the fact that MC being a O-line guy is very important to them.

Charles Fischer

Great stuff Jon, and something we forget is that Penei Sewell was a 4-Star at Rivals.com, yet he blew up to be an Outland Award winner. So I feel that if we get high 4-Star offensive linemen…we’ll be OK.

BigDucksFan

Interesting numbers Jon, thanks for digging them up. 2020 is kind of my point in that we had 3 – 3star guys come on board. It’s nice that we are holding at least 2 4’s for the last 4 years. Would be nice to get a 5 star or two.

Don’t know what we could ever do to get like Alabama except maybe win 17 national championships, like you point out.

Jon Sousa

He’d probably never make it at the “Elite” “Blue Blood” schools, but Jordon Scott (a 3*) has been very good for Oregon. The D-line has been improving steadily over the last 3 years also.

DonealDuck

Dear BDF. You do realize that there are approximately only 30 five star football players each year, total, yes?… Of those 30, Bama, Ohio State, Georgia and Clemson will get 15. That leaves 15 TOTAL 5 stars at all positions for the entire remaining country. How many O-Line 5 stars do you think there are of those 15 total players for Oregon to get ‘two’?

Jon Joseph

What about Rutgers!

Jon Joseph

Good thoughts. But with the ’25’ a season limitation, don’t you have to mix and match?

BigDucksFan

I don’t have a count but seems the 25 mix is heavy on the QB’s and receivers with fewer 4 & 5 stars on the OL or RB. Hopefully thats just my perception but I don’t think it is.

30Duck

Great article, Jeremy, it illustrates how Cristobal is methodically putting his program together, with championships as the goal, and I hear you, BDF. The WR’s are great, but what about the Big Uglies and the RB’s?

Could it be, that with the NFL putting a lower premium on the traditional running game, that the college and high schools are reflecting that, and producing fewer running game parts? I am still looking forward to what Trey Benson will show us when play starts, but I’m seeing fewer 4* & 5*, RB’s on the top recruits lists.

Mulholland

TOTALLY AGREE ! We need to recruit a few stud RB !!! Can Gary Campbell come back and recruit and be the father figure for these young men ???

Mulholland

If there is any good news , moorehead and TS can have more time and practice together , plus the OL will have more time to develops together . Sad news is that we have seen the last of Penei ! This is the time of year that I’m DONE with summer , cause in 2 weeks , I’ll be sitting in Heaven with my BEST 60 k friends !!!!! Then the next 12 weekend it traveling to every day home and away since I now live in San Diego area ! Not much better then a Fall day I. Eugene ! GO DUCKS

BigDucksFan

Good for you, and welcome to Carlsbad. From your neighbor in Oceanside.

Last edited 1 month ago by BigDucksFan
Jon Joseph

Thanks Coach.

I for one, am becoming less and less interested in the ESPN, so-called, Playoff. I have previously articulated the many reasons why I believe this ‘playoff’ to be a farce; I will not bother everyone by reiterating here.

Not all of us are old enough to recall the pre-BCS days (which is nice for younger readers,) but for those of us of such an age, was CFB more ‘FUN” pre-BCS, or now? More fun before the game was monetized and ‘nationalized’, or now? More fun before or after anyone started bragging about ‘their conference’ being able to beat ‘your conference’ in a single sport?

I am of course disappointed the Ducks will be playing for nothing in 2020. But I am not disappointed that in a ‘normal’ 2020 season, a 2L Pac-12 champ and perhaps, even a 1L Pac-12 champ, would be playing in the Fiesta, and not the Rose Bowl.

IMO, when the goal is the Peach Bowl and not the Rose Bowl, something is very wrong.

BigDucksFan

The “Granddaddy of them all” sure has lost some of its luster. I wonder if an 8 team playoff would help that ??

Mike West

The only disappointment I had about the RB last year was we didn’t play Penn State. That would have been a barometer game for us.

Love the playoff. Real winners versus real winners. Not some gift to an unqualified team like Memphis or Central Florida (and yes last year’s Beloved Ducks).

Why pretend Ohio State gets to show their real prowess against a much less talented Oregon team last year. That, my friend would have been a farce (sorry Jon, I don’t like treating wanna be type teams as legit contenders).

Jon Joseph

SPOT ON! PSU was the better team but the L at MN ushered in Wisconsin, a team that lost to Illinois.

DumpsterFire

***My apologies for the length of this post. I didn’t intend it to be longer than the article, and didn’t know it would be until I got to the end. Maybe I should have put a little more detailed thought into it and emailed it to Charles to be a guest writer, but hey, too late now I guess***

There are two things that come to mind here for me. One is something I’d have to do a little Googling to get the exact year I’m thinking of, but I recall several years ago, like more than 10, when I really first started paying attention to recruiting, there was this team that I was really surprised started signing top notch recruits. I had heard of them, but honestly didn’t know a ton about them and for some reason several of these highly ranked recruits I had pipe-dreams of Oregon snagging (a total dream at the time) that instead of, back then, going to Michigan, Tennessee or Texas, were signing with Clemson. Fast forward to today and look at what Clemson has done on more than one occasion…can you say National Champions, again?

That’s pretty much exactly what I see happening with Oregon right now. They’ve come from seemingly out of nowhere in the elite recruiting realm and are starting to make what used to be highway robbery recruiting snags like Jonathan Stewart and Haloti Ngata become more of the norm. I’m pretty optimistic about what that’s going to bring us here in Eugene in the hopefully very near future…can you say National Champions?

Yes, I do see that happening and I don’t think I’m dreaming too big with that thought thought. Is it going to be this year (whenever that turns out to be)? Realistically, no. Optimistically, well a guy can dream, right? The pieces are starting to fall into place, I just don’t think we’re quite there yet.

Part of that is recruiting, which has been a big “WOW” factor as of late, and I know that the coaches play a big, no, a huge part of that, but there’s another aspect that I think is playing a bigger role than just the coaches. 10 years ago, communicating with your family across the country wasn’t as easy as it is now. Kids, in my opinion, were less likely to leave home than they are today because they would be truly alone (as in not near their families).

I’m not a big social media guy…I’m pretty sure I’m one of three people left on the planet who doesn’t have a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok (thank God) or any other type of account, but I do see how often everyone around me is on one of the platforms and how “connected” they are to, well everyone. I can see that, as an 18 year old kid, being a tremendous positive in them being able to be thousands of miles away but still feel like they can “go home” whenever they want. I guess I can (reluctantly for me) say, thanks social media.

OK, the second thing that came to mind, Joe Moorhead. Oh, trust me, I’m definitely hoping this isn’t just a bunch of talk with him and that he’s really going to elevate things to more closely resemble the Kelly and (the coordinator) Helfrich offenses that moved the ball seemingly at will and score touchdowns in droves…BUT, we do have to remember he hasn’t called a single play here yet. What he did elsewhere doesn’t mean the same thing is going to happen here.

I’ve got three coaches in mind, all with Oregon ties, to back up why I’m not betting the farm on Moorhead just yet. Chip Kelly, Scott Frost and Brady Hoke (you’ll see where I’m going with him, so stop scratching your heads).

Chip Kelly killed it at Oregon. Heck, even when he first got to “the show” his first couple of years were actually pretty good. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out and he ended up back in college. Lets be honest though, who thought “uh-oh” when he was announced as the Bruins head man? Yeah, I’m sure we all thought the conference might be in trouble because we were about to see the contender UCLA of the 70’s and 80’s. Chip, the man with an almost god-like aspect to him in Oregon football might be out of a job after his next season. Talk about head scratchers, right?

Scott Frost was tabbed as one of the next great head coaches while here at Oregon – a young gun who was just waiting for his opportunity. When he finally left he did what a lot of people expected and went to a smaller school. No, he wasn’t going up against the best teams, but in any conference it’s extremely difficult to go undefeated, but after he took an 0-12 team (haha…those purple things up north had one of those years. Yes, I had to throw that in there) he did just that in year two of his tenure at UCF. That success got him to his alma mater, Nebraska, and his coming home party began. Yeah, you want to talk head-scratchers…look no further than his time there so far. Who had those results on their radar? I know I didn’t.

Alright, here comes Brady Hoke. Hoke was known as a defensive mind. No, he hadn’t been a coordinator before, but he did know defense. He was a former head coach of a defensive team, and his time as a position coach before that saw him as an upper echelon guy…why else would he have gotten hired as a head coach? So the head coach thing didn’t work out, so why not use that mind to guide a team’s defense, that was just awful the two years before getting hired, to something much better? Heck, it should at least improve some. I mean seriously, at times it looked like Pleasant Hill High School’s JV team could have actually scored at least once on the final year of the Pellum experiment. Yeah, how many of us wanted Pellum back after Hoke’s first year? We all know how that worked out.

So why do I say all of this? Simple, I need to see a few games with Moorhead calling the plays before I put the deed to the farm down on the betting table. He has a really good track record, but until he actually calls a play for our beloved Ducks, I’m personally going to continue breathing. I might start the breath holding process after a couple of quality wins, but until then he’s an on paper home run hire only…here’s to optimism though…

Last edited 1 month ago by DumpsterFire
30Duck

Okay, first, we just have to find the one other person on the planet w/o a social media account and we’re set, also, do you have a connection to Pleasant Hill? Go, Billies!

Oregon, the new Clemson? Sounds like a plan. Oregon is moving in the right direction. I actually like our charismatic coach more than the one at Clemson. Oregon was in worse shape than was Clemson when Dabo started there, and he went several years before blowing up. Cristobal won the Rose Bowl his second year!

I feel like Cristobal has earned the optimism; the recruiting has set the new normal; Avalos stepped in and the defense got even better. Yeah, we haven’t seen Morehead’s product at Oregon. But I’m thinking it’s a sturdy limb to go out on to say that he’s gonna be great.

BigDucksFan

Good read and yes I read all of it.

Jon Sousa

Nice article Dumpster. No need to apologize. Next time you write one, though, you might include a video, or a diagram, or at least a couple pictures (we all would love to see one of Brady Hoke again).

OK, the third sentence was totally tongue-in-cheek.

Keep posting!

Charles Fischer

Great stuff DF, and I am not worried at all about Moorhead, as I’ve talked to a couple of coaches that know his work and they think this was a brilliant fit.

Four, potentially all five new offensive lineman starters? Now THAT is what I’m worried about…

Mike West

Won’t that actually be five?

BigDucksFan

A good thing about this virus delay is that we should have less of a “first year adjustment” period with Moorhead and his offense.

DonealDuck

If it costs us a year of Penei, it is not worth it. :( sadzzz

DonealDuck

I trust MC’s hires. And when he does make a mistake, he changes it quickly (Boughknight).

DumpsterFire

Oh I’m definitely optimistic about him, and was pretty excited when the rumors started flying around that he’s who we hired, there’s no doubt about that. I’m just holding full judgement until we see what he’s actually going to both do, and be allowed to do. Remember there have been plenty of rumors flying around that even Arroyo was reigned in by Cristobal to an extent. This fits into the time will tell category though, and we’ll hopefully have a concrete answer sooner rather than later.

The O-line, believe it or not I’m actually pretty confident in what we have, as well as who’s supposed to be coming in on the next cycle. I mean it’s not like we don’t have a head coach who cherishes the position more than most. I’d actually say that since we have the known commodity of what MC brings to the table and his eye for talent. Remember, he was the O-line coach at Alabama before coming here, and it’s not like they don’t/haven’t ever produced top notch talent in trenches.

Last edited 1 month ago by DumpsterFire
Jon Sousa

AND… 3 of the 5 Five Star Recruits that Alabama has recruited on the O-Line over the last 4 years were recruited to Alabama by… MARIO CRISTOBAL. Alabama hasn’t done nearly as well recruiting the O-line since MC left for Oregon.

Last edited 1 month ago by Jon Sousa
Jon Joseph

Among other things. I’m disappointed that we will not witness Hoke vs The Chipper in San Diego this season.

BigDucksFan

I had a round of cold ones riding on that game, with Hoke coming out on top.

Bummer it’s not going to happen.