Buyer Beware: The Cougar Curse is Alive and Kickin’

Darren Perkins Editorials 53 Comments

We have every reason to believe the Cougar Curse it is behind us. The Ducks beat Washington State last year (barely), Mike Leach has moved on, and WSU has a new head coach and starting quarterback.

The Cougars seem to be descending from a certain perch of theirs.

On the other hand, the Ducks are the more talented team, they’ve been dominating the Pac-12 in recruiting the past few years, have a solid foundation, and are now a program that “reloads,” (careful, Perkins), not “rebuilds.

So, it sounds like the Ducks have absolutely nothing to worry about. But the truth is, given the reasons mentioned above, we should fear a Washington State program that has absolutely nothing to lose. Careful everyone, these guys can still score a lot of points, and against Stanford, the Oregon defense didn’t exactly look like a “shutdown defense.”  It just takes one young and over-confident quarterback who doesn’t know any better to slay a giant.

Yeah, I watched him against the Beavers, you’ll know his name soon enough.

Oregon had a four-year blip on the radar against WSU from 2015-2018. The Ducks were in rebuilding mode and had some critical injuries (i.e. QB) in most of those games, while the Cougars were peaking under Mike Leach.

Those days are over, but is the Cougar Curse?

On Saturday, we’ll find out…

Darren Perkins
Spokane, WA
Top Photo Credit: Kevin Cline

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Charles Fischer

Ducks Open at No. 10 in AP Poll

OREGON ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2020

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL | @OregonWBB

 
EUGENE, Ore. – The Oregon women’s basketball team will open the 2020-21 season as the No. 10 ranked team in the nation, the Associated Press announced Tuesday morning with the release of its preseason top-25 poll.

No. 10 is the third-highest preseason ranking in program history; Oregon was No. 1 in the AP poll for the first time in program history to open the 2019-20 season after kicking off its 2018-19 Final Four run with a No. 3 national ranking. The Ducks opened 2017-18 at No. 11, the first of four straight preseason top-15 rankings.

The Ducks have now been ranked in the AP top-25 for 60 straight polls, the eighth-longest active streak in the nation, including 59 consecutive top-10 rankings. No. 11 is the lowest Oregon has been ranked during its 60-poll streak.

Oregon is one of four Pac-12 teams in the preseason top-10, along with No. 2 Stanford, No. 7 Arizona and No. 9 UCLA. Oregon State gives the conference five teams in the top-25 at No. 18
————————————————————————————————————–

Mr. FishDuck Note: Can you believe the incredible power of the Pac-12 in Womens Basketball? Four teams in the pre-season top ten? (And Oregon is the lowest?) Whew!

30Duck

It’s not only in basketball, softball is pretty much the same when it comes to Pac-12 domination. It could be that the Lady Ducks finish 4th in the conference; Stanford, Arizona & UCLA are that good. But, with the Fantastic 5 that come in this season, + returners the quality of Chavez, Shelley, Boley, and 6’7 Sedona Prince, Taylor Mikesell and Nyara Sabally, Oregon is going to be to tough to knock off for the 1st time in 3 years.

Last edited 13 days ago by 30Duck
oregon111

Any time you play against a team with a good passing game, you can lose. LSU proved that last year.

I don’t see the Duck defense shutting them down. If Oregon wins, it will be because the Duck offense makes plays.

I see a real chance that Oregon loses due to too many pistol runs, especially on first and second down.

I also see Oregon getting outplayed at the QB position, badly. We will see.

I think Oregon hangs on for a close win (or maybe a loss). More head scratching over the offensive scheme.

CJ

Key to the game:
Can KT (or anyone else on the D) get pressure on the young QB. They did not versus Stanford.

Wazzu tends to throw the ball quickly…or at least they used to and it seems as if they still do based on last Saturdays game. So can our DB’s step up with some tight coverage on those quick pass plays. If so it may force Wazzu to try to go down field more often at which time I am hoping KT will start to make an impact.

30Duck

ESPN fired 100’s of employees, but Todd McShay still has his job. This embodiment of white noise just informed us that Trevor Lawrence & Justin Fields should both be high draft picks! I open discussion on what job out there comes with less accountability or even usefulness than McShay’s NFL Draft analysis?

Jon Joseph

The united States of America Tea Tester position?

UtahDuck

In 2020 I think it is too early to tell what will happen. The question for me becomes is Stanford better than I expected or did oregon just under perform. The reverse needs to be answered about Oregon State, I projected them to be ‘good’ at least for oregon state standards but is my projection wrong.

In a brief review of the wazzu game, first you need to recognize the game was a lot closer than the final score. one major issue I saw from oregon state in their game was the sheer amount of missed tackles against the run. I don’t have the numbers but Wazzu had well over 100 yards on the ground in yards after contact. I don’t think this is a stat that is replicable vs the rest of the pac 12 north. the average in all of college football is about 17% of all yards are made after contact. If my review is right WSU had about three times this percentage in the run game alone.

I think the big concern for Oregon this week will be at the safety position. How will oregon replace McKinley who will miss the first half due to his targeting ejection? Oregon’s corners played fairly well this last week with other than 2? DPI’s one of which I would call bogus, how will they line up against smaller WR’s? I think we are likely to see more zone coverage in new week so I want to see how we incorporate the Dime package we used fairly efficiently against stanford. last question is how does washington state due in regards to so many players being ineligible last week do they get a number of them back?

David Marsh

I’m looking and hoping for some significant growth between game one and game two which usually happens with new starters and younger players.

Stanford took some shots downfield that burned the ducks but I would say on the whole there weren’t too many difficult throws into contested windows. Stanford handed the ball off for run plays a whole lot.

Oregon’s secondary is certaily going to have to step up and I think we will get an accurate look as to how good this secondary is in more short and mid-range throws. Which wasn’t something Stanford did too consistently. Just throwing out some observations and what I am looking for… I really should re-watch the Oregon-Stanford game but I don’t have any TV recording device so I will have to look and see where I can find a replay.

Mike West

YouTube

UtahDuck

I don’t know if I buy the whole stanford handed the ball off a whole lot I mean technically they did but when I remove garbage time(Which includes that 80 yard 3 play drive) I calculated around 95 Yards on the ground for Stanford. Of those 95 yards 40 came in the first drive of the game. that leaves about 6 drives for stanford with an average of 9 yards per drive on the ground. I’d say that is very respectable. Then calculate first downs/TD’s and stanford had, again not including garbage time, 4 first downs/TD’s running the ball. Again 2 of these were in the first drive of the game.

compared to stanfords 216 yards passing only 37 of those yards game in garbage time. leaving 180 yards in the game. Stanford also didn’t complete a pass during the first drive so that means our defense gave up an average 30 yards a drive in the air the rest of the way before garbage. Add in two DPI’s and it was pretty abysmal on the back end.

The DB’s will have to pick it up, I do think Zone should help a lot with the Wazzu game but I have yet to run a full review of their game.

duckcardinal

Big gulf between Stanford QBs West & Mills. Play calling & hence chances of sustaining drives greatly impacted by last minute loss of Mills & WR Weddington. Had kicker Toner been serviceable it might have been closer, or maybe UO offense would have gotten opened up more & sooner? Difficult to draw any hard lessons from much of this game.

Charles Fischer

This is damn-good football analysis Utah, with the YAC (contact) and the thought about zone defenses this week. I agree with you as I am not impressed thus far with the LBs, although Adrian Jackson (No. 29) followed a wheel route perfectly late in the game. They might play zone better as a group?

Love this stuff!

Mike West

I thought Cunningham struggled lots. Sewell is only going to get better. His instincts are already there. They all need to work on shedding blocks (credit Stanford? I think so)

Overall, the first game kinks showed, which was common for just about every CFB team. Do we adjust is the question.

I tend to believe we as fans demand perfection. I for one was heavily disappointed we didn’t throw up fifty on offense, it was certainly available. And I’m not kidding. And yes, we can absolutely trash WSU if we decide to. MC must let Moorehead go aggressive. Shough is up to it, and so is the OL.

UtahDuck

I thought they did alright against the run but our pass defense was pathetic. Oddly enough I thought our Dime Defense did fantastic while in play while our Nickel which should have been better rehearsed just stunk. Jackson did do a great job on that play. Add in that they just couldn’t pull down some of Stan’s players on the short passes and stanford was able to keep the chains moving in the passing game.

30Duck

https://www.espn.com/college-football/lines

Opening lines for Pac-12 WK 2

USC -14 @ Arizona
Colorado @ Stanford -6 1/2
Oregon -10 @ WSU
Cal @ ASU -4
Utah -3 @ UCLA
OSU @ UW -13 1/2

Charles Fischer

Winning by a ten point margin does not achieve style points, but I would take it!

Jon Joseph

I’d be all over +10 but for my ‘no-show’ concerns? And, what will the weather be like at $ PM in Pullman on Saturday?

Mike West

The Cougars are still a threat on offense. The Duck secondary made plenty of mistakes. I see a shootout as my first impulse. Watched the game twice. Once Shough started running the ball, it was lights out for Stanford. Shaw made a key mistake at 28-14 inside the ten and decided to play basketball (block out the DBs on the fade route) instead of running the ball inside the ten. Cost them a TD in my opinion.

WSU will try to feast on our safeties, who looked suspect all game against Stanford. I DO LIKE OUR OFFENSE HOWEVER. Shough makes very good decisions, is mobile, and is allowed to run. I believe he is the starter because he is a more accurate thrower than Brown is. The running game is deadly when the QB is in play. It sets up everything else. WSU cannot stop this offense, and MC must start to demand 45 plus (the offense is more than capable to trounce conference defenses-all of them).

This is all on MC. He absolutely must score 45 plus. Nothing else is acceptable. And he best find a way to score that much on Alabama because the Tide is the only elite team with a very good defense. T comes down to match and exceed every offense —EVERY SINGLE SERIES ON OFFENSE.

WSU should be crispy burnt toast.

I approve of this message (lol).

oregon111

Going by Brown’s highlight tape, he can scramble AND find receivers downfield to throw to. Shough just tucks the ball and runs.

If Wa St can cover receivers, put pressure on Shough, and put a spy on him, they will shut down the Duck offense if the running game is not working.

But I don’t think Wazzu has enough in its front 7 to stop the Duck running game.

Jon Joseph

The O line should bull doze the WSU D; especially, with Shough as a legit run threat.

4 missed FGs led to a deceptive final score against a Stanford team playing its back up QB.

Charles Fischer

As always Mike–you really give us some superb insights. I agree with your observation with how the game changed with Shough running, as that slowed down the “read-key” defender from covering both the RB and QB in the mesh as we saw early in the game.

When they began to bring the TE across in a Slice or Wham block–it also changed things, and that escalated when they ran constraint plays or variations off of that with the short passes to the TE. (DJ)

My issue with the Pistol versus the Shotgun at it’s core is the amount of scoring; we did it with the Shotgun, and have not with Pistol. I applaud your call for demanding more scoring, and if Cristobal can achieve that with his current offensive system–I am fine with it.

I don’t know about 45 points as an average, but we may need it against the Cougs and you have to be able to win those shootout games.

And to win in the Playoff–you must be able to score a bunch on Clemson and Alabama. We are not there yet, but have the potential to be IMHO. Just add the Counter-Trey back and a real Outside Zone!

oregon111

2016, Washington had a great team, but could not move the ball against Alabama in the playoffs.
Playing against a great defense is an indicator of what kind of offense you really have.
Scoring on a great defense is as hard as batting against a great pitcher in baseball — very very hard.

Jon Joseph

Jerry Palm at CBS is still loving the Ducks.

Sugar Bowl – 1. Alabama vs 4.Oregon I think it is just wrong for this game to kick off at 9:45 Right Coast time.

Rose Bowl – 2. Ohio State vs 3. Clemson – No parade this year. Why not kick off an hour earlier so Sugar Bowl can do the same?

Fiesta – USC vs Wisconsin – I think SC will have all it can handle at Utah. I think this is where we will see the Ducks?

Alamo – ASU vs Iowa State – I think this is where we will see USC, with a chance to go 0-2 vs the state of Iowa?

LA – CAL vs Boise St – San Jose State(!) could win the MW and play in this game?

LV – UW vs Ole Miss – I see the SEC slot going to Arkansas.

Sun – Utah vs BC – Will ND come out flat post-Clemson and struggle at BC Saturday? The Eagles vs ‘Big Brother,’ will be fired up!

Independence – Stanford vs Army – Wouldn’t it be nice for Stanford to be rewarded with a trip to Shreveport, LA.?

Let’s hope the LA and LV Bowls will be played. And an empty Rose Bowl will be different, no?

Santa Rosa Duck

Notre Dame so far seems to be earning a playoff spot but I do not see them listed in the CBS analysis????

Jon Joseph

I agree, it’s puzzling.

Per Athlon –

Fiesta – Oregon vs BYU

Alamo – SC vs IA St

Independence – Utah vs Army

LV – ASU vs Ole Miss

LA – CAL vs Boise (if the city of Berkeley allows Cal to play ball?)

Sun – UW vs Wake Forest

No soup for you Chipper.

David Marsh

Clemson didn’t have Lawrence for the Notre Dame game and the hype around Clemson is so strong that excuses actually work right now. Not every team has the benefit of this hype being able to keep them afloat after a loss but Clemson does especially as it would appear Lawrence should be back this week and that is good enough for the powers at be to look the other way on this defeat currently.

Jon Joseph

Clemson also had a stud D guy on all 3 levels missing.

Sets up for a fun re-match if the Domers are not down and win at BC Saturday and later in the season at UNC.

30Duck

Notre Dame has certainly claimed a spot more than has Clemson. But the Tiger Love is strong, and Clemson now needs 2 L’s to even be close to out of consideration for the “Playoffs”.

Jon Joseph

Both could be in the final 4 along with Bama and Ohio State?

30Duck

I don’t really see a plausible scenario where your 4 doesn’t make it. If Clemson beats Notre Dame in the ACC Championship, it’s paint by numbers as usual. And, if Notre Dame wins both? The reasoning then would be that since Clemson was without Lawrence and the 3 defensive players, that loss didn’t count, so, Clemson would really only have 1 L.

Last edited 13 days ago by 30Duck
Charles Fischer

I am not sure that this Oregon team is ready for a “shoot-out” kind of game. I don’t think the offense has it all figured out yet, and I am very concerned about what I saw on defense on Saturday. We’ll improve and be OK later, but the problem is we need the defense to step it up this week.

We have greater chances of the offense scoring over 40, than the defense getting their groove, IMHO. We have too much inexperience at linebacker and I agree with Sherman yesterday–we miss a ball-hawking missile in Brady Breeze.

I am really surprised at the defense, as I thought (as most did) that it was “plug-and-play” this year. Not a good thing when you’re going to Pullman…

ptdduck

I’m not too concerned, Wazzu is starting a true freshman QB making his second start. I think our defense is going to feast on their offense and vice versa for our offense against their defense. Teams usually improve dramatically from week one to week two and MC conducted plenty of auditions on both sides of the ball against Stanford, so the starting lineups will get sorted out.

Last edited 13 days ago by ptdduck
Jon Sousa

I was very impressed with WSU last week. They may well win more than expected this year (they all ready have.) Ducks will have to stay focused. It’s a small sample, but I think there is improvement in the coaching staff on the Palouse. The spread might be right at less than two touchdowns. If it stays at one touchdown I would take the over.

Jon Joseph

WSU was very balanced on O vs OSU and the frosh QB looked darn good.

But the Ducks O line should smash mouth the much smaller WSU guys.

TheRunningDuck

The Coug frosh QB looked dangerous against OSU. But I am more worried about the snow. I have watched a game at WSU at this time of year and it can be nasty. Snow piled on the sidelines. This just makes the results more random.

Charles Fischer

It occurred to me that during normal times….this is the 10th game of the season and we never want to go to the Palouse at this time of year!

Haywarduck

It may not rain at Autzen, but at Martin Stadium it rains, snows and blows. One of the big variables will be the weather on Saturday.

Larry’s 8 game season puts us right in the teeth of ugly weather. Hopefully the Ducks pass this first test.

The weather is either going to roll off the backs of the Ducks or ruffle some feathers!

ICamel

Weather forecast in Pullman at kickoff(4PM) on Saturday is for 39 degrees and wind at 16MPH. Going down to 35 degrees and 12MPH by 8PM.

Jon Joseph

Delightful.

Jon Joseph

That’s 8 if you include a bowl game and a game(s) is not COVID called off.

Jon Joseph

Any word on when the game will kickoff? Things get weird at night in Pullman. My guess this will be an east coast late night special 10:30 kick off?

The true frosh QB starter for WSU did look good in the opener as did the Cougars run game; something that was a Leach after-thought.

Roster-wise, the Ducks should smoke these guys. Unless WSU puts 8 guys in the box, Oregon should have no problem in the run game.

But, Oregon should have wiped out WSU last season and the Ducks kicking game is still suspect.

Why can’t Oregon find one of the guys I watch on Saturday making 50 yarders? These guys are in the G5 as well as the P5.

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

The beat(down) goes on?

1st AP CBB Poll is out. Oregon ranked at 20. The highest ranked Pac-12 team is ASU at 18. UCLA at 22 is the other Pac-12 school ranked NOT a good showing by the Conference of (Olympic Sports) Champions.

With Arizona about to be sent to its room by the NCAA, and having done NOTHING in CFB since coming on board, in a restructured conference would anyone miss Arizona?

30Duck

The Sun Devils have done even less than have the Wildcats, who at least have the Lute Olson MBB teams to look back on; a more distinguished legacy than UW has with James.

Jon Joseph

But at least ASU has played in the Rose Bowl and not just against UCLA.

Jon Joseph

Game kicks off at 4 left coast time; not bad.

BTW: GREAT article on DeForest Buckner up on The Athletic.

Sherman

The Cougar Curse?
As far as I’m concerned, it is long past due for the Ducks to defang this paper tiger.
You know, it always seemed ironic that for years, Oregon was labeled a “gimmick offense” while nary a word was said about Mike Leach’s pass heavy Air Raid.

Regardless, it was NEVER about WSU’s offense.
It was ALWAYS about Oregon’s defensive coordinator’s fundamental misunderstanding of how to defend it: quick release, pass heavy offenses diminish the importance of a pass rush and absolutely necessitate strong, physical corners jamming receivers at the line…interrupting passing rhythms and slowing down the qb’s release.
For the last 5 years, the Ducks (unlike the Fuskies) have not done that. Well, after 1 game, the SEC boys quickly figured it out. So even lowly Kentucky and Arkansas embarrassed Leach’s MSU offense.

Anyway, Mike Leach is gone from the PAC12.
Good riddance.
More importantly for the Ducks, Marcus Arroyo has cleaned out his locker and taken his unimaginative/predictable play calling with him. So long! We don’t miss either of you!
Which leads to another reason WSU has been a thorn in Puddle’s feathered tookas::: They were picking up 15 yards a pop with every throw, while Arroyo’s Ducks were picking up 2 yards and a cloud of dust with every run. Hard to match points when our offense was sorely bereft of explosive plays.

Well, no longer.
Moorhead seems to be unlocking big play potential by using Shough as a running threat.
And Oregon’s defense hasn’t looked this good in years.

Sure. Anything can happen on ANY GIVEN SATURDAY. But those Washington farm boys are long overdue for a reckoning.
Hope Cristobal and company give them a beatdown.

Last edited 13 days ago by Sherman
30Duck

The epitome of Tomato/ Tomahto, I guess.

Charles Fischer

Great stuff Sherman, but even with doing all of that–WSU sure had their timing down. You bring an interesting point to watch for, and that is how Avalos will play the Run-and-Shoot versus last year’s shootout at Autzen?

Jon Joseph

Amen!

If Oregon is going to reach elite status, the team cannot play down to the level of the competition.

This game should be over by the start of the 3rd quarter.

30Duck

Hardly anything left to say after that, Sherman. Of course it can’t be said too much, in my opinion, how great it is that Leach has nothing to do with the Pac-12 conference anymore. The SEC deserves him and has him.

I think the Ducks were stuck with the “gimmicky, finesse” labels because they were winning. A lot, and the Cougars, despite routinely putting up 500 yards a game, weren’t. Fireworks in the middle of the day are harder to see, and annoying.

Jon Joseph

1 and done with Hugh Freeze returning to the state of Mississippi?

Playing without a TE in the SEC? Forget about it except against Bo Pelini and kind of, against Vandy.

And we know the Pirate won’t change and run something like Lincoln Riley’s version of the Air Raid.