Cristobal Learns Costly End-Game Lesson

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck Editorials 124 Comments

In a game filled with frustrating moments, it is only fitting that decisions made on the side of the ball that was having some success (the offense) ended up losing the game in the final moments for Oregon. Where do we start in our analysis, and frankly, how far do we want to go? A porous defense and a conservative head coach at crunch-time … factors we have discussed often on this website are again the major elements in an embarrassing loss to Oregon State.

Why embarrassing? Oregon State has improved, but not enough to justify a win by Coach Smith’s squad this soon in the rivalry game. No, Oregon has regressed in stunning fashion and declined to a level on defense that nobody would have imagined going into this season. Last season, the Ducks gave up on average only 16 points a game, and now that group is giving up just a touch under 30 points per game? Last year, the Beavers scored 10 points on the Ducks, and this year that number ballooned to 41 points? Holy Crap!

My friends, scoring 38 points should be enough to win, and there is no reason why Oregon could not have won a 38-24 type of game (the initial point spread). Has the conference caught on to the Avalos defense? Is something is seriously wrong?

Tom Corno

A familiar sight is viewing Jermar Jefferson from behind …

Worse than we THOUGHT?

I have written about how the primary four players on the defensive line from last year are horrendous this year by comparison. But even that does not tell the entire embarrassing story, as the Beavers started the smallest offensive line we played this year and probably ever will play. I grant that Jermar Jefferson is a terrific back, but even their other running back, BJ Baylor, would have had 150 yards running through the holes the Beavers created in the Ducks’ front-seven.

Oregon has a pretty serious rebuild on defense ahead, and I don’t want to hear about all our great young talent, because the Ducks just got beat by a bunch players Oregon probably never even extended offers to. And we had more than enough experience on this defense to play better than this. Coach Avalos, what-the-heck?


Many of you recall how I wrote last Sunday about the aggravating end-game decisions and how Coach Mario Cristobal almost blew it against UCLA. Sadly, he did not learn from this. Maybe it takes a painful loss to drive it home. As you recall, my philosophy at the end of the game is to do whatever it takes to get first downs, because…

“First downs at the end of the game are as important as touchdowns earlier in the game. Without both, you don’t win.”

Tom Corno

CJ Verdell finds it tough running …

Oregon had a four point lead with 2:18 left in the game. Normally, you would need to make two first downs in order to ice the game, but Oregon State had all three of their time outs left, which meant Oregon needed to make three first downs to finish the game. The offense could score 38 points, but couldn’t make three first downs when they needed to?  Cristobal declined to make the tough calls to make three first downs because he’d rather turn it over to our defense and sweat the final seconds before losing?

So what if you go-for-it to achieve the three first downs and fail. Would it be any worse than this?

Cristobal’s thinking was to go conservative, but that is not what yielded wonderful plays and 38 points to begin with. You have to show the same ingenuity and guts in the last two minutes that you demonstrated earlier in the game in order to win! Running the Pistol earlier in the game worked out often because of the variety of plays presented, between the Jet Sweeps, flare passes to running backs and crossing drag routes to receivers. Mixing up the offense and then running the Pistol Inside Zone makes it all work better, right?

When we ran a Pistol-Plunge on first down of our final series, I knew we were toast.

Lovely. So now we have problems on offense and defense?

Charles Fischer   (Mr. FishDuck)
Eugene, Oregon
Top Photo by Tom Corno

Andrew Mueller, the Volunteer Editor for this article, works in higher education in Chicago, Illinois.


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Congrats, BDF, I do want to point out that I did have the exact score for a minute or so. Of course it would be 22-8 Beavers the rest of the way, as the fog lifted, and it became all too clear what was happening.

Jon Joseph

BDF is back and coming LARGE!


BDF is relentless!


early prediction:

Washington 45, Oregon 24


The lack of run defense has driven me clinically insane this year!! The presence of Troy Dye, Brady Breeze, Jevon Holland and Thomas Graham is sorely missed. I’m not an X’s and O’s guy, but there’s some serious issues there that need to be addressed defensively…they shouldn’t be THIS bad.

As far as the offense goes… one thing I’ve always said is this: “The best way to protect a lead is to add to it.” In other words, STAY CREATIVE AND AGGRESSIVE. You don’t have to sacrifice sound football in order to make it happen, but you gotta do it, cuz when you play not to lose, you almost guarantee yourself a loss.

Oregon state won the game because they weren’t scared to lose it. They wanted it more. Point blank, period.

I love Coach Cristobal, but he’s in his own way right now.


For the guy that said “we miss Troy Dye” I think he was the D coach on the field -thats a loss that can take awhile to replace. Hopefully we can work this all out before the Huskies


I think the mark of a great coach is knowing what your players can do and what they cant –coaches have to adapt too.


It doesn’t really make up for yesterday, but I wonder if the Washington game tastes “like the nectar of the Gods,” like that jag-off Danny O’Neil said the Oregon game did.


The Ducks so far to me this is the worst game by this Defense after 4 games. Shough is very talented and he’s just not seeing the field yet like we would all like. He shouldn’t have had to make those 3 first downs to begin with as this D continues to get shredded and it’s getting worse. Honestly I like Avalos Defensive play calling and he was always good at it with BS’s defenses and they did not have the type of talent he’s getting here.

One thing I will make a very solid point about. I wonder how Penei, Javon and Brady are feeling right about now as they are saying their better than all these other guys who are trying to win every game this year with the conditions that were thrown at them. Every player should have to play 3 years regardless because you get recruited to come play and go to College for ” FREE ” and that just really rubs me the wrong way when it comes to players like this.

Remember Holland was the one who came out and demanded all this BS and I thought about being in the Military and all those other brave souls who lost their lives for Americans like this. Turns my stomach upside down and going forward I will not root for any of these players at the next level. Selfish thats the only word that comes to mind. This team needs to come out and hand it to Wilcox’s squad as you remember that old Duck right as the one who went and coached of all places the Mutts.

Love nothing better than seeing this team dismantle them at Berkeley next Saturday. Also to me Brown should be given first team reps to somehow light a fire under this team. Nothing against Tyler and he didn’t lose that game but he does need to be making plays at the position and for some odd reason he is missing wide open receivers and handing the ball off when he clearly should have run. Give Brown an opportunity to run on defenses.

Duck lifer

Mike Bellotti was one of the best game managers in Duck history. If we were within 7 points either way at halftime, the game was most likely ours to win.

Under slick willy, we were the worst second half team in the country.

Under Cristobal, we haven’t been much better in the second half than willy dilly.

I love so much of what he’s doing with our program and obviously the recruiting is off the charts. Imagine having Bellotti as the hc, chip kelly or Moorehead as oc, and Avalos as dc? We’d be unstoppable with the talent we have on the field.

But back to reality. Its frustrating that it takes losing for Cristobal to realize how much he’s mis-managing games. Even worse, I’m not sure he will understand this and make adjustments. There are some indicators that he has learned from previous mistakes, but there are still some glaring and obvious problems that have not been addressed.

Most of us have said it in some form or another that MC needs to get out of his own way and let his amazing staff manage their respective components while he manages the offense line, get the team fired up, and in general just be the ceo.

I want Cristobal to succeed and I want him to be the guy for the long haul. He has everything he needs to be incredibly successful here in Eugene. Its time for some self reflection on his part and I hope that he’ll begin evolving and molding himself into the great coach that we know he can become.


Anyone have QB Royce Freeman on their 2020 bingo card?


The most disappointing thing for me is that from game 1 to game 4 we are getting worse on defense. How is that possible? especially with young talent. These kids are suppose to be getting better each game. KT is the only guy out there beating his guy or guys. That’s crazy. I don’t think Coach Chrisobal had his best and most hungry players out there. He needs to do that.

Keep in mind people wanted Dabo fired in his 3 or 4th season after taking over Clemson. They did not get to the big game until his 8th season. Nor where they really relevant until around that time. We gotta stick with Mario and let him grow, hes the right coach. He’s just getting started. He will figure it out.


Too many bad indicators for Cristobal.
The worst one this year is not playing Anthony Brown.

Jon Joseph

I do not disagree. But remember, Dabo had never been an HC before getting the gig. Not so with Mario.

Santa Rosa Duck

Just watched our Lady Ducks Basketball team beat Seattle University 116-51. Ducks had 71 points at half time. I was reflecting that this is a Dana Altman team that is reloading.

Last night watching our football team I thought, we are not reloading but this is going to take a rebuild. Sad but true IMHO.


This season is going to be fun! Oregon might not defend their 3 peat, the rest of the teams are That good, and the other top teams all return more experience than do our Lady Ducks. But any team that takes them lightly will be in trouble.

116-51.The depth on this year’s team is ridiculous. Obviously, Sabrina, Satou & Ruthy can’t be replaced, when they went out of a game, there was a drop off, But this season? Graves is going to have the problem that all coaches hope to have. Who plays now? Through the season there will almost certainly be some players separating from the others. But, looking at the team, there really isn’t going to be a second team, much less a third.

Taylor Mikesell, transfer from Maryland, all she did in her first game as a Duck? 28 points 8-10 on 3’s, 2-2 FT’s, in 28 minutes. Sedona Prince, 17 points, 8-11 shooting. Te-Hina Paopao led the team in assists with 7. For the game, only 3 turnovers, for the team.

It’s going to be great watching this team pull together, and they don’t have much time, two more OOC games, then conference play starts against Colorado, Dec. 4


As far as offense goes we are still not there. Schematically we continue to hold our talent back in the run game. Cristobal should definitely know by now that the pistol run game is not the best choice 90% of the time. It looks like Moorehead has helped make some nifty plays off the pistol run game but teams are catching on to it already. Cristobal must have a weird obsession with running pistol dives. What has to happen for him to change things up? Idk if Shough will ever be elite, I don’t think he has it in him. He looked so mechanical last night, he wasn’t even reading the field on most plays. He can drop some dimes in there sometimes but he’s just not a playmaker and he’s bad under pressure, can’t scramble


Jonathan Smith and his staff , handed MC and his staff there rear end on a coaching plater !!!! Plan and simple !!!! Well done Bevs staff , and totally embarrassed by our D. !


KT is playing at a high level and Dorlus is doing a decent job up front. Scott, Funa, & Austin F have disappeared. Adrian Jackson needs to start at SAM.

Offensively, Shough has a hard time throwing the ball on obvious passing situations. He has poor field vision and throws the ball late. He’s much more effective off play action and simple reads at this juncture. The halfback pass on 2nd and 5 was telling.


You see it the same way I do, except I think A Jackson should be starting at weakside LB.


Given what I’ve seen so far in this odd and abridged season, I want to give the group a few things to think over:

  1. An amazing stat: Turnover margin. Last year, O was +1.09 per game, ranked 5th in the country. This year, we are -1, ranked 109th in the country. I have often seen it pointed out that turnover margin is one of the most important stats when looking at who wins and who loses. Why has it changed so drastically? Breaking in a new QB and line might lead to more turnovers, while losing so many ‘disruptors’ on defense, are undoubtedly factors. But I think that it’s tied to the second thing:
  2. Rushing defense: Last year, O was 108.9 per game, good for 13th best in the country. This year – 208.2, coming in at 105th in the country. When the opposition has success in the run, it opens up the rest of the offense, and limits ‘desperate’ passing downs, which makes it harder to get ‘easy’ interceptions.

If we were getting more takeaways and/or turning it over less, we’d probably be 4-0 and everyone would be at least happier with the play so far. Of course it would not be perfect, but what ever is?

Now, why the run defense has regressed so much is beyond me, but I have seen a lot of reasonable opinions on this forum over the last few weeks. As an uneducated opinion, some combination of poor tackling, players not moving to the right place once the play develops, and the fact it rarely seems like all of the D-line is hitting on all cylinders on the same play. It seemed like Thibodeaux played as well as anyone in the OSU game, but it just doesn’t work if only one player is winning his match up consistently.

Finally, despite the depressing defensive statistics that I mentioned, the team is 3-1 and certainly has a chance to win at least a few more games if the coaches and players can get things turned around, even a little bit. So, keep the faith! It should be interesting to see how MC and the team responds to adversity.


Yes, these two stat changes pretty much tell a lot of the story along with the loss of the intangible leadership aspects.

I think the reason is all of the above you mention.

In other words it’s the difference between Herbert and Shough, it’s the difference between Funa et al. and Troy Dye/Bryson Young, it’s the difference between the 5 guys on the line last year and the 5 guys on the line this year.

Many of us held overly optimistic expectations this year, and now the reality is coming home to roost.

To me the big question moving forward is are we going to be able to recruit and coach up D line men in future seasons to be competitive at a national level? Right now I don’t see it and I am concerned the bane of our existence will continue to be a lack of 4-5 star defensive linemen coming to the UofO. Thib’s is a one off right now, and like you said one guy being disruptive just doesn’t get it done.


I think you are right about getting the D-line players. The coaches seem to be doing an outstanding job with offense linemen – obviously that’s MC’s wheelhouse, but even so, it’s sort of unheard of for Oregon. Now they need to complement it with some beef on the other side. (Good beef? ha)


Beavis did a great job of containing our D line so why didnt Avalos bring in some LBs from the side once and a while just to keep em on their toes?


I know why–they want to play smash mouth football and its not working and they cant admit it


sorry for the rant


Totally agree. I was yelling at the screen to blitz Gebbia. I don’t remember seeing a single blitz. Instead we had oversized linebackers sitting in space in a zone hoping the ball might come their way.

I only remember that strategy working once. It was the 4th down play on the Beavers second to last drive when ISM knocked down the pass.

Many plays I saw linebackers just hanging out in a zone and having no impact on the actual ball. Like playing 11 on offense versus 8 or 9 on defense.

Why not have them blitz and push the quarterback into the pocket and into the web of Thib’s?


I do think there is something tough about making the transition from underdog to elite that is hard to define. Many teams have assembled the talent, but failed to make the leap, UCLA is a great example in the past. Other programs continue to assemble talent and can’t compete, the Texas’s, FSU’s, blue blood programs are the definition, but it varies by season. It is only the few that can both bring in top notch talent and lead them to greater heights.

It is truly remarkable what the Sabans, Carrolls, and Osbornes have done. There is a piece to each of their successes that I am not sure Cristobal has yet.

Cristobal is constructing a group of young men who should be formidable. The problem is in the base word is ‘form,’ and that is just a shape, mass. The able part means given to or capable of. What we have is just a group of kids who are capable of great things. What we need is a great architect of this form we are creating, do we have that?

Cristobal is definitely a great leader of young men. These guys are learning wonderful life lessons and are excellent student athletes. We are fortunate we don’t have a scoundrel as a coach who doesn’t promote this concept. This, to me, is the most important item when I look at a coach, and why slick bothered me so much. I will support Cristobal to the end because he wins, but most importantly he wins the right way, with student athletes.

The question is can he become the architect who forms the parts into a whole that is capable of winning it all? I really can’t answer that definitively after the body of work we have in front of us. I think the problem is you have to be both smart and physically dominating to win it all. Cristobal seems to think you can be stupid, while attempting to be physically dominating. His athletes will run through a wall for him, but he should be leading them to the hole, or weakness in the wall.

I have no problem with physically dominating an opponent. The problem is the mind can always beat the body. You have to be smarter than the opponent and the road to greatness is full of dominating talent on the side of the road. Until Cristobal embraces football as a chess game, not just an arms race, we will be destined to be one of those teams that assembles the talent, but never reaches their potential on the field. Anybody want to send Cristobal a chess board?


I like this analysis. I, too, have been a big Mario fan, and still am. He appears to run the program absolutely the right way in every aspect, except unfortunately, game coaching. Maybe he can change, or maybe he thinks he can recruit his way out of his narrow vision of the path to victory, I don’t know. But, as you say, the last few miles of the road to coaching greatness are the hardest to travel. Let’s hope Mario can make the journey.

Agree, and hopefully he learns being both is a beautiful thing. From what I have learned of Cristobal, toughness is his ultimate, but it may become his achilles heal. So far it has become his ball and chain. Not sure what will set him free.

As an ESPN announcer who played at Miami with Mario said a year or so ago, ‘forget the scoreboard, he just wants to punish you!


Perhaps someone should insist Cristobal watches “The Queens Gambit” on Netflix. It is an excellent series, one of the best Netflix has ever put out.

I totally agree about football being a game of chess in the end. You have to be thinking 3, 4, 5 moves ahead. Jonathan Smith was, Cristobal was not.

Should of been thinking about coming out in the second to last series when we had the ball and a touchdown lead with some of Moorheads RPO’s that key in on the tight end. What happened to throwing the ball to DJ Johnson? He was great in the first couple games. I know Kampmoyer came back but I really like the way DJ was looking.


Why we don’t use our TE’s more as receivers will always make me wonder. One item to note is we have had more TE talent go on to success at the NFL level than at WR. Right now it seems like we have better effort, talent at our TE position. Why don’t we get them the ball in crunch time and more often! Teach our WR’s how to block and let the TE’s catch and run people over.

“The Queen’s Gambit” is a great one, highly recommend to all, and I bet somebody could benefit from playing more chess if they are going to call a game.

Jon Joseph

A great series. I always love it when drunks overcome! Especially at my age, when they take down Russkies!

Jon Sousa

An optimist believes that we live in the best of all possible worlds… the pessimist fears this is true.

Jon Joseph


If Hugh Everett’s math is correct and no one has been able to prove it wrong, somewhere last night and in more than 1 dimension, the Ducks won the game, scoring on every possession and holding the Beavs to 0 points.

Of course , somewhere else the exact opposite had to occur.

In this cognitive dimension, I’m bummed!


What happened to CJ is the question? The answer doesn’t tell us much.


Not so sure about the Pac-12 championship. It looks like the other schools have our number now and know what it takes to defeat us, that being just let us play our own game and we’ll almost beat ourself’s. I bet Washington is just licking their chops and can’t wait for their turn.

If we were to lose to Cal now we might as well declare all players have the COVID and just pass on the Washington game, then stay home and hide.

I saw the Cristobal press conference after the game and he looked like “controlled disgust”. He mentioned that coaching has to get better but didn’t go into details, which I wish he would. Sounded to much like a “canned” statement.


Sometimes I actually like to visit the “Dog Pound” to see what they’re barking about. But I won’t be again for a while. That’s Mario. It’s good in a way that he knows what he’s going to say. But, “canned” is right. The calm demeanor, “We’ll use this pain” is Grade A Coach speak.


Yes that one was a good line, now we need to hold him to it.

Jon Joseph


Jon Joseph

CAL unfortunately, is due for some luck. Lost to a Luck-less Stanford team yesterday because the kicker missed an extra point.



We seemed to have kicking problems for every years now. Why can’t we recruit a great kicker ??


Duck fans, all is not lost, today is the return of the Lady Ducks! No TV, but Oregon Live Stream will be up for the 1:00 tip against Seattle U.


Thanks for the link 30Duck.


Bad coaching and bad execution. Line play was terrible on both sides of the ball, pass D is non existent I think this team isnt as good as we all thought ,especially in the PAC12 which is considered pretty weak. Better luck next year


Maybe for passing but for the run it wasnt to good. The Beavers maybe getting better but they are still a 2nd tier team and the lines were awful in the 4th-The Ducks have been playing 2 quarter football all year. Maybe a lack of depth?? I dunno.


It was mentioned that the Beavers RB was the best between the two teams so I have to wonder why Cristobal didn’t recruit him stronger. Is it because Cristobal doesn’t recognize great RB’s or maybe didn’t think our guys were that bad in comparison ?? Either way to let great talent like that go to the Beavers is a shame.


Cristobal seems to be more about his O line opening holes that the specific back


Ill agree with Charles that at times thing look good but its not happening through the entire game.


Yea, the bad part is the conservative offense at the end of the game when you need your offense to make some first downs and kill the clock. The Ducks are a quick 3 and out.

Note that you can edit your comment for a short time after you post it using the small asterisk located in the lower right corner area of your comment. Not visible tell you pass over it.

Jon Joseph

The ‘bad part?’ We’ve seen this movie before.


To many times before by to many schools. Why can’t the coaches catch on to this trap ??

The “prevent offense” is just like the “prevent defense”.

Jon Joseph

No one, including where he wanted to go, USC, recruited Jefferson. The leading rusher in the conference.

True that. Put uo 38 vs Oregon State and take an L? This does not compute.

J Duck

Many great comments. Is MC letting his OC make the calls? Early on it looked like he did, late in the game…no. MC doesn’t seemed to have learned. Even Saban has up tempo spread elements now. O Line looks mediocre, too much pressure on QB, running backs got blown up too often on predictable plays. 9 turnovers in 4 games, all 4 take-aways were last week and we barely win that one.

2 take-aways last night were both out of bounds. Shough looks great but then these throws into double coverage eventually bite you. He misses the reads too often…big gains end up being 1 yd. Agree with the comments that we weren’t up to the seriousness of what this rivalry means, the beavs did.

Uniforms and 5 stars don’t mean anything if you have an entitled mentality. I too thought the 1st down play on the last drive meant we’d lose…I saw it coming.

And coach like a 1 star?


I don’t think MC is a bad coach, I just think he’s bad at coaching. Maybe bad is too harsh. How about he’s too stubborn to learn.
What’s really changed from last year? Not much. Play calling looks better but only in normal situations.

I would like to think this is a wake up call for MC but he’s had too many years coaching to know better. Sorry but this is a good as it gets.
Oregon has become the USC of the north. We have our own Clay Helton in charge of the most talented team in the conference. Sure they’re young but if the coaching staff is supposed to be so good then why the lackluster play from them.

With the exception of a few players you can’t tell that the Ducks are loaded with 4* and a few 5* players. Last night they looked like any other team in the conference. Which is to say any team can beat any team. That shouldn’t be the case for the Ducks. If the team is in fact full of talent then why are they not beating the mid to bottom teams decisively?

Because our coach is bad at coaching.


Ouch, Clay Helton of the North!

He definitely hasn’t established himself as a Pete Carrol of the North. I do think you are on to something. Where Pete Carrol’s teams played with a purpose and expectation to win, all we see is expectation.

How do we create more Troy Dye’s who won’t accept losing, inspire teammates and give that last piece of effort, even when it doesn’t matter? I don’t know and neither does Cristobal, it would seem.

Jon Joseph

Great points.

Although I have to note that I was in Resar when the Beavers pulled a huge upset against Pete Carroll’s, Mark Sanchez, SC team on a Thursday night and kept SC out of the BCS champ game.


I remember that game -I lost $100–I still hate the Beavs for that

Jon Joseph

I was cheering for SC and almost lost my 2 front teeth.


Hey, let’s be honest, it’s not like most of us didn’t see this coming. For three games our defense made average to good backs and offensive lines look great. Yesterday our defense ran into an excellent back and an aggressive offensive line and made them look all-world.

Charles, and many commenters are correct, in my opinion to criticize the timidity of the defense along with oh so predictable late game play calling. However, while the coaching staff should be embarrassed by the players performance, the players themselves have to bear the biggest share of the blame for this loss. I believe there is an absence of team leaders, which is easily explained, they opted out. Until another Breeze, or Holland emerges don’t expect any coach or coaching technique to turn this thing around.

Finally, it occurred to me late last night, I have watched sixty Oregon – Oregon State games. They mean a lot. What disappointment I feel is because I didn’t get the sense the meaning was felt by the Ducks. The Beavers sure as hell know what the game means!

Jon Joseph

Great take. I also think the leadership of Troy Dye is greatly missed.


Did Mario learn the lesson, or was he just taught? That, to me, is the question. He seems particularly stubborn, and I’m beginning to wonder how much he can learn.

Is there something awry in the program culture? For the first time I wonder. After four games, this team just does not look right. There’s too much talent out there to be playing the way the team has played.


Insanity – doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome! 4 games and every QB passes for tons of yards with ease. (1 is a freshman, 2 are backups) Zone defense with DB 10 yards off the ball playing soft, guarding grass. Its first down 9 yards – 2nd down and 1! Charles I agree with your assessment of the last offensive series. I call that the “prevent offense” – you lose!


I like that. The Ducks “prevent offense” – – we lose.

The question is: is that Cristobal creation or Moorhead creation, or Cristobals persuasion over Moorhead. My take is that it is not Moorhead’s alone as I think he knows better then that.

Jon Joseph

I’m giving a tip of the hat to 30 for the ‘prevent O’ observation.

Santa Rosa Duck

In my unsophisticated take on this game, Oregon State came to play, they outplayed us, they were better coached and yes, they simply wanted the win more than our Ducks. We can point to all the Oregon mistakes but what I saw what a great running back in Jermar Jefferson punishing us. Gebbia was pretty darn good last night and his receivers were getting open. Oregon turnovers and penalties killed us but Oregon State took advantage of the opportunities we gave them, Oregon State deserved the win.


We lost 22-7 in the fourth quarter. Each teams players raised their hand in the famous 4 quarter signal, but only one team actually came out and played to win. We saw the much maligned prevent offense once again. Before that we just saw a lack of execution and seemed to expect to win.

The Beavers were the better team. It is nice to see a strong team in Corvallis, the problem is we should be stronger, tougher than that. Maybe this is what we needed, lose to a team and fan base who won’t let you forget.

The player who best exemplifies the difference between the Ducks and the Beavs is Nashon Wright and really his brother Rejzhon. The guy who intercepted Shough and really turned the game completely on its head in the fourth quarter. This is a young man who grew up in East Palo Alto. Both players had to go the JC route, fought all the way to where they are. Also Jonathan Smith, was a walk-on 4 year starter.

That type of mentality and shrewd coaching define the 2020 Beavs. Kids and coaches who have gone to all the best camps define Oregon. Maybe we have just lost that edge that gets you the wins. It takes more than a bunch of young men who have been told they are the best their whole lives to win games.

I know all these Duck players and coaches have it in them, it is time to see them put it between the sidelines again. I look for a spirited week of practice and well played games going forward. If not then we need some players with the soul of warriors, not just pedigrees. Sorry for the harsh analysis, but that is just not my Ducks out there in the fourth quarter.

Agree about the chip on our shoulder, but it seems like we are also playing like we already have a feather in our cap, or on our helmets. We don’t have a lot of kids who grew up in East Palo Alto or went the JC route and want that feather, badly.

I think our kicker recruiting highlights our problem. We have recruited some highly rated kids who should be able to kick effectively. They, evidently, look good in practice, but can’t get it done come game time.

We now have a walk-on looking like an all-league player as our kicker. It is time to get real players on the field, not just those who look good during practice and have all the measurables.

Devin Williams is a classic case. He has all the measurables, I am sure looks good during practice, and makes some good catches. Last night I saw him let his DB go and make a tackle way too early on a run. Pull the kid, that is exactly what loses games, not the one great catch. It is the little things, that add up to the elite team. I am not saying DW should never see the field and he can become great, but that effort was unacceptable.

My mantra would be as soon as somebody isn’t relentless they are off the field. Nobody is going to let their teammates down. Maybe the feathers on the helmets should be stickers which are earned. It sure seems to me like there are way too many players out there who play like they already earned it.

Duck lifer

Do you remember how effectively chip Kelly’s wr’s blocked down field? They were talked about nationally and they were indeed fun to watch BLOCKING! Different mentality, different coaching, way different results.


Well, the “good news” is, if you happen to think Avalos is the cats pajamas, is that his luster for being hired elsewhere is somewhat diminished….as is that of MC.
Again, D line play was problematic. Secondary was not good, especially safeties. O line at times was ok but no real explosion plays. I agree wholeheartedly that the philosophy of runs into the line at the end was a disaster. You have to go out and try to win the game rather than try to not lose it.
Thanks Charles, your analysis was spot on.

Not a good sign when the assistant coaches are not on other teams hiring radar.


The Ducks started out with a nice drive to take the lead, until Jefferson touched the ball twice and 92 yards later, it’s tied. But the Ducks come back, and after some serious busted coverage, Devon Williams is wide open, and the Ducks go up, 21-10, and after a shanked Beavers punt, the Ducks start on the Beavers 39 yard line, about to go up 29-10, but no, the Ducks end up punting!

“They wanted it more” seems so trite, but it sure looked that way. In 2013, when Mariota hit Huff for the winning TD with :29 left, I guess the Ducks wanted it more. But it almost always looks like the Beavers do want it more.

There is something to the Ducks being a brand, up their with the elites in recruiting, and yes, the uniforms. Being in the shadows, an afterthought nationally, does feed in to the fire the Beavers play with against the Ducks, in a small way it’s part of how the Beavs jumped on the Carroll Trojans. But those wins weren’t fueled with the hate the Beavers have for the Ducks.

it’s imperative that Mario has the Ducks to get over themselves, to match the enmity for the Beavers that they have for the Ducks, Alabama hates Auburn, the idea of losing to them is anathema to all they hold dear. Oregon needs to get its swagger back. Chip’s teams had swagger, in most games they knew eventually the dam would break, and they’d blow the game open. Mario, for some reason is anti-swagger, Calm, cool doesn’t get it done. You have to want it more.

Jon Joseph

Great first drive followed by at least a bit of floundering. I think we have seen this before.


This ia a bad loss. I felt a loss was inevitable after the UCLA game, but am surprised it was this game. Until the defense improves this team will continue to struggle. I am confident that they will get better, but come on…this was a total sh— show against a team that they should beat.

Jon Joseph

Thanks Charles. Not a fun task to have to write this I’m sure.

“Bad Clemsoning” – Pulling defeat from the jaws of victory against what-should-be overmatched opponents in a weak conference. Said defeats often accompanied by coaching errors. Generally, playing down to the level of the competition.

“Good Clemsoning” – Giving the HC who had no HC experience before moving up, unexpectedly, from assistant coach, 4 years to convert Clemsoning from Bad to Good. Recruiting guys like DeShaun Watson, Trevor Lawrence and DGU to play QB and playing a system on O that allows this kind of talent to play up to an individual’s ability. Recruiting D line talent where 3 of the 4 D line starters go in the 1st round of the NFL draft. Coaching up and having one of the nation’s best ‘hit rates’ on the 3 star guys you recruit. Paying big money to one of the top D coordinators in the country. Consistently defeating programs like Ohio State, and going toe to toe with the best SEC teams. Routinely winning conference titles and often, national titles.

I note that both Coach Swinney and Coach Cristobal, unexpectedly got the gig as the HC of once successful programs that were down. However, Coach Cristobal had previous HC experience that Coach Swinney did not.

I note that Clemson, a school located in a rural area of a small state that does not produce a good deal of top drawer HS football talent, gave Dabo time to turn it around.

I note that Dabo ‘stole’ the Good Clemson O from Oregon and runs it with great efficiency. I note that he continues to try to put up points even when comfortably ahead of teams he should beat. I note that Justin Herbert is tearing up the NFL in his rookie season and seems to have been held back by the Oregon coaching staff?

I note that the changing from the Bad to the Good Clemsoning did not come without some bumps in the road. Along the way, Dabo grew as a HC. He was not wedded to one (antiquated?) coaching philosophy. He hired terrific assistant coaches. Clemson was committed to spending whatever it had to in order to compete at the highest level.

In summary (I can hear the sigh of relief from all of you who made it this far) I really don’t know if Mario Cristobal who has now been a G5/P5 HC for 60+ games and apprenticed under ‘the greatest CFB coach of all time,’ has the chops to be a great HC? In addition to being a great recruiter can he put the right pieces of the championship puzzle in place? I have yet to see the evidence of same and IMO, this includes a 1 point Rose Bowl win over a 3L B1G team that was blown out twice by Ohio State.

I also don’t know if Oregon is willing to make the same commitment to its football program as has Clemson? Particularly, when it comes to paying the coaches.

Oregon is still in the hunt for a division and conference title. It won’t happen if the team plays at CAL and versus UW like it did last night.

And IMO, Oregon will not become the (Good) Clemson of West without some serious change in coaching philosophy on the part of Mario Cristobal.

I see the following litmus tests for this coaching staff: 2020, win the north division and the conference title; 2021, defeat Ohio State for the 1st time ever and make a serious run at the final 4; 2022, defeat Georgia and make the final 4.

Go 0-3 for the above challenges and IMO, kiss the idea of Oregon being the Clemson of the West, at least under this HC, good-bye.

J Duck

Great analysis Jon

Jon Joseph

Thanks JD.

And then, depression set in.

Jon Sousa

Jon, when I got to “in summary” I looked down and your article continued off the page… no no sigh of relief here. :)

As always, you have some of the best analysis around. Thanks.

Jon Joseph

Right back at you Jon.

There are so many similarities from whence came Dabo and Mario.

Shough is a very good QB. But losing DGU to Clemson? Have to believe DGU would be the Ducks starting QB.

You will not win a lot of games giving up 22 points in the 4th Q.


Right now most Duck fans have that sickening feeling in their stomach, as I do. What happened to our Ducks ??

In short the offense and defense let us down. Was it the players or was it the coaches, or maybe both ?? What I say last night was 4 and 5 star players playing like 2 and 3 star players. In my opinion I did not think the play calling was all that bad, not great and certainly not creative. The entire game was called like it was “playing not to lose” which we know, will cause you to lose. Like playing a prevent style defense which again we know will cause you to lose. I missed some of the dynamic offensive plays that we had earlier in the season and some of the aggressive style defense of an earlier season.

In short our players are not being coached up, but rather being coached down. We managed to play down to the level of our opponent. That along with our highly acclaimed defensive that seemed not to be able to get off a block all night. In place of attacking it was more stand still and let them pass.

A very disappointing game indeed and the rest of the season doesn’t look like its going to be much different. This is not what we and the nation expected at the seasons start. – – – – – Just typical Pac-12 football. I think on Saturday (today) I will watch some real football, you know, the SEC football.

This year is the year the Pac-12 became irrelevant.

Jon Joseph

I have to question the headline to Charles’ fine take. Why should Mario have learned from this game when he has had plenty of chances prior to this to learn the lesson? In today’s CFB you do not win playing small ball.

Nick Saban ,gets it.’ Mario doesn’t ‘get it.’ And I have serious doubts that he will ever ‘get it?’ As Charles so noted, the last possession prior to OSU scoring the winning TD, was 2 runs up the gut and an obvious 3rd down pass that was, unsurprisingly, well defended by the Beavers.

This is Woody Hayes ‘stuff,’ with the possible exception that Woody may also have run on 3rd down? But then again, Woody’s teams generally played good, tough, D

Oregon State – no turnovers (unless you count a 13 yard punt where the Ducks failed to capitalize as Shough overthrew an open receiver in the end zone;) 22 points scored in the 4th Q; 532 total yards; Jefferson, hardly a big time recruit coming out of HS, 226 total yards, 2 scores, 7.8 yards per carry.

I thought Shough had his shakiest game of the season. Hit that post-poor-punt TD pass and the Ducks is up 21-7 in the 1st quarter.

He had 2 interceptions with the second one truly costing the Ducks.

Once again we witnessed the Ducks playing down to its competition.

I disagree with you only in 1 instance. The Pac-12 well prior to 2020, has been and is, Playoff irrelevant. A 5-0 USC or a 6-0 UW is not going to come close to the 2020 final 4; neither is a 6-1 Oregon.

If misery loves company, see yesterday’s late game screw ups by Texas HC, Tom Herman.


If being “as good as Texas” is the best we can expect then ouch. I can hear it now “The University of Oregon is the Texas of the West”.

Yes, the eye is upon us.

Jon Joseph

However, I’d take Texas’ Natty’s; but I want no part of losing all those 4 and 5 star in-state recruits to the SEC, Oklahoma and Ohio State.


I agree with this take Charles.

To me this loss was not really an upset per se.

After watching the Beavers the past few weeks and also watching the Ducks you could definitely see this coming.

My prediction is we have a similar battle with Washington at home in a few weeks. We could easily come out on the losing side of that one too.

Lack of leadership in the player ranks is likely the biggest culprit regarding the regression we are seeing. Sans Herbert and Troy Dye = what we got this year.

Jon Joseph

Good points. But based on the roster rankings, this was a big upset. The Ducks 4 and 5* look no different than do coached up and motivated 3*.

At the true Big Boy programs, teams like OR ST are blown out.


That is the separation between good and great. Alabama destroyed Auburn today, Ohio State has played with Michigan for the last decade. The Buckeyes & the Tide will not even think that losing to their “rivals” is a possibility. They are really good all the time, and ramp it up for the big games.

Jon Joseph

30, I think 1 of the greatest CFB stats ever is Nck Saban never losing to an unranked team since his first season at Bama.

The Tide comes ready to roll vs the weak and the strong.

What a machine. Bama manhandled the #22 team today.

Hats off to Sark! Stay at Bama and follow Nick? That would be a great recovery and redemption story.

Charles, I do not disagree. But whether it be due to the O, the D or special teams. opponents that do not talent wise belong on the same field seem to always be there into the 4th Q if not the end of the game.

As I noted above, you want to be Clemson, you blow inferior comp out. Like Clemson did Pitt today.


Yes, the Beavers were better coached last night, however, the Ducks players were outplayed in both intensity and technique. Does the basis of mistakes and shoddy play stem from youth, or is there something deeper happening with player leadership or locker room issues?

The Beavers outplayed the Ducks and won the game. That much is simple. But why?

Jon Joseph

Spot on Brent. The rubber is NOT hitting the road.


Totally agree with you here Brent. That’s why I said last night I thought this was a good loss for Oregon. Not good in the sense that the Beavers are such a good team, but good in the hopes that it lights a fire under some of our players and wakes them up. Hopefully for future games this year, but more importantly for future seasons.

We need someone to step forward and fill the leadership voids left by Troy Dye and Justin Herbert and some other lesser known players that I think were making a huge difference and we obviously didn’t recognize.

Jon Joseph

Good take but in a 7 game, at best season, I do not think there is anything like a ‘good loss.’


Hoo boy, where to start? I’m a man who can only go to sleep when aided by a certain number of pain meds. They didn’t work tonight. Already, on other sources I have read the usual post-game blather by those who don’t care as much as I care. “Time to put this one behind us and move on.” HOCKEY BULL or whatever will be okay for the grandchildren who faithfully read this site. When you lose to the refuse in Corvallis it takes more than a couple of hours to get over it!

What happened to the 2020 Ducks? I don’t trust the offense when it counts, and I can’t trust the defense even when it doesn’t! I love Coach Cristobal the man, as a leader of men, and as an example for those very same grandchildren. Alas, I am afraid that is the extent of my love, because our 4-5* recruiting excellence needs to improve at the normal pace that young men progress in the great game of football. Ours are not.

I’m going to watch the NFL tomorrow and miss Justin Herbert, of whom it was said that the ones coming up behind were just as good, or better. They are not, and they will not be. I usually say something funny (imo, anyway) here before I leave. The funny part of me fell off somewhere near Junction City. Go Ducks, and try to salvage whatever is left…or whatever.


Well said Duckpop222. Coach Cristobal can recruit some of the best but can’t seem to do much with them once he gets them. We all thought coach Moorhead would be great and that coach Avalos walked on water, but no even our coaches were “coached down”.

Jon Joseph

Super take. I add only that 3 star guys also need to be coached up and that the O, D and special team units have to play cohesively.


Only bright side I saw was Henry Katleman. Plus he offers the added bonus of a really cool name……..and the mustache.

Jon Joseph

A FG going through the uprights? Who knew?