Everyone is still reeling from unexpected losses to opponents that most would place in the bottom half of the conference. I actually wonder if the team truly understands the spot they are in, because for many of us Greybeard-age fans, this is a watershed moment. It is now that thousands of fans are “checking out until next fall” and losing confidence in Coach Mario Cristobal. While the defensive problems reign supreme, I wish to address the Oregon offense and an area that most would consider untouchable—the culture.
I came unglued when I was listening to a radio broadcast reporting on a recent Cristobal press conference before the game with Washington State. Coach Cristobal explained that the Cougars were a unique challenge because their offense “stretched you horizontally from sideline-to-sideline.” I was yelling at the radio, “that is what you are supposed to be doing with a Spread Offense! You spread them out to run the ball!”
What is Oregon DOING on Offense and WHY?
Cristobal’s comments beg the question….why are we in a Spread Offense? If we are not going to utilize the benefits of the Spread, then why take a snap four yards back? Why not run a Pro-Style Offense snapping from under center and using a fullback for the power offense Cristobal wants to run? Many teams in the conference are doing that now (including Washington in a big way), and while it is not what I want to see–there seems to be complete confusion as to the objective on offense. What is Oregon’s system?
Cristobal wants to run a power-game and thus crowds the players together in a Pistol formation that makes it easier to defend; why not run a formation and offense better suited for your goals on offense? Although if you truly want to spread them out–I know a playbook of Shotgun plays that have been proven to work at this university and now so many others. In carpentry terms, “he is using the wrong tool for the job.” Cristobal does not have the playbook of tactics to truly run a ball-control offense such as what we have seen on this site.
We were told when Cristobal took over that ”Oregon will do what we did before, only be tougher in the trenches.” If that was true, we would be averaging 44 points a game instead of 34, and we may not have lost either contest this year. Cristobal has not delivered what he promised, and frankly I see no trendline of change. His offense is a mish-mash, a mess of what he wants and what OC Joe Moorhead knows. (Coach Moorhead never ran the Pistol before he came to Oregon; all of his offensive success was out of the Shotgun). The Pistol Plunges are neither entertaining nor effective. Oregon’s offensive system–whatever it may be–is not even beating the .500 teams in the conference. And I don’t think Cristobal sees that he is the problem.
What if it is the WRONG CULTURE?
I know, a truly blasphemous thing to write at Oregon, especially when we all have been big fans of the excitement and culture Cristobal has created. However, I was stunned at Mario’s press conference after the loss to Oregon State and during prep week for Cal. Cristobal explained he directed the team to return to their roots, to what they were about … and that was being tough.
I could not believe my ears.
That is your major priority? Toughness is your number one concern? Toughness is the secret to winning games?
What about giving it all on the field? How about prioritizing effort—giving 110%–because that is what the less-talented Beavers and the Bears won with? How about execution, devotion to your craft? How about technique—getting your footwork right, your hand placement correct and your mental discipline instilled to avoid dumb penalties? But no, his No. 1 priority is being tough? Remember how Chip Kelly loved playing and beating coaches who thought that way when he was at Oregon?
Good gosh Mario, get your head out of the 1940’s, or least run an offense that matches your objectives! Better yet, how about we return to the true roots of the Oregon Brand, a full Shotgun Offense and what got us to two ‘Nattys? How about doing what you said you would do and running Spread Offense plays to match a Spread formation to complement your toughness in the trenches?
These losses and these things I am hearing are very, very disconcerting to this 34-year season ticket holder and Oregon fanatic. Please note I did not dream up issues or throw a Straw-Man strategy at Coach Cristobal. I simply examined his own words to arrive at my conclusions.
Unless things dramatically change, I do not believe Cristobal can take us to the promised land.
Change my mind. Please.
Charles Fischer (Mr. FishDuck)
Top Photo by Fox Video
Phil Anderson, the FishDuck.com Volunteer editor for this article, is a trial lawyer in Bend Oregon.
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