Winning 11 Games is in Mario’s Hands

Darren Perkins Editorials 53 Comments

Jon Wilner of the Pac-12 Hotline posted his under/over predictions for all Pac-12 teams. The under/over for the Ducks is nine wins, of which Wilner goes for the under while citing Oregon’s lack of a proven quarterback. The only team that Wilner predicts to win more than nine games is Arizona State.

Given Oregon’s talent advantage, in addition to a schedule lacking USC and ASU, I believe that the Ducks should go 11-1. The Ducks also have top-notch coordinators on both sides of the ball, and, quite frankly, the Pac-12 is not very good.

Of course, there’s what should happen and then there is what will happen. Youth is a factor, but until Mario Cristobal can prove that he can have his team ready to play its very best every game, it feels like the Ducks are most likely going to fall into that slightly above average eight-to-nine win category. There have simply been too many sleepwalking performances in his first three years as head coach.

It is early June and a lot can change over the next three months. Right now the Ducks have the raw goods to win 11, but my gut has them at eight or nine. Where would you put the Ducks win total at right now?

Darren Perkins
Spokane, Washington
Top photo credit: UO Athletics

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So…how do you like the AVATARS?

I decided over the weekend to create helmet avatars (the little picture next to your Posting name) and realized that if ANY team has a boatload of different helmets–Oregon does.

So I created a humongous amount and popped them in for everyone, and I think it looks great and adds more to the look of the site. And if you would prefer a different helmet, then email me (go to contact in the drop-down menu at the top of the site) and I will be happy to line you up with your favorite helmet.

Too many for me to decide on!

ptdduck

Love the avatars!

Annie

Love my new avatar! Thanks!

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

When I was searching for helmets–I could not help but notice the cool Oregon helmet worn by the fellow driving the Harley into the stadium. Add “the Duck” to it and how can we not love it?

DuckVegas

The Mariota LV Raiders helmet for DuckVegas! I love it. You’re the man, Charles.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Gotta have a Raiders Mariota helmet in the bunch, and you might just have the coolest helmet avatar of all!

I have a Justin Herbert one available for anyone in LA…and thanks–fun to do.

RkyMtnGuy

With AB at QB – I’m sure he’s a nice kid but he’s average at best and the least talented of all the QB’s – a 9 win season will be a major accomplishment…..they’ll not win the PAC 12, they’ll not go to the Rose Bowl and Butterfield, an NFL QB, will transfer after the season…..when you have talent you play it or it leaves and yes I’m a long time Duck fan……hope I’m wrong but I doubt it.

Logger29

Interesting take. Your prediction certainly has merit. I don’t know enough about any of the Duck QBs to rate them on anything other than the little I saw during last season and the spring game.

So, based on only those limited looks all I have to go on is Brown’s brief performance in a real game and what I saw in the spring game. Candidly, at this point deciding who starts is a crap shoot.

Will disagree with you on couple of things, however. Butterfield may be in possession of the best QB skill set, has decent size, and a strong arm but I think Ashford is the most talented athlete at the position.

Both Ashford and Brown seem capable of making positive things happen when plays go south. Moorehead’s offense doesn’t need an NFL quarterback to run it, which is what I like about the college game.

You may very well be correct, I sure hope not. I do think the player who shows his ability to run the Duck offense the best will emerge, at some point and hopefully at the start of the season rather than later on. Who that will be I really I have no inkling.

Triphibius O. Fowle

I would like to approach this excellent topic with a slightly different methodology. First, I am going to posit a defeat at Columbus, not because I think a win is impossible, but because that topic deserves a separate discussion. Let me pose a series of questions.

First, what are the chances that the 2021 defense will be as good or better than the 2019 one? Is it realistic to think that opponents will be held to less than three touchdowns per game on average? (Or, alternatively, that the defense will allow a few more more points but generate a huge turnover advantage?) Does this seem unreasonable, given that Oregon has the league’s best defensive player, the best corps of linebackers, some fine secondary players, and a new coordinator with an impressive resume? Perhaps you are wondering, “what about the poor defensive line play last year?” I view that as an anomaly resulting from the pandemic and some dubious training decisions by last year’s senior interior linemen. (On this point, I refer readers to Mr. Fishduck.)

Second, do we trust Joe Moorhead, with the players at his disposal, to generate more than three touchdowns per game on average against Pac-12 competition?

Third, what about road games, where travel distractions, emotion and injuries can all be equalizers? This year’s schedule includes Stanford, UCLA, UW and Utah. The third may be a tough game, but it is surely not a “trap game.” I would hope the team seems the fourth the same way. Such games are often decided by kickers. Do we trust Henry Katleman and Tom Snee to perform in these situations?

Oregon has a margin of superiority that will produce wins most of the time. But there are bound to be close games, although not necessarily against the opponents predicted by Jon Wilner and company. In those games quarterback play is often decisive. To get to 11 wins, Anthony Brown will not have to play like Justin Herbert every week, but will probably have to play better than a journeyman quarterback two or three times. Can he do so?

If you think that the answer to these questions is yes, as I am inclined to do based on my limited knowledge of football, then 11 wins is quite feasible.   

ptdduck

In 2019, Herbert took over in the 4th quarter against Wazzu, UW, and Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. I’m in a wait and see mode if AB can rise to the occasion when needed. We’re going to have some close games and he’ll need to step up.

PittDuck

Great post Darren, and I agree, it is in Mario’s hands. As has been said already, this season is going to come down to play calling. The Ducks have arguably more talent than they have ever had across the board.

If the kids and their coaches can put it all together (and my early June, yellow and green colored glasses has me thinking they can), I think an undefeated season is not outside the realm of possibility.

I am excited to see what the brain trust of JM and TDR can do with the most talented group of kids they have ever had. I hope and pray MC can let them loose! It is high tIme to RELEASE THE HOUNDS!

I really think we are going to see the D come together and deliver a historic season. The D line is awesome, especially on the edges where I expect them to bring nightmares to opposing QBs. The linebackers are going to bring some devastating havoc, and the secondary can potentially be a ball hawking, no-throw zone.

I know there are a few folks who maintain you gotta score 40 plus points to win out, but if the D can limit opponents to 25 or less points, then the O can win ‘em all with 4 TDS per game.

I am expecting 11-1, but could easily see either 12-0 or10-2. While I would be disappointed with less, I will still love my Ducks!

Can I get an AVATAR for that?

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

I hate to change the handsome visage of such a great Oregon fan–but I can send you the options!

It would definitely have to be fit for a greybeard!

Haywarduck

Ok, I’ll be the first 13-1 overall. Oregon wins the Pac-12 game, which they almost own, and then win the Rose Bowl. This leads to a hungry team for the 2022 season, because of not getting into the playoffs, where they…………

David Marsh

11 I think is more than doable…

Potential losses are to Ohio State and maybe UCLA (only because a road game seems potentially dangerous). Which is 10 wins during the regular season… Number 11 comes from the Pac-12 Championship game at the least. I think a neutral site game with a highly motivated Duck team is expected.

How is it that Wilmer and others suggest that the QB position is so utterly unknown?

AB was a multi year starter who was injured twice but had a 2/1 TD to int ratio as an inexperience starter and was only sidelined because of injury.

He transferred to Oregon, got no spring football in a new offensive system and ended up forcing his way into playing time and in fact playing well in the two biggest games of the season. So much so that the guy he replaced left.

I’d suggest that we have an experienced QB, who is fully healthy, a legitimate dual threat, doesn’t turn the ball over a lot and with better talent surrounding him than he ever had previously. Oregon also has three super talented guys chasing him.

I’m perfectly happy with the QB situation and look forward to AB running the offense all things considered. I’d also expect his number of possession opportunities to increase given a hopefully improved defense.

Then again what do I know, I live in a van down by the river. Peace out, I’m going fisching.

I completely agree with your assessment, and I’m going down as saying that AB is going to perform better than people think.

Mike West

Oregon wins 10, maybe 11.

I’ve posted my thoughts as to how. This year is on the offense. Go big or go home. I don’t see a playoff run unless we kill Freson State 50 something plus to whatever, play a close game in Columbus and we absolutely shred the conference. Margin of victory and eye test will matter.

We have the talent. We have the coaches (yeah… I know people disagree). Do we have the guts to just let it rip and go for the jugular every series, every game? Its complcated to explain, but Moorhead got just about every receiver catches in the Spring Game. He got the burners deep catches, and above average guys catches in open areas.

Will he use constraint plays and run the QB enough (see coach Boles and Morris videos for more details on those kind of plays)? I saw enogh last year to believe Phone Booth Mario will let Moorhead loose. Is Moorhead up to the task?

ptdduck

Love the optimism. I like the talent on paper. In 2019, we had an NFL QB, a veteran OL, and a stingy D. The D should return to form but I’m not convinced the offense will be lethal. We don’t have an elite QB and our running game is average.

The offense has huge question marks. I don’t see us running teams over unless AB rushes for 700-800 yards to augment the pistol attack. It’s hard to foresee a wide open passing attack given the constraints MC puts on the offense coupled with Brown’s limitations as a passer. From my perspective, I would rather have an elite QB like Herbert with average receivers in a wide open passing game rather than vice versa. We’ve got great receivers this year but I just don’t think we have a QB that can consistently make big plays down the field. So JoMo is really going to have to do some cooking in the kitchen to get this offense to be scary.

VandownbytheriverDuck

Nobody is giving Oregon a chance at THE osu, but osu has a new QB and coach Ds trademark is disguising blitzes and forcing the opposing QB to be perfect in the face of pressure. If Oregon can’t stop the run it might be moot but I think that being game two there’s going to be turnovers and a couple of early well timed ones might chance the outlook.

MaiTaiDuck

Perfect season and I know people think that’s crazy except not really. This team is full of talent and should on most games be able to beat the pants off everyone in the PAC 12. I know the Suckeye’s will more than likely be favored and I’d say by 7 to 10 which hopefully lights a fire under these guys and they actually take it to them. I mean I predict Oregon to beat them in their house.

I mean we’ve never beat them so this should be our best opportunity. I was surprised at really how close all those losses really were and to me this is psychological warfare from the coaching staff I mean because the talents there and all OSs staff has to say is 0-9 baby. If Mario’s going to get Oregon to the promised land he needs to beat OS and to me that would be one of our top wins ever.

It would be talked about for a long time.

UtahDuck

Man, Wilner is a hard reporter to like outside of his p12 conference reporting his opinions on teams just seem to be all over the board He also really seems to undervalue Oregon almost every year.

as for an over under at 9, that just seems like a bad line. Oregon should easily go 2-1 out of conference.

the cross divisional pairing is good as it gets. AZ and COL should be easy pickups. Utah lost both their starting QB and RB and has a meh at best WR core and I just don’t trust ludwig to Improve them. UCLA is ucla, I want chip to succeed but i don’t think anything he has done proves they will improve.

as for the division. Stanford seems to be spiraling with the lowest over under of any team in the north. Oregon state is replacing a QB, RB, LB and DB all of which were key difference makers for this team. They just don’t have the depth to be consistent, but Smith is the best offensive minded head coach in the division so you can’t play down to him. Cal, i just don’t think they have the talent surrounding garbers to improve that offense. oregon just needs to be able to start overcoming that cal defense. Washington state was not good last year. Their best game was against Oregon and they got worse the more tape people had to view. They also lost their best defensive player as he was kicked from the team. Lastly washington who is likely the closest to oregon in terms of talent of all the teams we play besides Ohio state but the team is also making some of the worst coaching hires i’ve seen.

overall i think to say the under is to say oregon loses to Ohio state(Fair), Washington(while possible Cristobal does a fantastic job of getting the team hyped for washington and USC, so i’d so not likely) and both Cal and Oregon State.

If I were betting I’d take the over at 9, 9.5 and the call at 10. This teams bottom should be 10-2 with an easy shot at 11-1. I wish I knew more about OSU because besides replacing fields I don’t know much about them besides a lot of talent.

ptdduck

Our squad has a ton talent. The D regressed last year. If the D doesn’t step up and hold opponents to around 20 per game, I think we’re going to have a rough time. In 2019, we had a strong D but Herbert carried us in the 4th quarter against UW & Wazzu during the regular season and in the Rose Bowl against Wisconsin. Can AB rise to the occasion in the 4th quarter in tight ball games? That’s a huge question mark. At some point during the regular season we’re going to need him to step up at crucial moments. UW, UCLA, & Utah are road games.

Chip is definitely on the hot seat but his team looks solid on paper. They lost four conference games last year by a total of 15 points. DTR was out two of those games. Had he played against us, they probably win.

Looking at the UCLA roster, they return the most starters in the conference, a senior QB, two quality RBs, a very good TE, and the most experienced OL in the conference with all five starters returning. They were 2nd in scoring and rushing last year. Their D made strides last year implementing a new scheme. If they get any help from their D this year, they will be a tough out because they will put points on the board.

FGLumber

Speculating is sure fun……..but there’s a lot of baking to do before that cake fully rises.

Drake

Mario has the coaching staff and talent on the field to “run the table” in the PAC 12. The difference maker this year is will the QB be good, or great? Some of our young players will also need to step up and play solid ball.

Turnovers will be a determining factor to whether we get to 11 wins or better. We put up numbers like last year and it won’t happen. We win the turnover battle over the course of the season then we win 10 or more.

Winning only 8 or 9 games may not be viewed as a positive and may start to hamper recruiting.

ptdduck

It looks to me the top QBs are in the south, Daniels, Klovis & DTR. The defense regressed last year and if we’re going to win 9 or 10 games or even 11 we need the D to be dominant like in 2019. We’re a defensive oriented program IMO. AB will be a good game manager but I’m not sure if he can actually carry us in the 4th quarter like Herbert did.

Logger29

The consensus seems to be growing in favor of ASU being the the team to beat. I don’t agree. But it makes for good copy and even a pro like Wilner knows a popular bandwagon when he sees one. Remember Jon was driving a similar wagon full of “Cal will win the North” last year. Other than beating an uninspired Duck team, the Bear wagon’s wheels fell off.

“Uncertainty at quarterback,” is the justification for all Duck doubters this season. I can’t deny that is an issue of concern. I saw enough of Brown in the bowl game to convince me he is cool and calm and will be ok.

Mario is growing as a coach and the process is sometimes painful to watch. But not as painfully embarrassing as watching the “guy who’s name I will not say” run the program off the cliff, despite being a supposedly “great play caller” and “offensive mind.”

Projecting win totals is an interesting off season activity. Some hoary old sports adages have proven to be true, however. Taking “one game at a time” is a pretty good one.

If nine or even eight wins gets the Ducks a division title, a conference championship, and a major bowl I’ll be a happy old Duck.

Football is not gymnastics. The media wants a beauty contest in which journalists, bloggers, and network talking heads get to decide the contenders. Unless I’m missing something, the perfect score is any number at least one point more than your opponent’s.

Finally, and I apologize to the horse for the beating, but this entire hypertension created by the lame and self serving media concoction called the “playoff” has taken a lot of fun out of college football. 12-0, 11-1, or 8-4 who knows?
I’m just here, like I have been every year, to enjoy the ride. Go Ducks!

Drake

The goal is a National Championship. The reality is that only a few teams have a real chance to win it under the current format. I am pretty sure that is only good for those teams and not the overall health of college football at this level.

Mike West

I’ve thought about this long and hard, because I don’t think anybody can beat Clemson, Bama and tOSU back to back-much less stay in the game in order to win a Natty.

But let’s say the NY6 Bowls were the opening round games. The winners would face the top 4. That might work because those games are usually competitive. It would draw interest as a result. After that, does anybody think a G5 team has a shot? Or any of the P5 second tier?

Twelve teams. Using the current format. It may destroy the bowl system though (I’d say get a playoff format for the other teams that usually play in lower tier bowls might maintain interest in that group of teams).

I like the current format because it forces teams to win all their games, and the really good teams are already in a playoff atmosphere. Expanding using the NY6 format to pick the top 12 might be a very good solution though.

In terms of talent…only Ohio State is better and USC is right with us, thus 10 wins should be the floor in my opinion. But the talent is not the only issue, and the question is–can the coaches win 10 games or better with this talent?

A drama that will be great fun to watch. Great topic to ponder Darren!

Ducked

A 10-win season is definitely a strong possibility, but the Ducks must avoid their recent history of an occasional clunker performance, often on the road…… and next season’s toughest contests are road games.

Duck Phan Phil

To me last year’s trajectory still has me concerned. Tyler Shough’s regression under Moorhead remains a head scratcher: a guy some project as a first rd pick gets worse over the course of a new OC’s first season, bringing the rest of the offense to a grinding pace? A defense that goes from lights out to middling in the DC’s second year?

All leaving the bitter taste of a butt-whooping by a less talented but more disciplined team in a bowl game we arguably didn’t deserve to be in….. Do we chalk it up to Covid weirdness? Or is there an SC-like proclivity toward underperformance inherent in the staff and “system”? The next couple years will be telling. This year I see a likelihood of dropping the tOSU game, a road game, and one headscratcher. Win O/U at 9.

Santa Rosa Duck

Hope springs eternal. I think the QB question is a real one. I would like to be more optimistic but we seem to show up unprepared mentally for at least one game and I think the Ohio State University is difficult so I will go with 10 wins and hope I am not disappointed.

So I literally had a nightmare last night. I was at the upcoming Ohio State game. Oregon got the ball first and drove down for a field goal to take the lead. Then the Ohio State offense took the field and the QB was Dwayne Haskins and the lead running back was Ezekial Elliot and that was all she wrote. Thanks Darren.

Notalot

The win total is interesting and the point you ponder. Going deeper, the question you raise Darren, is the competence of the coaches. We, myself included, rave about Cristobal, DeReuter and Moorhead, but when articles and debate turns to the number of wins, winning a national championship, or winning big games doubt creeps in about play calling, getting the team jacked up to the level required to win, game and clock management, special teams performance and other coaching controlled factors. What gives?

The talent and depth is greater in 2021 than on any Ducks football team before. You indicate that despite the talent on the team, that it will stumble because of coaching losing games to underdogs.

What’s up with that?

10 wins, though I want to predict 11.

Haywarduck

You sum up the coaching questions pretty well. Just about everything else is in place, but the question marks at the decision level of coaches makes this season a head scratcher.

The good news is the coaches have a chance to answer those questions. We also have the Covid shortened season to blame those deficiencies, but time will tell.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

IMHO…it is factual. Oregon lost in 2019 to a 5-5 Arizona State team…a team we should not have lost to and it cost us a Playoff Berth.

In 2020 we had OSU and Cal, both teams Cristobal should have beat. Can he beat the teams he is supposed to beat?

Logger29

The 2019 loss to ASU was tragic as it did end the Ducks shot at the playoff. ASU and their QB, Daniels owe much of the current adoration from the media to that single contest and their later close but no cigar games against USC. Mario took heat and continues to labor under the criticism of not getting the team up for games or beating the teams he “should beat.” Fair enough.

However, look what happened after the ASU loss; with their playoff shot dashed and no reason not to roll over the Ducks won an ugly and hard fought “gut check” game against a highly motivated Beaver team the next week.

In the conference championship against a highly regarded and favored Utah team the Ducks were obviously better motivated and coached. The resulting blow out left no doubt who the PAC 12 champ was.

I think sometimes great coaching isn’t about beating teams you’re expected to beat but how you coach up a team after a devastating defeat.

ptdduck

Getting beat deep for a TD on 3rd and long late in the 4th qtr at Tempe was devastating and a huge coaching blunder. Had we forced a punt in that situation, I think we win the game. Momentum was on our side and Herbert was hot the 2nd half.

Logger29

Third and long, late in a game in which it was obvious the ASU QB was having a career night, and to allow a receiver to get behind you? That still stings!

Ducked

But how is that a coaching error? I’m pretty sure that the coaches, every Duck fan in the stands, and those watching on television had the same thought: “Don’t get beat deep!”

And yet it happened.

Players get beat all the time, even in the most obvious to predict circumstances. They screw up.

Can’t always blame that on the coaches.

Logger29

Agreed, it was just a very disappointing play in an overall disappointing game.

DanLduck

Great points Notalot.
After reading everyone’s thoughts, I think this season boils down to which group of coaches is going to do the most with what they have.

Talent and depth usually leads to more wins. But we have sure stunk out some stadiums in the past 3 years. I’ve not been one to blame coaches, but there does seem to be a pattern of strange efforts in some games.

I think that if we don’t get 10 wins, its definitely on the coaches, barring serious injuries.
Btw, I’m betting AB is not the starting
QB for tOSU game.
We shall see.
And in person!!!

Haywarduck

The only gimme is the SeaWolves, but preseason, I have to go with 12 wins! I’m not putting money on it, but it’s is June, how can I be realistic?