I’ve often wondered what Athletic Director Rob Mullens was expecting of Oregon’s offense when he announced Mario Cristobal as head football coach in his news conference (Featured Photo above) in December, 2017. I assume he was told what I thought I heard from news sources at that time, that Cristobal explained how the Ducks would, “get tougher in the trenches, and continue what Oregon is known for.” Other Duck fans seem to recall his projected offensive attack characterized that way as well.
The Oregon high-scoring offense with tougher linemen? Sounds good to me!
Yet it has turned out quite different as he largely dumped the original Oregon Shotgun Spread that was copied and is still used successfully across the nation, as well as discarding the highly successful “Gulf-Coast” offense introduced that year.
Coach Cristobal stated right here that maintaining a fast tempo to create offensive advantages would be retained …”Being explosive, being fast but being physical at the line of scrimmage. We do not want to take away from our tempo. It’s a valuable asset.”
What happened to that? As my friend and colleague at Duck Sports Authority, Dale Newton, recently deadpanned…“While most of college football is stepping on the gas, the Ducks have forgotten to take off the emergency brake.” Yikes.
In his introductory press conference, Coach Cristobal stated right here, that he plans…“A tremendous investment in the offensive and defensive lines….a tremendous investment in being an explosive football team, creating explosion plays, being exciting, making sure that our fans love to come out and support it, because it’s a brand of football they love to see and support.”
Yes, that brand of football took Oregon to the brink of a National Championship twice, and the fans loved it. You cannot imagine the number of emails and phone calls I’ve received over the years concerning the demise of the excitement that once was the Oregon offense. Athletic Director Rob Mullens understands that the fans would be forgiving of Cristobal jettisoning the prior offense if the replacement achieved similar results or better.
But in three years under Cristobal–it has not. (What did Chip Kelly do in three years at Oregon?)
The average points per game over the last three years has been 33.84 under Cristobal, while even during the worst year of Kelly/Helfrich in 2016, the Ducks scored 35.40 points per game. Oregon scored 43 points per game in the prior year of 2015 and 43 points per game was also the nine year average under Kelly/Helfrich. I was at that introductory press conference in 2017, and I asked the final question of the day that the Coach took time to graciously answer. So confident was I in what he planned on offense that I asked a question about the defense!
I used the word “snookered” in the title, because it is different than being fooled or mislead. It means that you left someone in a difficult position, and I believe that fits where Rob Mullens is right now. This Cristobal offense is not the offense that built the Oregon brand that brought so many fans to the Ducks from across the nation. Yet Mario is a man of great values, who has no compliance issues and who exudes the type of leadership that Mullens wants running this football program.
He is in a tough spot, and I imagine Rob Mullens is crossing his fingers about the Oregon offense this next season like the rest of us!
Charles Fischer (Mr. FishDuck)
Top Photo from UO Athletics YouTube
Charles Fischer has been an intense fan of the Ducks, a season ticket holder at Autzen Stadium for 35 years and has written reports on football boards for over 23 years. Known as “FishDuck” on those boards, he is acknowledged for providing intense detail in his scrimmage reports and in his Xs and Os play analyses. He and his wife Lois, have a daughter Christine, reside in Eugene Oregon, where he was a Financial Advisor for 36 years and now focuses full-time on Charitable Planned Giving Workshops for churches and non-profit organizations.
He does not profess to be a coach or analyst, but simply a “hack” that enjoys sharing what he has learned and invites others to correct or add to this body of Oregon Football! See More…
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