Despite Herbert Injury, Taggart STILL Outscores Cristobal

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck Editorials

Say it isn’t so! Taggart can’t have outscored Cristobal! That cannot be right because if it is, the decline of the Oregon offense under head coach Mario Cristobal is even more frustrating to many of us Greybeard-age Duck fans. Full disclosure up front: this is a critical analysis article that will contain both facts and opinions. If your personal self-worth is damaged by any criticisms of the team or coach, you better pass on this article. However, I would love everyone’s thoughts in the comments to the unthinkable…

Critical analysis means that I give credit where deserved and call out poor performance that I believe is apparent. (And often ignored by the media in this state) I do not wish to belabor the other part of the full disclosure, but I must for those who wish to take me to task for being a “NegaDuck.” I love what Coach Cristobal is doing in his leadership, recruiting, culture, acquisition of coaching talent, PR — nearly everything. But his strategic blunders concerning the Oregon offense resulted in a dramatic decline in scoring and it remains a stain on his program.

It is evident that to win in the playoffs (as I wrote here), you must score an average of 45 points a game as the “Big-3” Playoff perennials have, and while I am frustrated that one of the nation’s best offenses in Oregon’s original Spread Zone-Read offense was largely dumped by Cristobal, I am not married to it. If Mario can score 45 points a game as Oregon did for a four-year stretch under Chip Kelly/Mark Helfrich (The first NCAA team to do so) in a different offense, that’s fine with me.

Count me in, as that much scoring is more fun to watch, more fun to analyze and will get me off this topic once and for all! Bottom line? I want Oregon to win a National Championship, and scoring that many points is the only way to do it.

Tony Brooks-James loved the space and big running lanes in the Gulf Coast Offense.

Let’s replay the tapes of 2017, the year that Willie Taggart was head coach with a combo offense that primarily relied on his “Gulf Coast Offense,” and yet had some Pistol and original Oregon Spread Shotgun Offense added. There are so many plays of his Gulf Coast Offense I enjoyed, plays that did well, and it showed up in the scoring — when Justin Herbert was not hurt. The Counters, the Jet-Sweeps with reads and the constraint plays coupled with them made Oregon an offensive force. I did not mind dropping a ton of the original Oregon Spread Offense when the Gulf Coast Offense was cooking!

The numbers were impressive; in the seven games that Justin Herbert finished out of 13, the Ducks averaged 49.71 points per game! The problem was, when Herbert went down early in the Cal game, an inexperienced freshman quarterback was unable to duplicate Herbert’s results and losses piled up as a result. Yet for the entire season, the Taggart Gulf Coast Offense averaged 36 points per game.

In the three years that Cristobal has been the head coach the results are as follows:

2018:  34.80 points per game
2019:  35.40 points per game
2020:  31.30 points per game

Good gosh — Taggart’s one year, even with Justin Herbert hobbled, still outscored any year of Cristobal?

I would be happy with the Gulf Coast Offense, but Cristobal dumped that high-scoring offense too!

Before people give sympathy to Cristobal for 2020 … do remember that Alabama averaged 48.50 points in 2020, Ohio State averaged 41 points and Oklahoma averaged 43 points. If the Playoffs is where we want the Ducks to be, then the Oregon offense has to perform as a Playoff team does. Is this the year that the Oregon offense makes that move toward the high-scoring required to break into the Playoffs?

“Oh, how we love to ponder about Our Beloved Ducks!”

Charles Fischer   (Mr. FishDuck)
Eugene, Oregon
Top Photo by Kevin Cline

It is only fitting that I create some fireworks with this article, as today I turn age 65, with many years left of writing passion about Oregon Sports!


Phil Anderson, the Volunteer editor for this article, is a trial lawyer in Bend Oregon.


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