If It’s Good Enough for Saban, It’s Good Enough for Cristobal

Darren Perkins Editorials 27 Comments

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And I’m talking about offense.

Yes, Charles Fischer isn’t the only one at FishDuck.com who has problems with Mario Cristobal’s handling of the Oregon offense. I wrote a few articles during the 2019 season, hammering Cristobal for the lack of explosiveness and his underutilization of Justin Herbert.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love everything Cristobal has done at Oregon except for his play tough but not smart offensive philosophy. As Mr. FishDuck has pointed out, the teams winning championships are averaging scoring in the mid-40’s per game, while Mario has the Ducks stuck in the mid-30’s.

I bring this up today because yesterday, The Athletic ran a story on the evolution of the Nick Saban offense. A decade ago, Saban railed against the spread and hurry-up, but he finally succumbed to an “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” mentality.

Tom Corno

Anthony Brown’s dual-threat ability could help the Oregon offense to be more explosive.

And what do you know? Some of the highlights from that article include a name familiar to Oregon fans:

“… we researched the Eagles with Chip Kelly; there were a lot of concepts that they ran at Oregon that we installed…”

“One of the fastball plays Alabama acquired from Kelly was installed right before the 2016 national title game against Clemson. Alabama even called it the same thing Kelly did– Geronimo — and it hit for a Derrick Henry 50-yard touchdown run on the game’s first score.”

“We did take the boards, which Washington had copied from Oregon … that system that used the boards, which were the formations, so you didn’t have to signal them in. Then, we just signaled the plays, so that shortened down the signaling.”

“And because of what Ole Miss had done and beaten us several times running the spreads, running the RPOs, running the screens and things that are difficult to defend, and we weren’t utilizing some of those things, which I thought put us at a disadvantage.”

Yup, Saban was referring to the Kelly offense Ole Miss installed once they picked up former Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli for the 2010 season (Masoli is still playing in the CFL, by the way).

It is no secret that Clemson has borrowed heavily from Kelly, as well. But this isn’t a call for Oregon to run the Kelly offense, it is a call to open things up as the rest of college football’s winners have done. Please, Mario, let Joe Moorehead have full control of the offense so he can light up the damn scoreboard.

After all, if Nick can evolve, so can Mario.

Darren Perkins
Spokane, WA
Top photo credit: Eugene Johnson

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


Next Article is tomorrow!

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I had to shut down the daily articles on July 20th because I could no longer work the extra 3 to 12 hours per week of certain managerial/editorial duties. (beyond the usual ones with FishDuck)

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Jon Sousa

It is interesting to me, that for all the angst we feel towards not scoring more points (in the previous 4 years), Mario and Company are still recruiting very highly talented offensive weapons. How are they doing it? What are they saying to recruits that convinces them to come to Oregon.

“Come to Oregon son, we have the best OC in the country. Of course, our head coach is going to handcuff him so that he can’t call all the high scoring plays he wants to. That, of course, means that we will also be handcuffing our 5* QB and all of our 5* receivers. But, hey! We are out to prove that ‘three yards and a cloud of dust’ and defense still wins championships!”

You get the point. No way are they pushing that scenario. It’s easier to recruit 5* receivers if you have a 5* QB to throw to them… and it is easier to recruit 5* QBs when you have 5* receivers for them to to throw to.

5* QBs and receivers want to ball out and score a million points. The guys that are coming in have to be convinced that at Oregon they will have a shot at doing that. Who is telling them those things?

I am looking forward to scoring 7-10 more points per game. I’m looking forward to it because I think the recruits are looking forward to it.

Our young talent is starting to get experience. It’s amazing how many second and third year “super” freshmen we have on the team. We also have “super” sophomores.

I can’t wait to see our stable of young QBs lighting up the field. I do wish that each of our four QBs could each start (and finish) a quarter during the Stoney Brook game.


Very much to ponder on this one. Mario obliterated the idea, and excuse, other coaches had about recruiting at Oregon. He isn’t getting it done just by working hard, so as you asked? What is he doing, and for that matter, Altman & Graves at well, to have the best recruiting in 3 sports @ Oregon?

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

If we don’t start scoring a ton of points–do think that would impact recruiting on offense?

Ducks Win Pac-12_John McGillen of USC Athletics.jpg
Jon Sousa

My question is, How has it not ALREADY affected recruiting????


Where are the BIG AND FAST RB recruits? They’d be signing if the Ducks scored 45 points a game and ran for 250!


Agree, we are living off the past, DAT, Marcus, is who Seven references when he talks about his love of Oregon. If Seven or some other recruit can’t keep the excitement going we will suffer going forward with the elite offensive weapons, even with the new Hayward!

The good news is we have the weapons, now will we use them?

It still bothers me big-time at what we had at Oregon, what was copied by the best in college football and how it was discarded by Cristobal.

Even the Gulf Coast Offense under Taggart had Oregon scoring nearly 50 points a game when Herbert was healthy….and yet with the full season outscored every year of Cristobal.

All that dumped…wow.


Not overly concerned about Moorehead’s offense. I think he is an upgrade at OC. Will he be allowed to run his offense as he sees fit seems to be a legitimate question. We will find out soon enough.

I am interested to see how we match up against ranked opponents. We have some inexperienced players that will be starting in key positions. tOSU is a formidable opponent on their home turf…we will find out early if we can match up with a highly ranked team.

We have the potential to have a potent offense, and formidable defense. Can this team play fast, and disciplined football? How well we do those things on both offense and defense will greatly determine how far this team gets this year.

I am amongst the fans that would really like to see one of the young QB’s starting games this year. If AB is significantly better, than let him start, he has earned it…However, he shouldn’t automatically start every game if it is a close competition.

J Duck

Yep. And speaking of Masoli, he has broken some CFL records while at it. Not sure if he still has the stolen laptops or not but I’ll never forget the way he trucked the Okla St. safety on that touchdown run in the 2008 Holiday Bowl. He did that to a few different players. 5 foot 10 (with shoes on) and 220 pounds.

Good flashbacks but yeah, MC needs to let JM cut loose. Hmmm…speaking of 2016, wasn’t MC still the OL coach at Bama that year?


Masoli won’t get on the list of Top QB’s. But he is etched in my memory forever. He definitely left it on the field.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

He ran for nearly 200 yards on UCLA, and blasted his way to the key first down at OSU to secure the Rose Bowl…


He sure looks good for the Ti Cats. 😊


Wow, those quotes from Saban are amazing. Coming from the mouth of someone who 10 years ago wanted rules against the hurry up. Unbelievable.

Great thoughts Darren. Thanks.

The pieces are coming together for a great offense. The last 2 classes of WR have certainly been elevated. Next year too.
The RB are looking like thunder and lightning with Dollars, Mcgee, Cardwell and Benson.
The QB room looks really qualified, and master Ty looks like the real deal.

These are all Cristobal’s guys.
When he looked for an OC to replace Arroyo, he picked one with an explosive offense off a strong run game. I think he realizes we need more points. I also thinks he wants the defense to give the offense a shorter field more often.

Coach has mentioned that establishing recruiting inroads can take some time. Most of our coaches don’t hail from the west coast. I think our recruiting is going to get better because of all the work done so far by him and staff.

This should be the year we start seeing the dividends, even with a new DC.
Remember, in his first 4 years as HC, Cristobal has had 2 OC’s and 3 DC’s.
Also new WR and Safety coaches. Not looking for excuses, but the reality is there has not been a ton of continuity.

With the offense fully loaded in for this year, I hope it’s a fun and wild ride.
The Duck best be in shape right out of the gate, cuz he in for a lot of push-ups.

J Duck

Saban has made a living of hiring ex-head coaches of big programs (and guys with some not-so-endearing baggage) and making them his OC…and succeeding and then those guys get a second chance as a HC elsewhere, where the results are mediocre. Some guys just not HC material? Saban just the greatest HC ever? I bet Helfrich would do well again as an OC/QBs at a big time school.


This sentence sums up my concern, ‘except for his play tough but not smart offensive philosophy.’ I actually love the tough philosophy, half the equation for winning is playing tough, never giving up. You have to out effort your opponent, if you don’t the underdog will rise up and beat you.

The big problem is the smart element of our offense. No team, in this day and age, can line up and telegraph a play and make it work. One of the biggest developments on offense is fooling the defense. When the offense can outsmart the defense you see scores in the 40’s, 50’s and above. When you don’t fool the defense the scores stay low.

I think the prevent offense has a ring to it, but tough not smart is how it comes out. Time to be smart and not prevent all this talent from piling up points. I want to say ‘wow that was beautiful,’ again, instead of slapping my forehead when the offense goes 3 and out. I look forward to this and the 3rd down conversion rate is what I will watch going forward.

J Duck


Duck Phan Phil


Duck Phan Phil

I think we should start with Charles getting it as a tat

Who says I don’t already have it!

Peter Finch.jpg

“If Nick can evolve, so can Mario”.

I liked and agreed with the entire article, Darren, and the last sentence wrapped up my thoughts on Mario and the offense. He’s evolving; which is a process, doesn’t happen overnight. He’s taken Oregon off of life support to winning championships again and restoring the brand.

In yesterdays article and comments we all discussed how much potential the offense has this season; the WR’s, Cardwell, a big back, Morehead having the opportunity to install and run his system. I’m optimistic that the scoring will increase.