Style vs. Results: Do You Care How Mario Cristobal Wins?

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck Editorials 53 Comments

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It isn’t just the wins that cause the ongoing debate among Oregon fans concerning Head Coach Mario Cristobal. For some, it is how the wins are achieved.

Does how he achieves the wins, the style, matter to you? The flippant answer that everyone gives is “no,” but really contemplate this one, as it has far-reaching consequences in how you decide this ponder-point. We also have to consider the different yardsticks of measurement, as it does vary from person to person. I would love to have thoughtful feedback on this one…

Offensive Components:

Does it matter to you whether Oregon is primarily a running team or passing team? LSU blew things up with a lethal passing game in 2019, while most teams achieve it primarily on the ground. Your preference?

Does the offense matter to you? Do you want to see the Shotgun Spread, the classic Pro-Set or Pistol? This is entertainment, so what do you like to see?

What about point production? Do you like low-scoring defensive victories, or prefer the Chip Kelly days of winning 52-31?

There are many other elements that are required for coaching success, such as the defense, recruiting of coaches and players, an emphasis on being good citizens and graduating. We can cover those in other future articles.

But now, I want to know this: what do you want to see Mario Cristobal/Joe Moorhead do on offense?

Eugene Johnson

CJ Verdell has run for touchdowns out of the Pistol too.

What Mr. FishDuck Wants on Offense at Oregon:

While I wish to know your preferences, I do want to state my bias about the offense for the record.

I do not wish to return to the days of the original Oregon Shotgun Spread Offense under Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich! Nor do I wish to return to the Gulf Coast Offense under Willie Taggart, as I am open to any offense that can score the points needed to win a National Championship. In three years of Cristobal, the Ducks have averaged 33.84 points per game, while the Playoff-3 have averaged 45 points per game; even Nick Saban has admitted (twice in the last year) that defense no longer wins championships.

Want to bring a sophisticated passing attack to Eugene? Fine, so long as we can score enough to win. Run the Pistol? Sure, if it can score 45 points a game as the Playoff-3 of Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State have done over the last three years.

The point is–over three years, the scoring average has dropped to where the worst that Kelly/Helfrich achieved in any year, (35.40 in 2016) was still higher than Cristobal’s average of 33.84. Even Willie Taggart with an injured Justin Herbert outscored Cristobal (36 points per game) in his one year.

Pac-12 Video

Offensive Coordinator Joe Moorhead has quite a playbook…

Is Joe Moorhead the Answer?

Most people think so, and I am very hopeful. Yet if Coach Joe Moorhead is successful–it will primarily be with the Shotgun Offense that he ran at Penn State and same offense that Oregon set the NCAA record of being the first team to average 45 points a game for five straight years under Kelly/Helfrich. And yes, Moorhead runs RPOs as did Chip Kelly, (who introduced them to the NFL) Marcus Arroyo and every OC these days, since that is how college offenses have evolved.

If Moorhead is successful, it will be an Oregon Back-to-the-Future move, and while it means three years was wasted on offense–I would be grateful to be scoring high numbers again. Or not. Just find a way to get it done and win. Is that clear to all? I do not clamor for one offense or another, just an adaptation to what it takes to win today in college football.

I Want Cristobal for the Long Term:

I have written how I want Cristobal here over the long-term and how I admire so much of what he does and stands for. I have been accused of being “anti-Cristobal” or a “Cristobal-Hater” in many places, and I state again how I want him to be here for many years. However, I would like to see him improve in three categories:

Pac-12 Video

His trendline is up, and with more growth as a coach–he could make the Ducks elite.

  • Score enough points to win with any offense or combination of offenses he and Coach Moorhead selects.
  • Improve in game and time management; play selection at key moments wins championships.
  • Get your players ready to play every game, and beat every team you should.

By now, you are realizing that this article summarizes much of what I’ve written in many separate articles. Now, it is in one handy place for future linking. But where are you in this offensive discussion? Share with me your preferences because…

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

Charles Fischer  (Mr. FishDuck)
Eugene, Oregon
Top Photo by Jeff White

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For Football Season: FishDuck Back to Seven Days a Week!

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)

I’ve had a blast writing without those duties, and now, due to a new agreement with the writers, I can announce that we will have articles seven days a week again. I wish to thank the writers publicly for their graciousness in coming to a solution, as now I still do not have do those extra duties with our agreement, and meanwhile the writers are back having fun creating articles as I am.

Everybody is happy! So below is the new schedule through football season:

Monday: Mr. FishDuck
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‘Bout snorted coffee out my nose!
Great quote and timeless reference.
A theme for this year, “Blazing Offense”


For me, the answer to your question is simple. I want Coach to do what he says he will do. Implement a powerful, explosive offense. In my mind, explosive is an offense that scores fast, and often. Like you said, Chip had that explosiveness to his teams, which is how we could compete with the big boys (in most cases).

Mario is trying to build a physical team, that’s explosive, … but to me, he’s falling short on both accounts. If his offense was powerful, then it seems likely that explosiveness would come easier. A powerful Oline that dominates will open holes for the backs, and protect the QB so he can do his job – find open receivers. This should lead to more points scored. So, something is rotten in Denmark.

Yeah, what do I want? … I want coach to follow through.

Let’s hope this year is the year it all comes together.

Go Ducks!


My 55 years as a Duck fan have always had me agonizing over the decline in passing yards as the season progresses. Those early season easy victories give way and the yards per game decline. Points and yards may be shallow measurements but they get me excited.

I think that most coaches are conservative and if they are convinced their ground game can always churn out an 80 yards 6 minute TD they will. MC seems to be one of those types. Thought Monson did not work out as BB coach at Oregon I appreciated his first play was an alley oop.

Entertainment is important and the Ducks are in danger of losing the excited backing they were getting throughout the country if they do not dial it up again.


We definitely need a good passing game so defenses can’t zero in on our running game. I’d like to see us pass at least 40% of the plays. Not only will it make the game more exciting, it will help keep opposing defenses on their heels. I agree with the need to manage time and reduce penalties.

It takes discipline to not make stupid penalties. Or poor decisions like shooting an air gun at people. I have to hope MC and all coaches and players will have more discipline and strength of character and help each other to keep everyone on track getting ready for the season.


I want Oregon to be exciting, make the other school and their players on the field, heads spin. I want them looking at each other in total confusion about them having a team take a possession for less than 3 minutes for a score. That they fall behind so fast, they are forced to go to the air and let our defense have turn over chances. I want the BLUR BACK! Yes, I know, I am a selfish man but MAN DO I LOVE THE DUCK doing PUSH UPS!


Hi Charles,
Is it wrong of me to want it all? I like to see what you stated:

  • Score enough points to win with any offense or combination of offenses he and Coach Moorhead selects.
  • Improve in game and time management; play selection at key moments wins championships.
  • Get your players ready to play every game, and beat every team you should. Even those they are not expected to beat (Ohio St.) :-)

Continue to excel in recruiting every year!

Excited to have Tim DeRuyter onboard as Oregon’s DC. I know you have to have a great Offensive power these days to win games. Having a top notched defensive talent every year with TD’s schemes would put our offense in a position with many opportunities to score points and win games.

Keep the penalties at a minimum. Nothing like a bad penalty killing a great drive, run or TD.

I supported the Ducks through the bad years as well as the good years. So no matter what I will always love my Ducks! But the above are my wish list.


I’d like to see the Ducks win with an absolute minimum number of penalties. Yes, I know penalties happen, but personal fouls, taunting, unsportsmanlike conduct should be almost nonexistent.


Another great ponder point Charles!

I agree, it’s is more than just the W. For me, I am looking for Duck Domination. I want MC’s teams to rule the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.

I hope JM lights it up with play calling this year and confuses the bejesus out of opposing defenses. I hope he gets them on their heels and keeps pouring the wood to them all game long.

Scoring points is important, but more important IMHO is a Defense that shuts down receivers, stifles the running game, gets after the QB, and TAKES AWAY THE BALL! If that is happening consistently, 33 points per game will get the W.


I’d prefer not to return to Chip Kelly days when the first string never got to finish a game because we scored so many points. Sure it was fun but sometimes it got boring.

Darren Perkins

Win. But, you have to score a lot of points to win (generally speaking, not every single game, obviously) and to become a regular playoff contender.

On a 2022 recruiting note: Looks like the Ducks are in a good position over the next few days to have as many 4/5-stars as 3-stars. Always key to keep the blue-chips above 50%.

Jon Sousa

Yes and No. Winning is the most important thing in any sport. How you win is important in getting and maintaining fans. Both are important… but winning is the most important.

I think everyone is agreed that scoring lots of points is more interesting than not. When I was a kid I didn’t like football because all I saw was two runs, a pass, and a punt… way too many times. It was boring. The only interesting part of football was the last few minutes of the game when, it seemed to me, most of the scoring took place.

Football remained boring to me until I moved to east San Diego county in 1978 and stayed for a couple of years. Don Coryell was the coach and Dan Fouts was the QB. They played the whole game like it was the two minute warning had just happened. “Air Coryell” was fun football to listen to on the radio (all I could afford). Dan Fouts to Charlie Joiner… exciting times.

A couple days ago I watched the 2019 Ducks-Trojans game. One of the very few times that the Ducks got a lead and didn’t let up on the gas. They put out USC like people used to put out a cigarette butt many years ago… throwing it down on the ground, stepping on it, and then twisting their foot while continuing to smash it into the pavement. There were three interceptions, including a pick-six, and there was a KO return for a touchdown. It was a pretty fun game to watch (if you weren’t a USC fan).


I agree, they have to score more points than they have the last three seasons. Winning 26-17 doesn’t cut it against teams that are overwhelmingly out recruited.

You definitely don’t see the elite teams like you mentioned barely beating the teams in their conference that are clearly out recruited. You see lots of 55-27 scores.

Points on the board are the quantitative measure of success of your offense. Oregon has not had a successful offense under Cristobal yet.

Only 1 scrimmage, but very encouraging to hear about Ty Thompson.


I continue to hope they will go with Ty as the starter. He will take some lumps but it will pay dividends for the next two seasons when we will actually have a shot at the playoffs. No chance this year in my opinion so build for the future.


Any qb or freshman will take some lumps, make some mistakes. DAT did early on, but boy was he fun to watch. You actually had to keep an eye on him at all times, or you just might miss him going to the house.

Watching that td pass from Ty in the scrimmage was a thing of beauty and vision. Something we lacked last season and need again.


I’ll say it again, Brown=Placeholder while the real battle occurs. Ty may win that battle, but we need to keep Ashford in case Ty goes down. We need an offense where the qb makes some extremely quick and tough decisions with exacting precision. It could be an exciting year if that kind of qb play happens!

Brown will stick around and I hope Butterfield does too. Butterfield may be one of the best pro prospects we have, but may not fit our style to make him the #1 guy. Butterfield throws a beautiful ball and seems to make good decisions. We just need a stronger run threat, who has a very good arm.

We need Ty and Ashford to develop into extreme weapons in the Moorhead offense. I am excited to think of these guys and JM’s wheelhouse putting them to work. He created some magic with the weapons he had at PSU, time for Oregon’s weapons to turn it loose!


Brown was held back some…as was Ashford, who was a little dinged up.

J Duck

As long as we win I don’t care, but as Hayward Duck says, a dynamic, unpredictable, innovative offense will be key in the years to come, as you’ve noted many times 45 points is the over/under on playoff success and even Saban admits it.

I like MC as the CEO of Duck Football and the recruiting and family feel will be a huge boost…the coordinators feel like the right ones, can we pay them all enough to stay a while if we do move into that perennial playoff posture? (I sure hope we do!)

We have the pieces…QB, WR, TE, RB, OL, DB’s, LB’s, DE…do we still need that final step up at the elite DT positions like the other 3 perennial playoff porkers? (Oklahoma is on the cusp too, I don’t think Notre Dumb will ever get there). Right now the depth at most of those position groups is unheard of at Oregon. 2022 class starting to line up nicely again.

Can the coaches coach this group to a playoff victory or two, and will that bring more elite 5 stars to Eugene, one here, one there, at various position groups? Kelly/Helfrich, with not exactly elite recruiting, got us to verge of Natty a couple times with a lot of 2 and 3 star kids. But now, the have/have not disparity is larger than ever, and those 3 or 4 programs are getting most of the 4/5 recruits, everyone else just a few. Can we join them?

NIL overall will not help most schools and that’s another topic but I see disaster on the horizon there. Nike/Oregon may put us in the green with a few other top schools, lucky us, not good for college sports though overall.


I was not a fan of the Ducks 7-6 win vs MSU in the Red Box bowl, nor the 9-6 win LSU had vs Alabama in 2011. I’m not beholden to any particular offense as long as there is an offense. 4 yards and a cloud of dust is not an offense I want to watch, even if we went 13-0.


My head says “just win”, but my heart says beat the snot out of the other team. Humble them, dominate them!


A win is a win, is a win!!

But I love to see a well executed offense. I love to see play calling that keeps a defense on its heels, both with speed and creative plays. I want to see points!, baby!!

I miss the days where if you went to the fridge, you would miss something.
I don’t want to see Snee very often.

I don’t know enough details to pick what type of offense, but I know “3 and a cloud of dust” is not entertaining. With all the stud receivers and TE’s we are attracting
( another bluechip recruit WR quacked yesterday) It would seem Cristobal wants to be able to open things up, and play smash mouth as well.

I do think if you want national attention, style points in how you win matter. But an ugly win is fine too, if it’s not too often.

Lastly, I am puzzled by so many comparisons to the usual top 5 teams.
That is not us.
We want to be there, but that may never be us.
We have had 3 top 10 recruiting classes (in a row!) for the first time ever. Ever.
How many have the other top 5 had?
We really need to wait until we’ve had maybe 6 or more to start a fair comparison.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t start winning big now in the Pac, but we really have a ways to go before we can start comparing ourselves to those others.

Scoring lots of points with an effective, entertaining offense is a great place to start.


One aspect on how we win is the transfer portal. If we are an exciting dynamic team student athlete’s will want to wait to get on the field. If we are less than they were sold when recruited, some of the critical talent just below the starters may transfer.

I personally want a dynamic, innovative, unpredictable offense. Now that we have, or are developing multiple qb’s who are a threat to run and have a gun for an arm, I think we may see this. With the addition of elite talent at WR we are entering an exciting time, again.

Luck has been on our side recently. Last year could have been a huge let down, except the dawgs layed down again (they are actually becoming a very well trained lap dog for the Oregon Football Program), instead of playing us. We played one good game and we can hang our hat on that, but last year wasn’t a good year.

The years before we lost some we shouldn’t have, won some extremely close ones and that can’t keep happening. We need to leverage Hayward field and bring in more elite speed. If we actually have a good qb on the field there won’t be an excuse for anything but what Charles wants, 40+ points as average. Fresno State will be the first test, nothing less than 45 or it is back to the questions.


“Just Win Baby” still works for me.

Now that’s out of the way, with talent superior to the league, domination should result in the near future.

Achieving routine dominance depends on top tier QB play and leadership. A shut down defensive backfield is next. How long will it be before the Ducks have both?

The coaches have changed the culture and are stockpiling talent. The best is yet to come.


Great ponder points Charles! My first reaction as to offense is “NOT TO BE PREDICTABLE “!

Any offense is acceptable as long as it can have plays to take advantage of a defense designed to take away what they think are your best plays.

I need to add more later after some more pondering!

Santa Rosa Duck

Thanks Charles, I think the team is coming together this year the way Mario has envisioned it to be. We shall see. I just hope we are prepared for each team we face this year and do not come out flat. GO DUCKS!

The Constitutionalist

A win is a win, but in today’s CFB, philosophically, a win can look like a loss. We could win 13 games by a combined 13 points and it would just look like we were the best worst team. “Elite” teams aren’t just expected to win, they’re expected to dominate.

Domination is what I want to see. I won’t be mad if we squeak out a bunch of wins, but I won’t be happy unless it looks like it wasn’t by accident, and over the last couple of years, that’s what quite a few of our wins have looked and felt like.

When I compare Oregon to teams like Clemson, tOSU, and Alabama, the question isn’t are they going to win that game? It’s, are they going to win that game by 30 or by 40 points?

Just winning isn’t good enough and it never should be.

J Duck



Charles, you raise a great question I have been pondering for a long time. I find it interesting that many of the new recruits mentioned they followed Oregon from a young age. Would they have been watching from the Chip era? Is there a benefit in future recruiting by putting up an exciting, high flying, fast paced, scoring offense?

Another point I ponder, players from the Chip era often said the pace slowed down on game day. Chips fast paced style was taken to practice. The blistering 17 second reps on GameDay was slow, compared to 10-12 second reps at practice, (my numbers night be off a little, but you get the idea).

Did Oregon benefit from more reps at practice? Chip once said they don’t coach in practice, but rather afterwards to maximize reps during the allowed four hour live practice limit.

Charles, I have been a closet follower from the beginning of Fish Duck. Fantastic articles on our beloved ducks. Best of luck on your new endeavors.