Tempo-Tempo-Tempo: Will We See it at Oregon in 2021?

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck Editorials 51 Comments

Find this content useful? Share it with your friends!

A question I see often in the comments concerns whether Oregon will be running fast tempo this season. I am curious as to whether you think we will, or if we even need to run fast tempo and how often. We all know the story of how a former coach pulled that tactic out of the distant past and made hay with it in college football, and now most teams have adjusted. But does that mean Oregon should discard it?

In an interview on August 21st, Coach Mario Cristobal was referring to the offense and stated within the discussion that “we’re not a super-high tempo operation.” Is that true, or a head fake to other teams doing their research on the Ducks?

Coach Ken Woody would explain to me how fast tempo is part of an overall strategy to get an advantage on an opposing defense. It is not just running the plays quickly, but finishing on the other side of the field from the opposing team so that defensive substitutions can’t be made effectively. Coach Smith among FishDuck members (smith72) has mentioned how fast tempo can prevent substitutions when the offense has a play sequence planned without their own substitutions.

Scott Kelley

Juwan Johnson secures the winning first down in the Rose Bowl on a quick pass in the flat.

Both of those tactics can add to the success of fast tempo, but there is another overall aspect that Coach Woody brought up recently in one of our Duck Discussions. He explained how prior Oregon coaches would attack a defense horizontally, and not line up in tight formations to jam plays inside a phone booth. He felt that by truly going side to side with Outside Zones, Sweeps, Bubble Screens, etc. in addition to fast tempo, that the defense gets gassed that much sooner and mistakes begin to happen.

That is when you would see play-action passes go for touchdowns as the defense was tired and was trying to get lined up correctly and defend their gap. When you put all the elements together of what you see above (and others that coaches could tell us) the benefits of fast tempo seem to be considerable. Yet only if it is part of an overall plan as prior Oregon coaches utilized it. If few of the aforementioned tactics are part of the overall fast tempo strategy, then should I assume it would have limited effect?

Why WOULDN’T you Run Fast Tempo?

One answer could be if your offense is not geared to all the components listed above and you wish to run a ball-control strategy to limit the number of times that both teams have the ball in the game, and you are confident you can score, and your defense can make more plays to win it. With the Playoff-3 scoring 45 points a game, I do not believe that is a winning strategy in college football any longer.

Pac-12 Video

Joe Moorhead has a thick playbook–a limiting factor?

A second answer could be that Offensive Coordinator Joe Moorhead has not completed the full install of his offense and wants the team to feel comfortable first with the major set of plays used, and their sequential derivatives. Perhaps all of what he plans to use in 2021 should be running crisply in practice before he adds the additional layer of fast tempo and the complications associated with it?

Another reason is one that is rarely spoken of–could it be the conditioning of the players? I do not hear anything about that component when, at this time of the year with prior coaches, it was a major talking point. It is no secret that Oregon has massive offensive linemen and tight ends that cannot be substituted as easily and still retain the cohesiveness needed. Thus they remain in the game longer, so might they wear out sooner if fast tempo is employed?

I believe fast tempo should be used, and the defenses should be attacked with the tactics covered earlier, but I am not in the offensive meetings and do not know their overall objectives. Knowing our schedule and the conference, do you think Oregon should be running fast tempo? Is it needed? Will it interfere with other objectives? This Duck fan wants your thoughts because…

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

Charles Fischer   (Mr. FishDuck)
Eugene, Oregon
Top Photo by Tom Corno

Next Article is tomorrow!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

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
Tuesday: Darren Perkins
Wednesday: Joshua WhittedMr. FishDuck
Thursday: Coach Eric BolesAlex Heining
Friday: David Marsh
Saturday: Mr. FishDuck (GameDay Baby!)
Sunday: Jordan Ingram

A couple of writers could not join us as they have new projects in their lives, and cannot write for anyone at the moment–but perhaps we will see them back later.

Things rarely work out so well for all parties in agreements, but this time it has and truly….everyone wins!

Our 33 rules at FishDuck can be summarized to this: 1) be polite and respectful, 2) keep it clean, and 3) no reference of any kind to politics. Easy-peasy!

FishDuck members….we got your back.  No Trolls Allowed!

Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

While Ty was listed first, all three were listed as “OR”.


At media release today coach said no announcement yet for qb2.

Duck Phan Phil

I’m seeing TT as an “or” w J Butter and Ashford. However, TT’s name as the “ lead Or” has to be based on merit, unless it’s completely random. It’s clearly not alphabetical, and if it was based on seniority the Y TEs would be ordered differently. So the ranking of “or”’s seems to still be in order of depth but an indication that it’s still really close.

Good to see Pittman in the slot. At 5’11” 206 tha has to be where his value is, as well as his nfl future.

A little surprised Franklin beat out Devon Williams and not JJ3. Credit JJ3’s work ethic as IMO there are more talented guys.

Competition definitely bring out the best. Pittman is really interesting in that he hasn’t played a lot, but has made a huge impression in his limited time. JJ3, has had okay, great, sort of, performances in his time. It would be great to see him establish himself. DW, hasn’t really had the time on the field, hopefully this will inspire him.

Franklin as a starter is huge. With the depth at that position, starting as a true freshman means you are most likely a 3 and done, future star, impact player on the O, well done! Also impressive is Moliki pressing for playing time at TE. The youngengs are going to be making noise this season when the ball is in the air, and maybe even throwing as time progresses.

Nice to see Camden give Henry a run, but the ‘Stache’ is the real deal until proven otherwise!


This did stand out, and bodes well. The ‘Stache seemed to be the starter without question, and perhaps he is, But maybe Lewis is doing a great job. Having a more than reliable PK is something that’s been needed for a long time.


I’m kind of fuming that Katleman got slighted like this. Hopefully it’s just a bit of a typo.

Real surprised that it shows Dru Mathis OR Justin Flowe.


True, but Mathis left a lot to be desired last year. Maybe he made some huge strides though? Either way I am guessing we will still see plenty of Flowe on the field.

Dru Mathis, 3* who bounced around and ended up going the JC route competing with a 5* who won the Butkis Award as a High School kid, it doesn’t get any better than that!

This is the perfect competition for Justin, compete against a teammate who knows what it takes to reach your potential and beyond. I absolutely love seeing this type of contest for starting time. All of our elite talent should have to compete against a 3* teammate who wants it bad.

Seems like we are going the route of 5* against 4* which isn’t too bad either, but I love the underdog!

Jon Sousa

I just watched the Stanford game last year. Flowe played in the second half. I was looking for him because many reports say that he was injured in the first game last year. I did not see the injury occur.

DJ is 273! If that is similar to what he was when last we saw him, this is incredible, as he looked extremely athletic. I definitely agree that the DT’s are on the light side compared to the beasts in the SEC, and probably tOSU.


What would be interesting to see are the weight lifting records for the football team, are they available anywhere? Does Igor and Ngata still hold most of the power records?

What you need at DT is shear power and brute strength. Aaron Donald at 280lbs is the best DT in the NFL, but nobody can control the guy. Jordon Scott was a very good college football player, but we haven’t had the shear strength we once had.

The last great D-lineman were Buckner and Armstead, but we didn’t build off that success.


Aaron Donald, outside of QB, Mahomes, he’s considered to be the best player in the NFL. He was the 13th pick in his draft, so there are probably at 6 or so teams that now wish they’d taken him. The Ducks definitely did not develop a pipeline for DL’s off of Buckner & Armstead, though it is very had to get those guys out of SEC country. Of course it was supposed to be hard to get anybody from anywhere to come to Oregon. Go Mario!


I believe in an interview with Mario on Friday, he said Anthony Brown was the starter and the other 3 guys were all competing for the number 2 spot. That may have changed over the weekend.

I think uptempo can mean 2 different things. One the Chip Kelly tempo of running a play every 10-15 seconds or uptempo where you get to the line quickly, so the defense can’t sub, but you still take 30 seconds to call a play. At the very least, Oregon should do the 2nd type of uptempo, so the defense can’t sub.


We had one of the most potent offenses in the nation. Being able to score from anywhere on the field in less than 2 minutes helped turn Autzen into one of the loudest stadiums in the country.

How many times have we scored because the opposing teams defense wasn’t set when we played fast. We probably don’t need to run the offense at up-tempo from start to finish, but I do think it should be part of the game plan.

The key to success this year will be finding that QB that is good at reading the key defensive personnel in Moorehead’s RPO offense. Be able to run it at uptempo speed, and we should score a lot of points.

The problem with only seeing tempo once or twice is that you lose the ability for the accumulation of effect.

Defenses won’t get gassed nearly in the way they did when tempo was every down and every series.

I think tempo is dependent on being able to execute and if tempo creates false starts, three and outs, and overtaxes coaches play calling quality it’s not worth doing.

However, if the offense can do it without the aforementioned mistakes it’s a powerful tool and tests defenses mental ability, physical prowess, and ultimately a defenses condition and or depth come 4th quarter.


I agree, I miss the up-tempo play making during the Chip Kelly days. I would love to see Joe M’s full playbook in action. I am optimistic if MC brought in JM, hoping MC is heading in that direction.

If Saban can change his ways with offensive play calling to achieve an average ppg in the 40s, MC can too. Saban is doing it with an average weight a little over 309 lbs per offensive linemen. It can be done.

I can imagine with Full play calling by JM with TD’s stout defensive play calling, what a great combination with the high level of recruits we are getting. Go Ducks!


Listening to post practice interviews it appears that some time is spent on tempo. I too heard coach C state in an interview that “tempo is not what we do.”

I expect we will see some tempo in certain situations only.

About substitutions, I understand that if the offense does, the defense is allowed to.
But why is the D allowed to use up the play clock doing so? Several times I’ve seen us have to call a time out due to the D jogging off the field. Can anything be done to avoid this issue?

David Marsh

I would love to see tempo used as a weapon. I don’t want to see a fast tempo for the sake of it.

One of the most frustrating things from the Kelly-Helfrich eras was when Oregon played with tempo and went 3 and out right away.

I want to see tempo used after explosion plays to push the advantage. I don’t want to see tempo used and then not get anywhere. Giving the ball back after a minute of play time will only tire out our defense.


Tempo requires not only a comprehensive intuitive level of understanding of the plays but execution.

Definitely a double edge sword that has caused defensive fatigue and poor field position when the dreaded three and outs happened.


I, too, miss the high flying, up-tempo play of CK’s Ducks. But that ship has left port. We have seen rare flashes of the fast tempo under MC…but not many. Charles is spot on. Our aircraft carriers, playing the part of o-linemen, don’t have the speed or likely the endurance for such a plan.

What may be more salient to eliminating defensive substitutions, without up-tempo play, is simply using the No Huddle approach. That was used a bit more frequently by MC. Perhaps it was just the introduction we hoped for in JM’s GoGo offense, but without the uptempo part. https://fishduck.com/2020/11/oregon-football-is-joe-moorhead-adding-the-new-gogo-offense/ In this case, the very threat of uptempo can upset defensive mindfulness and pressure.

I’m really anxious to get this season started. I’m just pissed that DirecTV and MegaRich Larry stuffed the PAC-12 fans. I can’t see next week’s game. Where is Justin TV when you need it? :(

Steven A

We also saw how fast tempo this is negated in bowl games with the TV TOs, so that should be anticipated at the end of the year and adaptions made.


I think it provides an advantage, but is this the edge Cristobal wants? Our coach seems to want the opponent to know what he is going to do, and still beat you, this is his tendency, instinct. This type of domination is what fills him up.

Tricking somebody seems to be almost beneath Cristobal. I’m trying to remember a trick play Cristobal has called or the frequency compared to other coaches we have had. Certainly running Herbert in his last games was not expected, but I wouldn’t call that a trick, just a man taking over a game, what Cristobal loves.

Speed and tempo will have to come from Moorhead and his instinct, desire to instill this in our offense. Great topic, and I think it speaks to the Cristobal mindset.

One item is we haven’t seen a qb sneak, even though we have the line, tall qb and it would seem to be an effective call on short yardage. This type of get to the line and do a quick count just doesn’t resonate with Cristobal. Line up, let the other team know what you are going to do, give them time to get ready, and then beat them seems to be the ultimate win to Cristobal.

I think Cristobal would have loved to have lived back in the time of Knights and jousting. Line up and get a running start and see who wins, the battle with nonpareil, in our coaches mind. Maybe I am wrong, but I see the exact opposite of speed, and trickery when Cristobal is the DM. I almost wonder if Cristobal would agree to let the other team know our snap count?


I very much agree with you on MC wanting the opponent to know what he was going to do, and beat them anyway. This was the hallmark of the offense Lombardi’s dominant Green Bay Packers of the 1960’s ran. The defense was also very stout.

To see this now is to have a look at what MC is going for. The Packers weren’t exciting, didn’t lead the league in scoring. But they won MC still has to make sure there aren’t the inexplicable losses, clock management needs to improve. But, if it can come together at Oregon like it did for Lombardi’s Packers, all will be good.


Oh those old O-lineman. We have at least one around here who wants scoring and points.

FAST Hard Finish. What was the first word?

You cannot discount the number of times opponents faked injury to get an extra timeout.

Controlling the clock is important to MC. Controlling the clock was irrelevant to CK. Scoring scoring and more scoring was what CK wanted. The fans wanted it and loved it. It broke opponents will, and early. It created opportunity.

If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Charles is spot on. The playoff teams are scoring 45 a game. Anything less takes away the WOW factor needed to persuade East coast reporters coaches fans and the selection committee who don’t ever see half of west coast games that the Ducks are worthy.

In a four team beauty contest it matters how you win, what the margins are, and what the overall perception is of ones team.

Why then all but eliminate one of the most potent weapons in the arsenal?

Playing fast creates opportunity. More points scored earlier in the game creates opportunity to play younger players.

The Ducks should be trying to be up by 4 scores by halftime and training the second and third strings and seeing what they have behind the starters.


Speed Tempo should be used as a weapon against the defense. However game management and clock usage should dictate when to use it to your advantage.

Because the defense is allowed to substitute if the offense substituted, I would prefer to use speed tempo with a personnel group that can execute different formations. A tight end who can also line up as a wide receiver. Or running backs who could run power or line up empty backfield and exploit coverage.

Watching defenders gassed with hands on their hips makes me smile!

(Mr. FishDuck are you purposefully choosing pictures of fumbles waiting to happen? Grrr! 😁)


Hi and tight – now that is how it should be! You don’t last long as a RB if you are fumble .prone.

That was a good Oregon running back!


We may see stretches with attempts to gain advantage from tempo, but it does not seem to be an important element of the Ducks’ offense.

There is no doubt there was a time when tempo was one word that distinguished Oregon football from others in CFB.

Playing fast and finishing hard is part of Cristo ball. We will see it, but without much tempo.

Capitalizing on the speed of individuals, recognizing which players are overmatched to exploit the advantages is possible without the strategy discussed in the article.

I find this approach to be more likely from Moorhead and Cristobal tgan the other.