Week 1: Ducks Need a Solid Victory

Darren Perkins Editorials 45 Comments

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Finally, the football season is here. The roster is talented but after some dismal moments in 2020, exactly how the Ducks will perform in 2021 is a mystery.

Last weekend, UCLA was the only Pac-12 team in action as they rolled 44-10 over a sub-par-to-average Mountain West team in Hawaii. This got me thinking about how the Ducks should fare against a middling Mountain West team in Fresno State. Just what can we expect from the Ducks in Week 1?

As has been discussed recently on FishDuck, scoring in the mid-40s is key for any team with playoff aspirations, so I feel it is key for the Ducks to put up at least 40 points against the lesser Bulldogs. On defense, I’d like the Ducks to hold them under 20. I feel a win with a score such as 38-35 or 28-24 would raise some serious red flags, and of course, a loss would tell us to prepare for a long season.

A solid victory with a score such as 44-10 would be exactly what the doctor ordered.

The Ducks mustn’t come out of the Fresno State game with a laundry list of areas needing vast improvement. Ohio State is just around the corner and the Buckeyes start with the Minnesota Golden Gophers in Week 1, so they’ll be prepped and tested by a better opponent than Oregon.

What are your thoughts, feelings and emotions for this Saturday’s game?

Darren Perkins
Spokane, WA
Top photo credit: UO Athletic Department

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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)

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
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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!

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I want one thing: to see that every position is well represented – and nothing to fix before the Ohio St game.

Not just the starters, but quality depth too.

By every position, I also include the offensive and defensive coordinators and their play calling.


What I don’t want to see: anything that resembles Oregon playing another Mtn West team: Boise St.


Score I’d like to see: 56 – 0

Score I think we’ll see: 34 – 23

Steven A

I don’t care about the final score (other than to collect some wine bets here in central CA), it’s the score when when the “next man up” players enter the game.

Jon Sousa

On September 7, 2017 Alabama beat Fresno State 41 – 10.

That would be a good goal.


There seems to be some lofty expectations for this game and our 2021 Ducks. I just checked and there are 23 freshmen or RS freshmen on the 2-deep chart. That, for those of us math impaired folks, is almost half the likely-to-play team.

I guess I’ve modified my hope for the season. There is too much youth and too many difficult away games. There are some strong players on FS…particularly the skill positions. (Although their qb missed a lot of throws.) I’m going 31-21 Ducks for the opener.

Sorry to be negative Nancy. I hope I’m proven wrong.

Jon Sousa

One encouraging note on all this youth is that there are a number of 3 year freshmen and 4th year sophomores on the list.

You realize that they have been on the team as long as “true” juniors and seniors…

Maybe our “youngest team in the nation” isn’t so young after all???

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

My observation yesterday was that about half the starters were upperclassmen, which meant good balance. But your observation of the number of lowerclassmen in the two-deep is quite true.

Our depth is quite young. BTW…good to see you again Jon!

Klovis_UO Athletics.jpg
Jon Sousa

I do believe we are going to have one disappointment in this game.

Being the first game of the season, and especially with a big game in week 2, we probably will not see a lot of anyone but QB1.

We have seen this a whole lot down through the years. The reason is that coaches want to give the starter a ton of real game reps so that they will be more comfortable starting game two.

While I understand this mentality, I still want to see the backup play a whole quarter because he too has to feel comfortable if called upon in week 2.

Win or lose at tOSU, I would still like to see each of our four QBs play a whole quarter against Stoney Brook.


Pre-season hype over the top here, but I want to see the Ducks up by 21 at the half, then play twos and threes in the second half, who may not run up the score, but will maintain the lead.

28 to 7 at the half, 42 to 21 final score, with lots of players seeing meaningful action. Go Ducks!

Now let’s watch them hang half a hundred on FS in a shutout! Wouldn’t that be fun?


Ducks need to win by 3 scores and have the backups playing by the middle of the third. Anything else should be considered unacceptable. IMHO.


For me, the key to the season will be how much playing time Spencer Curtis sees in this game, and how he performs when he gets in.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

OK….this Fish decided to take the bait and got hooked.

No. 25, WR, 5’11” 187 lbs.

What an interesting walk-on receiver! Yes he was a 2-Star who redshirted at Weber State before coming here, but he is the State of Utah all-time career leader for receiving yards, receptions and touchdown catches? Holy Crap!

This looks like a great story in the making to watch, and I love bringing a guy like this in who can defy the ranking experts and just get open and make catches.

I will watch for him and thanks for bringing this to us, as indeed….you are one WiseKwacker!

Dwayne Stanford and Marcus Mariota in open field_Kevin Cline.jpg

Yeah, don’t mean to belittle Curtis. His name just jumped out at me when examining the depth (organizational) chart. I’d never heard of the guy. He must’ve really shown something during practices to even be included as a 3rd stringer. I wonder if he’ll show up on special teams, since he’s gotta make up for his lack of size with some crazy athletic skills.

Also, I’m a bit curious why Devon Williams hasn’t emerged as a starter by now. Any word about why he’s being passed by the younger guys?

Finally, the “H” (slot) receiver group is LOADED. For Kris Hutson to be 3rd on the depth chart really says something about the talent there.


Aaron Smith is my pick for getting into a blowout.


Is Oregon going to beat Ohio State? Rece Davis thinks so, and so does Desmond

Jon Sousa

No such thing except in the minds of the players and coaches.

What happens in the fans’ minds will not affect the play on the field.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Darn right Jon!


You mean wearing my hat backwards, my lucky socks and always singing the national anthem has no influence on the outcome of the game?!?
Say it ain’t so, Joe.

Steven A

I think it was more of a thank you for picking against his mortal enemies than necessarily agreeing.


I think FS is better than just a middling Mt. west team and a perfect team for us to start with. They picked up a few key players from the portal and return most key starters from last year. This should be just what the players need to get season ready in a hurry.

I believe that Brown will have a solid performance and make all of us here at FD very happy. I believe the team believes in him and the results will show it.

I am a bit nervous but in the end I believe the Ducks finish strong and run away from the Bulldogs in the 2nd half.
45 – 14.


Preseason optimism is in full gear for me. I think we get a solid victory. DeRuyter’s defense will force Fresno State to play catch up ball and we will start to play on a short field in the 2nd half.

Moorehead’s offense will move the ball efficiently. Fresno States defense will get tired and we close out the game with our backup QB.

Final score Ducks 48 Fresno 24.


Oregon needs to make a statement in the opener against Fresno State, a middling Mountain West team at best. Anything less than a dominating win will not instill the necessary confidence going into possibly the most important game of the season against Ohio State. I say “important” in terms of Oregon’s playoff aspirations.

A strong performance in Columbus, not necessarily a win, keeps Oregon in the conversation, but it also makes each game after that doubly important, and unfortunately the Ducks have shown a propensity to stumble at the most in opportune times. And this season’s road schedule will be a huge challenge. But getting through it unscathed will only bolster the Ducks’ chances to make the final four.

I am predicting a 42-24 victory where fans are not completely satisfied with either side of the ball. “The offense should have scored more, and the defense should have given up less,” is the mantra I would expect to hear.

Mind you–that score would be just fine, but I am referring to the expectations, and if you are going to lift your scoring average, or really have the great game that helps your points-allowed average–this is one of those games to do it.

Nonetheless, this will be a great way to prepare for Ohio State, as the opponent is tough, but not too tall for the first game.

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David Marsh

I’d be ok with that score if we see a decent amount of the twos on the field.

As I’ve suggested previously the coaching teaching preparation and resulting mental competence will say a lot about how the Ducks fare.

How many unforced errors? How many missed reads at QB? How many undiagnosed assignments on Defense? These and more will determine how fast and cohesive the Ducks play.

Physical mistakes happen, mental mistakes are entirely preventable.

I expect that the talent disparity should be significant enough to eek out a victory.

But how prepared will the Ducks be to come out in the first quarter and play well? To Dominate on both sides?

That trait has NOT been a hallmark of MC football to date.

Not to overlook week one but we know what happens when teams get down early against championship caliber programs.

The Ducks need to show they can come out early, be motivated not just hyped up, and execute.

I totally agree that the greatest improvement can often be seen between weeks one and two. But if you poo in your pants week one, clean jockeys won’t be enough to win in the shoe.


Turnovers and 3rd downs is what I am watching. Can the defense create turnovers, and create points off turnovers. On offense I want to see our TE’s be unstoppable on 3rd down. Maybe even an explosion play on 3rd down to one of our great WR’s.

The other critical item is our QB needs to look solid, even spectacular. If not, calls for the crowd favorite will only get louder, the back-up qb. This will also be extremely important for the game Cristobal is trying to play with the qb’s. He wants to keep all his talent happy. If Brown struggles at all, there will be rumblings within the team and that won’t be healthy. It is paramount for Brown to come out and be the man, if not the season will be interesting to say the least.

A win and points scored, allowed will be important, but going forward there are other important items this team needs to take care of. Creativity and execution on 3rd down is probably the most important item. Upsets and low scoring are outcomes of not being able to execute on 3rd down. Turnovers are also important, or you won’t have a chance against a more talented tosu. Which way is the ball going to bounce this season?


If as you suggest there are “rumblings” within the team if Brown “struggles at all” then the season is doomed and there is a deeper culture problem with cohesiveness and it will not only not be “healthy” as you suggest but will suggest that there really isn’t “buy in” from the majority of players.

I sure hope by now MC has instilled a culture of accountability and developed a level of unity that can transcend a bad performance by an individual player and not devolve the players into pseudo coaches thinking they should be worrying about or discussing who plays when and where. It would be the ultimate sign of cultural breakdown.


There are always culture problems, losing to lesser talent is just one sign there are issues. I am not saying Oregon is a wreck nor immune from issues. I will say if Brown struggles, instincts will come into play, and some factions will arise around different players.

You will see this in the fanbase first. Your right, a little struggle won’t be lethal to the teams chemistry. Every player wants to be able to make a few mistakes and have support. The problem will be if Brown underperforms then the pressure will increase.

We have been fortunate to have had some extremely talented qb’s take over the program. If we don’t see that, the expectation will be somebody just behind Brown can be. Something to watch, not just the scoreboard, and I hope Brown is the man!


Brown’s performance is definitely important, especially as the starting QB, there can’t be issues of, “Is he the guy” going into the Ohio State game. Of course it’s also the case that a strong performance by Brown will galvanize his support.


Outside of a fumble and a couple of deep balls that were a little off, Brown has played well at Oregon. He played better than a lot of ‘star’ players last season.

I am more worried about the O line, Sewell, Funa, Verdell, Stevens, Bennett than I am about Brown.

The only way that I could see Brown struggling is if he can’t run Moorhead’s offense.


Agree completely, Darren, the common thought is that the biggest jump in performance is from week 1 to week 2; but that doesn’t mean that in week 1 the Ducks just get by Fresno State and expect to rise up to take down Ohio State. It’s what we’ve discussed here for a long time now, the Ducks, and Mario have to develop the mindset that laying waste to the other team is the objective.


First of all I am grateful to have Ducks football again. As far as the game goes, I agree with you. Scoring over 40, even 50+, would be good.

Holding the Bulldogs to 20 or under is also a statistic to shoot for. 10 or less will be something to celebrate should the D do it.

I have high expectations and likely will have to adjust at some point in the season.

Love these Ducks!