Ducks Must Avoid the Big Letdown

Darren Perkins Editorials 55 Comments

Arizona in 2018. Arizona State in 2019. Cal and the Beavers in 2020. All games in which the Ducks were the better team but did not show up to play and lost. 

If ever there was a season to go undefeated in the Pac-12, this would be it. Quite simply, the conference stinks, while the Ducks are ascending into becoming one of college football’s premier powers. True, the Ohio State win probably affords the Ducks the right to lose one game and still make the College Football Playoff, but best not go that route. 

While Fresno State is proving to be a quality opponent, it’s safe to say Oregon did not play near the level they are capable of playing in that game. And even though the Stony Brook game turned into a blowout, the sputtering the Ducks did in the first half could spell disaster against a better team. 

Moving forward this season, the Ducks will possess the superior players and coaches in every game they play. Other teams cannot beat the Ducks. The Ducks can only beat themselves. 

Therefore, I hereby declare that the next step in the evolution of Mario Cristobal as a head coach is to avoid The Big Letdown.

Darren Perkins
Spokane, WA
Top photo credit: Craig Strobeck

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

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The New USC Coach is….

I was driving to an appointment and heard John Canzano give his take on this–and I think it is a very wise one.

First he said that a reliable source in La-La Land reported that Mario Cristobal is THE target of the Trojans. The concern is that Mario’s current contract of 4.5 million could get buried by the money that USC or other programs will throw at him. (The Penn State Coach is getting 8 million!)

But Canzano doesn’t believe that Mario ends up at Heritage Hall, because of the process and connections. He stated that usually an AD will use an Executive Search firm because they know all the people, the agents and the back-channels to get the negotiations started while the AD can truthfully claim ignorance.

But USC hasn’t hired a Search Firm. When that happens it is because the AD already knows who he wants, and it isn’t Mario. Since the USC AD came from Cincinnati….and they are in the Top-10 and he knows Coach Luke Fickell well…it seems apparent.

Now Bearcat fans can sweat instead!

Ducks celebrate_Oregon Athletics Twitter.jpg

There is a lot of chatter about how bad the pac12 is….

Well, a lot of that is because BYU and Fresno St are good teams.

Some pac12 teams are in the toilet like Az, Colorado, Wazzu, but those teams have new coaches they need time to get better.

Right now, Alabama and Georgia are great, Florida is very good, and everybody else has problems.

But, if bama, Ga, Fl and Notre Dame make the playoffs with losses, and an undefeated Oregon gets left out, I will lose my mind.


And AZ did play BYU fairly close.


I don’t see a letdown with this group of players – they ‘want it’ really bad.

I do an issue with replacement linebackers and edge rushers not being ready for the task. The team needs to get them meaningful snaps as the season progresses.


Exactly what this game with Arizona is for.


And the last one too. A bunch of them got in late.


The other item is turnovers, we have a nice turnover margin at this time, 3 games into the season.

Last year we lost games because of, in large part, turnovers. We had 3 fumbles against ISU! Last years starter, Shough has 6 tds., 2 int., AB 4 tds. and 0 int., this season so far. I’m grateful we have AB as our qb!

We need to keep taking care of the ball, and create turnovers on defense. If this happens then the ‘let down’ won’t happen.

Luckily we have a new DC who knows how to create turnovers. We also have a qb who is a much more poised qb. We also need special teams and our RB’s to hold onto the ball!

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

The difference is crazy…AB limiting the mistakes and we have FRESHMEN ripping the ball out–thanks to DeRuyter. I really didn’t think it could change much, and I’m glad I was wrong!

Watching Noah wrap guys up and rip the ball out is a thing of beauty, Go Ducks!


I’m amazed at the progress made by Sewell from last season to this season, it’s like night and day. Sewell looked completely lost last season. The lack of practices due to Covid probably didn’t help matters, so he got a pass. This season, he’s our answer to stopping any RB cold in his tracks. I’ve been rather impressed with the defense’s tackling as a whole.

Jon Joseph

Charles, thank you for the SC/Mario update.

I do not think Mario will take the SC job.

But the Miami job? The Canes fans are not happy with Manny Diaz. 1-2 and could easily be 0-3.

Chance for Mario to return his alma mater to glory without having to deal with the meat grinder that is the SEC.

And talk about a recruiting hot bed!

Jon Joseph

Further, Miami is not in the same division with Clemson + FSU.

With 8 regular season games and 2 cross over games, Miami does not play Clemson all that often.

UNC is in the same division and on occasion Miami would draw Notre Dame.

A Miami booster under the no holds barred NIL we see today, is paying every player on the Miami roster $500 a month. Miami returns to form and there would be many the NIL opportunity in south Florida.

Not only would it be a blow if Mario left, how many guys on the roster would portal along with him?

Miami has the resources to big time increase Mario’s salary. No state income tax in Florida and no COL shock like moving to LA. Miami assistant coaches can afford housing near the university.

Of course, Mario has multitude family and friends living in the area.

A move to the U concerns me more than a move to USC.

David Marsh

Miami would still have to go through Clemson to get to the playoff… that is a harder road than what Oregon has right now.


Mario strikes me as a more thoughtful person than someone such as Taggart (who is much more opportunistic…in a less than good way). He has so much going for him with Oregon, multiple stacked top 10 recruiting classes, supportive AD, enthusiastic fanbase, and enormous resources from Uncle Phil and Nike.

Not to mention he’s taking advantage of Oregon’s good reputation of success with the current crop of high schoolers who have only good memories of the Ducks. Plus it sounds like he and his family love it in Eugene. His contract buy-out is also $9+ million right now. I don’t think he leaves unless it’s the absolute perfect scenario and both Miami and USC are decidedly far less than perfect.

David Marsh

If the Miami job was really the dream job Mario could have taken it years ago. Oregon fans were having a freak out the last time the Canes job opened up because everyone expected Mario to bolt. He didn’t even consider an interview.

The major factors in Oregon’s favor right now are that he and his family love Eugene by all accounts, this is a huge plus. Oregon has the resources he needs and wants to build a top tier program. Cristobal wants to win a National Championship as head coach and Oregon is four years into his tenure and is starting to see some major dividends on his recruiting… and it is ONLY going to get better because the reliance on underclassman will star to reduce as the underclassman become upperclassmen and the new underclassmen get a chance to see the field in a limited capacity.

If Cristobal wanted Miami for the location he would have at least interviewed the last time around. He didn’t. Both USC and Miami would be massive rebuilds, there is some good talent on those rosters but its not in the right places for what Cristobal wants. USC has surrendered the offensive line recruiting in the west since Cristobal arrived at Oregon and has sold out the run to be an air raid offense, this doesn’t gel with Cristobal at all.

Miami might seem like it might be an easier location but he would have to contend with Clemson. If he were to go to USC he would have to contend with an Oregon program HE BUILT that is then run by someone else. He is leading the top team in a Power-Five conference right now… leaving will only set his goals back and is unlikely to make him or his family any happier.

Jon Joseph

I only hope you and the others who do not believe that Miami could be in Mario’s future are SPOT ON!

Clemson certainly does not look all that this season. And most years if Miami was to play Clemson it would be in the ACC Champ game.

Looking at the divisions in the ACC, today it would be UNC that would be the annual tough game.

Are you certain that Mario’s buy out is $9M? That’s a bit north of what I thought it was?

Everything everyone says about his attachment to Oregon rings true. But he is a competitor and Miami is Alma Mammy..

Love Eugene? Why not, it’s a great place. But back to Miami a city he knows well is a lot different than would be tripping to LA.

Again, I hope he stays in Eugene for many the moon.


this just seems like another usc misfire. there’s zero chance mario leaves for sc. the fact that they don’t understand that and are just looking at the obvious choice means they’re going to mess it up again.


Mario isn’t going anywhere, as David stated, he already turned down the canes once. If that was his ‘dream job,’ haven’t we heard that before, he might have already left.

The problem with leaving, which didn’t affect the last guy, is his integrity would be shot. Mario oozes integrity, that is who he is. He may not be a river boat gambler, as many wish he was, but he is a man of his word. The word is he wants to bring a natty to Oregon.

He is on his way to his goal. I think he realizes that is a special opportunity too. Too many coaches have left, like slick, and regretted it, Mario isn’t that guy.

My bet is sc isn’t letting out their list of candidates, which undoubtedly included Mario. What we are seeing is pundits guessing, and creating buzz. Bohn will still screw it up, but we haven’t seen the real list yet.


For the time being all is good with Mario being on the list of all coach openings, that means he’s doing a great job. Hear any noise about any program wishing they could take Lake away from U-Dud? I also agree with the sentiments above about Mario having integrity.

USC wouldn’t have given him the time of day when Oregon hired him, and I think he appreciates that. The family is having a great time here, he’s building a culture, his culture, at Oregon; he won’t stop until hr has that championship, and then he’ll want another one.

And I just think that with the fans in LA for the Trojans, a guy named Fickell makes sense.


great point


yeah—exactly right.

Jon Joseph

Hope you are right my friend. Was he in fact offered the Miami job 3 years ago?

David Marsh

I don’t think he was offered the job outright… But he refused an interview outright.

That’s not the same thing but pretty close.


An offer from Miami would be concerning. It would be hard to beat the allure of returning home, especially if he has family there. We already lost a few coaches to the desire to be closer to family. Frost, Taggart and Donte Williams are the most recent ones that come to mind. If Mario has parents or grandparents in Miami, then you couldn’t blame him for wanting to spend more time with them and assist them in their golden years.

Nevertheless, it would be a darn shame for him to walk away now and not see his baby, the Oregon Ducks, whom he helped nurture and groom, to see just how far he could take the Ducks. All the drastic changes that came with transforming Oregon’s spread offense to a more pro-style offense, did not come without its growing pains and a lot of deep reflection, on the identity and overall direction of the program.

His vision was/is to transform the Ducks into a big, physical, SEC-like team who is built to compete with the Alabamas of the college football world. The ultimate goal being to lead Oregon to winning its first national championship. We are starting to see the fruits of his labor and his influence on this program finally pay off.

The OSU game was the first real indicator that the Ducks are heading in the right direction and showed that they are capable of matching a top team’s physicality. And the Ducks did it, without two of their most physically gifted players, KT and Flowe.


Post Stony Brook I don’t consider any remaining opponents as sure wins. Being ranked in the top five makes the target on your back much larger. Can’t think of any season where there was at least one game where the UO lays an egg (same can be said for most all teams). Now if Mr Heat Seeking Missile (aka Justin Flowe) could miraculously heal tomorrow, I’d have a lot more confidence going forward.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Flowe’s speed is amazing, as I think he is faster than Sewell.

And Jackson…you are new here and want to encourage you to post your thoughts often. WELCOME!


So I see the 3 wins so far as all being different, but educational.
A G5 top tier team.
A P5 top tier team.
A low level FCS program with nothing to lose who played hard all game.

In all 3 we did not play our best game, but still won. In all 3 we were missing key defensive players. Some players have had to move to different positions. It’s clear the offense has yet to really click in any game with AB being really accurate.
But we see the potential. It’s right there.
A poor block, lost concentration for a dropped pass, an O-line miscue, a late defensive call, all these and others have stopped plays from being more explosive, even stopped drives.

I think David Marsh nailed it, our young team is developing leaders. Maturity comes from experience. Last year was a very shortened season, every game helps.
These past few games have given valuable learning experience. I’m hoping they help lift us over the big letdown we’ve seen in the past.

We should expect every teams best. We are the ones with the target on our backs.


I really don’t like to give Clemson any credit, but one thing they’ve done very well under Dabo is beating the teams they’re much better than, which has meant 90% of their schedule. Alabama has been much better than their schedule as well, but not to the degree which has been handed Clemson.

As the praise for Saban rolls out the most significant aspect is the success they’ve had over unranked teams. They don’t have a sputter like the Ducks had against Fresno State or Stony Brook. They get on top early and stay there. This seems to be the last step in culture building for Mario.

Jon Joseph

Since Saban’s 1st season at Bama the Tide has not lost to an unranked opponent. Amazing.

Dabo came close to being embarrassed at home last week against Georgia Tech but the D held on for a W. The Clemson O to date has been awful.

Not sure that this Clemson team runs the ACC table? Saturday at NC State could be a tough game.

I am in total agreement that to dominate in a conference you cannot play down to the level of poorer competition.

The only other blue chip roster in the Pac-12 besides Oregon’s is that of USC. The majority of Oregon’s conference opponents should not be hanging around until late in the 4th Q.

David Marsh

I think this should be a thing of the past soon. One of the biggest struggles Oregon has right now is developing enough experience to create real and meaningful player leadership. Oregon is still a young and inexperienced team and they will continue to gain experience they will all learn never to let their guard down. That’s hard to teach and can really only be learned from playing and veterans need to lead the way.

Amen Darren. It is a big task, but every team that makes the Playoff has had to defeat many great/ranked conference foes along with the gritty team that plays over-its-head in a contest.

Because the Pac-12 is so weak….this is a perfect opportunity. While I believe Oregon will be stronger in future years, so will the rest of the conference. Right now…it is embarrassing.

CJ Verdell scores_Oregon Football Twitter.jpg
Jon Joseph

Yes, avoid the let down and stop playing down to the level of the competition.

Playing down allows far inferior teams to stay in the game and no team wins every 1 score game.


Agree the collective talent at Oregon can’t be beat. The problem is there are situations where individuals can step up and beat the Ducks.

ASU beat us with Brandon Aiyuk, as we thought we were better than the team. Nobody on our team was better than Brandon, and that underestimation kill us at a critical juncture.

We also didn’t realize how good a freshman qb could be. Daniels lit us up when we didn’t get pressure on the young passer.

I think this might be our special sauce with DeRuyter calling the defense. DeRuyter knows how to bring pressure and has the ultimate weapon, Thibs.

I like DeRuyter’s prevent defense, but it must be laced with pressure on the qb. If we get pressure, real sacks, the game changes. We saw it early in the FSU game and hopefully this will be a theme for this team once the defense really hits it’s stride.

The problem will be when we start thinking we are better than a team and an individual has a career day. Oregon has a way of giving qb’s, and offensive threats career days. Can Deruyter stop this trend, I think he can.


It seems we give the believe a team can beat us, rather than putting the hurt on opposing teams, and making them realize they are outmatched.

The sack, in my opinion, is the statement move that you are beat. When a qb is sacked, the oline is beat, the qb hears footsteps every time he drops back, and the whole decision process gets messed up. In the past our DC didn’t seem to understand this, our talent level wasn’t there to make the sack, or something was right.

Between Thibs and Noah stopping a RB cold coming out of the backfield, this defense will be the difference maker against lesser talent. If that happens we can run the rest of the schedule. If the defense we saw against OSU shows up, all bets are off.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Agreed. A sack makes an impression by the defense that an explosion play does on offense.

Santa Rosa Duck

It looks like October 2nd in Palo Alto could be a test and if USC can play like they did against WSU with their hot Jaxson Dart QB they should make the conference championship game and that could be a test. GO DUCKS!

Jon Joseph

Great points Santa Rosa.

The game on The Farm this Saturday, UCLA at Stanford, should tell us a good deal about both programs.

UCLA. is 0-5 in its last 5 games as a ranked team vs unranked; lost a heart breaker to a very good G5 Fresno team. Will the run go to 0-6?

With its W over LSU and ranked at 24, I think it would be best for the conference and the Ducks for the Bruins to win on Saturday?

If Stanford wins it may come close but I don’t see the Cardinal making the top 25?

Knock wood, but an undefeated Oregon playing at a 1L, top 25, UCLA in the Rose Bowl would be the best situation in regards to the Ducks PO hopes. This matchup could have Game Day and FOX pregame potential?

Stanford was MIA vs a now ranked K ST. But with McKee at QB the Cardinal wasted an SC team that played like it wanted its coach to be fired and covered at Vanderbilt.

Saturday will be the 1st home game for Stanford in many a moon.

Which team is, or at least may be, legit?

Also of interest? How many fans will be in the stands? Games on Larry’s Network so most of the nation will not be able to watch.

Next week, the Ducks/Stanford play in the daylight on ABC. Hope that lots of Ducks fans trip to the game so the stadium is not embarrassingly empty?

Dart had an awesome start! But if Slovis is healthy who is QB1?. Could be a tough decision for Donte early on.

However, before believing Dart will hit the bullseye on every occasion, I need to see him do what he did in Pullman against a half decent football team?

At Notre Dame is a heck of a lot different than playing in front of a half empty stadium on the Palouse.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Whoa. Great point Jon, as that game will tell us all a ton.

I fear that as weak as the conference could end up…the only chance that Oregon has to be in the Playoff is to win-out. I do not think we get in with even one loss now…


A 1 loss conference solo champion has never been left out of the playoffs. 2014 TCU and Baylor shared the conference title.

However, I never like giving anybody a reason to leave us out. Go undefeated and it is guaranteed playoff time.


If I recall correctly, Slovis looked amazing in the 1st half against us in his rookie campaign. 2nd half, he looked like a rookie.
I see the same with Dart. I call it beginners luck. Now the expectations he puts on himself to equal that 1st performance will work against him. If healthy, Slovis starts.

David Marsh

We also don’t know how bad WSU is… they could very well be very bad and USC was able to use superior athletes to bully a bad WSU team.

J Duck

Oregon will be up for the fluff poodles up north, and the civil war after losing last year, same with Cal, both at home. I think they will own Utah. WSU always brings it but I think that won’t be an issue at home either. Stanford, on the road…David Shaw is a brilliant and classy coach and that’s one where I hope we are pumped up and ready. sUCLA is another one, they have some talent even though Chip can’t recruit. There will be hype and drama that week, we need to play like it’s the conference title game and execute.

The conference title game could be a re-match with the baby boo-boo’s in Vegas, and beating a team twice is always harder, or maybe it’s USuC… the LA showdown will be huge this year. I don’t see any other team from the south coming out. UT and ASU aren’t there, Colorado isn’t either.

But as you say, any given week’s Pac-12 weakling can surprise if we don’t play like every week is a playoff game, which it is in reality. We can’t overlook anyone, it sure felt like they were overlooking Stoney Brook in the first half. I feel bad for AZ (not really) as Oregon will have something to prove and the mildcats will fall to 0-4 this week in a big way.


Some columnist I read themed the situation just right: Cristobal needs to make every Duck understand that due to their incredible start the team is now ALREADY IN THE PLAYOFF. Every game is now essentially a national playoff elimination game.


That is a most excellent way to put it.


Fingers crossed that their “1-0” mantra for each game will help prevent any letdowns!