Is Mario Cristobal the Next Les Miles?

Darren Perkins Editorials 85 Comments

Find this content useful? Share it with your friends!

With all the negative vibes surrounding the Mario Cristobal offense, I couldn’t help but think back to a few years ago when a once-highly-successful coach of the LSU Tigers was run out of Baton Rouge for also being “offensively challenged.”

Les Miles, best known for being the head coach at LSU from 2005-2016, was also a lover of the “shove it down your throat” style of offense. And during the first half of his tenure, a conservative ball control offense matched with a suffocating defense was a winning formula. It was this style of play (along with Dennis Dixon’s knee injury) that led the Tigers to the 2007 national championship.

As the 2010s progressed, the entire college football world was following Chip Kelly and the Oregon Ducks’ lead in implementing creative, up-tempo, and spread offenses. But, Miles failed to adjust, and by 2016 his stubbornness had cost him one of the premier jobs in all of college football.


Les Miles lost his job because he was too stubborn to open up his offense.

What would cause such a highly successful football coach to ignore what was happening to the very game integrated into every fiber of his body? Alabama had adjusted. Clemson had adjusted. Ohio State had adjusted. The very best of the best had made the switch from a conservative to a wide-open offensive attack and were consistently challenging for titles.

But there was Miles, still obsessed with three yards and a cloud of dust.

Miles had played offensive guard from 1972-1975 at Michigan under legendary coach Bo Schembechler. After his playing days he made his way up the ranks as most college coaches do. He spent 12 years as an offensive line coach at Colorado and Michigan before being promoted to offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State, where within a few years he became the head coach before his stint at LSU.

Hmmm… a head football coach who was once an offensive lineman in college, who then became an offensive line coach before becoming an offensive coordinator and then ultimately scoring a head coaching gig. A coach who was an excellent recruiter and who had a charismatic personality, and was obsessed — to a fault — with dominating in the trenches.

Sound familiar?


Cristobal’s offensive woes had Oregon fans salivating over what they saw from Chip Kelly’s UCLA squad last Saturday night.

Of course, unlike Miles, Cristobal has not had quite the success on the national stage. So, if a guy who has fared well in the SEC and led his team to two national championship games while having won one can get fired for failing to adjust, it would seem to reason that a guy who hasn’t had that same success could also get fired.

Also, Eugene isn’t Baton Rouge and the Ducks are not in the SEC. If Cristobal won a national title, barring a complete meltdown, he could pretty much write his own checks at Oregon for the rest of his life. But he hasn’t, and the Oregon natives are growing restless and will apply pressure. No matter how successful a coach has or hasn’t been, that is in the past, and an eye must always be kept on the present and future.

Cristobal is known for his tremendous work ethic, arriving at the office at 4 a.m. and putting in 20 hour days. This is admirable. But, at some point, the phrase “work smarter, not harder” has to come into play. Playing tough in the trenches is great, but if you’re not developing successful offensive schemes, not putting playmakers in a position to succeed, and not taking advantage of what the defense is giving you — then it is all for naught.

Time to marry the hard work with the smart work, Mario, and that time is now before you follow into the next phase of the career path of Les Miles.

Darren Perkins
Spokane, WA
Top photo credit: Twitter

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

Are you in the MINORITY Defending Cristobal?

For the past three years of Cristobal–anyone critical of him on other sites was in the minority, and was quickly maligned into silence. On this site we had some vociferous posters, (such as yours truly) who brought up valid concerns, and the balance grew to about 50/50, and now that has shifted.

The majority view here is now critical of Cristobal, and while I support that view, (of his offense, not everything) and want to remind those who support-him-no-matter-what that your view is welcome here and you will be protected.

Nobody on FishDuck has gone after anyone for an opposing view recently, but I know how it is; when you are in the minority–you are reluctant to state your thoughts.

Please do, and know that everyone will still be “polite and respectful” to you.

Think about it my friends…since September 1st we have had 456 comments, and even with a low 1% deletion rate, I should have had to delete four of them in the last five days.

Nope. None. In fact we have gone nearly six months and had 4,082 comments, and again a low 1% deletion rate should have been 40 deleted comments in that time.

We’ve had two. This is a miracle on the web, and I am so grateful for this unique community. It is so fun to read the thoughtful and carefully crafted posts here, and I’m glad to learn from so many of you.

Take a bow everyone, and lets keep up the vigorous discussion as we welcome ALL VIEWS!

Cristobal and Joe S. KC FP.jpg

I think Cristobal is just a few steps away from having it all. Our defense needs work, but the players are there, and the defense is still new. With a continued effort in recruiting the best possible defensive players, this defense could be one of the greatest at Oregon. At least we are seeing the kind of defense we like/need coming to fruition.

However, like you’ve pointed out so well, so often, this offense needs to evolve for this regime to take us to the promise land. I firmly believe you are correct in your careful, and thoughtful analysis regarding the offensive woes, and I’ll continue to preach the same.

(Although, not as eloquently) Others may disagree, and I’ll respect them for it, for I truly believe that diverse thinking is best for all, and I’m open to new lines of thought brought here by other fellow Duck fans. (And all others)

Now, this coming Saturday would be a great time for that offensive evolution. I wanna have one of those rare ’06 Oklahoma/ ’07 Michigan moments!

Go Ducks!

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Thank you. I need this encouragement, and want to be able to say later….“you were right.”

Die Yankees Die

I think a more apt comparison would be Brady Hoke. He was so stubborn in sticking to the power-I, “three feet and a cloud of dust” offense it bordered on masochistic. I think it was a knee jerk counter-reaction to what Rich Rod tried to do. Half of Michigan boosters revolted at the new, flashy offense Rich Rod tried to implement. Twas a sick joke that we actually brought Hoke on board at Oregon after his abysmal record at Michigan.

Either way. Cristobal reminds me of Hoke with the main difference being Cristobal actually wears his headphones on the sidelines. So he’s even more stubborn than Hoke. Yikes. Same inept in-game coaching. Same clock problems. Same unenlightened play calls. Same temerity in grasping to leads. I do not think this will end well. Still, GO DUCKS and crush the poisonous nuts (buckeyes) to the south.

Full disclosure: I live in Detroit and have one foot in the Michigan world. Anyone going to the game in Columbus: look for my neon green and yellow Oregon canopy if you’re looking for a tailgate. Free beer!

I had no idea what Hoke was like as the HC at Michigan….only that he had never been a DC before and that became obvious at Oregon.


Everybody is on Cristobal including me but…..Remember, Moorhead was great when he had Saquon Barkley.

He had some tight games against lesser teams too.

Penn St had really good O and D lines in those days.

Also Penn St had a very very good backup QB

How was he at Miss St?

Thoughts to ponder


I like it but a little premature just yet. Mario needs learn especially with the great recruiting. Now he needs to let his assistants do their jobs. I’m quite sure we will all see a different team on asaturday.


The O line guys are all MC’s recruits. He works with them more than with any other group. At some point, he has to take responsibility for their success or lack thereof. His game management skills ( or lack thereof) still concern me.

This is then year we need to show that our offense can play at the level we need them to. IMO, they have not done so…yet. I’m not screaming for a change—-yet. Even against Ohio State, we must look like we belong, even if that ends in a loss. Let the OC have complete control of the offense- which I am not sure is happening.

I remember the screeching about Helfrich…..whose offense scored more than MC’s. If he had to go….why not MC?

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Helfrich’s issues were not on offense, I agree, but his insistence on retaining Brady Hoke as DC is one of a few other factors that brought about his downfall, IMHO.

Helfrich offenses could score and in 2016, he had primarily a RS Freshman Offensive line and no help at all from the defense.


Great article! Very well reasoned! Unfortunately, for Cristobal, if “Plan A” ain’t working, he has shown no ability to be dexterous enuf to have any type of “Plan B”…….and, it’s quite plain that “Plan A” ain’t working! As you so aptly pointed out, very similar to Les Miles path down…..and out!

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

We are hoping that “Plan-B” is allowing Moorhead to do what he did at Penn State…

Duck Phan Phil

I’ll answer Mr FishDuck’s call to sunshine pumpers and offer this ponder point: isn’t it still too early to give up hope that MC has handed the offensive reins to Moorhead and that Moorhead might still unleash a potent offense?

Last year’s offense was disappointing, but Moorhead didn’t get to do a full install. This year we’ve played one game. It’s possible Moorhead wrote a dumbed-down script. and also possible the team’s grasp was poor following the first full install. Maybe there are personnel changes to be made that will allow the offense to take flight.

To my eye—and I haven’t rewatched the game—our O line really struggled. In the past I recall our line making quantum leaps. If that happens, our QB gets time to look downfield.

Even vs Fresno there was huge improvement in the 4th quarter, mainly in the run game, but the success on the ground would likely have opened up the downfield passing had we needed it. I really believe if we had started another game against Fresno immediately after the real game we would have been much happier with our offense.

Ohio State is gonna be rough sledding. You never know, but even a sound defeat could bear a silver lining by opening up competition at QB. Equal opportunities for TT and AB against Stonybrook could allow TT his opportunity and usher in a new era of offensive firepower.

There is hope, folks.

Your points are extremely reasonable and entirely plausible. Thanks Duck Phan…


It’s not the QB…

Shough was really bad. Brown executes plays that have a chance.


I’ve wondered several times why we got such good WR’s to come to Oregon now, next year too. And then I see TT, and JB and even AB in the qb room, and I think, ” I get it, MC plans to open up the passing game!”.
And yet, not yet. Why?

I think y’all nailed it, using Brown is the safe move, and Cristobal plays safe.
Kelly was the riverboat gambler, and that ain’t MC’s style.
The other point made is that he gotta let his horses run, side to side, spread the D out. Playing in a “phone booth” is not working. Maybe cuz kids today don’t know what a phone booth is, I mean, it’s cell phones and roaming. Let the boys roam!

If Brown isn’t more accurate on Saturday, then it should be reason enough to start someone else against Stonybrook.


That’s fascinating. If Mario did indeed make that decision, there would be some evidence to support it, I believe. In this case DT would be the veteran QB who, “wouldn’t make mistakes”. But also had a lot of talent, could run, or stay in the pocket tuntil the last mili-second, and he was a winner.


Sorry 30 Duck, did not even see this post. But YEA, agree 100% with you. Marcus was a leader, had the height, passing, running but saw the field better than DT. But DT was so much better than Brian Bennett as a leader, he was a blue collar guy too.


That may not be a good comparison. DT in his two years starting was 24-3. DT was a leader, he completed passes by standing in the pocket and delivering the ball at the last second to allow his receivers to get separation before he got leveled. Marcus, had speed over DT but you can’t teach guts and both had that. If anything, Chip saw more options with Marcus and everyone would agree.

In my opinion, DT hurt himself by electing to go early in the draft. Even as a back up, he would have honed his skills better for the NFL. He struggled to get opportunities and clean up his short comings. I thought he was as good a leader as Dennis Dixon, not the speed of Dixon but showed throwing potential. But the NFL, will eat you up and it did him. And I know Marcus got Oregon to the First CFPNC in 2014 but he lost by 22 points to the Ohio State. While DT kept his team in the game losing to a last second field goal to Auburn in the 2011 BCS game.


I want to add another thing about Chip. He knew his opponents almost as much as he knew his own players.
That’s why he could coach like a riverboat gambler.


AP Poll. The Ducks dropped one, to 12, UCLA debuted at 16, and Washington fell out completely, didn’t even receive votes.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

So sweet! Now we gotta beat them bad in Seattle…

I think even our offense can outscore theirs!


One of the differences in today’s football besides the wide-open offenses most teams run is that the defenses are faster….better athletes than back in the day.

If all your passing game consists of is screens and dink and dunk routes it quickly gets smothered. Throwing the ball down the field is now a necessity and all things being equal you don’t leave your down the field throwers and speedy receivers on the sidelines.

To the contrary you play them….even if they’re younger and you have and attachment to your vets. You design an offensive scheme that forces today’s faster defenses to defend the entire field….yes you need to run the ball but 67% of the time?….it’s a recipe for failure.

Football, like all things in life, evolves….those who adapt succeed and those who persist in being stubbornly wrong fail. Hopefully after spending the holiday weekend watching UCLA football highlights MC has had an epiphany.

Next year Oregon will have a monster roster – assuming the stars don’t transfer after the coming 3-4 loss season. They’ll also have an inexperienced QB – if he doesn’t transfer to a school that throws the football – which is a shame as his inexperience will be costly.

And un-necessary. This can be fixed…the roster has the talent. Go to Ty Thompson, go to a down the field throwing game, use Franklin and Thornton and Brevard and Devon Williams as the primary outside receivers….use Hutson and Seven….do the speed thing. Make the game fun.

Or persist in the dinosaur offense with Anthony Brown, who I’m sure is a good kid….but this is Power Five Football where winners are rewarded and non-winners are forced to move on…..the problem with this team isn’t personnel, culture or facilities…it’s scheme and the coaches who won’t adapt.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

RkyMtnGuy–good stuff about the shorter passing routes.

As for the QB thing? If Brown is run between the tackles that often every game–we will see a new QB in the game soon enough.

Perhaps that is the strategy? You have so many QBs that you can do that? (I have no idea, as I’ve given up trying to figure MC out)


I believe he is often stubborn too, to old to give a hoot, if you know what I mean.

Flowe Named Pac-12 Freshman of the Week

EUGENE, Ore. — Linebacker Justin Flowe was named the Pac-12 freshman of the week on Tuesday for his standout performance in Oregon’s 31-24 season-opening win over Fresno State. 

Flowe led the Ducks’ defense with a whopping 14 tackles in his first career start, including five solo takedowns. The Chino, Calif., native also had a tackle for loss and forced a crucial fumble that set up a game-tying field goal for Oregon in the fourth quarter. 

The first Pac-12 freshman of the week for the 2021 season, Flowe’s 14 tackles are the most by a UO freshman since Troy Dye had 14 on Sept. 21, 2016. He is the first Oregon player since 2007 and just the fourth since 2000 to record at least 14 tackles and force a fumble in the same game, and he is the eighth player in program history to have at least 14 tackles in a season opener.

Flowe leads the Pac-12 in tackles after week one, and he was one of four Ducks to force a fumble on Saturday. Flowe and the Ducks – who moved to No. 12 in the AP top-25 poll on Tuesday – will travel to Columbus, Ohio, to face No. 3 Ohio State this Saturday at 9 a.m. PT on FOX. 

Justin Flowe3_Eric Evans UO Athletics Twitter.jpg

His ceiling is so high not sure where he might end up as a defensive star. If you watch him he is lightening quick and extremely strong. The way he closes on players, and wraps them up is beyond elite, plays downhill at all times. If he becomes a positive leader on the team watch out!


This is a silver lining. He definitely flies to the ball, reminds me of Troy Dye for sure. I used to call Troy vampire because he almost moved like vampires do in all the movies…..well at least Bram Stokers Vampire, but I think I have seen it in other movies too :). Just kind of instantaneously apparate right on top of you.

Not to take anything away from his great game, but watch the first touchdown pass from Haener in the Fresno game. I believe Flowe was way out of position and blew the coverage allowing the touchdown. He kind of froze in his position and didn’t drift or back peddle fast enough to make a play on the flat slant route over the middle.

Hopefully he can improve in his zone pass coverage.

Jeremiah Geiger

Cristobal’s a great recruiter, but his offensive philosophy is frustrating beyond belief. MC has acquired all this talent on both sides of the ball, and you can only win by 7 points against Fresno St??

It’s my dream to see the Ducks hold up the trophy at the end of the year, and forever be etched into immortality.

I’m gonna be real. I dont think Cristobal can take Oregon there. Not with these play calls game after game, year after year. Not with Anthony Brown as starting QB. Start Ty Thompson against Ohio STate and the rest of the year!!! What’s there to lose? Nothing.

Does anyone here think Brown can lead this team to a national championship. I certainly don’t.

And if we’re being real with ourselves, can we honestly say that Cristobal will change? Are we Ducks fans truly confident in MC?

Because I’m not.


So great to see you back, do jump in often and “Amen” to your thoughts.


Cristobal will shift, nobody really changes. He has shifted before, but when pressed his ugly conservative self rises up, and does the extreme buzz kill for the fans.

We have seem more RPO, and innovative plays, and we will again this weekend. The problem is his underlying conservative self won’t allow for what everyone wants.

The fans want Cristobal recruiting and CK, substituting in freshman, and calling the plays, just not going to happen.

Everyone wants a gunslinger and we have a meticulous carpenter, who has a big hammer. A carpenter with a big hammer only sees nails to hit, and always refers back to the blueprints.


I dont trust this OL and their terrible blocking in passing situations (to include Webb;needs to be benched for his performance). I highly doubt we win this game with or without TT. So, there’s no need to throw a true freshman to the wolves in his first career start in the shoe against one of the best teams in CF. It could ruin his confidence and stunt his growth/potential. Roll w Brown at this point. This game is a gonner regardless. And then start TT the following week; a perfect tuneup to conference play.

Darren, this is a highly interesting article and I do appreciate the time taken to do the homework associated with the creation.

There is another example of a former offensive lineman who won a National Championship, only to fall out of favor. Tennessee has not yet recovered from firing Phil Fulmer, but then–who would want to wear all that orange?

If Mario took us to our first modern day National Championship…it would take quite a bit to fall out of favor!


My take on game one… Inconsistent OL play forced Brown to scramble early, and then when Brown had time in the pocket he seemed to lack patience, and threw inaccurately on some passes that should have been easy completions. Not a great combo.

Not sure about the Les Miles analogy. The team will sink or swim with QB1…whomever that might be…not too much unlike past teams…However, this year we have our future starting QB standing on the sideline.

Brown is who he is…I don’t expect him to all of the sudden to become a top pocket passing QB….I think with Brown we have upside to this offense if the OL can finally play a solid game, and he shows more patience and accuracy. At least I hope there is a lot more upside.

Probably not a great idea to start a freshman QB at the “shoe” for their very first game. If the OL doesn’t play better we will definitely have another QB…Brown just won’t survive long scrambling every other passing play.


Now HOLD on there Drake.

That OL is Mario and Mirabals baby. I am not sold on the QB’s and RB’s jelling with the OL just yet. (note sarcasm)


It is only 1 game, but I’m not confident we are going to see anything different from Mario and our offense. Offense is clunky. OLine had very little push. On multiple occasions I saw a Fresno St. defender unblocked in the back field just waiting for the run play to develop.

AB is not a starting QB for a playoff team. I personally would start TT vs tOSU. AB I thought had bad decision making on a ton of plays. Mario is going to stick with AB for too long. It will likely cost us at least 1 win this season. If TT is not the starting QB by Arizona, this is going to be a long season.

As a lot of people of previous people have said, maybe we were using vanilla plays, but vs Fresno St., that shouldn’t matter.

I would not want Mario’s face rubbed in the dust as Saul’s was, but perhaps some FishDuck Facts about his three years here?


I’ve been waiting to post on here before because I wanted to review the film a few times especially because at times I have been an avid defender of cristobal. First I do think this team can still consistently win, When reviewing the fresno state game, there wasn’t one issue that was the issue in how the game went. The offense stalled out due to a thousand little cuts. some were do to play call and most weren’t.

Just because the issues weren’t do to play calling doesn’t mean that play calling isn’t an issue. The current issue with the oregon offense isn’t that they plays are necessarily bad but that we do not have any plays designed to be explosive. I will repeat this a thousand times but explosiveness is more important than sustained drives. Again explosiveness is more important the sustained drives.

I would rather see RB’s take it to the house on 1st in 10 from oregon’s own 25 on every single drive than see sustained drives because sustained drives fail. perfectly scripted plays fail. sometime even the worst teams make a perfect defensive stop. It is this lack of explosion that can explain why we can beat USC et al. and still lose to Cal. This needs to change I don’t care how it is done, I don’t care if it is the chip offense or something else but the offense needs blood pumped in it.

Now let’s talk about the failings I saw from the offense.
First and foremost TE’s. They can not pass block, Webb was about the worse pass blocking TE that I have ever seen from oregon.

Second Offense line, in both the run and pass game, over half of the designed failed passing plays were because the oline the “benefit” here is that is spread across the line, this wasn’t caused by a single bad lineman bet because everyone made some egregious errors. (I still think sala should be a guard)

finally qb play. Overall Brown has really good decision making but he is wildly inaccurate at times. I am not a qb coach so and I know little of the mechanics of passing the ball but I think it stems from two issues. one his arm angles always seem to be really low and two he never has his fingers on top of the ball while passing it.

as an added bonus, our RB’s made some terrible reads until about the third quarter. they just couldn’t read the right hole on a number of the designed runs. but because they still picked up yards I doubt the coaching is hard on them.

If you are going to have a cristobal designed offense you can not have 3.5 issues the consistently present themselves because all three of these will kill drives. the only thing you can do to combat this is actually factoring explosiveness, throwing downfield on first and 10 pushing the safeties pack running sideline to sideline to spread out the lb’s.

Overall I would be careful comparing anyone to les miles because of his controversies.


I have mixed feelings about this oline… On the one hand it is your baby, even if it isn’t exactly how you want it should still be in pristine condition. This Oline is consistently just getting beaten up… I just don’t get how bad it is.

On the other hand injuries/medical retirement. first disregard the 2021 class most freshman aren’t ready to play in their first year even elite ones.

With that lets look at who cristobal has gotten.

2017(technically his first class as he would have been in charge of OL but I do believe this class deserves slack)(247 numbers)
George Moore OT JC19
Alex Forsyth OT 465
Cody Shear OG 951(transferred)
Ryan Walk PWO

Penei Sewell OG 57(Elite player in college in nfl now)
Steven Jones OG 246
Dawson Jaramillo OT 252
Christopher Randazzo OT 822 Medically retired
Justin Johnson OT 903 Medically Retired

Jonah Tauanu’u OT 63 Medically Retired
Mala Aumavae-laulu OT JC5
Logan Sagapolu OC 614 Did not join in 2019 served lds mission

Jonathan Denis OG 317 out with injury
TJ Bass JC21
Jaylan Jeffers 532
Marcus Harper 730
Faaope Laloulu 804

I mean this is just some really bad luck at Oline. In the three classes(17-19) that should be making up the bulk of our line oregon lost 25% to medical retirement, another joined post LDS mission and doesn’t really count, you have one that is a PWO and one in the nfl. This doesn’t even include the fact that Mala missed almost the entire offseason due to injury.

when you review the 2020 class both jeffers and Laloulu were going to need multiple seasons to get ready for play seeing as they both have a lot of work in the weight room. Jeffers was 260 and Laloulu was 390.

Overall it is hard to know what my expectations should be for this offensive line, I expect them to be better, I expect them to have better fundamentals but they also just aren’t going to be world beaters either.

On top of this I just find that some of our decisions in our line up against fresno made no sense. Jaramillo was by far the best OT, and should be a full time starter. Jones gets beat often but is better at OT. Mala is a much better OG and I really don’t understand why we keep moving him back and forth. and Walk is consistent but he just lacks the physical tools to play in a cristobal offensive line(He can’t get up hill and run block. Overall this oline should probably be Jaramillo, Bass, Forsyth, Mala, and jones from left to right.


First time, I have seen a break down of the OL Talent. I remember watching Greatwoods lines, specifically the FSU game in 2014. I watched as all the offensive linemen dropped to the ground, like in musical chairs and thought that was odd but looking back it was done quite frequently. And Oregon had highly touted running seasons with La Mike, Barner, DAT, Freeman and those that came before, JJohnson, Blount, Stewart, Morris to name a few. But I remember a lot of Greatwoods Line men would be down field blocking and celebrating with some of our running backs too. Fisher, Grasu, Johnstone, Hunt and the like.


So many hands in what goes on for a play, none of it working together to create a cohesive unit. It is like football chaos. That is leadership with no direction.

Darren is that why Spring games are done in the manner they have been. Instead of a real game format pitting equally divided teams. IMHO that would have exposed the coaching and showed the athletes with obvious talent.

This staff is bigger with more pieces than previous coaches had, I believe. Similar to Alabama, which makes sense but results matter. All the facilities, the specialists, conditioning/strength and planning mean nothing if you aren’t coaching, leading and evolving your team. It can’t be Arroyos fault, he has been gone for two years. Poor guy, he was easy to blame.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

“Due to a thousand cuts…” Amen UtahDuck, as the problems are so multiple that at times I cannot wrap my head around them all.

We are a mess on offense, IMHO.

For all the talk of “being physical,”–you would think it would show up versus a Fresno State?

Incredible post, and please keep sharing your thoughts.

Travis Dye plugged_Scott Kelley.jpg

The 2011 match-up of LSU and Oregon always gets me. I imagine how Oregon could have performed in that game had they had the caliber of recruits that were on LSU’s roster that year. Talent alone doesn’t win. The title game with Auburn also (painfully) comes to mind. MC needs to evolve his game, Oregon’s game, in order for the Ducks to succeed at the highest mark in the sport. It’s so obvious to just about everyone, yet …


Watching TV yesterday was kind of depressing. I kept seeing highlights of games where the offense moved the ball, and then I thought back to Oregon’s highlights…

UCLA came to mind. I wasn’t expecting Mario to unleash the blur. But what we saw against Fresno State was boring. the tOSU coaches are going to have to slap each other to stay awake during the film session. Anthony Brown as put in there because he isn’t going to make mistakes, so he’s going to play right into tOSU’s hands.

The Ducks aren’t going to out physical the Buckeyes. Dixon and the Ducks beat Michigan with sleight of hand. That isn’t in the cards for these Ducks, they have to play BIG. Big plays all the time. Controlling the clock, moving the chains isn’t going to get it done.

If the Ducks win the toss this time I want them to take the ball, and on first down, air it out. The Ducks have no chance if the Buckeyes know what they’re going to run. But, if they surprise them, maybe they can get in the end zone.

Actually–I think we could get our butts-kicked by Ohio State and still have a respectable season–due to the weakness of the conference.


WOW, Charles.

We had six winners and six losers. I did not expect Washington to lose, nor Cal. But I sure was happy for Chip, he is like one of ours, just a coach but still, one of ours. And I think we own Helton. Lol, reminds me of Sark, without the alcohol.

J Duck

All great points, agreed


The coaching carousel means a lot of work, dollars, and many changes that cause programs to backslide with little to show for it. Keep MC, let the OC call the plays, swap out OCs if they can’t get ‘er done. That model has worked at ‘Bama very well.


It only took Helf 1 losing year to lose his job, and that’s a guy who coached Oregon to not 1, but 2 national title games. Oregon has shown that they will make changes if necessary. Although, I don’t see that happening at all. Just that it could happen.

J Duck

MC’s recruiting chops are reason to keep him, the family atmosphere, etc. BUT as NW777 said, let the OC call the plays, swap if it doesn’t work. Physical is a trait of the the “big 4” and we need that, but all those annual contenders now run more of a Chip Kelly offense…4/5 star O-Linemen are big tough AND athletic enough. It’s scheme. I still don’t see the stuff JM did at PSU the way he did it…at PSU.


Chip Kelly struggled without a veteran qb who can run a dynamic offense at UCLA. DTR has been the qb he wanted and it also has taken 3 years for his qb to develop. Maybe this is something we should contemplate. Until we have a dynamic, safe qb, we won’t see an innovative offense.

It takes time and all the pieces to get in place. My bet is until Cristobal sees all the pieces in place, and complete confidence slinging the ball is going to be a net positive, he will keep his foot on the throat of the offense.

With AB, in my mind, he picked the safe, veteran qb who will make few big mistakes. Cristobal wants to know a guy isn’t going to blow things up either way. Most old O-lineman think just don’t give up the sack, keep it safe, and when a qb gives up a interception it is worse than a sack. Of course except a few of the outlier O-linemen.

This is what is so endearing to parents when he recruits, he is going to make sure their kid is put in a safe place. The recruits feel safe and the guy has their best interest in mind, he then seals the deal with his ‘juice’ talk. The problem happens when the game starts.

Cristobal is a micromanager. We saw it in plain daylight when he called a timeout before a game even started. Who does that except a micromanager, control freak.

The good news is Cristobal is putting the pieces together to create what we all want. The problem is the fans see it all coming together before Cristobal is comfortable with it. I have no doubt CK would have picked a different starter at qb, but that isn’t who we have as a head coach.

He isn’t a Les Miles, he is more of a Bill Bilichick. The guy wasn’t successful at the start, because he is a micromanager. He learned to trust his assistants, although he knew, knows everything they should be doing. I still think Cristobal just still needs time to get comfortable in his position, his players, and his assistants.

I also think we are stuck with Cristobal, because that is the way Oregon does it’s coaching. We support our coach, until he proves he can’t manage the student athlete’s toward successful longterm outcomes. On that note, I am left wondering about reinstating our defender who became offenders, but again we have to trust our coach.


Agree, we also didn’t have the wideouts to catch a Herbert ball. I am convinced it was Cristobal who didn’t turn Herbert loose until the last two games. Cristobal’s default is go extremely conservative unless forced to innovate, or everything is perceived safe, a good bet.

Cristobal would go to Vegas and laugh at those at the betting tables. Who would put money on the table with those kind of odds?

When I think about the upside of a Seven in the backfield, Ty at QB, Franklin fighting for a pass it excites me, but to Cristobal it scares him. Why not go with what is safe, predictable and to him, fun to watch smashmouth football.

Against Fresno who would put the ball at risk when you don’t need to. Against tosu it will be a different scenario, but I am not sure we have the qb to make the throws or decisions, we will see.

We also don’t have the O-line, and a few other positions to be ready to compete at that level, but that is why you show up.

The horses aren’t in place, trained and proven just yet for Cristobal to let loose. Just my opinion, but I haven’t ruled out my scenario.


“It takes time and all the pieces to get in place. My bet is until Cristobal sees all the pieces in place, and complete confidence slinging the ball is going to be a net positive, he will keep his foot on the throat of the offense.”

Very valid point. But it sure makes for some boring football.


It’s really the only logical answer, to me. He hired an innovator, guy who can put up the points, has shown some exciting offense.

He is a micromanager with incredibly conservative instincts. When the A gap runs are called, Cristobal is filled up emotionally. When we innovate he is a wreck.

Cristobal is going to have to feel cornered, like against a tosu, or completely comfortable with the talent on the field before he let’s go. I look forward to when he feels completely comfortable with the players on the field, if that is possible, and the show begins, again.

I just can’t give up on the guy yet, love him too much, and the program. As Helfrich was going downhill it became painfully obvious all wasn’t right in the Oregon Football Program. I don’t have that feeling yet, not even close.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

While I am critical of Cristobal’s offense–I want him to figure it out and be here over the long-term.

I still get back to the talent gap in this game: of the 4/5-Star players on Rivals signed over the last four years, Oregon had 57 and Fresno State had ONE.

It doesn’t get much better than that.

The difference is one team getting coached up, and the other team getting coached down, IMHO.

We may disagree on a ton of items, but I love your posts, and the pondering you put into them. Please keep it up as we need to see both sides of this.

I actually agree with more than 51% of what you write;), just trying to get into the head of the big guy. When you see, a timeout before the game starts, extreme risk aversion, while saying what people want to hear, bells go off for me.

He want to be a gunslinger like CK and Ryan Day, but it isn’t in his DNA. It is going to take a lot of earned trust before we see Moorhead turned loose. I’m also not sure Cristobal can hold his breath for the length of time it takes an explosion play to manifest itself.


This is exactly it Charles. Sure FS had a game a week before but part of the recruiting, higher ranked is better talent, better coached players. Come to Oregon to be coached up to realize your FULL potential. Not happening here, why?


It makes no sense. If you want to play 1950’s football:

• Why hire an accomplished, innovative, creative OC like Joe Moorhead?

• Why recruit an outstanding class of wide receivers?

• Why recruit a roomful of über-talented, pass-first quarterbacks?

Mario is driving me crazy.


I’m baffled as to why top notch WR’s and QB’s are even signing with Oregon under Mario. You only have to watch a few games since he’s been in charge to realize you’re not going to be utilized.


This is the ultimate “head-scratcher”. Maybe it’s a ploy to keep is image up as a top notch recruiter? Sign the best you can get, regardless?
Deschutesduck’s point is completely valid. Sooner or later they will lose interest in a school that promises a nice ride on the bench, or little film for the NFL scouts.

J Duck

And the transfer portal is easier than ever…use it or lose it is right. Take what we got, excite, and the last pieces we really need…the 5 star interior DL’s…will come too. Winning is infectious.


First off, if he was to get let go, his talent as a recruiter would be highly sought after. His getting some OL in the NFL would be just as good. And he did not draw negative attention to himself as did Kiffin. He has an exit plan. I’m betting.


With these questions aren’t we essentially closing in on an inescapable conclusion about Cristobal as a football coach?



Could you charter a bus for all the Duck fans going Crazy to head to the loony bin near Autzen? I have been watching games of GREAT Oregon victories by Brooks and Bellotti, Chips and Helf finest moments to keep myself sane. Maybe, you bringing back the IZR videos may keep the old ticker, ticking. OK, I know I’m not nearly but CLOSE! sigh

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

I am very sorry as Joe cracked me up often in our conversations, and he has always been a Duck through-and-through. Most know him as a defensive line coach at Oregon, but he was a two-way player on the 1957 Rose Bowl team that almost upset mighty Ohio State, 10-7.

I loved how he would growl at me,…“I can defeat any blocking scheme you got!” He had the heart of a Defensive Line Coach who was loved by so many of his players. He told me stories of how a few difficult personalities would begin hating Joe, but by graduation would adore the man.

He was tough, he was fair and he was a hoot. I still smile thinking of some of his football expressions that were true, but not-fit-to-write for this site.

He was a great Duck who will be missed. Thank you Annie, for letting us know.

Joe is on the left below with Nick…

Joe Schaffeld and Nick Aliotti_John Giustina.jpg

Watching philosophy change at Alabama has really been “old dog new tricks” with amazing result. They are fun to watch

Saban changed from running it hard and playing good defense to hiring offensive minds and giving them the wheel.

I’m rooting for him to embrace the change and make Oregon elite again. We have the talent!

Mario you have the weapons to throw the ball.

Running the A gap will get you “LES MILES”

J Duck



I think Oregon has the weapons to catch the ball, but I’m not sure about throwing it.

Brown appears to be adequate passer, but not someone you can rely to make anything other than routine completions to open receivers.

His bomb to Johnny Johnson was impressive, no question, but there were several throws into tight spaces that he could not deliver, and that may be an issue against Ohio State and other teams with an athletic secondary.

I don’t see Oregon opening up the passing game, not with Brown at QB. That might happen with Thompson or Butterfield, and hopefully will happen soon. If not, talented QB recruits and receivers may think twice about coming to Oregon.

J Duck

Throwing on the run…AB not that adept? Maybe it’s Thompson time, especially if tOSU kills us. Build for the future, the playoff will be out for this year by noon PDT Saturday if we get killed.