Oregon Football: Ducks’ Victory Lacks Championship Flavor

Jordan Ingram Editorials 102 Comments

Find this content useful? Share it with your friends!

Better buckle up, Ducks fans, this could be a bumpy ride.

If there’s anything I have learned over the course of Oregon Head Coach Mario Cristobal’s tenure thus far, it’s that his teams are loaded with talent but they aren’t going to run away with every game before halftime by racking up video game stats. Cristobal delivers hard-nosed, smash-mouth, slow grind football.

The games are going to be hard-fought and close. Sometimes, too close. It’s an acquired taste that many fans aren’t used to. And if you watched today’s game, you probably still have heartburn.

Regardless…OREGON FOOTBALL IS BACK, BABY!

Despite an “unhealthy” air quality index (162) due to forest fires in the Cascades and a resurgent COVID-19 delta variant, my feeling was pure joy and excitement watching fans pack into Autzen Stadium on Saturday to see the No. 11 Oregon Ducks’ season opener against visiting Fresno State.

My excitement quickly gave way to nervous bewilderment for most of the game. Yes, Oregon pulled out a nail-biter victory over the Bulldogs, 31-24. Most of Oregon’s offensive efforts hiccuped and spazzed with first-game jitters. And yes, every team’s season opener is bound to have issues — Oregon is no exception. But the Ducks’ performance raised a lot of questions for me, namely, is this team a national title contender? Pac-12? And where are Joe Moorhead and CJ Verdell?

The Ducks (1-0) jumped out to a 21-3 first-half lead over the Bulldogs (1-1), scoring two touchdowns as the result of a couple of huge defensive plays, most notably a forced fumble by Kayvon Thibodeaux.

If we learned anything today, it’s that Thibodeaux is the anchor of Tim DeRuyter’s defense. Oregon’s star defensive end is a force to be reckoned with for any opponent, including No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes next week. The Ducks’ defense overall looked pretty solid too, notching three fumble recoveries, four sacks and eight tackles for a loss on the day, which likely were the difference-maker in this too-close-for-comfort matchup. There were some issues in the secondary, (where was everybody?) but I’ll accept a bend-don’t-break philosophy.

Thibodeaux’s absence from the Ducks’ defensive front was glaring, allowing Bulldogs’ quarterback Jake Haener plenty of time to dink and dunk right down the field to take a 24-21 lead early in the fourth quarter. Haener went 30 of 43 passing, throwing for 298 yards and a touchdown. At times, the former Husky made it look too easy.

On offense, Oregon quarterback Anthony Brown did not fare as well in the passing game, completing 15 of 24 (62.5%) passes for 172 yards and a touchdown. In fact, the Bulldogs’ offense definitely outshined the Ducks, finishing with more total yards (373 to 358) and first downs (23 to 20). However, Brown made the most impact on his feet, including a 30-yard game-winning touchdown scamper.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for the “W.” But a couple of things about Oregon’s debut performance stuck out to me. Firstly, CJ Verdell is not being utilized as Oregon’s every-down power running back. While Verdell finished with 18 carries for 74 yards and a touchdown, he was largely absent from the Ducks’ running game in the first half. Why?

Secondly, where is offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead‘s dynamic schemes? Sure, there were lots of zone reads and some successful rushing plays, but the offense fizzled, backfired and stalled out — like a broken-down El Camino in your weird neighbor’s front yard. Am I missing something? I expected some fireworks and got mostly smoke bombs, sparklers and even a few duds.

Look, I’m happy with the victory, but the flavor is off — I have some questions and plenty of concerns as the Ducks head to the Horseshoe in Columbus next Saturday. Can you pass me the Tums?

Jordan P. Ingram 
San Diego, California
Top Photo by Scott Kelley

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!

Subscribe
Notify of
102 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
DuckVegas

I’ve seen a few comments mentioning the possibility that MC and Moorhead held back the offense so as not to reveal too much before the Ohio St game. I’m afraid I don’t know how much of that goes on in the college game. Can anyone speak to that?

After watching the Fresno St game a couple times now, I’m convinced that’s what happened—MC bet that he could pound the rock and wear down the Fresno D line and cruise to a victory without putting anything on tape for Ohio St.

I’ve read that Moorhead is a creative play caller who likes to get guys in space and create explosive plays. Explosive plays was an emphasis after Arroyo. Then we’ve heard that Covid and an inexperienced oline kept him from opening up things last year. So what happened Saturday? My only explanation is they held back, which ended up being a gamble that almost cost the Ducks the game. Thoughts anyone?

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

At a coaches clinic when Cristobal arrived…he showed a set of plays at how his offensive line at Alabama wore down the LSU defensive line and he was very proud of that.

I think that is more important to him than being 31 points ahead instead. My impression is that he would rather win “tough” by seven points than in a blow-out.

But what do I know? Just guessing…

Mario Cristobal_247 Video.jpg
DuckIt

I just read why MC decided to start Camden Lewis over Henry Katleman which was a mistake. Lewis kicked 37 out of 40 FGs in camp to win him the starting position. Has MC learned nothing from past performances? Lewis is a choker. You can’t compare practices with live game situations.

Sure, Lewis made a critical FG on 4th down this past Saturday, to tie up the game at 24 a piece, but the true test is if he can make them on the road, consistently. There is no substitute to simulate the pressure and the atmosphere of a hostile crowd, especially with a formidable defense rushing at him.

Whereas, Katleman has proven to be a reliable FG kicker, with the game on the line, dialing it up from longer distances. In short, he was clutch last season.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

This completely baffling to me too! You bench a Placekicker who has not missed yet…in live games and under fire? And go with someone who has proven to choke?

It makes as much sense as the offense?

ducker1

First off I’ve read most all the posts and agree with 99.9999% of them.

Beyond that I’ll just say that in my opinion MC is NOT an X and O’s kind of coach, He’s all about toughness and power and he somehow found a major university that believes in him. He is Old School southern football, nothing more nothing less.

I give him a year or 2.

Great recruiting isn’t worth anything if you cant utilize the players to their maximum potential.

Still upset over the loss to the Beavs.

Always a Duck fan.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Agreed. No torches and pitchforks here as we need to give him a complete opportunity. (But still grade him as he goes!)

cartm25

Not calling for MC’s job, but I couldn’t help my mind from pondering:

1) The Chip Kelly era was the last time I felt that the Ducks had a coaching advantage (scheme and motivation) in almost every game. If anyone caught the UCLA v LSU game, echos from the past may have left you longing for yesteryear.

2) Is this the Ducks’ peak with MC as head coach? My brother (also a Duck fan) is the definition of ‘pessimistic’ and, over the years, I’ve had to calm him, saying: “Relax, wait until years 2-3 with MC, that’s when all the talent and depth ‘should’ blossom. Well, we’re here now, and for the life of me – and I’m truly confused because the Ducks appear to have great Coordinators and position coaches – I can’t figure out why things aren’t coming together yet; specifically from a consistency standpoint.

3) I am not an X’s and O’s person. I’m just a fan who’s watched for many years and can tell when something is effective or not. The same complaints about the offense have been made/observed/felt for 3+ years now with different coordinators and position coaches (ie variables). The one constant variable has been MC. The number of potential scapegoats not named MC are rapidly diminishing.

4) The day before the game against FS, I told my dad: “MC’s recruiting alone makes him indispensable in my mind.” Let’s just say my mind has been ‘wandering’ after the performance against FS. The talent gap alone should have ensured the Ducks handled FS with relative ease. When will the recruiting, coaching, and consistent results finally come together? Please come quick!!

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

During the days of Chip Kelly….I always had the confidence that whatever the defense threw at him–he and Helfrich had a counter, a plan for dealing with it.

They had a system.

cartm25

Agreed! It was always evident in the second half when the Ducks would put the game out of reach for good, if it already wasn’t by the end of the half.

Mudslide

Speaking of offense. You all will be glad to know that our former qb, Tyler Shough had a solid Red Raider debut, scoring a TD and tossing 17-24 for 234 yards with a TD and no picks. ‘Twas a satisfying win for Texas Tech over Houston.

I hardly know what to say………

EzDucksit

Saw that too and was worried, “we have all this talent and TT has our QB?” Mario, you got some splaining to do.

MaiTaiDuck

I was at the beach on the Dunes having a blast driving a Talon but not pleased when a couple campers who were clearly Ducks and they were at the game. So needless to say I was bumbed about the score. I do know this the horses are there and this offense better be showing way more than what they did. Next week at Ohio St is going to be a great game I hope. QB has to step it up. Everybody has to step it up.

MaiTaiDuck

Oh yeah my main point should have been Ducks offense will have to score at a 40 point clip every game or real close to not only win the PAC 12 but also to get to the playoff’s. Next saturday we should hopefully see with our own eye’s the real Oregon Ducks. Team loaded with talent. Stay positive folks and hopefully will be talking about this Ducks team waking up with a victory.

Jay MacPherson

Salty follows…AB has a weird throwing motion. It looks like a partial sidearm swing, and often results in a low trajectory. Many of the throws, even ones caught, were under-thrown IMO. He often waits too long going thru progressions. The stats back up that read. I would play the other QBs.

The O line got pushed around a lot. Especially Dawson playing left tackle. If he is the second best at left tackle, there are significant issues with the line’s skill level, despite what the coaches have said in interviews.

Again I watched that incredible athlete Verone make questionable choices. Like on the play Fresno got a TD at the west end zone. He had 2 DBs on his left, 1 DB on his right, and he chose to support those 2 on the left. Yeah, the linebacker on the right let the receiver go, but why was there no second secondary guy on the right or at least in the middle close enough to make a play?

The number of plays where containment was lost was sickening. That happens when players want to be “THE guy” instead of fulfilling their role, which may be boring for that play.

The above are cherry picking complaints. I could go on at length. Bottom line is this team isn’t consistently playing with hair on fire. While the D displayed spirit many times (tho not consistently) the O was perfunctory, rarely hair on fire. And the words I’ve heard…”talent,” “physicality,” “played our brand of football” (when referring to the 4th quarter once they fell behind!). Those sound like excuses for a group that isn’t firing on all cylinders all the time.

This team needs emotional leadership from everyone involved. Letdowns and lapses should not be occurring at the frequency we observed. The best teams have, promote, and insist upon leadership at every level of the organization, not just from the best players or coaches. I don’t see that top to bottom leading in their actions nor hear it in spoken words. While a radical transformation to high performance team play is possible, where is the foundation for such a change? I don’t see or hear the indications. I smell smoke. And it ain’t from hair on fire.

Orduck

I agree. No one seems to be stepping up as a leader like we’ve had in the past. And I haven’t heard any comments about anyone taking charge and leading on offense or defense.

Jay!

So well thought out and written–please pass the salt more often! Great observations, and yes…we have so many more we could list.

Please post your thoughts more often–good stuff.

MaiTaiDuck

Your answer, Ty Thompson.

Orduck

MC has done a great job at recruiting. But if he doesn’t open up the offense, I see a lot of talent going to the transfer portal. Why extend his contract if he refuses to listen to his coaches and continues down his “smash mouth ” play on offense when we finally have a bunch of gifted receivers to compliment our running backs? Let JM call the offense for heavens sake! MC should just concentrate on bringing up the OL. IMHO, Cristobal does not have the coaching attitude to take us to the national championship.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Careful now! When I stated that, “unless things drastically change, Coach Cristobal will not take us to the promised land.”

I stated that a month into his first season and last year, and the hate really flowed toward me. You won’t have that here, but outside of FD…it could be hazardous for you because of your lack of “loyalty.” (or whatever else they want to pin on you)

Orduck

I’m not hating MC. But I’m starting to think like some others that while he has hired good coaches, he’s micro managing them. I pray next weekend the offense is a different story than Saturday.

Orduck

I’m a Duck fan through and through. Even through the losing years. Have been since the early 70’s. Hope I didn’t cross the line for Fishduck in airing my opinion.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

No, just the opposite. My point is—I agree with you and have saying much worse for a long time. Got the scars to prove it!

You’re good–keep giving us your thoughts.

DuckIt

I questioned this move to extend his contract. Yes, he has done a bang up job recruiting, but are the Ducks honestly any closer to contending for a championship? I would argue no. While our defense may be making strides, by recruiting beasts like KT and Justin Flowe, our offense has been regressing under MC. As much as it pains me to say this, we got to the Pac12 championship game by default. We won the conference title outright from USC, but who is gloating about last year’s results, with a 4-3 win-loss record? It was fluke year for a lot of teams, with the players opting out and all Covid restrictions, but was his body of work, deserving of a contract extension? He has yet to prove that his Ducks can win against quality opponents.

Haywarduck

Maybe this analysis is yet to come, but I am wondering what people at the game saw with our receivers. It is so difficult to watch a receiver on the TV broadcast, which tends to focus on AB and then what he does, limiting your view of the field of play.

Did the receivers look open, and AB just didn’t get through the progression and see them? We have plenty of WR’s with length to go up and get balls. There is also the long ball when coverage is tight and the short ball when it is loose, which is our go to on defense.

There also could be a confidence issue with AB not wanting to put the ball at risk? If that was the issue it will be a long day going against a better backfield.

He made some good throws and there were a couple drops, but the run to pass ratio is only going to go higher against a more stout defense. Those run plays may be TFL’s as he may not even get past the line of scrimmage.

I am willing to give AB a fair shot, but the statistics, when you really look at them, don’t look too impressive with the talent level lined up at his disposal, against inferior talent.

That was one of the indicators to me with Shough. He just wasn’t able to create a dynamic passing attack. He didn’t seem to see things progress and panicked too often.

Duck Phan Phil

Yesterday’s PAC12 Beatdown makes it far less likely the Ducks could lose to Ohio State and still make the CFP.

BUT…was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? No. Was it over when LaGarrette Blount cold-cocked a lippy Bronco after the Chipster’s debut loss to Boise St? No. Chip’s team grew and improved, ending the season in the Rose Bowl against OHio State.

There is hope, folks.

CJ

Playoff hope was over before this season began, but it’s not over for 22 and 23 and that’s exactly what we should be strategizing and playing for.

The coaches need to make the strategic moves now to ensure the offense can score 45 per game by next year or perhaps 2023.

Will this happen though? Not likely.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Your posts have been cutting, but true. I fear that if we do not see change this year in the offense … then we never will.

CJ

Yeah, I need to cool down a bit probably. Smoke makes me real grumpy. Had over 600 AQI here at my place last night (i.e. off the chart as it only goes to 500). Air filters running full bore but still sucking a lot of particulate matter. Not healthy, not healthy at all.

Duck Phan Phil

Ya been 400 here last couple days. Trapped inside with a headache and nausea , caused by smoke and/or Ducks Disappointment Syndrome (DDS), doctors are uncertain at this time.

Dr. FishDuck, although a known quack, suggests it could be a long road to recovery., but I’m optimistic skies will clear soon 🙏🏻

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Naw. You’re good. I want to see everyone’s opinion although we have not had many post in complete support of Cristobal as we did before the game…

CJ

I still think Cristobal is an awesome human. That is how he lands all these great recruits. There is no doubt that a parent, after meeting Cristobal, is saying yeah that is the guy I want my son to be around.

He could still make the needed change but he has to look deep into his heart and realize his strengths and weaknesses.

Yeah Phil I am in the same boat. Exact same diagnosis. Hoping to see a cure real soon.

There is, but the dreams of many of us going into this last game are now a low probability. But I am a fan no matter what…

Mudslide

I couldn’t watch the game, so my post is based upon the wisdom laced by all your comments below.

Phil Knight is a brilliant fellow. What can he be thinking? Surely it isn’t, “Wow. I really like this brand of Duck football.” Are HIS expectations being met? It was Mr. Knight’s single handed effort that put together much of the joy we are missing out on because of the current, corroded Duck football performance. He must have enormous influence over all things Ducks. So…can we at least hope he puts enough pressure on the team’s administration that MC is FORCED to revive this moribund offense?

Let the OC coach do his thing and get the hell rid of that air raid offense, pistol run coordinator, Mastro.

CJ

I think if Phil Knight had influence over Oregons offensive scheme he would of done something by now.

It’s really tough to know what the exact situation is.

Mysteries abound. Like why can’t the Duck team that beat USC and Utah in the Pac12 Championship the last couple years show up each and every game, or at least 80% of the games?

It’s just a very inconsistent effort from the coaching staff it seems.

Maybe they are trying to fool the Suckeyes, but in the end I think we all just look like fools believing that a systemic change is going to occur. I assumed by now that it had to, but at this point I realize it’s not going to happen, at least not on any sort of consistent basis.

ZeroDucksGiven

To be frank, I couldn’t help walking away from watching this game feeling like the ducks lost. A win is a win, and the reason for this feeling has less to do with the quality of play during this specific match up and more to do with a trend that I am seeing.

This is going to be a bit of a pessimistic post so here is your warning!

#1 Offense:
Is it just me, or if you didn’t know any better woukd you have believed it if someone told you Arroyo was still the OC? The offense was still a pistol and there was little to no creativity in the play calling. I’m starting to get a sinking feeling that the ducks offensive woes have more to do with the head coaches vision than the ineptitude of an offensive coordinator. This is extremely worrisome because I don’t know if there is a fix for that problem while retaining Cristobal. Oregon has the receivers to air it out. We probably have a better group of receivers than we do running backs in my opinion. If my hunch is correct then it’s going to be a long season and Ducks very well may never dominate the west coast the way they should with the talent on their roster.

#2
Quarterback:
If Ducks didn’t hold anything back against the bulldogs then I would expect a freshman QB to be starting the 3rd game of the season. Anthony Brown has been consistently mediocre and the offense is nowhere near championship caliber. It’s time to build toward the future and give a younger guy some much needed experience. However, if my #1 point is correct then I don’t know as it will matter who is qb1.

#3
Head Coach:
We love Cristobal because of his vision, his character and let’s be honest… the results of his staff on the recruiting trail. However, recruiting is only going to get a team so far. The perennial power houses of college football have both top recruits AND a mad scientist making in-game adjustments. Cristobal is not that. I have yet to see a major adjustment that has turned the tables dramatically during a game. He seems to take more of a lidocaine approach; “Give it time and it ought to work”. The offense is surely handcuffed by Cristobals vision of how he wants this team to win football games with an old school, grind it out in the trenches, war of attrition style of play.

That isn’t going to work in today’s game.

#3
Defense:
The defense is loaded with talent. Sewell, Flowe, Kayvon, Wright are all top tier players. Bridges and Manning will be in the same category by mid season I’d guess. The disparity of talent from the 1’s and the 2’s is about as big as the holes in the Ducks zone coverage against the bulldogs. I saw some absolutely fantastic moments that have me VERY excited about this defensive unit for the next few years…. but I have to remember that there are still a few teams that have 2nd string position players that would start on the Ducks defense at more than 50% of the positions on the field.

I’m hoping to eat crow in a week, but if the spread stays at 11 points against OSU then I’m gonna advise to put a few dimes on the over.

David Marsh

Yesterday absolutely felt like a loss. I was grumpy all day because of it.

I’m just hoping they make some big changes before next week. I don’t feel like we have to win next week but we do need to look like we belong on the field.

Haywarduck

One thought about the 2021 talent is the question of culture, mentality of the young elite talent, on and off the field?

One freshman named starter, never played? I never saw the second string highly rated WR either?

Another elite LB didn’t win the starting position, and his play was more of a liability, although his talent level is obviously better than almost anyone playing defense.

Combine that with just not playing student athletes who seem to be killing it in practice, Seven and Trey, makes you wonder what is going on?

There seems to be a dearth of leadership on the field and maybe off the field. Is there too much talent not enough leadership among the young and restless?

I saw what seemed to be an acute lack of leadership last season which help lead to some unfortunate games. Maybe we just need somebody to step into Troy Dye’s position, and I mean leadership position? Nobody has filled it since.

I don’t see anyone who seems to care about winning more than the opposing team other than maybe, Noah. Can Noah become the leader this team needs?

Maybe my analysis isn’t completely fair, but the old guard doesn’t seem to have the leadership to drive this team to greatness. Does the younger crowd have the drive and the talent to do it?

DuckUp

I am rewatching the game and on our second score in the first quarter by Travis dye I am seeing both Franklin and Thornton in the game. They played but just had no targets.

CJ

Hard to get targeted when we throw 24 times and there are 6-8 guys that want the ball. We need to throw it 40+ times a game to get those young guys going.

Just another old guy

Fresno State lost the game more so than Oregon won that game. If that game had not been played at Autzen stadium, the Ducks would have lost.  The crowd/fans won the game for the Ducks by their incessant energy contributing to the Bulldogs errors and turnovers. Turnovers lost the game for Fresno State, kudos to the Oregon defense and the Duck fans.  Still, Fresno State had more total yards gained than Oregon.

For all the talent that Oregon has (i.e., 4/5-star athletes) compared to what Fresno State has, there is no excuse to play that poorly.  That to me is poor coaching on Oregon’s part.

For all the talk of “physicality, controlling the line of scrimmage, etc.” I’m not seeing it… especially against a less talented squad.  Watching how UCLA’s O-line played (opening multiple running lanes with cut-back lanes even) compared to Oregon’s O-line (small creases) has me wondering what is being taught. Granted two different schemes, but UCLA did a better job of controlling the line of scrimmage against a (supposedly) superior front in LSU… with smaller, less talented linemen than what Oregon has.  Again, that to me is poor coaching on Oregon’s part.

The definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over again and getting the same result…  Oregon’s offense sucks.  I can understand wanting to control the clock, but you need to make plays to hold on to the ball.  Oregon’s defense was left on the field way too long, exhausting those guys.  At least when Nick Aliotti complained about his defense being out there so much, the offense was scoring points.  

Oregon still can’t score 40 against an inferior team that gave them multiple turnovers in the red zone.  Again, my opinion poor coaching on Oregon’s part… where is coach Moorhead’s explosive offense, (is he being micro-managed?)?  As coach Fleck at Minnesota stated, “make the coaches coach.”

Oregon; 186 rushing yards on 49 attempts against Fresno State.  UCLA; 223 rushing yards on 43 attempts against LSU.  Does UCLA have a better O-line and better running backs than Oregon or are they just better coached?

Oregon 172 passing yards… Oregon 358 total yards vs Fresno State’s 373 total yards (time of possession Fresno State 30:33 vs 29:27 for Oregon).  UCLA 260 passing yards… UCLA had 483 total yards vs LSU’s 379 total yards.  

Generally, the team with the most yards and time of possession wins. Oregon was lucky to win and theOhio State probably looks at the Oregon/Fresno State game tape and gets pumped on what they see.

Granted this was the opening game of the season for the Ducks and the coaches probably were holding back what they wanted to show on tape to their upcoming opponents.  I can only hope they were sandbagging.  

I like coach Cristobal, his demeanor, his recruiting chops, his optimism, but I think he needs to let his coaches coach and not micro-manage them.  If I’m a recruit and watched the Oregon vs Fresno State and UCLA vs LSU games… I’d be more excited about playing for UCLA.

Also, Fresno State is a good team, they’ve always had good tough teams that played well against PAC12 teams.  Will be interesting to see how UCLA does against them in a couple of weeks.

I will remain optimistic for the Ducks; they have the talent.  The PAC12 did not do themselves any favors this weekend and understandably will be considered the weak conference based on what they did (or didn’t do) this past Saturday… that won’t help the Ducks.

Just another old guy.…you are new and that is quite a first post. Do post what you are thinking frequently, and WELCOME!

Just another old guy

Thank you, Charles, and thank you for your site (and the various writers. especially coaches Woody and Boles). I really enjoy it and learn quite a bit from it.  I’m just a fan, definitely not a football savant… like, I still don’t understand why spiking the ball isn’t an intentional grounding penalty! LOL 😊  Don’t plan on posting much as I pretty much agree with what you write/post.  I just needed to vent after this weekend’s game… thank you for letting me.

CastawayDuck

New and ‘also an old guy’ here. This sums up my feelings as well. I couldnt help but be so impressed with what Chip put out on the field last night. I kept thinking to myself, “why cant this be Oregon?” It seemed Chip accomplished everything Mario had been preaching about Oregon. Im really excited for UCLA and am rooting for them in the South division; they are the top team as of now in my opinion and very exciting to watch. Oregon on the other hand…..more questions than answers under Mario yet again, unfortunately.

Boblaw

Joe Moorhead is amazing. 2016 Penn State team averaged 432 yards per game. My excitement during the off season grew as I watched some of those games on YouTube. After watching the Ohio State/Minnesota game I thought to myself the Ducks really do have a shot at knocking off Ohio State.

The talent on this roster and Moorhead’s system would be tough to beat . I chalked up last seasons disappointment to Moorhead not having had a chance to install his system. The only logical explanation as to what I saw yesterday, was that the coaches were holding back in order to surprise Ohio State and steal a road victory. If the staff is not holding back, my only question becomes, why did you hire Moorhead in the first place?

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

A really, really good question.

It has been a long time Bob, and I would encourage you to share your thoughts often here. WELCOME!

GODUCKS15

I posted that thought elsewhere too. Did they hold back and get caught with their pants down? Underestimate FS? That would be a logical answer but we’ve seen yesterday play out way to often so I’m thinking the obvious. The Ducks simply got outplayed even though they won.

More talent for OR but more desire and creativity for FS. Then again what did FS have to lose? It was their game of the year. For Oregon it was supposed to be a tune up game.

David Marsh

Also if you’re Moorhead… do you want THIS offense on your resume? If I were him I wouldn’t.

David Marsh

The offense yesterday wasn’t even vanilla… It was just frozen cream. The spring game had more spice to it than what we saw yesterday.

The ONLY reason we won was because of that 30 yard run by Brown was a QB keeper. I remember cursing and crying when I saw the 4th and 2 formation… The pistol with Verdell behind Brown. I was SHOCKED that Brown kept it and scored.

Also… On offense where was Franklin, Thornton, and Williams? There was a lot of talent that had great spring and fall camps by every source out there and they were completely absent from the game. I thought we might see Seven McGee for a few plays as well.

Or even Cardwell or Benson for a few run plays. They are big backs and they might have helped getting that run offense going with a different style of running.

It felt like half a team out there.

30Duck

That was one of the most frustrating wins I can remember; unfortunately it does follow what looks to be Mario’s plan. Get a lead and hold on to it until time runs out. It may have played out differently had KT not had to leave, but the offense wasn’t affected by that.

We all knew that MC wasn’t going to yank Brown, and having Thompson’s first game be @ tOSU isn’t a good idea, so it looks like we’re stuck in the AB era for a bit longer. As has been noted. AB is the starter only because he is a better choice than any of the talented freshmen; but he has so many flaws.

His body language doesn’t project leadership. His TD run wasn’t exciting; but more a chance to breath because it did look like the Ducks were going to beat the Bulldogs. The early lead was built on TO’s and short fields, should have ended up with 45-50, not 31.

Yes, The Huskies did lose to Montana, 13-7, Stanford got smoked by Kansas State, 24-7. But, wow, Chip and the Bruins.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Unfortunately, Cal lost to Nevada at home, and the Wolfpack were predicted to win the Mountain West Conference.

Meanwhile Fresno State was predicted to finish fourth…but not in the conference, but in the Western Division!

DanLduck

Fresno had a few key pick ups from transfer portal, and I bet they finish higher than expected, but that won’t ease my frustration with a lack luster offense. And what about the O-line not able to pass protect?!
I guess our guys just look big.
They sure don’t act big.

Drake

If some of our best athletes on offense are receivers then we are in trouble if we don’t get better play from our QB. If the game plan we saw is the blueprint for the rest of the year….I have to agree that we will struggle beating average teams with above average athletes.

The passing game was rather unimpressive, and did nothing to help open up the running game. It looked like AB was playing to not make mistakes and perhaps he can improve. But, to beat tOSU at home that improvement will necessitate his best game ever…not holding my breath.

Realistically, this team needs a QB that is in contention to win the Heisman Trophy to have a legitimate shot at a title. Pretty sure AB is not that guy.

Therefore, I would love to see the young guns get some playing time soon.

toketeeman

The Salem Statesman-Journal was the only newspaper in the state that had the courage to say the obvious: the Ducks’ performance was “poor”.

J Duck

Everyone is hitting it in the comments below…dull brand of football, 31 points against a MWC team (underrated, BTW, FSU transfers have helped them) is not going to cut it. The talent we are recruiting…speaking of transfers, comments below are spot on, we won’t keep these athletic 5 star kids if we are still trying to pistol whip un-fooled defenses.

Next Saturday at tOSU could be a long day…I agree with those who say put Thompson in now, even if he takes a few lumps. I am pulling for AB and love his story and wish he’d shine, but more carries than completions? O-Line is MC’s baby…didn’t look prepared, but is Moorhead still on a leash? Seems like it

smith72

I really miss watching Oregon tight ends run free deep. Oregon has had much success using tight ends – several playing in the NFL. That was all in the past.

Yesterday our tight ends caught passes for short gains or screens for no gain. They were always tackled immediately. Under utilized.

What star rating was the running back from UCLA? I sure like watching him run in Chip’s offense! Where did he come from?

GODUCKS15

He’s a transfer from Michigan. He’s the real deal. Not sure of the star rating. I do not look forward to watching the Ducks play UCLA down there this year. Heck it wouldn’t matter if the game was played at Autzen. It’s not going to be pretty.

jrw

Hope there weren’t any recruiting targets at the game, Or, watching on television.

Why buy the hype, the “family atmosphere”, the facilities, if you’re going to play dull, outmoded, uninteresting football? A style that does not showcase your abillities?

How did the Ducks get all that wide receiver talent?

GODUCKS15

How do you make winning a game look hard? Hire Mario Cristobal. Folks what we have here is a micro manager coach who is not HC material. There’s leaders and there’s followers in life. Some people are just better suited for being that “Right-hand man”. MC is NEVER going to change because that’s who he is.

I watched a good portion of the UCLA game last night and boy was that fun to watch. I don’t think I’ve seen Chip smile so much during a game. For a fan the UCLA game was so much more exciting to watch. There’s no excitement in watching Oregon football anymore. It’s like watching a B movie that has great actors with a terrible script. Boring. Sad thing is you plunked down money to watch it and left the theater feeling like you just wasted 2 hours of your life. I feel like I wasted 3.5 hours yesterday.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

What you wrote is true, and it is a real problem for the athletic budget if people start turning away from Oregon football.

Winning will solve that, but….

Pocketchange

I will have to respectfully disagree with you sir. Win or lose: having a plodding, boring offense will turn people away from Oregon football. Fans from across the world used to watch Oregon football. As Mr Cristobal implements his vision only hard core fans will watch and it will shrink Oregon’s market share.

ask yourself: what is mr. knight thinking? Is this what his millions bought?

I don’t mean to go dark, mr Cristobal’s recruiting and defense (when healthy) is beastly. However, the offense makes or loses the university money.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

What I meant is that while winning would solve it…but he won’t win the big games with this offense. I am in complete agreement with you about the brand, and the impact of boring the fans.

VandownbytheriverDuck

Like watching a plow horse try to be racehorse.

Haywarduck

Or a racehorse, hooked up to a plow, the way I see it. We have the horses, racehorses, but they are being led by guy who sees a field that needs plowing.

There are even racehorses on the sideline who want to run, but each one who steps on the field is told to hook up to the plow.

I love the mantra of PJ Fleck, ‘row the boat,’ but I doubt he wants his student athletes to look like they are going out there rowing a barge.

GODUCKS15

At least you had the comforts of home. I was stuck on the north side in the hot sun and never got anything to eat because the lines for the two concession stands were so long it took about 40 mins for a couple guys in front of me to get a beer and lousy plain jane hot dog.
Not sure what would’ve been worse, watching the Ducks look mediocre or stand in a line staring at the back of someone’s head for 30 mins.

Duck Phan Phil

I have zero confidence in our ability to beat Ohio State. Our O Line needs to improve considerably or we lose at least three games no matter the QB.

But even with O Line improvement, Moorhead needs to infuse some energy into this offense. Maybe that comes with opening the playbook, but to me we need to give our more dynamic younger players more touches, starting with Ty Thompson but also the FR WRs. And let 7 McGee return a punt or two. Pittman lacks breakaway speed-good hands but he only fielded one punt yesterday.

I can see going with Brown and the other more experienced players if there was a high floor in having a game manager at QB, possession receivers at WR and North-south RBs running behind a dominant line, but that does not appear to be the case. At this point go with Brown et al next week, take our licks, and then break out operation Next Gen starting with Stonybrook.

Haywarduck

Agree, but with our O-line going against tosu’s D-line, I worry about Brown surviving the whole game with his injury history. We may see one of the freshman sooner that later.

I predict multiple sacks, and maybe even multiple fumbles by Brown. With his lack of pocket awareness, the way he holds the ball, and his throwing motion the game could be a coming out party for a couple young qb’s.

I’m still waiting to hear why Franklin, named starter, never saw the field. It is interesting the pundits, paid all that money, never even brought this up.

Agree it might be the next generation starting with Stonybrook, but only if Cristobal calls it that way, no guarantee.

jrw

I read one report that said Franklin was dressed and on the sideline. Sounds like a disciplinary issue.

None of you will have to worry about whether or not the younger QBs play, because if you are running your quarterback between the tackles as often as Oregon is–he will be injured. And soon.

I have always stated that I like the QB having the open lane to run down the backside of a defense on a Shotgun Inside Zone Read or Outside Zone Read, so he can go out of bounds or slide in open field.

Running between the tackles as the Ducks are doing now exposes your QBs knees to tackles from the side when you are in linebacker-land.

JoakerDuck

They way Mariota did under Kelly and Helfritch, or the way Mckenzie Milton did at UCF with Frost’s concepts. Excluding the freak injury at the sideline, the laws of probability are greater between the tackles.

Haywarduck

Washington was and usually is extremely happy to be the preseason favorites, getting predicted to go 12-0, and ranked as the season began. They then lose an FCS team at home. That seems to be their MO, every year.

Oregon fans are obsessed with recruiting rankings, the holy grail of college football, and are ranked as the season began. The Ducks then almost lose to a team without any real talent as we so love to measure. Are both programs obsessed with the wrong measures, kind of a love hate relationship?

As far as the prevent defense expect to see much more next week. If Oregon tightens up their defense we will see so many explosive plays you would think Chip Kelly was on the sideline again, no not our sideline.

I love the use of the broken down El Camino, because what really was the El Camino? It was a muscle car, but a pick-up, and not really either. It just kind of looked different, then faded away. Oregon is becoming a program which just kind of looks different, but can’t really do anything well. It’s too bad because if the Oregon Football Program decided to become something special it could, but not with the design being used.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

As I wrote yesterday….over the last four years the number of 4/5-Star players coming to Oregon was 57, and the number going to Fresno State was ONE.

The talent disparity was vast, so what kept the game close?

smith72

Oregon coaches!

toketeeman

Fresno State had the ONE?

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Yep…just one. This is not including the upcoming class of 2022, of which are just verbals at this point. This was based on the prior four years of signed classes.

slkornya

Sorry if this rambles a bit, but I’m upset, perplexed, frustrated, and confused by what I saw on the field yesterday.

Look back to the pre-Cristobal era. Look at the players/talent on the teams that Chip won with, that Bellotti won with, that even Rich Brooks won with (when he won…we weren’t so hot back then), and you’ll see one thing they had in common. A dearth of across-the-board elite talent. Oregon won by finding diamonds in the rough, bringing them in, coaching them up, and putting them in position to succeed.

Maybe I’m misremembering, but I don’t recall any of the 1000 yard backs we had when Gary Campbell was RB coach as being 4*/5* talent when they stepped on campus. I don’t recall any of Aliotti’s defensive players being stud recruits. I can’t remember a single O-lineman being a ‘wow’ guy until Greatwood got ahold of them. I honestly, until we got DAT and Arik Armstead, can’t remember us winning a true recruiting battle against a traditional power. Ever.

The one thing I recall about the Ducks pre-Cristobal was that they came across as a team that was greater than the sum of its parts. We had to be…our parts weren’t that good. We had to play every game to win. We had to innovate to excel, to do things that other teams weren’t doing, because we couldn’t win on talent alone. If it came down to talent, we’d lose.

Now? We don’t. Unless the recruiting services are wrong, we will be the most talented team on the field every game save one (tOSU)…and it won’t be close. And we’re not playing like it.

As a head coach, Mario Cristobal is an amazing recruiter; easily the best the Ducks have ever had, and likely the best in the conference since Pete left SC. As an O-Line whisperer he’s quite good. But that’s where it ends. Part of being a head coach is to let the people you’ve put into place do their jobs, namely Joe Moorhead.

Oregon is essentially paying Joe Moorhead $1.15 million a year to stand on the sideline with his thumb up his rear and run Mario’s imagination free, no-risk, mundane, predictable, boring facsimile of an offense. Putting it simply, Mario needs to hand Joe the keys to the O and GTFOTW. And while I’m on a roll, can we please agree that Anthony Brown is a high floor, low ceiling player that needs to be replaced by Ty Thompson, Jay Butterfield, or Robbie Ashford as soon as possible?

I’d rather throw one of the kids out there and baptize them by fire, instead of having to suffer through another yesterday…or another Fiesta Bowl…or Oregon State game. Hey, throwing the kid in there worked pretty well back in 2016 (::cough:: Justin Herbert ::cough::).

So that’ll do. I’ll remember that a win is a win, even if we played like an uninspired dumpster fire. I’ll remember that it was still the first game of the season.

That it was a gorgeous day at Autzen with fans in the stands, Ducks on the field, and the first victory of the season in the books. I’ll smile. And then I’ll remember that the Fuskies got smacked at home by Montana…and then I’ll smile even bigger.
#ScoDucks. Out.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

The exception to your observation about what got Oregon to two ‘Nattys was Royce Freeman and DAT, who were both 5-Stars, but they were the exception. Your point about primarily 3-Star players who got coached up is precisely how I remember it from all my study at that time.

But it is a long season–and we can always hope.

Royce Freeman_Craig Strobeck.jpg

Repeating the same behavior and expecting different results is crazy.

At this point I’m not sure whose more crazy. MC for seemingly doing everything he can to keep the score down or me believing it might change.

I’m a bit Pistoled off but it’s still a win. But that jankey O won’t win next week and if the secondary thinks that level of coverage will work in the Shoe? God help em.

All the errors of last year….and we see them again. Wow.

Quackanadian

This pistol formation is a dead duck. Truly.

I sure hope they were “down scheming” not to give anything away for tOSU next week.

UCLA sure made the Pac12 look good, to which the Washington teams immediately counterbalanced with middling losses.

I hate injuries to star players. Lets hope KTs sprain is so mild, that he can play on some cortisone and lidocaine for next kick off.

A win is a win, but Jeesh….

Cheers.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

I will be writing about the Pistol vs. the Shotgun in my Monday article, and now I am beginning to have some hope…

David Marsh

Some hope! Thank you Charles I need some hope right now.

CJ

I think the most stunning and shocking result of this opening season game is the realization that Mario Cristobal is not going to change his scheme.

He simply is not going to do it.

Not for 5* recruits who require more space and flowing offense to be able to excel.

Not because he looked in the mirror after last years Fiesta Bowl debacle and said “man, this isn’t working lets try something different”. 

Not because he now sees how much more potent Justin Herbert is in an NFL jersey.

Not because the fans and media hold as self evident that the Ducks have broken wings…….nothing….nada……no chance that he adjusts the game and opens up the offense.

What we see (and have seen) is what we are going to get.

Let that sink in and simmer for a while and ask yourself what our chances are of ever getting a National Championship under his tutelage.

On the flipside, if you are a Chip Kelly fan, then look for him to have something Bruin. He might have another run in him.

Die Yankees Die

Don’t forget about Burmeister tearing it up for Va Tech. You are absolutely correct. Usually I’m the one to have to say it and be attacked by fellow “duck fans.”

There is a truth that has been obvious: it doesn’t matter how much talent we have on a Cristobal team. He will inevitably play not to lose and thus give up momentum on a silver platter, which leads to tons of losses. I had problems with Chip Kelly, but there were several times in the late third and fourth quarter of the UCLA/LSU game where Chip was keeping his foot on the gas.

I literally said out loud several times, “Cristobal would be doing A-gap runs and trying to run the clock out right now.” Result? UCLA defeats LSU HANDILY. It was great to watch, but definitely left a bitter taste in my mouth. I mean, UCLA was running a fast tempo offense until 2 (TWO!?) minutes left in the game. You will NEVER see this in a Cristóbal team. UCLA could have scored again if it wanted to….which is the most satisfying way to end a game by taking a knee.

I’m over Cristobal. Guy won’t learn from his mistakes. He sucks the joy out of the game. The author wants tums? That’s a euphemism for the truth: Even when we win it’s just not enjoyable to watch. Yay. My alma mater and favorite sport in the world…and even when we win it’s not fun to watch half the time. We’re not going back and forth against Bama here in a tense matchup. We’re playing down to MWC teams and milking clocks. Gross. Why does one become a coach if you have a joyless, cynical, tepid, craven coaching style?

smith72

I for one enjoyed watching UCLA! The offense was exciting with wide open downfield receivers and only predictable when Chip wanted to set up an explosive play. The defense was attacking keeping pressure on the qb.

Oregon’s offense was boring with most of the runs between the tackles. No Misdirection just plain 3 yards and a cloud of dust or maybe less like the first two touchdowns. Really 4 plays to go 3 yards. Why so much soft zone pass defense?

Some say don’t show Ohio anything. I say show them so many formations and plays that their defense is over thinking everything.

I sure enjoy watching modern football. However, I am not a fan of this version of Woody Hays!

CJ

Me too, hard to admit it on a Duck forum such as this, but the truth is I got more excited and less angry during that UCLA game. I will be rooting for UCLA for the rest of this season, except the game we play them. I do think they will take us to the wood shed though.

Funny thing is my wife even took a little interest in the game and sat down and watched a little Chip football with me and she was like “this is why I used to like watch the Oregon Ducks play”.

Haywarduck

Interesting statement, as I use to enjoy being the underdog, even though we lost too many times.

I also enjoyed Chip football, but now I am not sure about the new Oregon Football.

I about puked when we barely got the ball in the end zone after the defense placed a touchdown on a silver platter for the offense.

I will always be a Duck fan, but elite talent underperforming just doesn’t excite me, it actually just pisses me off.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

I don’t just “feel” your last sentence, but with all the analysis I do–I feel it 100X it seems.

I had my doubts, but did not expect what we saw yesterday at all.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

On other sites–the concept I presented that “he is killing our brand” got attacked, and I was simply a “Cristobal-Hater,” who ignored how the Oregon brand was currently doing fine.

It will always do well with the die-hard Oregon fans like you and I…but the additional thousands (like your wife) who enjoyed the higher scoring are lost.

CJ

Yeah, the “duck fans” are out in force today claiming to be the better fans on many forums and shaming anyone who looks at the product Cristobal has put on the field with a critical eye.

Not sure if blind loyalty is friend or enemy to the team, but at the end of the day the numbers don’t lie.

Averaging 30-33 points per game is not the kind of math that adds up to a championship in todays game.

Die Yankees Die

That’s why I left 247 after being a member for years. Too many pollyannas. I rememeber someone called me racist for my cristobal rants. Maybe I’m just dumb in that way, but I didn’t even know he was Cuban, lol. Yeah I love my ducks but holy crap our fanbase can be about as bad as any of ’em. Except ohio state. THey’re the worst.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

They do not wish to do “Critical Analysis” as we do here, and are simply lap-dogs for whoever is the current coach.

On most sites–they have to be Cristobal boot-lickers, because to get access and interviews, they have to suck-up. You never hear a tough question from the entire media like what we discuss here.

And yet…we are the fans, the reason for their and the Athletic Department’s existence.

You are a new member, Die Yankees Die, and I would invite you to post your thoughts often.

And yes, I originally wrote that Cristobal had to learn the hard way. Now it is becoming apparent that it takes a LOT of losses to learn, or he won’t at all.

This offense? This is what he wants to do, and the only thing that will change it?

Is if the recruiting drops off…

Die Yankees Die

Thanks, Mr. Fischer. I’ve been reading your site for many years and enjoy it immensely. I don’t know why I decided to speak out after a couple years of silence. I’m very encouraged to see some agreement here.

ps–anyone going to the ohio state game? I was thinking of throwing a duck tailgate or maybe crashing one of yours in the alternative, lol.

RkyMtnGuy

You’ve got young down the field throwers, young stud receivers and a decent offensive line and they’re dink’n around with this RPO stuff and a middle of the road QB who winds up with more carries than completions….if this is going to be the offense Ashford is the logical successor and Butterfield, Thompson, Franklin and the other young stud receivers need to do themselves a favor and hit the transfer portal as they’ll never be used properly in this offense….

16 carries by the QB and 50% of the offensive plays are runs between the tackles…..this offense simply doesn’t play to their skill sets especially if thy have NFL aspirations which I suspect they do……and based on what I saw this weekend Oregon could be the 4th or 5th best team in the PAC 12……we’ll know a lot more in about a week.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Actually I do not think next week will tell us anything. Ohio State is miles ahead of us and we don’t need a game to know that.

But the question is–do we have enough juice to win a weak Pac-12?

RkyMtnGuy

It may tell us if MC’s done wit the AB nonsense….and from what’s happened so far I’d consider that a win.