Oregon Making the Playoff? It’s All Mental Now …

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck Editorials 111 Comments

Regardless of what some Oregon fans think about the 2021 football team after the restless win over Arizona, the Ducks are now No. 3 in the nation in both polls. Some of us do not think we are the third-best college team in the nation, but only good enough to win that week is all. It is a puzzling performance margin between winning in Columbus and barely beating Arizona. Do you still think this team can make the Playoff?

To me … it’s all mental now.

The majority of the 20-some Oregon sports websites out there report the news, the interviews and what the coaches have to say. At FishDuck, we like to express our opinions in articles and ponder the opinions of others in the comments. Well, that and we like to do some analysis on occasion, and I am grateful to Coach Boles for providing those articles. But this season will stand or fall on how well the players apply those Xs and Os internally, in my view. How, when and the belief in their success makes or breaks this season.

Many would scoff at the thought that it is all mental now to make the Playoff, since there is so much learning of technique that can only acquired in practice and in the games. Muscle memory is created from those reps, and I do not ignore that component because with such a young team in so many places–these things must be learned by experience.

Eric Evan Oregon Football Twitter

Bennett Williams epitomizes the growth of players at Oregon.

I am assuming some growth in the young guns, as we have already seen evidence of that in players such as Bennett Williams on the defense, along with Terrance Ferguson and Moliki Matavao on offense. It is astounding how quickly those three have gone from being no-names to catching touchdowns and being named the National Defensive Player of the Week. This evolving of players will continue to happen.

But the mental side is what will determine the path of this team, whether they come out with the swagger and bluster of the team that beat Ohio State, or whether they will internalize that anything less than their best will result in losses again to Cal and Oregon State. Will they regard themselves as the underdog to make the playoff — the team that fights, scratches, kicks and claws their way to wins regardless of getting an opponent’s best shot?

That is an attitude my friends. It makes all the difference in the world, and it is all mental.

It is the only way to survive the Pac-12 gauntlet coming up, because we are not always playing cohesively as a team. The coaches may not always have the best game plan, or in-game coaching decisions. When up against these obstacles … how badly do these young men want it?

ESPN Video

This is the first time this has happened….really?

At times they play inspired, and at other times they are full of themselves. When a Duck defensive back is celebrating and barking at the receiver, when he had nothing to do with an incomplete pass by either a drop or bad pass thrown … what kind of culture is that? What would make an Oregon receiver think he could dis’ a defender and spin the football after a catch unless he had been allowed to do it in practice?

How can we have such a brilliant game plan versus the Buckeyes, and yet blundering offensive performances that suck the energy out of the Autzen faithful?

My point is that dichotomies prevail with the Ducks, and I do not think it will change much after a third of the season has set it into the fabric of the team. It will prove to be one of the most thrilling, frustrating and fascinating teams to follow in Oregon football history. This team could set new heights, or could crash and burn.

ESPN Video

Defenders huddle for a gut-check, with so many more of these to go…

Hence why I say that it is all mental, as their approach and attitudes will determine their destiny. What an incredible drama to watch unfold! Who needs reality TV when we have it all playing out on the football field? How will they approach the remainder of the season?

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

Charles Fischer   (Mr. FishDuck)
Eugene, Oregon
Top Screenshot from ESPN Video

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Good breakdown and that was my point yesterday. The Ducks are one of if not the youngest team in college football.

Great stat.

But as you so correctly noted, many ‘freshmen’ across the country in 2021 are not ‘true frosh.’

Many the freshman on the Bama’s 2021 roster suited up for 10 SEC games and 2 playoff games in 2020. Even if they were back ups, that’s a lot of practice time. QB Bryce Young who saw game action in 2020, is a freshman on the 2021 Bama roster.

Sans playoff, same for Oklahoma and Spencer Rattler.

Fewer regular season games for the Buckeyes in 2020, but the true frosh on the roster suited up for a B1G champ game and 2 playoff games.

True that Oregon has lots of ‘frosh’ on the roster; Sewell for example is a freshman.

But Oregon’s roster as is, is still a Blue Chip Roster. A roster superior to every other one in the Pac-12.

Again great post. No disrespect intended to the post and the point you made.

But there is no rule that true frosh cannot be coached up.

All across the country you see true frosh balling out. In CFB today, you have the NFL bound studs on the roster for 3 years. When you are recruiting 4 and 5 stars, you have to get them on the field sooner rather than later.


I dont think any top 20 team has as many players with as little game experience as the Ducks regardless of whether they are true frosh or 3 years in. And if the coach doesn’t play them he obviously must have his reasons. After all he did recruit them.

I think Cristobal is head strong to build a 100% physical team. I also think he probably thinks as most of us do that this team is still 2 to 3 years from a NC. Obviously he’s not going to say that to the fans or the media. Also, I really don’t think he expected that Ohio St win especially on the road.–just my opinion

Jon Joseph

I have no doubt that Mario is playing the guys he deems to be the best at their position.

And this is a young. But it still is the team with the best roster in the conference.

Young or not, Oregon should not struggle at home against a team that lost to N AZ.

Young or not, the Ducks should dominate both LOS vs a team like Arizona. That did not happen.


I hear and agree with what your saying except for one thing, Maybe the roster is not as good as hyped?
both our lines struggled against Fresno-Stony Brook and Zona. maybe its time for them to hit the weight room?

Maybe tOSU is not so good? Who knows. Arizona did play BYU pretty well and BYU is ranked too. Maybe No Arizona could beat the Huskies who beat Cal –could be??
College ball is a strange thing.. OregonSt won 2 games last year and one of them was The Ducks.


That level of censoring is maddening. Sorry, Charles.

As far as censorship, I think it is more about readership. When you post something negative on this site, you get no thumbs up and most often are repeatedly questioned. Those questions often come later, and are not directed at you personally, but your thought is seldom supported.

News outlets need eyes and people who are willing to pay. People don’t want to pay for negative stuff, right now. Most people just want to hear what they agree with, and want to know they are right.

Anything less than 4-5 stars is no bueno. So if you post something which is going to get criticism, you lose.

Permeates much of society right now, not sure what it says about the broader picture, but I like, value things that make me think, must be in a minority.


Seems to me that news outlets are looking for negative stuff. The greater the criticism of the “other” the more eyes they get. Positive articles are considered fluff and relegated to the bottom. From my view, this plays a part in our social and political divisiveness.


Agree, but to criticize those you agree with is taboo in the society we live in today. Like Charles states, I especially enjoy those who disagree with me, as it may allow me to heighten my understanding of a subject. I will agree new outlets are trying to find the train wrecks, people are drawn to this.

I use to be a big critic of Alliotti. This site taught me to appreciate his defense and understand, even now, how the prevent defense can be effective.

One thing I am still learning is confusion is often the basis for criticism. Once you have clarity you can better appreciate what seem confusing, or objectionable. You still might object, but at least you can be a better informed objector, with an appreciation for another point of view. I love to agree to disagree, the ultimate in my opinion.


Wish I had read your comment about being censored before I went to Scoopduck and commented. Someone started a thread and asked if Cristobal had gone too far in his smackdown of Kris Hutson and silly me, I though opinions were allowed.

I like Coach MC and said so, but I thought his rant was over the top and too long and said so. I received back some personal taunts….not horrific by any means, but ridiculously personal and unnecessary. I was reminded why I only make about 2 or 3 comments a year. Not sure why there is such a culture of fear going on over there so that dissenting views are not allowed.


Wow Charles, FishDuck is blowing up these days….even with the censoring. A lot to talk about and ponder it seems. So many great comments below. I can’t for the life of me understand why they would want to censor this kind of info. Maybe they are afraid the good conversation will cause their paying customers to jump ship?

I totally agree with the premise of the article. It was, is and will be a mental game…..a mental slog from here on out really.

Stanford is going to try to exploit every weakness we have witnessed the past two weeks. Was DeRuyter and Moorhead luring Shaw into a trap, a sticky web, and they will come out with an entirely different scheme and strategy at noon 30 this Saturday?

Perhaps……hope so at least, because they completely pulled the rug on Day and company pretty fast so why won’t they do it to Shaw.

How is the D line/front 7 going to deal with 3 tight end sets? Is AB going to be able to complete 60% of his passes? Will CJ get fed the rock more than 10 times? If he does will he be stoned between the tackles like AZ did to him, or will Moorhead try to get him on the edges with a little space?

To me the lack luster-ness of the past two games has been a combo of poor play calling, too much showboating, injuries and not giving the opponents their due respect aka over confidence.

My gut says the Ducks will head to the Farm and show respect by laying a solid beat down on Furd. However, I could easily see us sputtering some more and losing a close one. But I like where my gut is lately.


The defense is not working…

The weakside LB is not good since Flowe went down.
The stand up DEs are not good when Kayvon is out.

The other parts are doing well, but 3 out of 11 positions not doing well – will give up a lot of yards to even lesser teams.

I’m sure the team is addressing this in this week of practice leading up to the Stanford game.

If Kayvon plays, and Keith Brown gets his assignments down, and Funa can get it going – then the D will improve a lot.

The entire secondary is now playing well. And so is Noah. The interior defensive linemen are doing well and rotating in fresh bodies.

9 injuries / transfers to the D front 6 – that makes it tough to put a good defensive unit on the field. But this is football – coach them up!

David Marsh

may be giving up yards… but thankfully not giving up a ton of points. I think Oregon’s defense is averaging about 19 points per game right now which is good enough for the time being.

Not good enough for the second half of the season but hopefully we start to see things tighten up.


19 points, but… how many more if not for those errant throws which led to all those INTs?

It’s like a hockey team that lets the other team hammer shots on the goalie – sooner or later, they start going in the net.

For now, I’ll settle for more stops on 3rd and 4th downs, even if they still give up a lot of yards.


Yeah, Funa just hasn’t lived up to the billing. There are flashes but then he just goes quiet again. Makes you wonder about long term nagging injury.

That last sentence……sheesh….what more can be said. It’s a miracle we are only giving up 19 points a game at this point.

Quite ironic that our big problem is the linebacker core. Coming in it appeared we might have one of the best in the country.


Maybe the scheme isn’t right?


Still a lot of things for the Ducks to work on, but we can’t be better than 4-0. I’m hoping these close calls finally get a light bulb to go off in the players heads. Also, in the coaches heads.

As has been mentioned previously, it seems like the O and D play it close to the vest and then open it up when they need to. If true, it is an absolutely terrible way to coach.

It is sort of like the Golden State warriors when they won 73 games. They puttered around for the first 3 quarters of a game and then “woke up” and played to win. They thought that if they just showed up for 1/4 at the end of the game, they would win. Look how that turned out when they were denied a championship that season.

For what it is worth, Oregon has the 2nd best win vs tOSU. Alabama gets the best win, since Florida is ranked just above tOSU. However, only Oregon has wins vs two top 20 teams. That should count for something to be considered the 3rd best team in the nation.

Current teams with top 25 wins:
Alabama vs #11 Florida
Georgia vs #25 Clemson
Oregon vs #12 tOSU and #18 Fresno St.
Penn St. vs #22 Auburn
Arkansas vs #15 Texas A&M
NC State vs #25 Clemson

The guy chewing out the wide receiver in your photo above has ended up #1 repeatedly. This might have been why he objected so openly. He knows exactly the mentality it takes to end up #1.

Thinking you are all that and a bag of chips is contagious. Cristobal popped that bag of chips real quick!


In 2019, the team was in a fairly good position to make the playoffs, and then they laid an egg vs Az St.

Maybe these ‘close calls’ will wake them up and end up being a good thing?


About the Kris Hutson verbal reprimand from coach C, as a former player I am completely fine with it. I’ve seen Saban come unglued when they had big leads.

What I was pleased and impressed with was how KH never looked away, but held Cristobal ‘s eyes the entire time.

There may be more to this than we know, but I believe whole heartedly that the relationship between coach and player is as solid as ever.

I’m sure many think it was too public or too harsh, but I’ll bet a lot that Hutson has already moved on. I always did.


KH seemed to handle himself BETTER than MC.

A coach that expects players to control themselves on the field might try to do the same.


Maybe MC overreacted, but I think it was necessary. By making an example of KH, he sent a loud and clear message to the entire team, that showboating/excessive celebrating and that type of undisciplined behavior will not be tolerated. So I don’t mind him getting fired up.

I expect that this public reprimand will pay dividends in the future and make his players think twice before committing a similar, unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Come to think of it, I don’t ever recall a time in the last three seasons, where MC looked so passionate in any game.

I like it! It tells me that he understands what’s at stake. Now, he needs to get his players on the same page.

David Marsh

Cristobal said today that there is a strong relationship built on respect between the two of them. I believe it to be the case.

I am sure after the game Cristobal and KH talked without cameras on around them and went over it. I also honestly wouldn’t be surprised if MC apologized to KH for his reaction (not the message the reaction).

As fans we don’t see how these relationships are built we just see the on field stuff. Cristobal has spent a long time building this relationship and if the culture is what we have seen and heard … the two of them had a good long chat with apologies on both sides. We will never hear about it as neither party will ever share that with us and that is just fine and just the way it is.


Yeah I agree. I think Coach did his job on this one. You can’t have selfishness hurting the team. He was basically walking the talk and everyone got to see it.

Can’t fault him for that.

Now the fact that many on the team are showboating all over the field even when they didn’t even make a play??? What is up with that?

I think it was Charles saying it’s a tough situation because of recruiting and that may be right. We live in the most selfish time in human history right now (FaceBrag, InstaBrag, Twitbrag), so I can’t say I am surprised by what we are witnessing, but I would still like to see it stopped or at least checked a bit..


Playing your best.
An easy thing to say, but for some reason it doesn’t always happen. Why is that?
I played bball in high school. Was arguably one of the best players in practice every week, but come game time, too many mistakes (though I did hit my free throws) so I rode the pine too often.

When I was at Oregon, I played against a redshirt player in a pick-up game, and got schooled big time! I began to realize just how good all Div 1 players are, even those not ready to make the team.

Every team has guys who can play, even the worst teams. We can expect to see the best from these teams because it’s easier to get up to play a #3 ranked team. If we don’t show up and play our best each week, we can expect to see issues like against AZ.

So much of sport success is mental. This is where leadership can be so helpful, both from players and coaches. I think we are making mostly positive strides, but as in all growth, it’s hard sometimes to be patient.

I think going to the Farm is just what this team needs to help get focused in.
I also think getting Swinson and KT back will help that D line immensely.

We have yet to play our best as a team. I sure hope it’s this Saturday.

David Marsh

We should see this growth before the end of the season too. The team that starts a season is never the team the ends the season… despite whatever the records show.


Unfortunately it sounds like no Swinson still this week. I am concerned by what I saw of KT but Coach was saying on his presser that he is ready to roll.

Just another old guy

A little unsettled about the #3 ranking. On the one hand winning in Columbus probably warrants it to some degree; on the other hand, the way the Ducks played against Arizona, Stony Brook and Fresno (all home games!) makes me squirm a bit… granted Fresno is a pretty good team.

In the end, a win is a win is a win and rankings don’t mean much until it’s all over.  A #3 ranking is a huge target on your back and you will get every upcoming team’s best effort, plus it can get into a kids head that maybe they’re better than they really are… in a lot of ways, I’d rather be the hunter instead of the hunted.

The Duck offensive has me excited about the potential it’s shone.  On the other hand, at times, I find the offense rather offensive primarily in regard to the play calls (which may be by design at this point). Not sure how accurate AB really is, and if he can throw the long ball with touch, but he seems to be a solid leader and manager.

The Duck defense makes me a bit antsy and excited all at the same time.  Seems a bit of a bend but don’t break mentality with a good amount of swarming to the ball (reminds me a bit of the old Gang Green D).   Which I’m sort of okay with as long as the takeaways keep coming.  A little nervous about the way teams have been able to run up the middle and explosion plays for big gains though… figure the D-line will get better.  But the one thing that really worries me is how a hurry up offense has the D on their heels, looking out of sorts, all the time!

As the team gets into the meat of their schedule, and with school and classes/grades to maintain, things will only get tougher for the players.  How they will be able to manage all of that and continually improve in their play (better technique, familiarity with their assignments, no stupid penalties, etc.) will determine where the team ends up at the end of the season.  Guess this would be the mental side of things as described by the honorable Mr. FishDuck.

This is why I love the college game so much more than the pros. Fun to see the kids grow, really excited for them. BTW Oregon State looked impressive against USC, Jonathan Smith is doing good things up the road.

Jon Joseph

Great take.

What do the big polls mean at this point in the season if they have any remaining meaning at all but for fodder for debate?

2-2 Clemson 25 in the AP Poll and 19 in the Coaches Poll? Absurd.

1 thing the playoff did get right? Waiting until November before coming with the Committee’s first top 25.

Lots of games this weekend, Iowa at 4-0 Maryland, Ole Miss at Bama, Cincy at ND, Arkansas at UGA, ASU at UCLA and yes, Oregon at Stanford, that could significantly change the calculus of the current polls.


Great article.

I think Mario is doing an exceptional job. Oregon is ahead of Powerhouse teams and coaches that have recently produced NC caliber years lately. Even Alabama who has recruited at historical highs amassing the most talented rosters ever seen has not found its rhythm yet.

My areas of concern are the injuries to the front seven, QB play, and immaturity of the team. We started the season looking like the front seven was going to be the playoff elite unit of the team, It has now been decimated by injuries and transfers. Unless we get back a few front seven players or the underweight freshman grow up quickly I don’t see Oregon running the table. The Pac 12 does not have weak teams, there are no games to take off.

I loved reading all 53 posts, Thank you. so many of you pointed out how many freshmen as well as the amount of youth we have then others point out how immature we are and it is on the coaches. I too was growing intolerable of all the immaturity with taunting, fighting, running away from teammates after plays for singular glory to the crowd, etc. I don’t think this is as much a coaching issue as a youth and 24 months removed from the crowded stadium’s issue.

So far I love this season. Unfortunately, I see us losing two Pac 12 games this year. We have lost way too many key positions.


The mental side of things is so important in sports, but especially so in team sports.

I think the psychological side of things is one of Cristobal’s biggest strengths.

There’s quite a bit of chatter about Cristobal’s in-game coaching acumen, and with fairly good reason. He rarely puts teams away and has bungled time management more than a couple times.

But he does seem to get the players to buy in. From all over the country. Truth be told, he’s gotten me to buy in as well.

I look around and see so many struggling, former powerhouses like USC, Nebraska, Tennessee, Texas, Miami, and FSU, who have a revolving door of coaches and I think that very easily could have been us after Kelly left.

I honestly think that after “the Taggarting,” we were on the brink of becoming like the above-mentioned programs. But the players spoke up and luckily the AD listened.

Many Duck fans yearn for the flash and dazzle of the Kelly years and moan about the lackluster on-field experience of Cristo-ball, but you’ve got to admit, he’s brought stability and the best players from across the country to the program.

Go onto some Alabama boards and they are talking about Cristobal as the eventual replacement to Saban.

But come onto Oregon boards, and you’d think he was Derek Dooley.

Ok, sorry. This started as a comment about Mario’s ability to build a team from a mental standpoint and veered off course a bit.

The bottom line: The kids are buying in.

And we all know from experience what can happen when you get handed the keys to the Ferrari and don’t really know how to drive it.

Now, it may not be a Ferrari on the highway anymore, more like a Hummer on a mountain road, but Mario is in the driver’s seat, and I’m glad he’s there.


Well, since several posters used baseball references, I’m going to throw in another.

Did Yogi Berra get it correctly when he stated “Baseball is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical.”?

Jon Sousa

Made me laugh….


I would like to think that mental attitude is all that is needed. However, at some point we will need to have a solid passing game, and a defense that can stop the running game.

AB doesn’t instill confidence in me that he will all of the sudden be able to throw accurately, and injuries have really impacted our defense.

Overall, the remaining games are very winnable.

However, if Arizona can make us nervous at Autzen, then playing the most competitive PAC12 teams on the road may turn into a ride that is going to give me a bad case of acrophobia. (fear of falling from heights).

Go Ducks!!


To me the problem is strategy. If you keep players positioned the same way after failing time and time again and expecting different results well that’s a bit crazy if you ask me.

Jon Joseph

The Athletic Week 4 Rankings. I like these rankings. These rankings are not burdened by preseason rankings. For example, Clemson is not in the top 25, with good reason.

  1. Alabama – vs Mississippi – Will the scoreboard blow up?
  2. Georgia vs Arkansas – Will the Hogs 3-2-6 D baffle JT Daniels?
  3. Oregon at Stanford – On the road – check. Daytime game – check. National tube – check. A Columbus-like showing – ?
  4. Penn State vs Indiana – No white out needed to take down these Hoosiers
  5. Iowa at Maryland. Friday night. Can Iowa keep up with a very good Terps O?
  6. Arkansas at Georgia – Hopefully, the Hogs 6’5″ 250 lb QB will be good to go?
  7. Cincinnati at Notre Dame – Cincy had last week off. ND ended up blowing out Wisky but the Domers were behind in the 4th Q
  8. Florida at Kentucky – Gators could be better than 8 here and 10 in the AP?
  9. Oklahoma at K State – Sooners in recent years have not fared well in Little Manhattan.
  10. Ole Miss at Bama – Will Lane be the first assistant to beat Saint Nick?

Ohio State – 12 at Rutgers – This is not a gimme for the Buckeyes.
Fresno St – 18 at Hawaii. Should be a gimme for the Bulldogs.

Pac 12: UCLA – 20 vs 32 ASU – Should decide the South?

41 Stanford vs You Know Who – Let’s Go Ducks!
46 Utah
56 Oregon State – At USC, the Beavs looked like a team that should be ranked in the 40s? QB Nolan and the run game looked good.
68 USC – so much for Donte’s HC shot? Slovis over Daniels? Another great decision by Helton.
69 UW – when you hire an OC who was fired by Penn St and replaced by Joe Moorhead?
76 CAL – little low here? Lost by 2 at TCU and took UW into OT in Seattle.
82 CU – Lose by 3 vs A+M. Lose by 30 – 0 to a Minnesota team that lost to BGSU? Why did Noyer transfer out?
99 Washington State – In the 3 games it has lost, WAZZU has had the lead in the 4th Q
115 Arizona – After a home loss to NO ARIZONA, hats off for showing up and balling out in Autzen.


MARYLAND +4 vs IOWA. The Terps is 4-0 and get O challenged Iowa at home on a Friday night. Tua’s kid brother is balling out.

Were Iowa’s wins against Indiana and Iowa State, all that? Don’t think so.

OREGON -8 at STANFORD. Hoping that the OL gets off the mat and that Moorhead calls a decent game vs a run-challenged Cardinal D?

And that the D can get pressure on McKee and hold down the Stanford pass attack?

Also looking for 2 Cardinal TOs to result in TDs? And for Cam Lewis (Hats Off!) to keep it up and through the uprights.

MISSISSIPPI +16 at ALABAMA. I trust Lane’s O more than I trust this year’s Bama D?

I think the Bama run game is average enough and the Ole Miss D is improved enough for Ole Miss to keep the game within 2 scores?

It’s early but between QBs Young and Coral, (both from SoCal, sigh) Heisman could be decided in this game?

Jon Joseph

Should have noted that I think Oregon State takes down UW in Corvallis on Saturday night and becomes the #1 challenger to Oregon in the north.

THIS STINKS – Tyler Shough broke his collar bone vs Texas and is out indefinitely.

And a Utah player being shot to death after the game? So sad.

Jon Joseph

Oregon State’s remaining schedule sets up about as good as it possibly could?

Away at WA ST, CAL, CU and of course, Oregon.

Home versus UW, Utah, Stanford and AZ ST.

4 of the tougher remaining 8 opponents at home. An idle week between at WA ST and vs Utah.

I really believe that the Beavs today is a better team than the Purdue team it lost to in the opening game on the road.

Looking at the schedule and the way the team has played since Purdue, I think coming into Autzen on 11/27, the Beavs have a good shot at being 10-2 and perhaps, even 11-1? At 10-2/11-1,Oregon State would come into the Ducks game ranked in the top 25. Perhaps, in the top 15?

This would really help Oregon’s SOS.


Darn right, the Beavs are going to gnaw the pups down to grizzle, currently, Oregon is -8 @ Stanford, and they’re giving away money with U-Dud -2 @ Oregon State. Oregon is No.1 in the Pac-12 Power Rankings. Is UCLA No.2, or does OSU have a case? Beavs lost on the road @ Purdue in the season opener, the Boilermakers are 3-1, same as LSU that the Bruins took down., and now the Beavers have the second longest winning streak in the conference.

Last Saturday, UCLA beat Stanford at the Farm. The Beavers hammered USC, and thanks Charles, the last time Oregon State beat USC in LA, Rich Brooks was playing for them! So, yeah, Oregon owns the Pac-12, No.1 Oregon, No.2 Oregon State.


Great point about the value of attitude and culture Charles.

Are we seeing the true culture of Cristobal in game plans and play calling?

It’s almost as if the players are being asked to compete with opponents straight up, or even being put in weak positions to start a matchup, and are expected to compete and win.

If iron sharpens iron, our young Ducks may look different at the end of the season when it counts most.

This could be a scary good team.

Jon Joseph

You nailed it Charles.

Today it is frustrating being a Ducks fan. It would be far easier to accept lethargic efforts if we hadn’t seen the team that played in week 2 in Columbus.

If Oregon had played on both LOS like it did versus Arizona, no way Oregon defeats Ohio State.

Charles made so many excellent observations in this article.

Culture? It doesn’t matter what the culture is if doesn’t translate to a team taking the field with a, ‘We are going to dominate this opponent!’ attitude. The kind of attitude I saw when I watched the tape of Oregon State winning in LA for the first time since 1960.

Lots of excellent comments below.

FWIW, today, I believe in Mario as a person. I do not believe in him as a head coach. There is a major disconnect between the talent Mario has assembled and the product we see on the field.

Brown seems to be going the way of Shough last season? From an excellent game manager in Columbus to a guy who looked lost in the last 2 games vs inferior opponents.

The D DeRuyter is putting on the field appears to be completely out of synch? There are many excellent individual plays but not a consistent cohesive effort. When you can’t get the Arizona O off the field no wonder Autzen is quiet.

Alabama, under Mario’s mentor Nick Saban, just won its 100th game in a row against unranked opponents. A CFB record. A record that indicates that superior athletes are showing up for every game and balling out. Balling out and not playing down to the level of the competition.

Yet as Charles so aptly noted, Oregon is the number 3 team in the country. As of today the Ducks is favored in the remaining 8 conference games. There is not a roster Oregon will play against that is superior in talent to that of Oregon’s roster. And having won in Columbus, the Ducks so long as the defeat isn’t devastating score-wise, have a playoff mulligan. Especially with the state of the ACC in 2021.

IMO, it will be very disappointing if Oregon does not make the final 4 in 2021. The youth of the roster and injuries notwithstanding. I want to see Ws and not Es, excuses.

Up your game coaches and translate the proper attitude to the guys on the field. The talent is there. Coach it up!

Thanks Charles.

No one wants Mario to succeed more than I. In CFB, success is measured by Ws and Ls, that’s it.


I agree with you Charles. This coaching disconnect has not been noticed just in this season – we have been seeing it ever since Cristobal became HC, and the evidence (e.g. AB carries the ball 12 times, but Verdell only 11 and Dye only 5 with an 18.5 yard average!) has been piling up for some time.


I think David Marsh may have mentioned it first, and I agree, AB is looking a lot like Shough, last year.

He doesn’t seem to be going through his progressions, and then doesn’t seem to see the receivers entering the soft part of the defense. He also panics, like Shough, and takes off too often. The idea there have been more planned running plays for AB than Verdel doesn’t make sense. AB is taking off on passing downs.

Maybe he, like Shough, looked the best in practice. It seems clear, come game time, the game isn’t slowing down for AB.

David also said, it might be time to go to one of the younger guys sooner rather than later, I agree.

Giving a sixth year senior time to figure it out doesn’t make as much sense as a giving a freshman or second year freshman the same experience. I suppose, as long as that doesn’t flip our turnover differential. AB has taken care of the ball, for the most part. If AB starts making turnovers then there should be nothing holding the young guns back.

Jon Joseph

Great take. In fairness to Brown, the play calling sans Columbus, has been puzzling?

What is JM doing? More runs for Brown than for Verdell?

UCLA OL dominated at the LOS vs Stanford. Charbonnet went for well over a 100 yards and Brown also ran well.

Stanford was in the game only because the UCLA pass D is a fire drill.

Did JM make McSorley or vice versa?

Verdell is a legit Heisman candidate, though far behind. I’ll be very disappointed if he doesn’t get at least 15 carries on The Farm.

And come on OL, block for the man!

I’m not yet convinced that the Ducks are third best team in the country.

Not after the QB having the most carries, giving up 200 on the ground, and allowing one of the worst teams in football to be in the game in the second half.

I’m not convinced that improving mental acuity motivation and good game calls will overcome not having enough big fast strong dudes across the roster. Ducks are still small and light at too many positions and backups.

Can the Ducks Run the ball, stop the run, pressure the QB?
Sometimes, sometimes, and occasionally aren’t the answers by Nat daddies.

Jon Sousa

Indeed. As many like to point out, Oregon has the more talented team. What we fail to realize is that our 4 and 5 star recruits were the more talented players as SENIORS in HIGH SCHOOL.

Come to college, and all of a sudden they are not the biggest guys on the field. They are most often the smallest. They are also not the most talented. I’ll take a team of former 3* recruits who have been coached up and built up physically over 4 years (eg. Iowa State) over a team of former 4* freshmen who have had less than half a year of said coaching and body building — any day.

Of course there are exceptions, and we have some on the roster… but most freshmen don’t see the field much, and for good reason.


Confidence is one thing but there’s also depth, experience and injuries. And I see the latter as a big potential problem.


My rant of the week…I’m torn by what I’ve seen under Mario. But I believe in him as a person and a coach.

A rule is a rule, but spinning the ball seems pale in comparison to the trash talk you can see after almost every pass play by most everyone. Being a petrified old f@r+, “Hey batter, batter, batter” seems like it would be considered a felony these days.

I don’t have a problem with the public tongue lashing, but dayum! there are many other NCAA unsportsmanlike “activities” taking place that are not called. So, that creates confusion. And they don’t seem to matter to MC unless it’s called. Or do they?

I noticed nothing was mentioned on ESPN or Duck radio when McKinley threw the game ball in the stands after his interception. I’m fairly certain that’s a violation. I haven’t seen that in an NCAAF game ever that I recall. Should he have been taken to the woodshed? I literally said out loud, “Oh SNAP” (different word) with no one else in the room.

It took me 10 seconds to find this page.


Ironically, Mario’s Hurricanes are mentioned along with the infamous call that contributed to a very high profile loss to…….Arizona. I called BS on that night. But it hurt someone’s feelings. Probably the official’s that called it.

So, is Pittman a volatile hot head or was he triggered by an opponent that seemingly taunted him while walking over the top of him? Only Pittman really knows. Did he get a drubbing? Should he have been? Offsetting…who cares, then. Right?

I’m not condoning any of the behavior, but I don’t see tongue lashings for a lot of behavior on the field that seem much more serious compared to spinning the ball, as far as taunting goes.

I’ve wondered if Mario sees value in the celebrations knowing his infamous team seemed to feed off the very antics the NCAA deemed unsportsmanlike that resulted in (arguably) one of the most dominate teams in NCAAF history. The U slowly devolved not long after many of those rules were put into effect. But this thought would insinuate Mario has a dark side according to today’s everyone gets a trophy menality crowd. If there is an inkling of truth to this idea, I say he doesn’t have a dark side, but actually cares enough about his players to give them grace to celebrate and occasionally discipline them because he cares even more. The issue is that creates unclear gray areas. You can’t have those during a game.

I was kicked out of a baseball game at age 10 when the catcher dropped the ball while I slid into home. The 13 year old ump called me safe. The opposing home coach yelled, “He was out”. The ump changed the call. I called the ump a “Motha”. I had to go sit in the bus. But I learned a big lesson…when I got home. Soap might have been involved.

So, yeah… I’m torn.

Hey batter batter batter…yo momma so fat…

Jon Joseph

Great comment.

Interesting that you mentioned coach Pittman.

One thing I noted during the CBS broadcast of the Hogs vs Aggies game, not once did the broadcasters question whether A+M should be the 7th ranked team in the country?

The 2 Stanford grads who broadcast the game vs AZ on behalf of ESPN? 1 inquiry as to being overrated? OK. But the constant dissing of the Ducks team? Think you’d ever hear this on an ESPN broadcast of an SEC game?

As to the U back in the day. Would anyone say the U had a ‘positive culture?’ All the U did was win. A hated group of players who rarely lost. Who showed up ready to ball out.

As to all of the chatter today? You are on scholarship. You are supposed to make plays. So when you break up a pass do you need to celebrate like you just won the Super Bowl?

My favorite. Guy playing at home makes a great play and then puts his fingers to his lips asking the crowd to shut up?

Is society today about ME or THE TEAM? That’s a rhetorical question.

Jon Sousa

I don’t think he got called for spinning the ball????? but for the pose and statement right after directed at the defender. Would he have been flagged if he took the ball back to his teammates and spun it??

Don’t know. It was a very impressive spin. Maybe he should save it for the NFL.


Hard to say. Both the radio announcers and the ESPN announcers sited the spinning of the ball as the violation. You could be correct. Still a minor act compared to numerous other antics I see each game. I think it’s time for Mario to get the mental focus on what happens during each play and to convince them to quit distracting themselves with the after play nonsense.

After a play, players have to give the ball to an official immediately or put it down near where it became dead. They are prohibited from:
(a) Kicking, throwing, spinning or carrying (including off of the field) the ball any distance that requires an official to retrieve it.

So, maybe spinning the ball at an official’s feet is ok? 😀


My concern is that Cristobal’s tongue-lashing was severe, visually abusive, and done IN PUBLIC ON NATIONAL TV.

That video scene is now on the Internet FOREVER. Do not be surprised that player appears on the transfer portal at the end of the season.


We’ve all seen Coach Saban in action on the sidelines during a game, many times. Call me old school but I want to see coaches make corrections on the field, not necessarily losing it in doing so, but making corrections to individual players while the triggering event is still fresh. That is part of coaching.

I don’t know if the player will hit the transfer portal or not. I would hope he notes the correction and doesn’t commit further violations in the meantime.


Agreed. I am concerned about the manner of correction, not the timing of it. Embarrassment and humiliation is a powerful emotional force that often causes lasting mental impact.

Steven A

RIGHT ON Charles, couldn’t agree more. And as Quackanadian added, injuries are the non mental aspect that could derail this team.

We will hopefully see the leadership on the team straighten out the youngns so they act like “they’ve been there before” as Dye and Vardell do after a TD when they just hand the ball to the ref.

So, take the exhaust fans out of the bathrooms to let them know that corner office didn’t change them.

LOL! Let me know if you need help getting the glass below half full?


Did you mean below half-empty?

Jon Joseph

Either way works for me. Just pass the glass.

In heaven there is no beer, that’s why we drink him here!


Depends on what’s in the glass . . .


Good points Charles. Many good points.

My fear is that we are really not as good as our ranking. The win over Fresno State was uninspiring, though it has since proved to be a good win over a solid opponent. Wins over Stony Brook and Arizona were head scratchers. How can the third ranked team give up huge chunks of yardage to those two teams.

The Ducks’ current ranking is due largely, maybe exclusively, to the win at Ohio State, a team that clearly isn’t as good this year as predicted and has underperformed in its two wins since the loss to Oregon.

You are right about the mental resolve. It will be important from here on out for Oregon to experience no letdowns, both mentally and physically. It will have a target on its back the rest of the way…..beginning with this weekend’s game at Stanford. The Ducks better be ready for that one.

The Athletic’s Stewart Mandel today picked Oregon as the 4th seed in the playoff, facing top seed Alabama in one semifinal game, with 2nd seeded Georgia facing 3rd seed Penn State in the other.

But one stumble and Oregon is out.

Jon Joseph

Good call on tOSU.

The last opponent was Akron. But with injury forcing a change at QB, the Buckeyes did put up 59 points on Akron. The Bucks true frosh RB is balling out.

Stony Brook is a step down from MAC team Akron.

Spread today if the Ducks was playing The Tide in the Orange Bowl? I would guess Bama – 19, at least?

Jon Joseph

I see Mandel has Bama playing Oregon in the Cotton Bowl? As the #1 seed, Bama would have its choice of the Cotton or Orange Bowl.

Why would Bama prefer a venue closer to Oregon and farther from Tuscaloosa than is Miami? It wouldn’t.


It may be mental, but statistically it also comes down to one stat, turnovers. Oregon leads in turnover margin and final score and little else.

We don’t lead in another critical stat, 3rd down conversions. We do lead once we get down in the red zone, we are deadly, which is a good sign.

If we keep creating turnovers at this rate then the season should be a fun one. With a turnover margin of 13-1 we are looking good.

The mental question is what happens when the ball doesn’t bounce our way. Can the Ducks stay mentally strong, and make those 3rd down conversions? Can we develop a passing game?

Most teams can win games with the turnover margins we have had. Weaknesses can be hidden when you win the turnover battle. The question is can the Ducks win when the turnover margin isn’t going our way? That is the question we will soon see the answer too, Go Ducks!

Jon Joseph

Great take. Look back to the Rose Bowl in 2019. TOs won that game for Oregon.

The 2021 D is not playing cohesively, but individuals on D are making great plays.


AB is not inspiring, but he avgs .25 turnovers per game. that’s pretty damn good.

Santa Rosa Duck

This is a young team and the mental aspect surely leads to ups and downs and probably will all season. What i am concerned about is how beat up our defensive line is with Stanford on the immediate horizon. Stanford will probably line up 3 tight end sets at us all afternoon and pound it up the middle.

I also think it is time to start Ty Thompson. Anthony Brown is all heart but does not have the skill sets to get the job done and certainly not to recover in a fourth quarter when we are down by 7-10 points.


You might be on to something, Charles. This is a young, and inexperienced team, trying to find its way. Before the win in the Horseshoe, that wasn’t expected by anybody, the Ducks were in the Top 40. But, they did beat the Buckeyes, and were No, 4, then next week, No. 3. That’s a big adjustment to make.

Imagine you were at your job, just one of the guy’s putting in your work, then all of a sudden, you’re in a corner office. The workers are all down there, you walk through them now on the way to the elevator to the top floor. None of them ask you about how your weekend was anymore. They’re wearing their coat’s and ties, you’re in a suit, with cufflinks.

You’re in rare air now. Your decisions, each one, are huge, If things go right, the Board could make you CEO. But, make a mistake, you’ll take a hit. That aide you had that got you up here, and it will give you cover. But, if you want to stay–all your decisions have to be the right ones. Your “friends” would love to see you fall on your backside. The ones in the 3 corner offices still wonder who the heck you are, and how long is this going to go on?

You know you have the talent, now you just have to convince yourself that this is where you belong, and where you plan on staying for a long time.



I disagree with you a lot. But, IMO, you have nailed it this time.


Respect All Fear None!


Ha! Of course the funny bit is that he got the expression wrong.

JH. What a terrific late drive to get the win in KC.



While I take your point, Kris Hutson nods and purportedly says “Yes, sir!” before returning to the field.


When your boss chews you out, “Yes, sir!” is almost always the correct response.


Good start to the Monday Charles!

  1. If they mentally treat this like a loss and a full on learning experience, these needless penalties and missed assignments can be cleaned up and learned from.
  2. No more injuries. The Ducks have had their share already, one would think the odds are in their favour now to stay a little healthier, but things happen.
  3. Clean play and positive turnover margin.

I wouldn’t like to see them lose this season. But, if they lose one, and this season is chaotic so far, a Pac championship and the OOC win that will look good (even if not for this season, but the history of the Buckeyes for the last decade) will forever look good in the committee eyes.

IMHO, the Ducks have as good as a chance as 2014 with better overall team play, versus a QB in MM in that year that did well to hide much of the lack of depth post injuries.



Agreed, the 2014 was awesome, but those injuries that year showed the lack of depth…

Jon Joseph

Great observation on penalties QD. Against AZ the OL was a false start machine. That is simply lack of discipline.


Here’s a question about false starts: how do 11 players get called for false start? That call still baffles me??! I get one player, maybe two, but 11??


The team needs to play to the calls the refs make but some of those calls were VERY questionable!

Jon Joseph

THIS is the Pac-12. But the biggest mess to date has been the refs in the SEC.

Stole a game from The Pirate and gave Penn St 3 instead of 4 downs vs Auburn.