The Ducks Are Playing With Fire

Darren Perkins Editorials

Yes, a win is a win. But the way the Ducks have played in three of their first four games has left many Oregon fans puzzled. It is a frustration based on knowing the talent of this Oregon team and the way they handled Ohio State, and watching the sloppy and inconsistent play against three far lesser opponents.

Five Thoughts After the Arizona Game:

1) The way Oregon played on Saturday, I’m sure at least half the Pac-12 would have beaten the Ducks. The Wildcats moved the ball at will against a soft Oregon defense and were only stopped when their young quarterback made awful throws. Other than that, Arizona, a loser of 15 straight coming into the game, looked great.

2) For me, the “Oh no, this is going to be a long game” moment came on the Ducks’ second possession, after Bennett Williams’ first interception. The Ducks got it to first and goal at the Arizona five-yard line but could not punch it in. After a third-down Anthony Brown run for no gain forced the Ducks to kick a field goal, the tone of underachievement was set for the Ducks.

3) It is confounding how the offensive and defensive line play looked so great against the Buckeyes in Columbus but looked bad to average against the likes of Fresno State, Stony Brook, and Arizona. Aren’t the trenches Mario’s baby? Time to toughen up.

Anthony Brown is running the ball too much.

4a) While some had a problem with Mario Cristobal chewing out Kris Hutson on the sideline for his showboating, I, for one, was completely okay with it.

4b) What I did not like were the three throws by Ty Thompson at the end of the game. Sure, he needs some reps, but those were the most meaningless reps he will ever take. Just take a knee and call it a game.

5) Brown is a beat-up quarterback with a history of injuries, so you would think that the Oregon coaching staff would try to protect him. It would only seem to make sense. But nope, to hell with it. Instead of handing the ball to our highly talented running backs, let’s have Brown lead the team in carries (Brown had 12, Verdell 11, Dye 5).

At this pace, Brown is not going to make it through the season. I was having flashbacks to 2017 when Willie Taggart tried to turn Justin Herbert into Earl Campbell, which led to Herbert getting hurt and missing five games. While this year’s team has much more talent backing up its starting quarterback, trotting out an inexperienced freshman to take on the meat of the Pac-12 schedule is probably not in Oregon’s best interest.

First down for the Ducks.

In Summary

Every team that runs that table usually has one or two less-than-stellar performances that they have to overcome. So far, the Ducks have had three, and we’re only four weeks into the season. Fortunately, two of these opponents were so over-matched that the Ducks ended up winning by a large margin, while they squeaked by the other.

No team has run the Pac-12 table since the Ducks did in 2010. It is very difficult to do, and the Ducks are toying with disaster. For the Pac-12 — to borrow from The Rolling Stones – is singing out, “Don’t play with me ’cause you’re playing with fire …

And the Ducks are in danger of getting seriously burned.

Darren Perkins
Spokane, WA
Top photo credit: Craig Strobeck

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

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