Colorado GameDay Thread: The Best Approach to the Endgame?

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck Editorials

My FishDuck Friends–this is the official Colorado GameDay Thread for discussion before, during and after the game. As before, addressing any negative in the game is fine, but let’s not be venting on other Oregon fans. Thanks.

Now let’s look at what happened at the end of the UCLA game with all the quotes in one place (below) and discuss what each of us thinks should be done in the “endgame.” Of course I have my commentary below the Mario Cristobal and Joe Moorhead quotes for us to chew on.

UCLA Endgame Strategy from Coaches Cristobal and Moorhead:

Question: The second interception that Anthony had there in the fourth quarter, what was the reasoning and decision behind throwing it on that down? Was that kind of going for the knockout blow because if you score there the game is over? I think you mentioned it might have been a non-quarterback issue. I was just wondering more of what went wrong on that play?

Cristobal: “Two things. No. 1, yeah we do want to be aggressive. We’d like to have that play call back. That’s just being honest. We analyzed it as a staff. That’s one where we wanted to score. We felt we were going to have to score. We wanted to get to four minute offense when it was four minutes. We did do that — closer to two minutes. We needed one more first down, but we felt that we could score and wanted to score. We’d like to have that play call back. The throw wasn’t what we wanted either. Not a good play, and not the call we wanted.”

Per Joe Moorhead, the offensive coordinator and play caller, Cristobal communicated the plan to remain aggressive. He told Moorhead to “call the game the way we had to get to that point”. Moorhead pointed to a recent game between Louisville and Virginia for why keeping the foot on the gas pedal felt correct in that moment. In that game Louisville settled for a field goal to go up six before Virginia drove for the game-winning touchdown.

Joe Moorhead was the mastermind at Ohio State…

“In my mind a field goal puts you up six, so a touchdown still wins the game, so you’re looking at that situation,” Moorhead said of the circumstances in the 34-31 score game. “The thought process was let’s score a touchdown and put this one out of reach, and not have to settle for a field goal and run the risk of losing on a touchdown.”

Like Cristobal, Moorhead isn’t under the impression that the execution was good. Brown’s throw was off, and Moorhead said his preference would’ve been to have that ball thrown through the end zone. However, he took responsibility for the call that was made that set up the interception. “I’m a guy who wants to point a thumb and not a finger, and if there was a better play to be called there to try to take a shot in the end zone, then I wish I could’ve called a better one there,” he stated. “It’s a results-oriented game, and we didn’t execute. I need to find a better way be more successful in that situation where we’re trying to win the game.” From 247 10/25/2021   Erik Skopil
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Anthony Brown does have a tendency to throw too high…

FishDuck Endgame Ponderings and Philosophy

I am really surprised at the approach taken by our coaches in that situation. The problem is how they approached it from a score perspective instead of a time perspective. The FishDuck Philosophy for the “endgame” is summarized in a motto I created years ago…

“At the end of the game, first downs are as important as touchdowns earlier in the game because without both–you don’t win. Thus you must make those first downs by any means possible, and that may include passing.”

Coach Chuck Smith (smith72) and I were discussing this recently in how the Chargers finished out two games recently. Their coach believed in the importance of burning clock via the first downs (not scoring!), and actually had Justin Herbert throw two tough-clutch passes for key first downs against Las Vegas. The next week had a similar scenario with the Cleveland Browns, who then had their defense aligned to stop the pass. The Chargers then ran a Counter running play to get a surprising nine yards, the first down and the game. By any means possible!

A legendary coach who has written on this site before explained how his opponents knew that if his team had or grabbed the lead in the fourth quarter, the opponent would never see the ball again. Coach Tony DeMeo‘s teams almost never lost in the fourth quarter once they had the lead.

Coach Tony DeMeo knew how to WIN…

Coach DeMeo believes in having an offense for the “Endgame” that gets first downs and burns clock, and that includes passing. His objective is quite simple: he will burn clock until the game is over and as long as he has the lead — the score no longer matters, as the opposing team will not get back on offense.

Best Example EVER at Oregon? Cal in 2010…

The Ducks had the slim 17-15 lead and started a drive on their own 20 yard line with 9:25 remaining in the game. Did Chip do three Pistol-Plunges or try to score when it was tough-sledding that night? No. He began one of the most epic clock-burning drives in Oregon history, as the coach known for scoring quickly went on a drive that burned the entire 9:25 and ended with taking a knee on the Cal 13 yard line to run out the clock.

That is what our 2021 Ducks should have done in the Rose Bowl.

The interception was thrown when the Ducks were on the UCLA 24 yard line with 3:07 left, and 2nd and 9; the replay shows that no receivers were open (I have no idea what Johnny Johnson III was doing), and Anthony Brown could have side-stepped the rush, tucked it and run for six or seven yards and it would be 3rd down and short.

Step inside Dye’s block and run to open ground…

Get this first down and one more first down, and take a knee inside the ten yard to finish the game. I am quite sure Coach Moorhead has some plays in his back pocket that could have been used to make two more first downs.

By any means possible for the first downs!

I am curious as to your thoughts, since we will probably run into this “endgame” dilemma again during the Cristobal era, won’t we?

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

Charles Fischer   (Mr. FishDuck)
Eugene, Oregon
Top Photo by Jerry Thompson

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