As Oregon fans, we have been spoiled over the years with exciting and high-powered offenses. In the best of those years, the offense was paired with what could be described as a “bend but don’t break” defense. Oregon was not a recruiting power during the Kelly-Helfrich era and therefore did not have the talent to put together a dominating, lock-down defense.
Well, how times have changed. While the Ducks are sputtering on offense during the 2021 season, they now have the talent and star power to put together a very stifling defense. While this year’s young defense has been leaky at times, these players have the coaching and play-making ability to gel together to be, dare I say, dominant?
With half the season under its belt, it’s time for that young defense to take it to the next level.
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Perhaps this is wishful thinking on my part but the reality is, I’m burned out on writing how Mario Cristobal needs to change his offense. I have accepted that he will not change and that we’re wasting our breath on calling for him to do so. Therefore, if the Ducks are going to win the rest of their games, they need to improve in other areas since we simply cannot count on the offense to get better.
We have been blessed at Oregon to have had essentially 40 years of consistently solid to outstanding quarterback play, and this is the year that we finally pay the piper. But, not all is lost. Because of Cristobal, we do have great talent on both sides of the ball and therefore are not dependent on a superstar quarterback to have a successful season. And, with a relatively weak schedule on the back-half of the season, the Ducks are in prime position to still finish with double-digit victories in light of the fact they are getting pedestrian play at quarterback.
Can the Ducks win the National Championship with a stifling defense and mediocre offense? Perhaps in 2007 they could, but not today. But that’s not to say that they can’t accomplish some very good things.
Other Areas of Improvement
Clock Management: Once again, Cristobal displayed his lack of proficiency when it comes to handling the game clock. With under two minutes left in the first half, the Ducks were driving into Cal territory with a terrific opportunity to put points on the board. They then proceeded to waste valuable seconds until they found themselves out of field goal range and in a desperation third-down situation with less than 20 seconds left. The Ducks ended that possession empty-handed.
The whole drive called for a sense of urgency, but if you did not know any better you would have thought the Ducks were trying to burn-clock with a big lead in the fourth quarter.
Offensive Line Play: Yes, this is on the offensive side of the ball, but this isn’t about offensive philosophy or play-calling, it’s about getting the talented big boys up front to gel together and play consistently well. You never know from one quarter to the next how they might perform — from mostly outstanding at Ohio State to near pushovers against Fresno State and Arizona.
Dumb Penalties/Foot Shooting: While some of the very costly penalties have been disputable, many have not. There seems to have been a general lack of discipline, and of course, any unsportsmanlike conduct penalties are simply inexcusable.
Top photo credit: Craig Strobeck
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Darren Perkins is a sales professional and 1997 Oregon graduate. After finishing school, he escaped the rain and moved to sunny Southern California where he studied screenwriting for two years at UCLA. Darren grew up in Eugene and in 1980, at the tender age of five, he attended his first Oregon football game. His lasting memory from that experience was an enthusiastic Don Essig announcing to the crowd: “Reggie Ogburn, completes a pass to… Reggie Ogburn.” Captivated by such a thrilling play, Darren’s been hooked on Oregon football ever since. Currently living in Spokane, Darren enjoys flaunting his yellow and green superiority complex over friends and family in Cougar country.
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