Did Beating Ohio State Hinder Oregon’s Progress?

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck Editorials

Is that a crazy question? There are so many different components to consider that I cannot help but think that the surprising victory in Columbus steered the coaches into a short-term view at the sacrifice of next year. You know where I’m going with this, and I’d love to get your take on this “ponder-point” in the Our Beloved Ducks forum along with all the Oregon Sports news posted and superb discussions. In short, I believe the coaches weighed the risks in all directions, rolled the dice, and in the end–I cannot blame them.

I recall telling people prior to the Ohio State game that, “we’re going to get our butts kicked,” and I believe most Oregon fans held that view. If we lost that game–the path to the Rose Bowl is still present, and since it is such a young team–a New Year’s Day trip to Pasadena would be a great goal for this green-team on the rise. I believe that had we lost that game to the Buckeyes–the urge to build for the future would have been stronger, and getting game experience to a couple of young quarterbacks would have been much more likely.

Once Oregon lost two games in conference, (for three total losses) I believe the youth movement would have been much stronger, and young-guns at receiver, running back and quarterback would have seen much more playing time when the games were still in doubt. The benefit to next year could have been enormous, especially since we have all seen the disproportionate impact a quarterback makes on the team.  Taking on a few more losses this year could have meant much fewer in 2022?

Oh, for an experienced Ty Thompson in 2022!

It is an interesting question that we all will be pondering through the off-season; what if Oregon had sacrificed many games this year to prepare for a future year with older, more experienced players sprinkled through the offense and defense? How much better would we be to face BYU and Georgia next year? What if next year could have been the year with a talented quarterback?

Like so many Greybeard-age Duck fans that hang-out at the Our Beloved Ducks forum, we have had the pleasure of watching a ton of great quarterbacks at Oregon in our lifetime. I am completely convinced that a skilled throwing quarterback would have changed everything for this team. Yes, we would not have had the long running explosion plays, but Oregon would have had more passing touchdowns instead. While the game was in doubt on Saturday–I was disgusted to see open receivers that were overthrown or ignored.

That same opportunity exists in the future as well.

Yet winning in Columbus gave the Ducks a legitimate shot at the Playoffs, even if the team was fading in experienced veterans from all the injuries. The coaches had to decide if tanking this Playoff opportunity in 2021 was worth the upside for next year? With the team they had in early September–I believe they were correct to roll-the-dice. They knew there were issues with Anthony Brown, but I do not believe they fully knew the extent of his shortcomings until enough games had passed, and the decision had already been made to make the Playoff run.

I am grateful for the carries given to Byron Cardwell.

I do not believe they could foresee the decline of the passing game to where receivers would openly disparage their quarterback, the offensive scheme and consequently impacting the team. Anthony Brown sure fooled me, and it is quite possible that the coaches felt that more upside would emerge with game experience. I certainly don’t think the coaches could possibly have known the injury parade in front of them, and had they known–a youth movement would have been even more of a certainty.

Yes, I believe the victory against the Buckeyes ultimately hindered Oregon’s progress for the future, but the Playoffs are Oregon’s next step. The Ducks simply tried to make that step sooner, and decisions made by the coaches were in good-faith, but ultimately doomed. Evaluating all the aspects of the discussion above will be fruitful for us Oregon fans because….

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

Charles Fischer   (Mr. FishDuck)
Eugene, Oregon
Top Photo by Tom Corno

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