Oregon/OSU GameDay Thread: What is Oregon’s Identity? What Should it Be?

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck Editorials

I am still trying to figure out what Mario Cristobal is actually building at Oregon between what he says and what we as fans see on the field. But first–let’s use this article as the GameDay thread over on the OBD forum, and let’s discuss aspects of the contest before the game, during the game and after the game right here. And do remember–writing negative is not only fine, but it is what we do on a forum, and of course, the fans want to win.

In a Shootout…Does Oregon Have Enough Bullets?

I always knew that with a Mike Bellotti coached team the passing attack was sophisticated, and winning at Oregon in those days meant outscoring other teams in a shootout.  But we had the quarterbacks, receivers and coaching to pull that off when the defensive personnel was weaker and more scoring was required. My complaints about Cristobal dumping two high-scoring offenses are well known, and currently the Ducks are scoring 33 points per game, much less than the years of appearances in the ‘Natty.

There are some games where you need to score a boatload of points to win; if Oregon had a better passing offense, the games lost at Stanford and Utah might not have happened so easily. The Beavers put 41 points on Oregon last year, and the question is…can the Ducks slow down the Beavers enough or score enough to win? Yet both Oregon and Oregon States fans can enjoy these sights in our beloved state of Oregon upon reflection.

The fact is, a pedestrian offense is more boring to watch and loses more games than you wish. Coach Bellotti knew, and now Coach Jonathan Smith of Oregon State knows that weaknesses on a team can be overcome and wins can be attained by scoring tons of points. But having a high-scoring offense is clearly not a goal of Coach Cristobal, so what is?

Are there really any non-physical teams in college football?

Is Oregon Actually TOUGHER than their Opponents?

We have heard Coach Cristobal talk endlessly about being tougher at the line-of-scrimmage and creating a more “physical” culture at Oregon. But is that a winning formula in itself? Isn’t scoring scads of points more imperative than “trying to impose your will” on an opponent? Besides, if you make the Playoffs, do you really think you are going to out-physical Alabama? If you lost in the trenches to Utah with their 3-Star players–how is this a winning formula at the higher levels, especially when they are scoring 45 points per game?

My observation is that the clearly weaker teams in the conference are ones you can “out-physical,” but beyond that you have to do more, in tactics and game management, to win. I question the progress of “becoming tougher” over nearly four years of Cristobal coaching, and how important its emphasis is when all football players and teams are tough due to the violent nature of the game.
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Yes, some past high-scoring Oregon teams were accused of not being as tough as current teams, but those prior teams did not worry as they boat-raced 50 points on the lesser conference opponents that Cristobal is out-toughing now. Playing tough is important, but the emphasis should be focused on points; preventing them on defense and scoring boatloads of them on offense.

Talking “tough” is a misplaced priority that has not proven effective at Oregon, especially considering what has been sacrificed in scoring in the attempt to achieve it.

Do we have to lose one of these every year?

Where Oregon has Become Weaker? The Mental Game…

I have been disappointed in the four years of Mario Cristobal at just how mentally weak his teams have become. The fact that fans are worried that the team will not be mentally ready today is just insane. How can the team not be mentally ready? This is our rival game, with an opponent that beat us last year and with a conference championship still attainable? Why would fans have these concerns?

Because of what we have witnessed over nearly four years of the Cristobal era.

Mental Weaknesses that LOSE GAMES

–A poor record on the road at away games. Not being mentally ready?
–Coming out flat when there are only three months of games in a year?
–Losing the Bonehead games to teams you shouldn’t.
–The dumb penalties, the undisciplined plays that have killed drives and created losses.
–The embarrassing player behavior after plays on both sides of the ball.

It is odd, the talk of being physically tougher, when I believe the teams of old were much tougher mentally than what we see on the field in 2021. Although Oregon has had a lot of successful players who were highly rated.

We must develop more expertise in the passing game.

Add it up and Oregon does not have a true identity that is consistent and accurate; the Ducks are not physically or mentally tougher than their opponents, and the numbers of points scored and scored upon are plodding results compared to the teams that Cristobal aspires towards. In summary, he has (gratefully) won a ton of games, but thus far he has failed in achieving his vision for Oregon.

Can the team get it together enough today to pull out the win? What about all the items above? Let’s consider them because…

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

Charles Fischer   (Mr. FishDuck)
Eugene, Oregon
Top Photo by Craig Strobeck

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