Explosion Plays, Fast-Tempo, 80+ Plays…Do You Believe It?

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck Editorials

For many of us fans of the original Oregon Spread Offense under Coaches Mike Bellotti, Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich, the excitement is palpable about the scoring potential of the 2022 Oregon offense. New Head Coach Dan Lanning and Offensive Coordinator Kenny Dillingham have made many bold proclamations about their goals, intent and process for the upcoming season. I was going over FanDuel’s NFL odds for Justin Herbert‘s LA Chargers, when I started pondering about what has been stated by this new Oregon head coach and OC about the upcoming Oregon offense.

We ardent Oregon fans have all heard and read what has been stated by these two coaches over the last four months about creating explosion plays, having as many as 80 plays a game due to fast tempo and creating ideal one-on-one matchups with scheme and play design. I will not recount them all except to say that there has been an extensive number of affirmations of a forthcoming aggressive Oregon offense, and reading them has been quite exciting for those who follow Our Beloved Ducks closely.

The question is…after what happened with Coach Cristobal–do you believe it?

Don’t get me wrong. I am a big Dan Lanning fan with all I’ve witnessed thus far, and love what the players say about the new offense, but we have been down this road before; fool me once…. Rob Mullens and Oregon fans were fooled four years ago when Mario Cristobal took over. I was at his introductory press conference in December of 2017 and heard him say these exact words…

Oregon Football Twitter

Mario Cristobal in his introductory press conference in December of 2017 that I attended.

“We do not want to take away from our tempo. It’s a valuable asset. A tremendous investment in the offensive and defensive lines….a tremendous investment in being an explosive football team, creating explosion plays, being exciting, making sure that our fans love to come out and support it, because it’s a brand of football they love to see and support.”

Is that what you saw in 2018? In his entire four years at Oregon?

When the room cleared after that initial press conference, I spent somewhere around 10 minutes discussing Coach Cristobal’s plans for the Oregon offense with him in depth, and when I left the Hatfield-Dowling Complex that day, I felt that I knew better than anyone in the world at that moment what Coach Cristobal planned on offense.

Boy, he sure fooled me.

I wrote for the first time in September of 2018 that “this offense will not take us to the promised land,” and a later similar line I wrote in 2020 was quoted by Stewart Mandel in his article questioning Cristobal’s coaching. The reaction among Oregon fans on other sites toward my articles was pretty scathing for questioning Cristobal’s integrity; I recall one thread on ScoopDuck darn-near made me physically sick from the vile things stated about me…for just an opinion.

Karl Maasdam of OSU Athletics

Watching Pistol Plunges, and losing to inferior opponents occurred because Cristobal abandoned the Oregon Brand.

As recently as last August I again brought up this topic and actually had 97 horrible posts written about me on Duck Territory 247 that would have been deleted on my own Our Beloved Ducks forum, as the nastiness was unnecessary for simply having a contrary view. I created the forum with decorum in order to have a place where Duck fans could discuss Oregon football topics in safety; where you give your opinion only, and you cannot throw shade on those who simply disagree with your view.

For many, Cristobal’s original statements were not specific enough, in fact were so nebulous to allow for he and his media/fan groupies to have plausible deniability. Yet at the end of his first year, he admitted that they have to make some changes on offense to improve. Mario…why did you change it to begin with? And why did everyone continue to support him when they could see with their own eyes for a couple of years before finally accepting the truth?

The point is, we’ve heard some pretty good lines from an extraordinary recruiter/salesman in Cristobal. Can you trust the superb recruiter/salesman Dan Lanning to follow through on what he has stated? Do you think he may change the deal on us?

What About the Spring Game, Mr. FishDuck?

It was fantastic, and I will be delving into it further in the remainder of the off-season, but how much can we really count on from the annual Spring Game? I recall how in the 90s when Jerry Pettibone and his Wishbone Offense at Oregon State had a Spring Game where they passed for over 700 yards! When asked, Coach Nick Aliotti rolled his eyes and stated that, “we know what the Beavers are on offense.”

Tony Franklin in the 2021 Spring Game.jpg

Pac-12 Network Video

Tony Franklin in the 2021 Spring Game.

Last year, the Spring Game at Oregon was great fun with an exciting ending. It promised great offensive improvement after a full year of installing the Joe Moorhead offense, yet the Ducks scored a paltry average of 31 points a game in 2021 as they did the year before. The Spring Game can be an excellent indicator of what is to come, or it can be a head-fake (OSU in the 90s), or not tell us anything at all as it did last year. I am reluctant to pin my trust on it…

Coach Dillingham did not exactly set the world on fire at Florida State, although there were unique circumstances there. The coaching tree that Dillingham emerges from is impressive in proven offensive output, but as we have noted in the past–what matters is what the head coach wants.

A Massive Credibility Test for Lanning?

If we take all his statements at face value (and I have thus far), then Coach Lanning has really put himself out there on a limb. If he does not produce the offense he purports to with so many experienced players returning–how will you feel? It also gets back to your interpretation of what you have read, and the impression you were given about Oregon’s 2022 offense.

I recognize other elements that come into play, such as injuries or inexperienced players making a mistake at a critical moment while learning a new offense. These do have to be taken into account, but we can look at the intent of the offense. Is he trying to eat up clock or score points, and at what juncture in the game?

Screenshot by Ella Morton

I was a fan of X-Files, but am even a bigger fan of Dan Lanning, and I want to believe.

Geez Charles, Ready to Hang-Him Already?

I am sure that some readers may believe I am looking for trouble prematurely, and I have written about my earnest wish for a high scoring offense shortly after the new coaching staff was hired. Predictably, I received intense hatred on those other sites for stating my desire of returning to the Oregon Brand again, although many did agree with me.

The point is–the writers at FishDuck and the good people in the Our Beloved Ducks forum community do Critical Analysis, and call things as we see them, regardless of the coach. When we see great things–we will wave the Pom-Poms madly, but when things are awry, we say so. We are not Lanning Suck-Ups, just as we were not Cristobal Suck-Ups because we are Oregon fans who do critical analysis, unlike most Duck fans, and certainly unlike the media that covers Oregon football.

Coach Lanning will get a fair-shake here, but we will be watching closely. It adds to the entertainment this fall because….

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

Charles Fischer   (Mr. FishDuck)
Eugene, Oregon
Top Photo by Gary Breedlove

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