2022 Holiday Bowl: The Luck of Duck Comes From Pluck

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck Editorials

It was fitting that Oregon came back to win in the final seconds of the 2022 Holiday Bowl continuing the breathless endings of the final three games of Oregon’s regular season. Yet this victory can be credited to some good coaching, and some plucky-play by veterans on the offense who came through in crunch time. The puzzling questions that surround the performance of Oregon at times will be left for the long off-season, but let’s get started discussing some observations/questions I have after this highly entertaining game.

The Dillingham Drop-Off

The surprises of prior game-plans were not evident with even a month to prepare; it is as if the inexperienced coaches on offense were in a don’t-screw-this-up mode. The surprise plays, the most innovative ones at key moments we observed in the past were not there through this game, and even the final drive was successful due to winning individual match-ups. As we learned earlier this week from DazeNconfused in his analysis article–the upcoming Will Stein offense is a system, and has a different emphasis.

That is going to be needed, as it is clear that the present offensive staff does not have Dilly-Difference.

The Tar Heels had a second team corner on one side and a third teamer on the other due to portal transfers, and the Ducks did not attack them?  Yes, I understand that when the defense runs a Cover-2 defense, it can prevent a ton of longer passes and it allows a poor run-defense to be more porous. But the Ducks got away from the game-plans that did work earlier in the season when they piled on the points, and then shortened the game with the running attack. (Get the damn lead first!)

Bo Nix made the throws when it counted.

Oregon was trying to score primarily on the ground, thus shortening the game on themselves when long drives came up with no points. The Dilly-Drop-Off was from 40 points a game to 28 points…versus a team they should have scored 50 points on. It is easy to say that Bo was not sharp, but we really did not attempt anything very deep with the passing attack. Yet when the game was on the line–Bo made the throws.

Duck Defense Declined in 2022

I never thought I’d write those words, but Coach Dan Lanning has a significant task ahead of him that is attainable–but is going to be a challenge. Oregon rushed five often this game, and simply did not get the pressure needed at key moments to slow the North Carolina quarterback. While many are happy with holding the Tar Heels to 28 points, I feel that with two of their top receivers out–the Ducks should have done better.

I was delighted to see Keith Brown play like a veteran, the continued growth of Trikweze Bridges and the break-out game for Mase Funa. I felt that the Ducks did a good job defeating a ton of run-blocks, but the pass defense is a work in progress. All those defensive recruits will have some opportunity at Oregon!

Receivers Ready to Roll?

Everyone knows how savvy Bo Nix is, especially when it counted…yet the receivers played so smart and tough–it bodes well for ferocious downfield scoring in 2023. Terrance Ferguson showed us why a tight end transferred, as he made huge catches and yards-after-the-catch as few can do. Kris Hutson made some superb grabs, and Troy Franklin was unstoppable. Add one new WR from the elite group of recruits/transfers joining the Ducks and this corps-of-catchers could be one of the best ever at Oregon.

Dan Lanning is leading a 10 win team into 2023…

As we know–the Ducks’ Special Teams are not very special at times, and it will be fun in Spring football to watch the changes and growth of this team. I believe very strongly that Coach Lanning has been getting his coaching legs under him while getting acquainted with the team. For 2023, you will see more of his culture ingrained as last year was not enough time from when he was hired and while trying to hold the team together.

I have become more grateful with a 10 win season considering the upside remaining with the defense and special teams. It will fun to watch the next growth phase of both our coaching staff and the plucky-Ducks in 2023, while we will discuss it all extensively in the forum-with-decorum because…

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

Charles Fischer   (Mr. FishDuck)
Eugene, Oregon
Top Photo by Mike Snow

New 2024 FishDuck Publishing Schedule….

During the off-season the FishDuck.com publishing schedule will consist of articles on Mondays and Tuesdays. Do keep checking as new articles could be published during the week when a writer has something to say.

In mid-August of 2024, we will go back to the seven-days-a-week of articles during the football season as we did in the football season of 2023.

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