FishDuck Take: Oregon Spring Game Concerns and Confidence

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck Editorials

If you are looking for something sweet, then this article about the Oregon Spring game is not for you. I offer my perspectives of the game without any reason to suck-up to anyone, and my views do not represent the feelings of our staff at FishDuck. I wish to offer a balanced “take” of the beginning of the second year of the Coach Dan Lanning, and I found reasons for concern and a ton of confidence. After having some gaming fun at this top online casino–I gathered my thoughts to share with you.

Confidence in the Corners

The overall pass completion rate of only 45% total between both teams is indicative of a superior defensive performance of which one component was the tight coverage that created very small throwing windows for the quarterbacks. The majority of those completed were short gains because the secondary did a superb job of staying “in-phase” with receivers downfield the majority of the time. The amount of YAC, (yardage after completion) was low due to much better tackling technique, and fewer missed tackles than last year.

Retired coach Nick Aliotti commented in the broadcast how he really liked this secondary, and with what we saw–I agree. The three portal transfers (Tysheem Johnson, Evan Williams, and Khyree Jackson) changed our outlook for the defensive backfield completely when you add veterans such as Trikweze Bridges, Jahlil Florence, Dontae Manning, and Bryan Addison. Without the transfers, things are dicey; now, this will be an area of strength in this conference.

Usually I am fretting about one of the corner spots going into the season because of a newbie or inexperience. This is one of the few years that I feel secure in that who plays is going to be good, and in prior years–that is often not the case. Bridges truly turned a corner last year, yet he will be pushed by impressive talent. I can exhale this year as I now have confidence-in-the-corners.

Running the ball was tough sledding…

Defensive Line Changed the Game

I wrote earlier in the week in the Our Beloved Ducks forum that I felt the shortage of experienced offensive linemen would create a ton of sacks on Saturday, or I hoped as such. I forgot that we don’t have quarterback sacks in the Spring Games, yet there were a number of quick throws to the flat receiver that were forced by rushers bearing in on the quarterback. There were missed receivers downfield because the QBs did not have the time to set and throw, and often when they did get the pass off–had a defender in their face.

In Georgia lore–those are “Havoc-Points” created by the defense because it limits the ability of the offense to score, and I saw a ton of quarterback hurries Saturday. With more time to throw–the completion rate and points scored would have been much higher. Frankly, I was surprised at how quick the pressure was getting to the quarterbacks considering that many of the plays were designed for rapid check-downs and throws.

The depth of this defensive line also was prominent in stuffing the proud Oregon running game so completely. The Ducks had a net of 139 rushing yards in the Spring Game as a total of both teams? Whew! The recruiting in the portal, recruiting of new freshmen and the development of the veterans made this defense look closer to what Coach Lanning wants; perhaps we may make a much bigger jump in defensive improvement this year than I originally thought?

Offense Has High Ceiling, but Very Vulnerable

Everything changes when games begin and Oregon will have six veterans on the offensive line who will work well together. I will not detail all their experience here, but whoever does not start is very talented and experienced–again due to portal recruiting. Without the two portal recruits–things are dicey and I’m crossing my fingers; now I am looking forward to an explosive offense featuring an entertaining running game this fall.

Not many open moments like this for QBs on Saturday.

We all love what we saw of Tez Johnson, and I cannot help but wonder if he will be our “go-to” receiver on third and long as Chase Cota often was last year? We have others as long-ball threats, and his YAC makes him dangerous as we saw with a routine third-down catch that he turned into a touchdown. Add the connection that he and his brother at quarterback have, and it seems that even if the opponent knows what is coming–it could be tough to stop.

I was wondering out loud if new Oregon offensive coordinator Will Stein was selling the “Bird-Bomb” element of his offense to recruits, and we certainly got our answer. We featured many articles on FishDuck about how Stein likes to push a strong running game to make more defenders cheat closer to the box. Then he launches long-balls to wide receivers who have attractive one-on-one matchups on the outside and we viewed a number of those examples on Saturday.

In particular I like how the play design on one of them placed stress on the free-safety by having a burner receiver run a seam route deep on the left side of the defense. Because the WR was getting past the defender back-pedaling…the safety had to come over to help out. This left Troy Franklin on the right side of the defense to take his lone defender long and haul in a sweet pass from Bo Nix. It’s true; we will see Bird-Bombs this fall!

The Siren Song of Ty Thompson

Why did they play Bo Nix so much? Besides exposing him to injury–the opportunity for development of the other quarterbacks in live-action is lost. Yes I know they wanted to put on a show for the fans and recruits, but like so many quarterback decisions of the past–it comes at a high cost. We have seen Cam Ward from Incarnate Word flourish at Washington State, and a former walk-on QB filled in for Cam Rising to help Utah beat WSU in a Pac-12 game. Why not try the Oregon walk-on from a smaller program who has thrown for over 5,000 yards?

Oh I know many in the press are lauding Ty Thompson’s improvement and growth. Baloney. As I’ve stated many times, “Greatness and Weakness Emerge Early, and Weakness never improves to Greatness. The best you get is average to below-average after putting years of work into someone.” Sound familiar? Whether it is football players, coaches, employees, managers, etc. The good ones demonstrate their talent early-on as we saw with a few raw freshmen on Saturday.

Jeff Lockie did his best, but how good could you be in those uniforms?

This reminds me of seven to eight years ago when a quarterback that everyone was worried about had a superb Spring Game. Between gulping down the lime-green Kool Aid, the Oregon Media blustered that, “it is evident that Oregon will be just fine at quarterback with Jeff Lockie.”

Right.

What is evident to me is how Oregon’s football season will be trashed if Bo Nix gets hurt. There is enough risk for a quarterback being in the pocket (Kellen Clemens) or just running down the field. (Dennis Dixon) Don’t run him between the tackles again, please?

You are invited to debate these points at the only Oregon forum-with-decorum because…

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

Charles Fischer   (Mr. FishDuck)
Eugene, Oregon
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