Can Coach Tosh Lupoi Fix His Weakest Link?

Duckster Editorials

The hallmark of any great defense is strength up the middle. Conversely, (As Charles eluded to in a recent post on our forum) it remains a  long-term weakness at Oregon. This topic is especially pertinent considering Oregon’s portal activity, and Mr. FishDuck took time from his study of Washington Commanders NFL Lines and NFL Odds to chime in his thoughts about this last piece needed for future Duck defenses. The concern lies with those massive, two gap, defensive tackles that are the foundation pieces of championship defenses such as those of Georgia, Alabama and others.

Historically, its not just the case at Oregon. Despite welcoming two big bodies from the portal this year, (Caldwell and Harmon) the Ducks are once again thin and vulnerable to injury at a position almost as important as the quarterback is to the offense. This is an ongoing issue for Oregon beyond this year, and I have a suggestion that could gradually solve this recruiting challenge over the next five years. It revolves around opening a window that Coach Mike Bellotti began, and could be the answer once again.

DC Tosh Lupoi has been recognized as a top recruiter. He’s a Bay Area guy, (De LaSalle HS/Cal) with solid recruiting connections throughout California. But his success is usually built around edge rushers, not big body tackles. Because even in fertile recruiting grounds of the Golden State, a difference maker at defensive tackle or nose tackle is as rare as a snow leopard.

Little wonder why Oregon continues to struggle to fill this ongoing need. In truth, there are only three areas of the country where these athletes reside. The Deep South, the Southwest, (Texas) and (to a lesser extent) the Upper Midwest. And year after year, its a feeding frenzy amongst the top schools in those areas to land one of these prized recruits.

Haloti Ngata, No. 96, was un-blockable!

Beyond the high cost and competition for this position in the quick-fix transfer portal, is there a possible longer term solution available to Lupoi and the Ducks? I say there is“look west young man.” West to Polynesia.

It’s time for Lupoi and his staff to dominate the Polynesian Pipeline on the defensive side of the ball. Coach Joe Salave’a, probably Oregon’s best Polynesian insider, unfortunately followed Mario to Miami. An investment of time, energy, and assets are now needed to enhance and propel the Polynesian Pipeline to the next level.


  1. Because the area is literally in our own backyard. (Granted, a BIG backyard)
  2. Because the competition in recruiting these players is a fraction of what exists in the previous areas of the country I identified.
  3. Because the culture and the identity of these young men fit seamlessly into the culture Coach Dan Lanning is building at Oregon.

At alternate times, many West Coast schools have benefited from this pipeline including our new B1G adversaries USC, UCLA and Washington. Historically the Utah schools of BYU and Utah have benefited the most, in large part due to the strong LDS connection which has a strong foundation within the Polynesian culture.

Marcus Mariota ran Oregon’s offense beautifully, resulting in Oregon’s first and only Heisman Trophy.

And here lies the beauty of the strategy; the typical Polynesian community is tight knit, loyal, very family oriented and committed. Chances of doing the portal dance with these competitors is much diminished, and more often they become self recruiters of others within their communities. Capitalizing upon having a Polynesian quarterback at Oregon this year in Dillon Gabriel could help jump-start the renewal of Oregon becoming a destination for these coveted players.

Forget the number of recruiting stars by their names, as we recall Marcus Mariota was a 3-Star on many recruiting analyses. Due to sheer distance, many of these players fly under the radar. With proper scouting, coaching, and physical development–there are both emerging stars, and diamonds in the rough to be discovered that will pay long term dividends.

With all of its resources and the desire to be the pre-eminent CFB program west of the Rockies, Lupoi and Oregon are in the perfect position to dominate this underutilized resource of talent. The question is….will they?

Cupertino, California
Top Photo by Nancy Paiva

Share your thoughts about this team in the only free, “polite and respectful” Oregon Sports message board, the Our Beloved Ducks forum!


New 2024 FishDuck Publishing Schedule….

During the off-season the 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.

The Our Beloved Ducks Forum (OBD) is where we we discuss the article above and many more topics, as it is so much easier in a message board format over there.  At the free OBD forum we will be posting Oregon Sports article links, the daily Press Releases from the Athletic Department and the news coming out every day.

Our 33 rules at the free OBD Forum can be summarized to this: 1) be polite and respectful, 2) do not tell anyone what to think, feel or write, and 3) no reference of any kind to politics. Easy-peasy!

OBD Forum members….we got your back.  No Trolls Allowed!