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FishDuck Article

Mario Cristobal Can’t Turn Talent Into Production

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No matter how many top-five recruiting classes he signs, no matter how many high-profile coordinators he brings on staff, and no matter how many of his players would run through a wall for him, Mario Cristobal will not come close to winning a championship until he properly develops talent. Stanford’s upset of Oregon on The Farm wasn’t a fluke; it ...

 

Read the full article here...

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What Joshua says.

Yeah.

This analysis is equivalent to laying down a Royal Flush.

And boy, does the truth hurt.

 

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Spot on.
 

Sadly Mario is also learning on the fly how to actually be a head coach and without any kind of natural play calling ability. He needs to get better. 
 

But so do some position groups.

 

We talk about QB but let’s be honest; Verdell and Dye aren’t ever outrunning anyone nor do they have the bruising stature to run all day between the tackles. Physics matters. I love watching those guys run but want a fast 220+ running the rock in the or killer level speed. Right now we have two really good smart experienced backs who are a tad slow and not that big or durable. 
 

Johnny Johnson and Jaylon Redd aren’t out jumping people or running away from anyone either. Not tall, not that fast, pretty good hands, great blockers. Not the tag line for championship teams WR roster entry.  
 

I can’t predict whether the Ducks would be better off playing some of the younger more physically gifted players but know that as much as I’ve enjoyed Dye Verdell, Johnson, Redd they are not physically gifted at their positions and there is a lot of room to upgrade at RB WR and QB too. 

 

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It is one thing to express your view in an Op-Ed article, but it is another thing to back it up with well-researched facts as Joshua has done. I stated before the season that Sewell needed to be better in pass coverage, but had no idea it was that bad thus far this year.

 

A powerful article, and one that really makes you ponder...

 

Thank you Joshua, and I would hope that as the season progresses and when it finishes--you give us the updates and the bottom line based upon your thoughts and research.  (And welcome back!)

 

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Mr. FishDuck

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Excellent column.  Sums up nearly all of my underlying frustrations as a longtime Ducks fan.  From a fan perspective, it is directly connected to Mr. FD's column about program history and expectations.  As fans, we have observed firsthand effective player development and coaching up.  This experience makes watching under performance from this ostensibly more-talented roster even more aggravating.

 

Question: what exactly do we mean by player development and coaching up?  I think it starts with talent evaluation based on scheme fit, coaching big picture in addition to 'beat the guy in front of you', and putting players in a position to be successful. 

 

The elephant in the room is the the approach to strength/conditioning.  There are a questionable number of serious, fluky, non-contact injuries to key players (Flowe, Williams, etc).  Is the focus on lifting big and flex Fridays resulting in players that are too bulked up as opposed to appropriate functional strength?

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It seems to me that Cristobal preaches this competition mentality all spring and fall. However this is leaving very little time for actual reps for the projected starters. He is spending so much time DETERMINING who his starting line-up should be that he isn't giving these guys the valuable time needed to become, 1) Cohesive and 2) let the game slow down. Fall camp is for allowing competitions at positions to play out but on a high level team there should never be so many positions coming down to the last week or game one week to announce.

 

Everyday that goes by with a position listed as "OR" is one more day a starter doesn't get his 1st team reps. These guys should be getting hundreds of reps per week. Chip Kelly even claimed that number to be in the thousands...

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On 10/6/2021 at 8:15 AM, Duckman said:

Is the focus on lifting big and flex Fridays resulting in players that are too bulked up as opposed to appropriate functional strength?

 

An excellent question that you and a few others are starting to ask.  Coach Radcliff is nationally acclaimed, and Cristobal dumped him like he did the two high-scoring offenses that existed before.

Mr. FishDuck

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Spot on and very true. Under Cristobal I don't see much improvement on the horizon.

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Wow, a great, truthful and hard-hitting article. Another gem from Joshua. 

 

Mario has had ample time to 'learn' how to be a HC. He has over 70 games of HC experience. He simply is over his head as a HC. No switch will be flipped. No lightbulb will be turned on. Mario is what his record says he is. 

 

Mario is 6-6 in his last 12 road games vs conference opponents. Based on roster talent, none of these games should have been lost. 

 

When the team wants to play, vs. Utah and SC in conference champ games and at Ohio State, it can defeat any opponent.

 

In part Mario is the HC because his players begged Mullens to hire him. His players apparently love Mario and the family culture.

 

So why can't Mario get the players ready to play on Saturday? Why do the players come out so flat? Seemingly without the will to win? Just going through the motions instead of wanting to dominate the opposition?

 

The #1 duty of a HC is to have his players ready to play to the best of their ability. Not only are the players not prepared to play, Mario is not prepared as an in-game coach. 

 

He is a good man and a great recruiter. I'm not sure that he is that great of an OL coach? I am sure that his high school buddy, Mirabal, can't carry Steve Greatwood's jock.

 

The 1 thing I take issue with in Joshua's excellent article, at Penn St Moorhead had a quality CFB QB in McSorley and an all world RB in Barkley. And I'm reasonably certain that James Franklin allowed JM to run the O without micro-managing JM?

 

DeRuyter? In his 3 seasons at CAL the D was good but retrogressed every season.

 

Ohio State's holes on D were evidenced by JM's great play calling in Columbus. Did Ryan Day stand pat? No, he demoted his DC and changed the starting personnel on D. He changed the D formation from always playing with a deep safety. In other words, he improved the D and proved that he knows how to coach

 

So spot on Joshua, guys are not being coached up. If Sark or Kiffin had these guys on O and were given a free hand does anyone believe Oregon would not be far more effective on O?

 

It takes time and money to build a national brand. Oregon with the help of NIKE and better than average coaching did just that.

 

The Ducks was must watch CFB TV.  Now, watching the games is like sitting in your dentist's chair. It's painful.

 

What to do? What can Mario's boss, Mullens, do? With the talent he has brought in Mario will win enough games in a bad conference to remain employed. 

 

But I think the Rose Bowl, especially when he has an NFL rookie of the year QB, when the RB is not a PO semi-final site, is Mario's ceiling?

 

What is the over/under today on games at UCLA, at UW and at Utah? And if you have been watching the Beavers, the 'Civil War' will be a battle.

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On 10/6/2021 at 8:14 AM, 81DuckAlum said:

What Joshua says.

Yeah.

This analysis is equivalent to laying down a Royal Flush.

And boy, does the truth hurt.

 

 

Or, splitting face cards at the blackjack table?

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I was one of the few who wasn't drinking the Kool-aid on the AB article and it wasn't received well. I am now going to question your article on Cristobal's downfall in talent development. I am not and have not thought this was a playoff team, but it is a good team which can end the season surprising many people.

 

Bottomline the qb position is critical. AB isn't and won't be a qb to lead us to the playoffs, nor probably the Rose Bowl. You can't have a qb who can't throw effectively, nor make decisions prudently, and he seems to have massive deficits which can't be protected anymore by surprising people with running. I said before he might turn out to be a Tim Tebow type talent, but Tebow was a winner at the college level, AB isn't. 

 

Herbert was a winner and an elite passer. The problem then was we didn't have the receivers who could catch his balls. Even in the NFL guys are dropping his passes, they're missiles.  There was a reason Musgrave was so successful back the day, anyone could catch his passes, much like Johnathon Smith in the day, great college qb's. So we have had a great NFL qb and now a couple poor college qb's at the position.

 

The big answer is to bring on one of the young guns. This might fail too as you have to let a qb grow into the position, if there is growth to be had, and I think all of our back-ups have talent to become very good college qb's. Just look at DJ at Clemson, struggling, but Dabo is in full support of his growing pains. That is what we need now, a young qb to grow into the qb position.

 

The answer is Cristobal letting one of the young guys take over. He then needs to stay the course, take the flack he is receiving on his AB decision. The problem with AB is we don't have another season to let him grow into the position, we do with a young qb.

 

The other issue is what others have highlighted. We need to get the young talent and receivers on the field. One of them is scoring a td every other time he catches the ball, but he is just sitting. At RB, it is time to put in one of the young guys too. The talent level is on the roster, waiting to be developed, but it can't happen while sitting on the bench, watching it all falter.

 

As far as Noah being poor in pass protection, any program in the nation would take Noah right now. Attacking his pass coverage is going after low hanging fruit on a group who has been decimated by injuries. Noah is trying to do too much right now is the problem I see. If he had even Flowe to help we would see people talking about LB university, and the stats would show it.

 

Joshua I love your writing, the time and research you have obviously put into it. I just come to a different conclusion, and respectfully disagree.

 

 

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On 10/6/2021 at 10:55 AM, Jon Joseph said:

 

Or, splitting face cards at the blackjack table?

Or. like watching Mario using a fairway wood in a bunker with a bunker lip 25 feet high? Over and Over and....

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Suggested alternative headline for this article:  Can Mario Cristobal and Staff Turn Talent into Production?

 

Love the research, but am not sure of the conclusion.  This is a young flock that I expect will mature into flying Ducks in the years to come.

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You must have watched me play?

 

GREAT analogy.

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On 10/6/2021 at 8:54 AM, Jon Joseph said:

The Ducks was must watch CFB TV.  Now, watching the games is like sitting in your dentist's chair. It's painful.

 

This statement sums up the collateral damage that this new brand of football has brought to Oregon. This is a HUGE problem for our team and could be a canary in the coal mine regarding future recruiting and potential success.

 

As for the article, it's another gem in my mind.....spot on....pretty much a mic drop.

 

My big question: is Coach Cristobal some sort of player loyalist or what? At this juncture he has to make some tough calls and start giving the rock to TT, Donte, Franklin, Trey Benson and Byron Cardwell. This has to happen starting next game. These five players have to start getting a ton of reps. These are the guys who have the potential to take us to the NC game in the next few years. To do it they need reps right now.

 

What is the best way to coach up talent? Reps in real games and lots of them.

 

Folks, we have seen the product this year. It is insanely inconsistent. Time to play for the future. Let's stop cutting off our nose to spite our face this season.

Edited by C J
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On 10/6/2021 at 9:56 AM, C J said:

What is the best way to coach up talent? Reps in real games and lots of them.

Good point.  Pick your best players, even if it requires some tough decisions, and give them the vast majority of reps.  This is especially critical at OL.  I'm not sure I've ever seen a team juggle at 7-8 man OL rotation like we have seen the past couple years.  Pick your best five and let them develop some consistency.  The time for competition is spring and fall camp, not on Saturdays in the fall.

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85% of their problems are at QB

The other 50% is youth 

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Take a deep breath everyone. The sky is not falling, although there are valid reasons to be concerned.

 

At the beginning of the season I thought they needed two things for this team to be a true top ten team.

 

First, great QB play, especially in running Joe's RPO offense. That means consistently making great reads. 

 

Secondly, staying healthy. This is pretty much a golden rule throughout all of sports. 

 

On the first point, prior to the Stanford game, while I had my concerns about AB, I felt there was not the body of evidence to make a fair assessment. There is now.

 

I love the comment "What is the best way to coach up talent? Reps in real games and lots of them." I also agree that developing consistency is important. But tough to do when injuries occur. 

 

I tend to agree with Hayward Duck's conclusion. Not that I don't have ongoing concerns about player development, I do. But with less injuries, and a Joe Moorhead offense led by a top tier QB I think the narrative at this point would be far different. 

 

Several questions I will leave you with: If Shough would have stayed, would he be starting at this point? Although his decision making also suspect, could he have overcome that? Am I off-base in my belief that Shough had a stronger arm than Brown? The difference between completing 55% and a 65% of your passes is fairly dramatic. 

 

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As long as elite athletes are sitting on the bench watching, and collecting red shirts there can't be much progress. Finding transfers to fill the most important holes while 4's and 5's sit on the bench will eventually influence the future 4's and 5's we want. There is no trophy for having the best bench in the world.  Let's hope some direction happens soon.

 

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Great article. But, not exactly how I see it.

 

I love Mario. But, feel is to close to some of his players and coaches. He needs to be able to make changes without worrying about hurting their feelings. I understand he feels an obligation to AB. But, he needs to move on from him. I also feel he needs to move on from Mastro and Mirabal as well. Yes, these will be tough conversations for him. But, he needs to do it.

 

The young talent is in Eugene. Put some good position coaches in place and let them play! Mario just needs to put the fun back in winning!

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On 10/6/2021 at 11:14 AM, DUCati855 said:

Yes, these will be tough conversations for him. But, he needs to do it.

 

Loyalty versus getting the results you want....that is his dilemma.  

Mr. FishDuck

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Wow…what a difference a few weeks makes. The conversation went from Mario is great, to now he has a lot of work to do…

 

We have a good coach trying to get a very young team to play at a National Championship level. There are good things and bad things going on with this team. We have had both good and bad play as well. 
 

A great QB can cover a lot of bad play and errors made by other players. However, who covers for poor QB play?
 

AB has been plugged into the QB position and had a signature win at tOSU. However,  does he look like “the guy” to win it all? Too many bad QB decisions and poor throws with no improvement in sight. 

 

The next time we have an NFL caliber starting QB is when we will have a legit shot at something beyond a PAC 12 Championship. Until then I am on this rollercoaster ride with everyone else. 
 

BTW…MC is a good coach. We will see if he can be a great coach. I know a great QB would have made him look like a better coach then he was on Saturday. 
 


 

 

 

 

 

 

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On 10/6/2021 at 10:22 AM, shawnski said:

85% of their problems are at QB

The other 50% is youth 

I would say fixing the QB problem unlocks the receivers which opens up the whole offense. 

 

The funny thing in 2018 and 2019 the problem was flipped. Oregon had the QB in Justin Herbert but lacked the receivers. 

 

Getting the QB right is tough and for I will say 3 of this year's games Brown has been the right QB, knowing the lack of experience behind him. Now, I think it has flipped. 

 

I struggle with the topic of the article because on the one hand... this is absolutely true that the talent has failed to produce. However, some of this talent has absolutely produced big results. The Sewell brothers, KT, (i know all super highly ranked), Dye and Verdell have developed and made jumps every year. The offensive line would look better if there were better RPO reads going on from the QB. 

 

The amount of youth gives me pause on a blanket statement like failed to develop. I'm on the fence right now... I think 2022 is the YEAR Cristobal really has to prove it. I would have said it was this year, but 2020 doesn't count for the majority of teams, Oregon being one of them. 

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On 10/6/2021 at 11:14 AM, DUCati855 said:

I love Mario. But, feel is to close to some of his players and coaches. He needs to be able to make changes without worrying about hurting their feelings. I understand he feels an obligation to AB. But, he needs to move on from him. I also feel he needs to move on from Mastro and Mirabal as well. Yes, these will be tough conversations for him. But, he needs to do it.

 

Yes yes yes. Totally agree with cutting Mastro and Mirabel loose. My conspiracy theory has and will continue to be that Mastro is the real source of our frustrations these past several years. He definitely brought the pistol plunge. 

 

Has MC let loyalty become the enemy of the good....or potentially even the perfect? Hard to say, but the optics from the outside point to this as a potential issue.

 

Similar to the military.....there is no place for hurt feelings in the game of football. Do you think Saban worries about who's feelings he has hurt?

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On 10/6/2021 at 2:34 PM, Drake said:

Wow…what a difference a few weeks makes. The conversation went from Mario is great, to now he has a lot of work to do…

 

We have a good coach trying to get a very young team to play at a National Championship level. There are good things and bad things going on with this team. We have had both good and bad play as well. 
 

A great QB can cover a lot of bad play and errors made by other players. However, who covers for poor QB play?
 

AB has been plugged into the QB position and had a signature win at tOSU. However,  does he look like “the guy” to win it all? Too many bad QB decisions and poor throws with no improvement in sight. 

 

The next time we have an NFL caliber starting QB is when we will have a legit shot at something beyond a PAC 12 Championship. Until then I am on this rollercoaster ride with everyone else. 
 

BTW…MC is a good coach. We will see if he can be a great coach. I know a great QB would have made him look like a better coach then he was on Saturday. 
 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great comment Drake. But other than the game in Columbus was anyone thrilled with the play vs Fresno, Stony Brook and Arizona?

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