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Charles Fischer

FishDuck Article: "Can Oregon Fix Its Coaching Problem in 2021?"

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Something simply doesn’t add up. There’s a pretty simple formula to winning in college football, and it starts with getting better players than everybody else. There are other factors needed to build a consistently good program, but bringing in top-tier talent is believed to be the most important. Oregon has done that better than just about any other Pac-12 program ...

Read the full article here...

Mr. FishDuck

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Doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result each time is the definition of something wrong. Another year of under preforming top talent and one has to point to the coaching staff and ask some tough questions. 

We have all had our speculation as to what/who is the problem and I wish it was more clear as to what specific it is with this coaching staff but over the last 4 years their has been only one common component. Talking to the coaching staff has not seemed to reveal much of the internal workings. For example: exactly who is calling the play to run up the middle on 4th and 1 over and over, never seems to get revealed. Hints, yes, but no one is standing up and taking responsibility. 

Having everything gel properly in a football program is the responsibility of all the coaches, but in the end only one is held accountable. The problem Oregon has is, we do have good talent, we do have a good OC and we do have a good DC, so why doesn't the program succeed to a much higher degree than it is ?? On paper it should, but in reality not so much. 

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The big problem is that Mario really doesn't think there is  a problem. His response after any loss is that it hurt and that the team, the players, the coaches, will work even harder to make sure it doesn't happen again. Never has he given any indication that any adjustments are necessary.

With the recruiting success, it will get harder for it not to get better. Mario wants to succeed. He wants to make Oregon the Alabama of the West. Will he take a look at what Alabama has become? The Tide averaged 50 a game this season, their WR won the Heisman, the QB was 3rd, its RB was 5th. That isn't "prevent offense."
It's going to be fascinating to watch what happens next season. 
 

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Chip Kelly took over a program that was a fine tuned machine and won big with an innovative offense. He has struggled elsewhere as he isn't taking over the support structure he had at Oregon. This support structure was destroyed by Helfrich and then slick with his 'do something' mentality.

There are two types of programs one with a solid structure in place to put all the pieces together, and the other is a program with that developing. Too often programs don't recognize the time it takes to develop the structure. Oregon has always been a program which has more patience for this to happen than other programs. Think back to the Brooks era where Oregon stood by as Brooks built a program, and OSU went from one coach to the next.

I think what Leavitt did when he came to Oregon was amazing. He turned around a defense that was the worst, but there have been burps along the way. Our offensive coaching staff has been a completely new set of coaches who don't seem to meld together well. Hopefully we will see Moorhead take more control of the recruiting, development and play calling and we will see more of what Leavitt did with our defense.

In the end Cristobal is much like Brooks, a very good person, leader of men, and a coach who is getting better and better. We may not be as easy as a group to appease as we were in the 80's, but I think we all know we don't want to be the OSU programs of the 80's, and push for winning by creating a revolving door. I think Cristobal will work it out and the coaching system will blend over this year and the next. It takes time to create what Brooks and Bellotti developed. We were basically starting over after many years of success.

 

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This year the combination of poor defensive play, questionable QB play, and dumb turnovers ended with a PAC 12 Championship. Funny in a way. Expectations were high at the beginning of the season, then sank, and rose again when we beat USC. However, by then, most of us knew that we weren’t that good.

My expectation was that Shough would settle into the starting role and get better as the shortened season progressed. That obviously didn’t happen. Unfortunately, Shough melted when all that was needed to beat OSU, and Cal was good decision making and solid play. However, this is a team sport so Shough can’t shoulder all the blame. 

In the past the Ducks generally perform well when we have three things. Solid QB play, a featured running back that ends up in the NFL, and a decent defense. This year we had questionable QB play, running backs that don’t necessarily look like NFL guys, and defensive problems. 

Ultimately, if we can find our QB/running back combo...we solve a lot of the offensive issues. I think the defense takes care of itself with the players we already have. 

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21 minutes ago, Haywarduck said:

In the end Cristobal is much like Brooks, a very good person, leader of men, and a coach who is getting better and better. We may not be as easy as a group to appease as we were in the 80's, but I think we all know we don't want to be the OSU programs of the 80's, and push for winning by creating a revolving door. I think Cristobal will work it out and the coaching system will blend over this year and the next. It takes time to create what Brooks and Bellotti developed. We were basically starting over after many years of success.

Well said. Cristobal is rebuilding a foundation that had fallen into disrepair. 

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As fans, we're outsiders when it comes to what actually goes on inside the Ducks program. We can speculate til the cows come home, and often do. But in the end we really don't know who is responsible for sending a running back into the middle on 4th and 1 over and over again.

I for one would like Mario to answer that question. It's time. 

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29 minutes ago, Drake said:

Solid QB play, a featured running back that ends up in the NFL, and a decent defense.

First post on the new forum...

RB personnel is the biggest headscratcher to me.  Big upgrade in talent across most position groups in the past couple years.  However, we continue to feature 3* RBs into years 3-4 into MC's tenure despite an apparent preference for power running and a ball control offense.  Hope to see changes there in the fall.

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The pistol plunge offense holds this team back significantly. How many times over the past 3 years have we seen a 3 and 1/ 4 and 1 and everyone in the building knows it’s going to go right up the middles and get stuffed. I’m completely fine with being a run first physical offense so if Mario is set on running up the middle over and over again let’s ditch the pistol and get under center with a fullback and tight ends involved in the formation. We’ve also recruited top notch receivers over the last few years but their routes consist of hitch’s, quick outs, or a screen. Very rarely are we getting players like Pittman, Redd, and Delgado into space where they would thrive. In a era where successful offenses use every inch of the field, we do the opposite and only use a few inches of the field.

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26 minutes ago, Duckman said:

RB personnel is the biggest headscratcher to me. 

I completely agree and I wrote about it recently here, and cannot understand the weakness in this crucial recruiting area.

I wish to welcome you and all the new people who are joining us in droves by the day since this forum recently become "live." And to have nine comments before 8:00 AM Pacific is a good trend-line for this article and the upside growth of this free forum.

Mr. FishDuck

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I can't agree that the Ducks have failed to develop the talent on defense. 

In 2018 Ducks gave up 27.0 points and 390 yards per game.  

In 2019 it was 15.7 and 330 per game.  

Ducks lost their entire starting offensive line, starting QB 1 WR and 1 TE.  On defense the Ducks lost 2 LBs and 3 guys in the secondary.  That is losing 15 starters out of 22.  The Ducks were only supposed to lose 11 starters.  Those four starters who were supposed to come back were huge.  Best O-lineman in college football in the last decade and what many considered the best secondary in the nation.

We can't praise the Ducks defense for being great in 2019 and then all of a sudden say the coaches can't develop talent in 2020.  I do think the next guy up needed to do better, but we playing 3 guys in secondary who were not expecting to get the majority of the play time before the season started. 

If our offense had 2 less 3 and outs per game our defense looks that much better.  With our offense sputtering, it certainly hurt our defense numbers.

As fans we can't be feathers in the wind, we need to put our feet down and stand against the wind sometimes.

RBs since 2000

5*

Jonathan Stewart, Thomas Tyner, Lache Seastrunk, De'Anthony Thomas

4*

Royce Freeman, Byron Marshall, Dontae Williams, LeGarrette Blount, Jamal Elliott, Taj Griffin, Sean Dollars, Chris Harper, Seven McGee

3*

Trey Benson

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19 minutes ago, Tandaian said:

I can't agree that the Ducks have failed to develop the talent on defense.

Well that is the beauty of this forum, and that we can all disagree without getting personal. I will politely disagree with you, in that I do not believe that the senior defensive linemen of Austin Faoliu and Jordon Scott along with linebacker Mase Funa (who had his hand down most of the time on the LOS) had a good year and were coached to their fullest abilities. 

Had they a great year? It would have helped the newbie linebackers and taken pressure off the parts of the secondary that were inexperienced.  Seniors and one of the highest rated LBs ever at Oregon should have performed better, IMHO.

Mr. FishDuck

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1 hour ago, Harb said:

The pistol plunge offense holds this team back significantly. How many times over the past 3 years have we seen a 3 and 1/ 4 and 1 and everyone in the building knows it’s going to go right up the middles and get stuffed. I’m completely fine with being a run first physical offense so if Mario is set on running up the middle over and over again let’s ditch the pistol and get under center with a fullback and tight ends involved in the formation. We’ve also recruited top notch receivers over the last few years but their routes consist of hitch’s, quick outs, or a screen. Very rarely are we getting players like Pittman, Redd, and Delgado into space where they would thrive. In a era where successful offenses use every inch of the field, we do the opposite and only use a few inches of the field.

I'm all for ditching the pistol and actually in the past three games we have seen a decline in the use of the pistol. I theorize that is in part due to Moorhead saying this doesn't work and taking action and in another part that Moorhead has been able to install more of his scheme, which has been difficult without having enough in person practice time.

I would actually say that a large problem with the receivers not getting open has been as much of them not getting the ball passed to them when open. Quite a few of Shough's interceptions have been thrown too low where if he took a shot over the top his receiver would be the only one to make a play on the ball, was also open over the top and had nothing but green in front of them.

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One season doesn't make a trend.  It is probably splitting hairs, but I don't see a failure to develop talent.  It is more of the coaches needing to know how to use the talent they have.  We heaped praise for 2019.  Now all of a sudden they don't know what they are doing in 2020?  I can't get on that train, yet. 

I agree Faoliu, Scott and Funa didn't perform as I would have hoped.  I can get on the train of not developing talent, if our D is just as bad or worse next season.  

 

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25 minutes ago, Tandaian said:

One season doesn't make a trend.

It is reasonable members of this forum like you that make me re-think my premises...and that is a good thing.  Thanks for posting!

Mr. FishDuck

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I really like Mario Cristobal...he’s a man of outstanding character and a great role model for his team. He’s an excellent recruiter and I’m sure he’s was and is a very good offensive line coach. But now he’s a head coach and needs to let his OC and DC do their jobs. If they aren’t producing good results...make a change.

I played in the early ‘60’s in southeast Georgia and coached on the 6A level in northeast Georgia...I know football.

The Ducks have big problems in every area.  Game time prep...lose to the Beavers and beat USC.

QB & RB Management...Herbert?!...175# backs that fumble and can’t block! 

Shough...great potential...loses confidence.

Play calling...1st & 10 at the 15...run up the middle twice with a 175# RB...nope...rollout pass to the right! 3rd & 7...4 yd pass...nope...8 yds! What has happened to counters, traps & screens?

I’m a Shotgun guy...put pressure on the defense. No flat passes...no runs to the  sidelines.

Mario’s “toughness thing”....on defense yes...on offense not so much...trick’m!

Fundamentals...receivers don’t know how to run routes or hand positions for receiving ball...d backs have no clue how to defend properly...backs are to the QB...receivers behind them! Linebackers & DL...overrunning ball carriers...arm tackling...we were taught to focus on the runner’s belt buckle, helmet across their body, deliver a blow and wrap up!

Defense:  3-4...nope...if it was good why don’t the top college teams use it or any NFL teams?!  Not enough pressure on QB...not good for stunting. Might need a change at DC.

Football is not “rocket science”...keep it simple stupid!

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Sorry, but I don't see that Oregon has a coaching problem at this time. Our most resent history is the 2020 season. Flush it. There are so many unknowns about what the team was facing this year that we really have no clue what was going on.

We have no clue how many games the Ducks were way too close to not being able to play because of the 53 scholarship athletes able to play rule. We were told that there was at least one. We have no clue why certain athletes were not able to play in certain games. Micah Pittman's dad said that he wasn't sick, but he missed 2 or 3 games... Just because????  There were others that were out for no explained reason. We have mentioned that optouts had a huge impact on this last season. Youngest team in the country??

So, flush it...  Don't take it seriously.

Several people have said that MC is making great coaching hires. How can this be true at the same time that we have a coaching problem??

We fans seem to feel the walls caving in around us, but the fantastic, highly regarded, multi-star recruits don't see the walls crumbling down. They all signed and Oregon has it's best recruiting class in history.

It looks like COVID is still going to have some impact on our spring, but it will be better than last year's spring.  MC is still only 2 years into a rebuild at Oregon (2020 doesn't count). In his second year he won the conference and the Rose Bowl (2020 doesn't count). He has a three year winning streak having the best recruiting class in the PAC. He has the Ducks moving in the right direction. 2020 doesn't count.

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Back to back Pac 12 champs, rookie of the year in the NFL, potential top 3 pick in this years draft. Am i missing something????  This year was more of a trial than anything else due to outside circumstances and had the youngest team in the nation. They lost a couple games it happens. if you expect nothing but dominance on  a yearly basis go root for Bama, its not realistic. 

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Love the discussion here. As many have pointed out, I think it's very fair to take this year with a grain of salt considering the extremely unprecedented circumstances of 2020 in general. I believe that both Avalos and Moorhead are better as teachers and coordinators than what they showed this past season, as they've developed talent elsewhere at a high level (and Avalos has developed some talent here in Eugene, as well as Tandaian pointed out). 

But there have been troubling developmental signs going back to Cristobal's first season as head coach, and that's what really concerns me. The defensive line and pass rush have never been overly impressive under Cristobal, which is one of the reasons why we have to dial up so many unique and potentially confusing blitzes. Thibodeaux has been awesome, but the rest of the line has either remained stagnant or worse, regressed. At linebacker, no one has even come close to replacing Troy Dye. (Remember, we saw the struggles of the linebacking corps last year when Dye was out with injury.)

Our receiver development has been questionable at best, and we have too many former four-stars to use lack of talent as an excuse anymore. As others have pointed out, the fact that we have multiple blue-chip running backs on the roster, and yet our primary rotation is three former three-star prospects is concerning.

And we have already seen how much better Herbert has been in the NFL than he was in his last collegiate seasons, which speaks to a really poor job of quarterback development on our end. We thought moving on from Arroyo would be the solution, but clearly we still have to answer questions about our quarterback developmental strategy.

I think Cristobal is the right man for the job, and I think we'll see improvement next year, almost by default, having most of our roster return. But I do think the staff needs to acknowledge that it has struggled to get the most out of multiple key position groups and work on a plan to change things in that department moving forward.

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So many variables.  Ultimately, in my opinion the fundamental philosophy MC uses is troubling.  But talent is still under the radar for me.  We still need more deforest, Peneii, and Lagaretts, not to mention a Colvin or two.  We had semblances of Byrd and Matthews, a Herbert or two, but if we want to win a Natty, we’re going to need that kind of talent two deep. 
 

Getting to a NY6 is a reasonable goal with the kind of talent we have.  It is reachable every year.  Even with the coaching issues.

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Mike West! My article for Sunday is about the Critical Analysis Fan, who can both call the negative without a bite or bile, and yet be grateful for the positive at Oregon. I salute you!

giphy.gif

It's gotta be an Oregon IPA....

Mr. FishDuck

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2 hours ago, Joshua Whitted said:

...As many have pointed out, I think it's very fair to take this year with a grain of salt considering the extremely unprecedented circumstances of 2020 in general... 

And yet, your examples are of this year.  We are still having QB problems post Herbert  (this year); no one has come close to replacing Troy Dye (this year).  Your concerns are certainly valid, but, as you say, taking this year with a grain of salt is also valid.

Talking about concerns from year 1 of MC, to be fair, he was just starting. It will be two more years before everyone on the roster are MC recruits. Everyone thinks 5 years is necessary to assess a rebuild, and everybody everywhere thinks that this program is ahead of schedule.

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Hello all - first foray onto the new forum. As always, I greatly appreciate the writing and perspective, but I will respectfully disagree with the premise of this article.

First, though, I will concede that this season was a dud (outside of USC!)

But remember, there were many extenuating circumstances this season. That's been discussed in great detail already, but just remember new OC, QB, OL + no Spring, limited Fall!

Second, being one bad game away from running the conference last year does not seem to evidence Oregon being held back from putting a stranglehold on the PAC 12.

Or did we not win the Rose Bowl last year? I am still grinning, so I know we did!

Many of our missing players this year are either earning money in pro football or are projected to be doing so next year. So I'm not sure player development is that big of an issue either.

Finally, a more general note about our talent level. If you go by 247's talent composite rankings, over the last four years, Oregon looks like this:

'20 = 12, '19 = 17 , '18 =  25 , '17 = 23.

That's not bad, and we can see the trend of improvement. But not as good as USC over that time either.

In fact, if you look at the CFP over those years, only only one team has made it in that was ranked outside of the top ten in talent composite.

Oklahoma in '17 and '18, ranked 11 and 16. Both times led by a pretty good QB.

So for me, I'd council patience.

We are building talent, but it's still not quite up there with the biggest of the big boys. It will get there.

We had a massive overhaul of offensive system and players, with limited time to do it.

I think the results may be a pleasant surprise next year.

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Look at how the Ducks ran their offense when they had the NFL rookie of the year. He has passed for more touchdowns than any rookie in NFL history but Cristobal has focused on running the ball, showing a lack of imagination. It doesn't matter how good your offense is if you don't have a defense.

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