Week 11 Recap: Stanford vs Oregon

FINAL: Stanford 52, Oregon 27

OFFENSE

@GoDucksTroll – Grade: C
The stats, ignoring the turnovers, aren’t too bad. But if you watched the game you know Oregon had very little rhythm, the thing that used to make our offense so deadly. Justin Herbert has a long way to go, his muffed hand-off in Stanford territory and two end zone interceptions are hopefully just freshman mistakes. Royce Freeman had his best game since Virginia, but our running game still looked off-kilter. Poor blocking appears to be the cause, and we kept hurting ourselves with penalties.

Bright spot: Herbert really throws a beautiful pass. He’s taking too long at times and forcing at others, but he can sling that ball. He has some wheels as well, and the prospect of him and this offensive line maturing together gives me great hope in these dark, dark times.

Player of the game: Pharaoh Brown. 6 catches, 93 yards and he’s a perfect target for Herbs. Herbs loves him some tight ends. 

@SwooshMcDuck – Grade: D+
Who would have thought 500 yds of total offense would only equal 27 points? My word. The game was a 60 minute mashup of great plays and stunningly bad plays. Herbiota’s stat line was marginal, 21/30 is by most accounts a great completion to attempts line, but the 2 INT’s negate the 2 TD’s he threw and he simply didn’t look particularly great all day. It was nice to see Royce Freeman be the feature back again, though he still seems to run towards the sideline more than try to turn up field. Maybe that’s poor line blocking, maybe it’s fear of getting dinged again after battling injury all season. Whichever it is, it was great to see flashes of the old Royce, but it’s still concerning as to what may be going on with him physically or mentally. How bout that 3rd down offense?! No really, how bout it? Did we have any? 2/13 on 3rd down. Holy hell we still have 2 more weeks of this to deal with. God save us all.

@DMDoubleG – Grade: C
Royce Freeman looked better! I mean, not good. But still, better. He went from, like, Egyptian Mummy dead to Prehistoric Tar Pit dead. Like, he used to be totally immobilized and in a sarcophagus, but now he at least LOOKS like he’s in battle. He’s still dead though. And if you look cool, but you’re dead, you’re still dead.

We lost two more contributors to season ending injury in Dwayne Stanford (rough) and Taj Griffin (4h string but still feels like a blow). Not great. Having them wouldn’t save the season, but every injury matters.
We had some good moments, but mostly uninspiring ones. It would seem most people have come off the Herbert High and realized he’s actually an 18 year old in his first few months of college playing against grown men.

@JaRomney – Grade: B
‘B’ as in ‘Busch Light.’ A lot of empty calories in that 500 yards of offense and 27 points. Yung Herbz was 21-30 for 274, with two TD’s and two interceptions. You can say he forced the two throws that got picked, and you wouldn’t be wrong. He’s still a true freshman, folks. But if you’re projecting forward to the Tom Herman-led Ducks in 2017, the last touchdown pass by Yung Herbz to Charles Nelson left me throbbing, pulsating, sweating and groaning. Royce rushed for 111 and a touchdown in his Autzen finale. Go get that money, Royce.

@WildKingdumb – Grade: D
“What!?  Why did you give them a ‘D’ when they had 500 yards of offense?!”  Stanford had 40 more yards of offense than Oregon but managed to score 25 more points.  How?  Turnovers (Four) and 3rd Down Conversions (2-13).  Ok, glad we talked about that.  Now on to my real issue: play calling.

I do not miss seeing the ‘Wildcat’ formation in the red zone but I miss Scott Frost.    We do not require teams to defend us from sideline to sideline because we no longer use our lateral speed at the line of scrimmage.  Gone are the WR screens, jet-sweeps and QB run-option.  We have a young o-line that has to sit back in a traditional pass pro and block traditional stretch run plays.  How does Charles Nelson only get two touches?   How are the TE getting more catches than our WR?   Why aren’t we using more bootlegs?  Why… why do I care?  Because I love my Ducks.

@JonathanAdams – Grade: Not given.
Y’all, I can’t do it. This has been a garbage week in a garbage year, and I just can’t wade into the muck and recap another terrible loss. There aren’t enough Biden and Obama memes out there to cheer me up if I have to give out failing grades to everyone again. So I’m just going to find something nice to say in these segments because we all know this is a mess and right now I just need a few silver linings.

Justin Herbert’s TD pass to Charles Nelson late in the 4th quarter was a thing of beauty. Nelson ran a good route and Herbert put the ball into a six-inch window. Heck of a throw.

@BigShaun – Grade: Fire Helf
I’ll be honest, I left my seats with a few minutes left in the 1st half. I don’t want to pile on the kids anymore, so I’m going to offer a recap of my day tailgating.

I got a late start on the day. Then I had to stop and get gas, beer, and breakfast. Also realized I needed a new phone charger. Here seems like a good time to mention my local Fred Meyers put in a bar! A BAR! I digress. Slow start to the day.

Finally got to the Masonic Lot around eleven. Had to make a lot of offensive driving maneuvers on the way down to make this happen. Overall my pregame prep for moving my butt to the game was lacking. If I was Rob Mullens, I’d fire the hell out of me.


DEFENSE:

@GoDucksTroll – Grade: F
Stanford killed us with balance. An offense that has been struggling mightily took advantage of our inability to tackle and our lack of pass rush.

Our defense is bad at all three levels. Incomprehensibly bad. A line that can’t get pressure and gets pushed around, linebackers who attack the wrong spot and cornerbacks who can’t play the ball. Stanford thrived on third and long, and our defense was consistently getting caught out of position.

Player of the game: Troy Dye. He is relentless, and while he’s bound to make a mistake or two, he is by far our best and most consistent player. He had the Ducks lone sack of the day and he’s always in on a ridiculous number of plays.  

@SwooshMcDuck – Grade: F- (is that even a grade?)
Hard to grade what doesn’t exist. Wow, how many times have I had to say that this year? Tackling? Not our style. Coverage? Nah. Pass rush? We will consider your proposal and get back to you. Outside of Troy Dye’s crushing sack of Keller Chryst with 2 minutes remaining in the 1st quarter, were there any other highlights? Stanford did practically anything they wanted all game long. I’m tired of writing each week how bad this defensive unit is.

@DMDoubleG – Grade: F
Stanford’s offense is bad. Our defense is bad. Our bad defense made Stanford’s bad offense look good. That is bad. That is all.

@JaRomney – Grade: F
ROFLCOPTERS and LOLLERSKATES. Stanford came into Saturday averaging 19 points a game. The Cardinal has 21 points in about the first six minutes.

Oregon had a defensive player get arrested for a DUII and possession of methamphetamine early Sunday morning.

He had the best week of an Oregon defensive player, because he wrestled possession of a controlled substance away from someone probably named Chet on Oakpatch Drive.

@WildKingdumb – Grade: F
There is a certain NFL team I watch each Sunday here in the Pacific Northwest that gives a stark contrast to this Ducks team when it comes to defense.  That Sunday team ALWAYS has defenders running to the tackle… every tackle, every time.  There is a relentless nature that aims to inflict punishment on each and every play.  They fly to the football.

On the Oregon side, you have a team that tackles as if they watched a Deion Sanders instructional video.  The Ducks pursuit stops once a defender makes contact with a ball carrier.   And this is what makes me frustrated as a fan.  There are 4-5 guys on defense who are giving it all – and we ALL know who they are – but a defense is like a chain that’s only as strong as its weakest link.  And right now we a chain made of wet, soggy paper. 

I stand firm that when evaluating the defensive scheme of this Brady Hoke defense you have to give a grade of ‘incomplete’.  The lack of size on our defensive line has caused an avalanche of consequences down the line.  As Andrew Greif tweeted last night, the Ducks have lost 6 defensive lineman this season (Carlberg – injury, Maloata – dismissed, Kaumatule – retirement, Mafileo – retirement, Prevot – suspended, Heard – suspended) and they already started off undersized for Hokes 4-3 scheme. 

@JonathanAdams – Grade: Not given.
Troy Dye had Oregon’s only sack and it was a doozy — he came off the edge unblocked on the QB’s blind side and drilled him right between the numbers. When you spend the whole game fighting and scratching just to get near the QB, the occasional free shot has to feel pretty damn good.

@BigShaun – Grade: Fire Helf
Literally the moment I hit the lot I was playing defense. Saw my buddies up from Cali (@jakon11, David Hasselhoff, Medina) headed for @jedsparty for the 11 o’clock shotgun party. I had to shout at them to wait for me. Had to defend my spot in the party.

The tailgate gods were on my side as my parking spot was right next to Jed’s. Hopped out, ripped open the half rack of PBR and commenced stabbing a hole in the can. But I obviously hadn’t been ready for the tempo they were bringing today because they started the shot-gunning as I was still stabbing my can. They had me on my heels from jump. But I’m a veteran.


SPECIAL TEAMS:

@GoDucksTroll – Grade: F
Worst special teams performance that I can remember, including:
* Muffed punt on a weird block by our return team. Malik Lovette got his chance to be the punt returner and lost it.
* Missed field goal.
* Four punts for an average of 29.5 yards and a long of 31. I am mystified at how we can be this bad at punting.

Player of the game: Charles Nelson had one nice kick return for 38 yards.

@SwooshMcDuck – Grade: F
70 yards on kick returns. 9, yes NINE, yards on punt returns. 3 made XP’s. 1 missed field goal. No punt longer than 31 yards, and a partridge in a pear tree.


@DMDoubleG – Grade: C
They were fine. They didn’t singlehandedly win the game for us, so I’m going to be a salty fan. You pass, Special Teams, but that’s about it.

@JaRomney – Grade: Don’t care
Don’t care.

@WildKingdumb – Grade: F
Special Teams is one of my pet peeves… it changes games in ways casual fans don’t understand or ever realize.  Our return game has been toothless for the athletes we have on the roster.    Ian Wheeler had four punts with an average of 29.5 yards per punt.  The lack of field position Oregon has each and every week is laughable compared to what we give up.  And that I am sure Oregon fans have realized. 

@JonathanAdams – Grade: Not given.
If the criteria is “who did their job consistently well week after week” then Matt Wogan is Oregon’s MVP. He had four more touchbacks this week and remains the most reliable player on Oregon’s roster. I would love to know what practice is like for him: I’m imagining him kicking the ball into increasingly smaller garbage cans from increasingly greater distances.

@BigShaun – Grade: Fire Helf
When momentum isn’t on your side, special teams can often be your savior. The day had me on my heels and I needed to catch up fast. This called for a trick play. Brass monkey. That funky monkey.

Jed pulled that 4o oz of Hurricane out of the ice, we got the juice in there, and took a few pulls and I was BACK IN THE GAME! Hit that next shotgun like a champ. @Jakon11 and I noticed David Hasselhoff was starting to put in some work. He looked set to put in a double play later in the day. Albeit, he would’ve been a reluctant soldier.

But, duty called. We headed to our seats.

COACHING:

@GoDucksTroll – Grade: F
Once again the Ducks came out flat and were down three scores before anyone woke up. The coaching mistakes were so blatant and obvious:
* KICKING A FIELD GOAL ON THIRD DOWN WITH 10 SECONDS AND A TIMEOUT LEFT. What was that? People around me were screaming at Helfrich’s back that it was third down. Who kicks a field goal when you’re down 38-13 and can run one more play? Mark Helfrich, that’s who.
* Two point conversion. Why? When you’re down 21-6 and you have a bit of momentum that does not make sense.
* The penalties. So many stupid and preventable penalties. We’ve been one of the most penalized teams in the nation dating back to the Bellotti years, but it’s becoming more and more noticeable because we’re bad in other facets of the game.
* Stalling out of drives and bland offensive play calling. Y’all ‘member that statue of liberty and fake statue of liberty?
* Why can’t we tackle? I don’t understand this. I’m 100% sure that all of the guys on the team knew how to tackle at some point in their life. It’s almost like they show up and after our coaches get their hands on them they get worse at the most basic play in all of football, the concept that the whole game is based on.

I want to give Helfrich one more year, but at times it’s looking like he doesn’t want that and is doing everything in his power to make that happen.

@SwooshMcDuck – Grade: F-
It’s time for Helf to go. I’ve sat here all season, trying to be a voice of reason against the quick outrage against Helf & his staff. Giving the benefit of the doubt to the man as much as I could. He lost me. He broke me. Oregon’s drive leading to halftime was a clusterfu*k of epic proportions. I witnessed a coach who is either wholly inept or a gutless coward who showed he doesn’t have faith in his offense to move the ball. Don’t recall? Here let me recap: 12 seconds left, clock will wind on the ready. Oregon has essentially received a free timeout due to a replay review. 3rd & 7 from the 33 with Oregon still having 1 timeout remaining. Helf elects to allow the clock to wind to :03 and call the final timeout, setting up a 41-yard try for Aidan Schneider. Your team is down 38-13, and that’s your call? No. Even the television announcers were baffled why Oregon wasn’t at least attempting, with :12 and a timeout remaining, to make a throw for the end zone. So was the crowd, as many of them, including myself, loudly booed. I’m not an expert. I’m not a coach. I’m just someone who loves football. There should be no excuse with that amount of time remaining and a timeout to boot, that you don’t have a play ready coming out of that replay review. You toss it for the end zone, make an effort to score when you’re getting blown out and your opponent receives the ball after the half. Or, if you’re dead set on kicking the field goal, YOU RUN A QUICK PASS AND BURN THE TIMEOUT WITH THE SAME :03 SECONDS LIKELY LEFT ON THE CLOCK AND HE KICKS IT FROM 32 YARDS INSTEAD OF 40. It’s not hard. You want to give your kicker his best opportunity to make the kick, so you try to get him as close as you can. For the first time ever, I left a sporting event early. I sat through crushing defeats at the hands of UW this year. Utah last year. All in the name of being loyal to this team, this staff, this school. But I could not, in good conscience, condone the levels of ineptitude or quitting by the Head Coach by remaining for this game. His actions broke my spirit. I still respect him as a person, he’s a great man, but sadly I resign myself to saying it’s time for him to go. Now, I wait.

@DMDoubleG – Grade: D
I want to make a few things clear up front. I have been ardently pro Helfrich from day one. I still am. I firmly believe you can NOT fire a head coach based on one year’s performance (nevermind the cost, which would be enormous — I believe it would be $17 million to pay off the remainder of Helfrich’s contract).

This season, I have defended Helfrich. I didn’t think he would be fired mid-season, and I don’t think he’ll be fired at the end of the year either. However, following the performances against USC and Stanford, I will no longer be surprised if he is. I think Helfrich has mostly been a good coach up to this point, but there’s only so much that can be allowed.
You never want a coach to throw his players, often times kids who can’t legally drink yet, under the proverbial bus. Or a literal one, for that matter. Helfrich has been very good about taking responsibility in losses. “This one is on me” he says, and we all appreciate him for not saying “maybe if those kids played better, grown men on the Internet would stop saying rude things to me.” But here’s the thing: if every time we lose (without improvement) you say “this one’s on me,” eventually, aren’t you the problem? If it is always on you, you need to get better. That’s true across the board.
The most distressing aspect of it all has been that we are not, in fact, improving. If anything we may be regressing. It looked for a bit like we may have been improving; it has since become clear that no, we simply played some really bad teams.
Here’s the problem: Stanford is one of those teams. Their defense is pretty good, but their offense is BAD. Really bad. And yet versus Oregon, they tallied more points in the first half than they averaged in any full game to that point. Christian McCaffrey had only 8 touchdowns all year, and was able to run for 3 against us, mostly unopposed.
I don’t have the answers. If I did, I would be making a lot of money and even more friends.
P.S. I want to give an F grade to the Athletic Department. They are like the coaches of the coaches, so I believe they are fair game. Rob Mullens is refusing to give comments on Coach Helfrich’s future at Oregon. That is cowardly. If he is not safe, you don’t have to say that straight up. Say you will evaluate all evidence and make an informed choice. Fine. Or even better, say you trust and have confidence in him. Then all the Internet trolls would, hopefully, calm down a bit. Not totally, but a bit.

@JaRomney – Grade: F
Mark Helfrich is a good man. Mark Helfrich should be fired. His staff is full of good men. Collateral damage. This sucks, but it’s what it is. Florida AD, Jeremy Foley, recently said this: “What should be done eventually, must be done immediately.

Care to disagree?

@WildKingdumb – Grade: F
Honestly, @JaRomney… I can’t disagree anymore.

@JonathanAdams – Grade: Not given.
When it’s all said and done I think Gary Campbell will be my favorite Oregon coach. Since getting the job in 1983(!) 15 of his running backs have posted 20 1000 yard seasons, and for most of this century Oregon’s rushing game has been its primary weapon. And if you need a dose of beauty in your life, just Google image search “Gary Campbell suits” and enjoy the show.

@BigShaun – Grade: Fire Helf
As I mentioned, we didn’t make it to halftime. Saw myself in the Home video and we made the move back to the lot. The football game had essentially been over for an hour at that point, so with friends in from out of town we needed to salvage what we could of the day.

We beat Jed back to the tailgate. His dad warmed up some dogs and sausages and the grill and some guy hit the 70yrd bomb on the target when he randomly pulled a bottle of Camdens Catsup out of his pants pocket. If you haven’t had this catsup, think of everything wrong with Portland in a plastic bottle. It’s freaking delicious, but you’re sure some dude in skinny jeans and a beard larger than his actual head who stays in a gentrified neighborhood paying 1800.00 for a studio condo, probably dropped a bandaid that covered a scratch he got riding his rented Biketown bike to work into the vat of puréed tomatoes.

A short time later, when prepping David Hasselhoff for the perils of the double play he was facing, he informed us that other players were going to disappointed because, despite his 6′ plus stature, he swung the bat of a 5′ tall player. We’ll just take his word on it.

I did find out which of my California buddies slept with the other’s siblings.

The day was saved, and we Won The (tailgating) Day when Jed and the Hoff climbed atop Jed’s van and started trying to dance like strippers on the flag pole. Although, they both almost died. But hey, that’s what happens when you play the game on the edge. Solid wrap up to the tailgate season.


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