Week 1 Predictions: Southern Utah vs Oregon

Saturday, September 2nd // Eugene, OR // 5:15pm PST

WHY THE DUCKS WILL WIN

@SwooshMcDuck
TALENT. Oregon is by far the more talented team here & it’s not even close. Justin Herbert comes out & picks apart a defense that gave up an average of 300 yards per game in the air last season. The ground game is a bit slower, only accounting for 2 TD’s but it’s more than enough to pull far ahead & stay there.

@NoNattyForYou
They’re a bad FCS program, with a terrible defense and average offense. Just the type of team you want to play in week 1.

@UODuckGirl
GO, FIGHT, WIN DUCKS WIN! We will win because this team is FIRED UP and ready to prove that the ducks are back in a big way.

@BigShaun
Despite the down year for talent (thanks, Helf), Oregon is still far superior to SU. The offense should put up some decent numbers this year. Royce should have about 800 yards on the ground and Herbz will pick them apart.

@GoDucksTroll
Because Oregon, unlike some other NW schools, has never lost to an FCS team. The huge talent gap and the excitement of the Taggart Era leads to an on-field demolition. Southern Utah gets overwhelmed by our physical o-line and the battering rams and rockets that we call our running backs. The maligned Duck defense uses that chip on their shoulder to create 4 turnovers and sets up the rout.

@WildKingdumb
The talent level on the field for Oregon should not just win but dominate Southern Utah.

@JARomney
Because Southern Utah playing at sea level will be a major factor as the game goes on. The air will be too dense, and once the lungs go, the legs go.

@DMDoubleG
We like to be timely and use only the most relevant analogies here at MOQ, so I’m going to liken this game to the Floyd Mayweather/Conor McGregor fight. Does Southern Utah University have a chance? Of course. They are playing in the game. There is, mathematically speaking, a non-zero chance that they could win.

They could beat us, I don’t know, 58-27?

But let’s be real — they won’t. So what if we’re 2 years removed from greatness?That doesn’t erase all the things we did before. Two years ago we were fighting for the belt. We may have gotten knocked out, but we’re not down for the count. We’ve still got plenty of juice left in the tank — we’ve just been waiting to get that second wind.

We went back to our corner between rounds and found a new corner-man; one with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind. We took a swig of Gatorade, dug deep within ourselves, and found an all-time runningback, an up-and-coming quarterback, a whole heap of O-line studs, and a human missile for a linebacker. In other words: we had the winning ingredients within us all along. We just needed to put it all together.

And come Saturday, we will. Unlike last Saturday, this one won’t go 10 rounds.

@JonathanAdams
The 2016 Oregon football team was a barrel full of poopy diapers and old fish parts slowly cooking over a fire made of plastic tubs full of hair and they still won their home opener by 25 over a Big Sky opponent. And since we all agreed that 2016 was rock bottom, the Ducks aren’t losing to any 1-AA teams in 2017.

 

 

WHY THE DUCKS COULD LOSE

@SwooshMcDuck
Well, quite simply, we’re still broken. We find that all Willie’s horses & all Willie’s men couldn’t put Oregon together again…yet. The defense remains soft & incapable of stopping anything in the air or on the ground. Oregon is unable to get 3 & Outs & leaves SUU in the game for far too long.

@NoNattyForYou
We can’t (or shouldn’t). If Oregon loses this game, Taggart and company should be fired at midfield after the handshake.

@UODuckGirl
We won’t lose. I just don’t see it happening.

@BigShaun
Oregon could lose because it’s the first game for a new staff still trying to figure out what they have here with this team and the players are still reeling from a horrible season and a wicked case of Rhabdo.

@GoDucksTroll
Justin Herbert gets injured and the team can’t get anything going. Southern Utah gains confidence, quiets the crowd and breaks of some long plays. Our young defense blows assignments. Unlucky fumbles give Southern Utah great field position and they capitalize.

@WildKingdumb
Injuries and turnovers. Like a lot of them, like even The Duck gets hurt.

@JARomney
Matt LoVecchio and Gerry DiNardo walk through the door? Aside from that, the only plausible scenario I see is George Soros and Brady Hoke busing in paid actors to play Oregon football players.

@DMDoubleG
Under Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich, Oregon had a bad habit of letting bad teams do bad things to us. Here are the points scored by non-Power 5 teams against us in the Helfrich/Kelly era in reverse-chronological order: 28, 42, 28, 13, 14, 3, 34, 25, 14, 20, 7, 0, 13, 0.

With exception to the 2010 Natty team and their two shutouts, including opening the season with a 72-0 win over UNM, that is a somewhat underwhelming record. Those should almost all be 14 or less. Pair a bad habit for allowing too many points with a bad defense and an entirely new coaching staff, and the growing pains of a new staff might be that much more painful.

SUU has a defensive lineman in Robert Torgerson getting legitimate NFL looks next to three other seniors on the line, so they aren’t pushovers. In fact, that D-Line had 8 tackles for loss and 2 sacks last year against a Utah O-line that sent 4 guys to the NFL.

Oh, and one of those guys is 32 years old and 360 pounds. No, seriously.

@JonathanAdams
I have a theory about Oregon State fans (I promise this is relevant). I think that many of them have resigned themselves to mediocrity and now their fondest wish is to drag Oregon down to their level, make the Civil War a ridiculous “championship” game and spend December and January focused solely on sheep-related activities. So, in a world where the football gods gave Duck fans the magic and beauty of the 2014 Rose Bowl, then I suppose those same gods could throw OSU a bone and take college football in this state back to the 1970s and early ‘80s. And that would most definitely mean Oregon losing at home to a middle-of-the-road FCS school with a stadium seven times smaller than Autzen.

 

 

THE PICKS

@SwooshMcDuck
44-20. Oregon

@NoNattyForYou
55-17. Oregon

@UODuckGirl
Ducks 42 – S.Utah – way less than that.

@BigShaun
55-14. Oregon

@GoDucksTroll
69-10. Oregon

@WildKingdumb
45-21. Oregon

@JARomney
51-17. Oregon. That’s about all the brain cells that need to be wasted on this kind of match-up. Enjoy the 100 degree heat, and stifling smoke on Saturday at Autzen!

@DMDoubleG
45-21. Oregon

@JonathanAdams
44-27. Oregon

 

 

#GoDucks

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2017 Oregon Duck Season Forecast

2017 Oregon Ducks Season Schedule

9/2 – Southern Utah Thunderbirds – 5:15pm PT
9/9 – Nebraska Cornhuskers – 1:30pm PT
9/16 – at Wyoming Cowboys – 4:00pm PT
9/23 – at Arizona State Sun Devils – TIME TBA
9/30 – California Golden Bears – TIME TBA
10/7 – Washington State Cougars – TIME TBA
10/14 – at Stanford Cardinal – TIME TBA
10/21 – at UCLA Bruins – TIME TBA
10/28 – Utah Utes – TIME TBA
11/4 – at Washington Huskies, – TIME TBA
11/11 – OFF
11/18 – Arizona Wildcats, – TIME TBA
11/25 – Oregon State Beavers – TIME TBA
*12/1 – Pac-12 Championship Game, Santa Clara, CA – TIME TBA

 

SEASON OUTLOOK

@SwooshMcDuck
Ladies & Gentlemen, Boys & Girls, Puddles lovers of all ages, welcome back for another exciting season of Oregon Football. First let me thank you for returning to read my columns, I know it’s me that brings you back week after week & none of these other scrubs. Let’s begin, shall we?

After what can only be described as an abomination of a football season in 2016, the 2017 season begins with things anew in Eugene. Helf & Co. are gone. In are Willie T & Co. When it comes to an outlook on the season, it’s hard not to express at least some slight optimism that the team has grown & learned from last season, that the staff will prepare them better, & that we aren’t doomed to another season in the cellar. Willie T & Co. will be tested with a slate that isn’t all that easy this season. Road games at UW, Stanford & even Wyoming are going to be tricky. Wazzu at Autzen is no cake walk anymore. And if 2016’s porous defense returns, Ryan Nall & OSU will score again…and again…and again. The Ducks remain stacked at RB, & QB Justin Herbert returns for a sophomore season poised to become a breakout QB in a conference full of them. The question is: Can they put it all together or is it still hopelessly broken?

 

@NoNattyForYou
I will preface this that I have no idea how this season will go down. Generally, from January to July I am really pessimistic, thinking that Oregon sucks and we’re going to lose every game. Come August, I have somehow made my expectations way too high. I convince myself that Oregon will go undefeated, with position players winning every award imaginable.

This year is different. Every aspect of this team is questionable. Is this coaching staff equipped to navigate the grind of the deepest conference in the country (suck it, SEC honks)? Do the players actually give a shit this year, or will the first loss turn everyone in Pharaoh Brown clones? Is the offense going to keep clicking like it has since Chip’s arrival, or will the Gulf Coast offense be a spectacular failure (Taggart’s offense was brutal his first 2 years at USF)? Is the defense going to be a dumpster fire like it was last year, or will Leavitt be able to shave off 10ppg? What in the hell will the special teams look like?

I don’t feel confident in my answers to any of those questions, but you can take my prediction to the bank anyways.

I like this staff if I’m looking at a long-term trajectory. This year there will be ups and downs, but I expect Taggart will right the ship midseason. Personnel wise, the team is “awfully young.” It will take Taggart time to get his players in the program and for Helfrich’s leftovers to truly buy-in, which obviously won’t happen this season. I think the players care right now, but I do expect some to quit after a loss or two. The offense is going to be up and down, tearing apart the terrible defenses and struggling against the elite ones. The defense will be similar, but I do expect a moderate improvement. Special teams are probably the area I am most confident in my prediction, and I expect them to be average.

So how do I see this season shaking out? Staying true to the degenerate gambler that I am, I like to hedge. Oregon fans going into the season with moderate expectations will be happy, the ones who think we’re winning 10 games will be disappointed.  I think we’ll be 3rd or 4th in the North. Overall it will be something to build on, but nothing spectacular. We’ll win some games we aren’t expecting and probably lose at least one game that is inexcusable. There will be a lot of promising pieces to build on going into 2018 and the hype before next year will be similar to what USC experiences every year.

 

@UODuckGirl
The post Mariota hangover is officially gone. We needed last season to happen. As brutal as it was we were still trying to figure out post Mariota world by applying band-aids (Dakota) and it wasn’t working. Team was fractured. Now, you can just tell that something is different. New regime, fresh start. We will 100% make a decent bowl game. I think we make the Pac 12 playoff game as well.

 

@BigShaun
I’m cautiously optimistic for the season.

There’s a weird thing in sports and football in particular where when things go bad, they can spiral so far out of control that a team looks and plays much worse than they actually are. The transverse can also be true. When a big change happens that, for the players, feels like the :cough Helf: demons have been exorcised and players start believing in themselves and their teammates again, teams can outperform everybody’s expectations. So with that said, #WeNatty baby!! You want proof? Winged helmets are back! They go with 11 and 12 win seasons like peas and friggin carrots! We all know this, dems the rules. I don’t make the rules.

In all seriousness, I don’t know what to expect. And that’s just fine. But I’m excited as heck about Oregon Football again. Last year left a used baby diaper taste in all of our mouths. I, admittedly, wasn’t excited about the Taggart hire immediately. I had never really heard about him and the only thing I had to go on was his record from WKU and USF, which overall was not super impressive – not realizing the challenges he faced rebuilding those programs. I got caught up on wanting to row a boat somewhere. I didn’t care if there was an iceberg in the path. I just needed a life-preserver for my team. But the more I learned and saw of Taggs, and saw the energy he and the (so far) A+ staff he has brought in, the more I have bought in. And by social media comments you get the idea that the team has bought in. The past players are getting on board. There’s a momentum building that is exciting.

At the end of the day, Oregon will be as good as the defense allows them to be. I think Leavitt and crew coaching on the defensive side of the ball are more than capable to turn the defense around. I’m hoping we see a jump into the 70s or 80s in terms of defensive rank this year. That will be a significant improvement over last year, leaping some 40-50 spots.

If I have to place a number of wins on the team this year, I’m going out on a limb and will say a regular season record of 9-3 and Oregon is in the Holiday bowl and we’re all knocking on our friend’s door who lives in Del Mar looking for a crash pad in December (move over, Abby). But I’m not going to be disappointed if the team goes 5-7 either. It’s a rebuilding year and there are some holes to fill in several key positions.

 

@GoDucksTroll
A lot of rushing yards. The seventh ranked defense in the Pac-12.

 

@WildKingdumb
I have faith that the defense will at some point this season hold an opponent under 20 points.  This roster is talented and maybe more importantly motivated.  Not just for person gains, but motivated to fight *for* their teammates and the coaching staff.  Look, I wouldn’t be shocked if this team won only 4 games or as many as 9 games, but I know the defense won’t be as bad as last season, and the offense might just have a very special year.

 

@JonathanAdams
Let me preface this by saying that I’m generally positive about the Willie Taggart era at Oregon. He seems to be a terrific recruiter (although a lot can change between now and signing day), and he changed the fortunes of both Western Kentucky and South Florida before arriving in Eugene. But I do not get the general positivity about the 2017 season.

Jim Leavitt will improve the defense — they’ll jump 50 spots in the rankings and still be terrible. Graduate transfer Scott Pagano seemed to be poised to help on the defensive line, but he’s still recovering from foot surgery. The Ducks are starting linebackers who weigh less than 200 pounds, and the secondary is a delightful mix of veterans who weren’t that good last season and dudes who were at prom three months ago.

I suppose the offense will be fine, as long as no one gets hurt. Darren Carrington’s stupidity means Charles Nelson is by far the most experienced returning receiver, but he’s also returning punts and kickoffs, and if that doesn’t terrify you maybe Google Walter Thurmond and Devon Allen. And let’s not even think about what happens if Justin Herbert gets hurt.

Oregon’s bowl game hopes hinge, I think, almost entirely on the five games in September. They’re all eminently winnable, but a 2-3 start is just as likely to me as a 5-0 run. The games in October and early November are going to be brutal (a five game losing streak is definitely in play) so they need a fast start if they want to be playing in December.

 

@JARomney
The season is over.

Not that anyone with an ounce of honesty in their blood didn’t already know that. When you’re forced to start two LB’ers listed at 195 pounds, and rely on two true freshman on the defensive line, there is no way to objectively be good. Does Scott Pagano fully recover from spring surgery? Does the new fangled JC transfer, Malik Young, adjust to the Pac 12 level after arriving in Eugene 47 seconds ago? Hopefully? Because if so, the Oregon defense could go from a 1989 Eagle Premier, to a 1995 Dodge Neon! Hooray! Still bad, but bad is better than historically bad. That’s it, that’s where the season pivots from bad to “bad team in a bowl” bad. Justin Herbert will be good, Royce Freeman will regain his form from his first two years, and the suddenly experienced offensive line will be talking point next year that annoys people from outside the UO fan bubble. But scoring 45 points a game isn’t as dandy when you allow 50.

Oregon will finish 7-5, because the Arizona schools are abject trash inching towards coaching changes, Cal is Cal, and Oregon State will have quit on the season after a five game losing streak in the middle of the season by the time they come to Autzen. Oh, have I mentioned that Jim Mora Jr and Mike Riley are also on the schedule? 7-5 by default, practically.

 

 

FINAL SEASON RECORD PREDICTION

@SwooshMcDuck
7-6. Oregon sneaks into a bowl game by stealing a couple of toss-up games along the way. It’s not what we’ve come to expect, but it’s better than where we were. #GoDucks.

@NoNattyForYou
8-4 (6-3)

@UODuckGirl
10-2

@BigShaun
9-3 and Oregon is in the Holiday Bowl

@GoDucksTroll
9-3, with a Holiday Bowl berth

@WildKingdumb
7-5, with losses against NEB, WSU, FURD and UW with a random clunker thrown in… At least that’s how I feel right now. (Update: I am reading this again and I’m dumb cause now I think we are winning 9 games MINIMUM.  YEAH YOU HEARD ME.)

@JonathanAdams
5-7.  Put me down for a slower-than-hoped-for start, a rough middle, and a 5-and-7 final record.

@JARomney
7-5

 

#GoDucks

Editorial: Do Something…about that new design, maybe?

No doubt by now you’ve seen the new “Do Something” logo design around the walls at Autzen Stadium. Whether it be on the wrap encircling the field or the entrance walkways from the locker room down to the field, or even on social media, courtesy of @DuckFootball, the new logo is…something.

Win The Day was never going to stay, you aren’t gonna find an argument for that here either. That was Chip Kelly’s thing, Chip is gone, he’s not coming back (sorry guys). Coach Helfrich carried on the Win The Day mantra but never seemed to espouse it the way Chip did. If Helf had a mantra he spoke most often it would have been along the lines of “We Had A Great Week Of Practice”. Catchy, right?

The issue here is not the message itself, I personally, like Willie’s motto in full “Make No Excuses. Blame No One. Do Something.”, it’s the design aspect & branding of it. It’s a multifaceted mantra, one that has to be shortened for branding purposes, and therefore we end up with “Do Something”. So here we come to the design of the mantra itself. Branding is Nike’s wheelhouse, right? I mean, it’s what they do. Branding is literally what has set Oregon Athletics apart from the crowd for nearly 2 decades now, win or lose, Oregon was on the cutting edge in terms of design & visual appeal (okay, ‘grellow’ flames might have crossed the line). The new graphics layout for this are, well, boring. 3D block lettering with a slight bow to them? Oooooh man, that screams…Oregon State. Really, block lettering is literally Little Brother territory, just Google “Oregon State Logo” & you’ll see for yourself. According to those in the know, this design is from Nike itself. But it feels a bit, okay, a lot, mailed in. It doesn’t feel like Oregon, or at least the Oregon we’ve come to expect.

Perhaps this is the point. Maybe this is what Willie & company sat down & told Nike designers they wanted. Something that wasn’t flashy, wasn’t exciting, wasn’t Oregon. Maybe this is the new culture we are cultivating under Taggart’s leadership. A new identity. Maybe he believes you have to earn the glitz & glam of fancy logos & uniforms. If that’s the case fine, we’ll deal with being plain again, besides, flash on the sideline doesn’t equal stellar play on the field (see: last season). Oregon could win a National Championship in burlap sack uniforms for all I care, just win the damn thing!

If this isn’t the point of the new branding, if we are suddenly going to go bland just to get away from the previous mantra & culture then one has to ask: Is this really the best design we could come up with? No offense to whomever made it, I’m sure they spent long hours working on it, but it looks like something straight out of an old Microsoft Word Art design from a computer running Windows 97. Seriously, remember those old screensavers with the 3D time/date bouncing from side to side, top to bottom, on the screen? Yeah, WOOOOO OREGON FOOTBALL! I’m not a design nerd, I’m just a common ginger who thinks this looks really bland. I want Oregon branding that someone can look at & without having to see the word “Oregon” or “Ducks”, they immediately know it’s Oregon related.

What do YOU think?

Column: My Wild Expectations for The 2017 Spring Game

Saturday, April, 29th // Eugene, OR // 11:00am // By @WildKingdumb

Are ya’ll going to talk about a PRACTICE?!  Yes.


Are you going to talk about Oregon Football leaving ‘Win The Day’ for ‘Do Something’?  No.

Now Spring Games are great for the starving football fan lost in the wilderness, or a dessert or… whatever analogy you want to use.  Its football, we love it and want to think about it.  But this is the time of year when we hyper focus on the 40 plays of a single practice until the season starts. Though that over analysis might be tempered this year by Coach Willie Taggart’s open practices.  With more reporters and eyes on practice those wild stories about how Royce Freeman bench-pressed a pickup truck will be curbed.  Though I doubt it.  I mean, I’ve seen Royce pick up a truck, but I will save that story for another post. 

To understand where we are now, we need to see where we’ve been.  And because I know you all forgot the Ducks finished last year 4-8 and 2-7 in PAC-12 play.  Three of the Ducks losses were by less than one score, that’s good right?  In those three close losses the Duck offense scored an average of 39.5 points.  I mean, that’s pretty dang good for the offensive side of the ball.  But the problem is that Oregon got absolutely housed on the defensive side of the ball allowing more than 27 points in EVERY game last year and gave up on average 518 yards per game.  ((Throws up all over myself)) Ok, I’m back.  But if someone is out there telling you that, “once the ‘D’ is fixed we are gon’ get us dat Natty” they didn’t actually watch the Ducks play last year. 

Oregon DID have a complete breakdown on the defensive side of the ball we all know it and we don’t need to talk about it anymore today but, in my humble and caffeine filled opinion, two other areas greatly hurt the team last year: The Injury to Tyrell Crosby (and really all the Offensive and Defensive line injuries) and Horrific Special Teams.

Ok, so I am not some unbiased media member, mainly because I am not a media member and Crosby is one of the coolest dudes west of the Mississippi.   But the loss of Crosby threw Oregon’s run game in disarray.  The cornerstone of the teams identity *is* the run game, this allows the offense to hurry up, it allows for play action and initiates the defensive confusion for big plays down field.  The pass protection for Oregon was not reliable week to week, and with a freshman quarterback we saw the results.  Not to throw the rest of the offensive line under the bus ((a bus I once saw Royce Freeman pick up)) but Crosby has NFL level talent and the void that was created by his loss had the entire group playing out of position.  If Tyrell was healthy last year, despite the poor play on D, this Oregon offense that averages 491 yards per game would have been even more prolific and stayed on the field much longer. 

I know that Special Teams isn’t all-together sexy, but when your Special Teams are good it can make your Ford Focus feel like a Ford Mustang ((I don’t know if this is a good analogy, I don’t know anything about cars and drive a Nissan Leaf… don’t tweet at me)).  The point is we gave up horrible field position all year with Oregon punts averaging 37.8 yards.  It felt like every possession for our opponents started on the 40 yard line. 

On the flip side we only took back one kick back for a score.   Only one.   There was nothing special about this unit last year, but when you look at the talent on the field it’s absolutely unexplainable.  Aidan Schneider only attempted 12 field goals ALL YEAR.  He was 75% on those kicks, so for the Beaver fans reading this he made 11 kicks.  ((Don’t help them.))  The Ducks gave up horrific field position to opposing teams all year, couldn’t get good field position ourselves and didn’t “take the points” enough with field goals.  Could we have won a couple more games if Special Teams were better last year, YES.  Would it have fixed the real issues of this team, HELL NO.   

I thought you were gonna talk about practice? 

Shut up, this is my post. 

Ok, now on to talking about practice.

WOOHOO FOOTBALL IS BACK AND I DON’T HAVE TO PRETEND I CARE ABOUT WHO THE THIRD STARTER FOR THE MARINERS MIGHT BE OR WHAT O.P.S. MEANS!!!!1!


Here are my four areas of interest going into the summer:

Arms Race – Will Herbert show the leadership that Coach Taggart is looking for?  Will Travis Jonsen and Terry Wilson make an impression?  Can Braxton Burmeister upset the depth chart?  Will Chad Kennedy be a breakout star? ((You are hopefully Googling Chad Kennedy right now and realizing he isn’t a real player for the Ducks.))  The point is this, it’s a spring practice.  Don’t over value the big plays, don’t stress about missed tackles and for the love of all that is holy don’t mention the word Rhabdomyolysis.  For me a Spring Game needs to be viewed through the lens of are the players; playing hard, and staying healthy.  Under this new coaching staff I have a feeling the product on the field will feel like a brand new squad.

Defensive Identity – Who will Oregon be on defense?  Under Coach Nick Allioti the Duck defense didn’t worry about how many yards they gave up but instead how many turnovers they forced.  Under Coach Brady Hoke it was hard to see anything other than a 3-4 defense disguised as a tire fire.  Will new defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt return to a 4-3?  Will the Ducks get pressure without blitzing?  Will Pepsi be put straight into the veins of Coach Leavitt?  I vote yes on all three.  Keep an eye on the coaching staff during the game in what draws both positive and negative responses from them.  Energy and strength were sorely missed last year especially in the trenches and I think the new coaching staff and freshman like Jordan Scott will not allow a repeat performance of 2016. 

Breakout Star – Who will make a big jump from 2016 to 2017?  Which new Duckling in Eugene will make his impact felt as a freshman?  I absolutely love all of our running backs and Tony Brooks-James will be giving the Pac-12 defensive coordinators nightmares with a healthy offensive line to run behind.  Keep your eyes on Freshman Darrian McNeal as a WR and kick returner.  Can he ease the burden on Charles Nelson in the return game?  Provide a deep threat to open up passing routes for a talented receiving squad?  Can the young Oregon corners come together and make a difference in the passing game this year with Freshman Thomas Graham Jr.?  These questions won’t get answered on Saturday, and any reporter that tells you they will be answered most likely hadn’t been to more than three Ducks games last year. 

Breakout Year for Dye – Here is hawt take for you: Troy Dye will be the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year.  I’m not sure if that’s a real award, and if it isn’t we will get some papier-mâché and make a trophy.  The point is that Dye was a beast when healthy and if he can stay on the field he will be a difference maker.  As a Sophomore I hope to see him emerge as a leader and tone setter for a squad that dealt with injury after injury in 2016.   I hope to see more on field leadership and this Spring Game will be the first chance to see a glimpse of that.

That’s all I got for right now.  Make sure to check us out all season posting our fan-centric opinions and views on the Oregon Ducks, but also make sure to read and follow online “real” reporting as well.  Good reporters help bring light and truth to a topic, and help all of us form valid opinions.  Avoid clickbait and don’t give “bad reporters” an audience.  


Ok, so this one time I saw Royce Freeman pick up a truck… Hello?  Did you just leave?  Dammit. 

So now it’s time to sit back and enjoy watching a conference mandated televised practice.  I mean… THE 2017 OREGON DUCKS SPRING GAME!



Column: Can Willie Taggart Recruit?

Can Willie Taggart Recruit? // @GoDucksTroll

Recruiting is the lifeblood of college football, let’s hope that Willie Taggart is able to get some of those roads paved for his new Ferrari.

It’s the biggest catch to being handed the Ferrari that is Oregon football: recruiting. You may have a Ferrari, but you have to take dirt roads to get to your house. It’s not easy to recruit in a state that produces between 10-15 Pac-12 quality recruits per year. Even more so when you have to compete with the glamour of USC, the academic prestige of Stanford, and the rising team in the North that manages to make me dislike an otherwise cute dog breed.


We know recruiting to Oregon is possible, but it takes a special energy to translate those jaw-dropping facilities and incredible success over the past 20+ years into quality recruiting classes. The current roster consists of guys from all over the nation, and has plenty of blue chip recruits. There has been a drop off since the recruiting high water mark, and it will be up to Willie Taggart to reverse that.

Can he? Can Willie Taggart recruit?

All indications are yes. Looking at his track record at USF is the logical start. The Bulls have out recruited some schools from power-5 conferences, and Taggart has landed several four star prospects which is very difficult for smaller conference schools to do.

I interviewed one of USF’s current commits, speedy three star athlete Demetri Burch of Apopka, Florida. I asked him about his experience being recruited by Willie Taggart:

“Coach Taggart is a good dude and he was the reason I decided to commit to USF and he always finds the good out of things.”

Taggart has also received some very high praise from his college coach at Western Kentucky and the man who gave him his first coaching job:  football coaching savant sire Jack Harbaugh. In a sloflobulls.com interview Harbaugh said “I have been a coach for 46 years, and Willie Taggart is the best recruiter I’ve ever been associated with.” I don’t blame Jack if he doesn’t want to associate with his son Jim, but that is indeed a glowing endorsement.

Coach Taggart has been in the fertile recruiting grounds of Florida, but he was also on Jim Harbaugh’s Stanford staff for three years so he’s familiar with the landscape of the Pac-12. While Oregon has made successful forays into Texas, Florida, Georgia and Tennessee the bread and butter of Oregon recruiting is in Pac-12 territory. Taggart and his staff will need to establish West Coast connections and they need to do it quick.

Hanging on to the current class is Taggart’s top priority right now. The recruiting class has lost three commits in the past few weeks, including their top commit in Deommodore Lenoir. The recruiting dead period, which forbids contact with recruits, begins on December 12th. It will be up to Taggart and whoever fills out his staff to contact the commits, the recruits who have interest in Oregon and any other targets they may identify.

It will also be interesting to see if Taggart tries to flip any of his current USF recruits to come to Eugene. The gem of his current class is Bruce Judson, the 247 composite’s 333rdranked player in the nation. There are some other commits that he may want to come with him, including Burch who said

“Oregon is my dream school but recruitment has been so crazy but I know coach Taggart is the reason why a couple of us committed to USF so that can happen.”

I’ll also be curious to see how his staff fills out, and if any current Oregon assistants are retained. Recruiting at Oregon has seemed to fall a bit behind the times, with the team finally making a concerted effort to improve their social media skills this year after falling behind other Pac-12 schools. An infusion of youth and energy is desperately needed on the staff, and the hope is that it will offset the lost continuity and experience that comes with this move.


Editorial: ‘Final Submission for 2016’

Final Submission for 2016 // @UODUCKGIRL

I am not a writer. I am not a sports columnist. I am not a Duck Insider. I am just a loyal go ducks fan and proud Oregon alumni.
My sophomore year at UO was the year of ‘The Pick’ and I was hooked. Back then, we had a U before the O in our logo, we had a huddle, we had two colors – green & yellow and we had diehard fans that cared about two games – Husky and Civil War. We didn’t have crazy uniforms, we didn’t have the fancy performance center, we didn’t have a Heisman and we didn’t have unreasonable expectations. We had dreams of course – Rose Bowl – and we went and lost versus Penn State but then it was back to doing our best and hoping we could beat the Huskies and win Civil War.
Then as we all know came the Chip Kelly era, the “O”, the Uni Revolution, the “I love my Ducks” anthem, and the coveted Natty appearance versus Auburn. And with all the glory and fun of the underdog rising above, the tiny but speedy Oregon Ducks who faced the big mighty SEC Auburn came the expectations and they were lofty. We got used to high scores, blowouts, gear, swag  & Game Day coming to our City. We were really really good at football and really really fun to watch. And if it couldn’t get any better then there was Jesus, Girls and Marcus Mariota and another trip to a Natty.
Don’t get me wrong it was glorious. And I loved it. I am not a bandwaggoner. I am not going anywhere but I got pretty arrogant about my Ducks during those years. I was borderline becoming Ohio State-ish about my team forgetting that one of the best things about being a Duck is being humble in victory and defeat.
This season was obviously difficult for the Oregon fan base but it brought me back to what I really loved about Oregon football for 20+ years. Watching that Utah game was more exciting than really any game I had seen in a long time and I felt so much joy for our players and it’s the players who I represent. Those young men out on the field risking injury, sweating, bleeding, fighting for me, for us.
I wish I was in Eugene but I am not. However, there is NOTHING that would make me give up my season tickets. Nothing. I’m not a fan to win a Natty. I’m a fan with one expectation and that is the Oregon Ducks play hard, don’t give up, be brothers to each other and be the Men of Oregon. That is all I can ask from them. Coaching change or no coaching change – that is so far out of my control its not even worth my time to think about it. It is what it is. And next year, I will be there, cheering, rooting, crying, screaming and being the crazy duck fan that I have always been.
I want to thank @WildKingdumb for honoring me by inviting me to be a part of  Matter of Quack and to all my twitter Duck devoted who keep me company, make me laugh, provide that virtual shoulder to cry on – I REALLY appreciate each of you. We are all part of the Oregon family and sometimes families are dysfunctional but in the end they stick together. So here is to next year and the year after that and the year after that. This is all just another chapter in the great story of our great Men of Oregon and how great is a story if the hero never overcomes some diversity right? Looking forward to 2017 so Keep Calm and Quack On. Much love and #GoDucks!

@UODUCKGIRL

Week 13 Recap: Oregon vs Oregon State

FINAL: Oregon 24, Oregon State 34


OFFENSE

@WildKingdumb – Grade: D
I’m going to forget the offensive totals because I am stuck on the number 3/10 converting on 3rd Down.  Most teams won’t win when they can’t keep drives going.  All the perceived improvement of the o-line seemed to take a step back.  Hand it to OSU, they were aggressive at the line of scrimmage and didn’t allow the Ducks time to take the ball down field when the weather wasn’t a factor.  One costly fumble and this game plays out completely different, the Ducks go up at half and score again on their first possession and you force OSU to throw and blah, blah, blah… doesn’t matter because it didn’t happen.   The Ducks had a 10 point lead with 7:44 left in the 3rd quarter, and in their next three drives they gain, 6, 4, and 44 yards as the scoreboard takes a 20 point swing. 

@DMDoubleG – Grade: “Growing Strong” — House Tyrell
As our last game review, I will be treating this week like a season review as well, and describing each section with the Words of a House from Game of Thrones. Hopefully you enjoy this more than the last game (and season). I know I did.

This one speaks for itself. This year was rough, but with players like Justin Herbert and Tony Brooks-James behind, well, the entire offensive line, we’ll be just fine going forward.

Honorable Mention: “We Remember” — House Royce, for obvious and sad reasons.

DEFENSE

@WildKingdumb – Grade: D
The Ducks couldn’t stop the running game.  53 rushes for 310 yards.  Ryan Nall had 155 yards with a long of 14, he was just taking 5 yards a touch and OSU stayed committed.  I’m sure if the Utah Offensive coaches watched this game they’d throw up seeing the gameplan they should have used the week before.  The teams tackling IS getting better, they didn’t give up as many big plays as in weeks past but right now that’s a hard thing to be excited about.  

@DMDoubleG – Grade: “What is Dead May Never Die” — unofficial words of House Greyjoy
This defense started bad and only got worse. Somehow.

Technically the house words of the Greyjoy’s is “We Do Not Sow,” which seems fitting for an ideal defensive mindset.

“[We do not sow]. We are ironborn. We’re not subjects, we’re not slaves. We do not plow the field or toil in the mine. We take what is ours.” — Lord Balon Greyjoy. Let it be noted that the Oregon defense had ZERO defensive touchdowns this season.

“What is Dead May Never Die” is the motto of the religious followers of the Drowned God, which is closely associated with the Greyjoys and their ilk.

If there is any consolation to be found here, the full exchange goes like this:
“What is Dead May Never Die”
“But Rises Again Harder and Stronger”


SPECIAL TEAMS

@WildKingdumb – Grade: F
Oregon has too many athletes to be a non-factor each week in this category.

@DMDoubleG – Grade: “Fire and Blood” — House Targaryen
A perfect representation of what our special teams have been. The placekicking has been straight fire, while the punt team — both kicking and receiving — has been a constant and gaping wound. Our kicks lacked any distance, our gunners were undisciplined, and our returners had abysmal decision making.

Ian Wheeler averaged less than 38 yards per punt, 4 players traded off punt return duties throughout the year, and none averaged more than 15.5 yards per return. In fact, if you look at the three returners not named Charles Nelson, none averaged more than FIVE yards per return, and that was Malik Lovette with one attempt. In fact, our punt coverage was so bad, our 4 returners only managed to return TWENTY TWO punts ALL YEAR.

On the other hand, Matt Wogan was a touchback machine, and Aiden Schneider made 39 of 40 extra points, and 8 of 11 field goals. That’s darn good.

“Half the Targaryens went mad didn’t they? What’s the saying? ‘Every time a Targaryen is born the gods flip a coin.'” — Cersei Lannister about Targaryens, and me about our special teams.


COACHING

@WildKingdumb – Grade: F
This might have been one of the worst performances of the season, by an underperforming squad.  I’m sure other contributors will expand on this* (if anyone else has the energy to do a write up) and give you all what you want to read.  I personally, am tired of not just losing but seeing BAD football.  Want to know who else is tired of seeing losing football, the Athletic Department.  Everyone is that building knows this year was bad, the only difference is the people inside the building know WHY it went bad.  So I won’t rally to defend a coach, or scream he should be fired.  I just plan to trust the Athletic Department to make the correct decisions to help guide the Ducks back to the “new norm” that the last 11 years have established for Oregon Football.    *No one did.

@DMDoubleG – Grade: “We Stand Together” — House Frey
In the fitting words of Lady Catelyn Stark: “‘More Pride Than Honor’; those SHOULD be the words of House Frey.” ’nuff said.



Week 13 Predictions: Oregon vs Oregon State

Oregon (4-7) vs Oregon State (3-8)
Saturday, November 26h // Corvallis, OR // 1:00pm PST

HEAD-TO-HEAD STATS


Why we win BEAT Oregon State…

@WildKingdumb
The Duck offense is in a groove.  Justin Herbert is looking more comfortable and the running game is returning back to form because… the offensive line has taken a giant leap forward the last couple of weeks.  If the o-line keeps playing like it has then you can bank on the Ducks scoring at least 20.  

Now the Duck defense is really the wildcard.  If they can play like they did last week at Utah, in terms of holding Utah to ONE or fewer yards on a play 22 times and not the plays of 10+ yards in 21 plays, they will dominate.

If we see the sensible side of the Ducks (limited penalties, punting for field position, taking field goals, and a commitment to running the ball) I find it hard to see how OSU gets enough big plays to win. 

@JonathanAdams
You can run the ball on Oregon State. The Beavers give up 230 yards rushing per game (108th in NCAA) and 5.3 yards per rush attempt (111th). Cal, a team that averages only 150 yards rushing per game, posted 317 yards when they played OSU in early October. Considering Oregon rushed for 251 yards at Utah last week–the Utes give up an average of 132 yards per game–it would make sense for the Ducks to ride Royce Freeman and Tony Brooks-James on Saturday afternoon.


Offensively, the Beavers are 104th in total yards per game and 80th in yards per play. Compared to teams Oregon has already played, the Beavs are most similar to Virginia (95th in yards per game, 113th in ypp). This is by far the worst offense the Ducks have faced in November, so if the UO defense was ever going to have a good game, this is the one.

@BigShaun
The players want to send Helf out with a win in his last game. The beavers aren’t very good. Herb is starting to really spread his wings and Royce was starting to look a little better last week.

@DMDoubleG
Contrary to the Laws Of Sports, in my experience the Civil War visitors have tended to outplay themselves when it comes to this game. It is well known that rivalry games — even between two teams on opposite ends of the success spectrum — are often a toss up. Crazy things happen. Even teams which have been bad (Oregon State) for most of the season (Oregon State) can push the hosts to the brink  (unfortunately also Oregon State).

The most recent example of this would be the vastly over-matched Beaver squad of 2013. They came into Autzen Stadium having opened the season with a loss at home to Eastern Washington and riding a four-loss streak in Pac 12 play. They would go on to finish the year above .500 by the graces of a bowl win (7-6). And yet, they pushed the Ducks for all they had, forcing Marcus Mariota to make one of the most memorable plays of his career: a game-winning touchdown pass to Josh Huff.

Don’t underestimate the underlying storylines, either. To his credit, Justin Herbert has called this just another game, and is publicly treating it as such. That’s commendable, but I refuse to believe someone raised playing football in Eugene doesn’t care a LITTLE BIT extra about the Civil War.

Mark Helfrich is another native son of Oregon, and he has acknowledged in the past that the Civil War is always special. Imagine how special it must feel knowing you may very well be playing for your job (or Charlie Strong’s). I think the win last week spared him from seeing the chopping block, but a loss would still be very bad.
Basically what I’m trying to say is Oregon is bad, but we’re playing at Reser Stadium so maybe we’ll play well. If the team who flew to Salt Lake City last week makes the drive to Corvallis this week, expect this one to be no contest.

@SwooshMcDuck
Our (once) Mighty Ducks come in on the heels of a Top 12 upset that NOBODY saw coming. Oregon’s 22nd ranked rush offense meets up with Little Brother’s 106th ranked rush defense. This could easily be the final game of Royce Freeman’s Oregon career & if so, expect a big output from him. Justin Herbiota continues to improve game by game & if a sudden re-emergence of Darren Carrington (né Droppington) holds for the final game of the season, Oregon should easily handle the Biebers.



Why we win LOSE to Oregon State…

@WildKingdumb
If you were to tell me last week before the Utah game that Utes would have 37 rushing attempts I’d tell you the Ducks lost by double digits.  I will say the same for this week against OSU, they run the ball they will win.  No one would love to put the nail in the coffin in the 2016 season more than the Beavers.  

I expect trick plays, fake punts, jet sweeps and possibly even a fumblerooski.  If OSU’s QB Marcus McMaryion is efficient like the Beavers were against Arizona it could be a bad, bad day for the Ducks.  The Beavers average 180 yards per game from both passing and rushing and the Ducks are consistently giving up at least 220 yards per game on the ground this season.

I could see this turning into this years Stanford game if OSU stays committed to the run and manages some takeaways or trick plays.  

If you believe the spread the Ducks are doomed.  Oregon is 2-7-2 vs the spread and 1-4-0 as a favorite while the Beavers are great as an underdog (6-2-1) and very good as a home dog (3-1-1).

@JonathanAdams
The Ducks can’t stop the run. Every bad thing I said about Oregon State’s rush defense can be said about Oregon’s rush defense. The Ducks allow 255 yards per game on the ground (119th) and 5.9 yards per rush (123rd). I’m not sure what the Civil War record is for most combined rushing attempts, but this game should test it. And while the Beavs are bad against the run, their overall defensive numbers are much better than Oregon’s. They allow 5.7 ypp (Oregon gives up 6.5) and 440 total yards (541 for Oregon). You can bet their goal on Saturday will be to make the Ducks beat them through the air, the strength of the Beaver defense. 


OSU should be able to pound the Ducks on 1st down, and set themselves up with a lot of short yardage situations on 2nd and 3rd down. QB Marcus McMaryion had the best day of his career last week vs. Arizona, posting more touchdowns (5) than incompletions (3) in a 42-17 victory. You gotta figure OSU is the most confident 3-8 team of all time.

@BigShaun
It’s 2016. Nothing goes right. We have a Cheeto as the president elect. The Ducks probably miss a bowl game with the first losing season in 10 years. The players are all fixated on Tom Herman and the future. 

@DMDoubleG
There are two Oregon teams that have played this year: Oregon Weeks 1-10 and Week 11 Oregon. While I’d like to believe last week was a sign of upward mobility, I’m not confident. In fact, I would be MORE surprised to see us come out like the strong, confident team of last week than if we came out like a limp fish. Or a…Lame Duck, if you will. Oh, you won’t? Ah, you’re right. I apologize. Consider it redacted.  This is a game to see who will finish last in the Pac 12. That’s a dishonor the Beavers are accustomed to — and, presumably, very tired of. I’m inclined to believe they will be more motivated than we are.

I can hardly remember when any team I’ve followed in any sport has been hit as hard by the injury bug as this year’s Oregon team has been. On top of that, discipline has been…let’s say, an issue. This is far from the roster Oregon hoped to field coming into this game. OSU has had their share of injuries as well, but none as devastating.

@SwooshMcDuck
Well, like always, defense. Maybe Utah had an off day. Maybe Utah was looking ahead past the Ducks. Who knows. But for most of an entire game, for the first time this season, Oregon’s defense wasn’t entirely abysmal. If Oregon comes out playing Oregon defense like the first 10 games of the season, Little Bro is gonna have a good day. OSewe mopped the floor with Arizona, but let’s remember, that’s not saying much when a team has yet to win a conference game & whose only victories are against juggernauts Grambling & Hawaii. If the Arizona drubbing creates confidence & a little bit of rhythm in the Beavfense, all it will take is a lackadaisical Oregon D to find ourselves losing yet another streak in a season full of broken streaks.


The Picks…

@WildKingdumb
Oregon wins. 33-28.

@JonatahnAdams
The Beavers are 3-3 at home, and the losses are by 14 to Boise State, 5 vs. Utah, and 4 vs. WSU — they’re a much different team in Corvallis. They’re playing a game they fully expect to win in front of their first sellout in two seasons. I think they’ll punch the Ducks early and force them to play from behind. Unlike last week, there won’t be any crazy comeback, and OSU will end their 8-game Civil War losing streak 36-31.

@BigShaun
Oregon 37-OSU 36

@DMDoubleG
I genuinely think this one is a toss up. That’s kind of fun, in a way. This is a very low-stakes game for both teams. In a sense, it’s the perfect rivalry game. Of course it would be preferable to be, say, Ohio State and Michigan. Everyone wants to play for a shot at a title. But you know what? That’s stressful. This isn’t. This is sports at its purest.

Oregon wins, 42-35.

@SwooshMcDuck
Civil War is once again THE bowl game for both teams & my it’s been a while since we said that. This game should hinge on the type of defense that Oregon plays. I don’t believe this team has it in them yet to string together consecutive weeks of par defense. Oregon is bad, but Saturday, Oregon State is just a little bit worse. Oregon 44 Little Brother 34

Week 12 Recap: Oregon vs Utah

FINAL: Oregon 30, Utah 28

OFFENSE

@WildKingdumb – Grade: B
WE ARE BACK!  Sorta.  Kinda.  I don’t even know.  I do know we had 575 total yards.  The o-line had their best game of the year by far and with performances like that you have reason to get one of those Grinch like grins at the thought of next year.  Justin Herbert threw for 324 yards, and Royce Freeman (129 yards) and Tony Brooks-James (78 yards) got a ton of tough yards.  To me it wasn’t so much the total yards as the way they got them, Oregon attacked the flats well and voids behind the linebackers.  They had Utah guessing and were 50% on 3rd/4th Downs.   I applaud the Oregon staff from moving from Prukop to Herbert, and I applaud them letting Justin take his lumps, each failure and success with make him that much more dangerous next year. 

@JonathanAdams – Grade: A  Sing it, Lego people!
Obviously I’m grading on a bit of a curve here, because scoring only 3 points during the first 44 minutes of a game is not A-quality work by an Oregon offense. But posting touchdowns on the last four drives of the game is most certainly an A+ effort. On those last four possessions, Justin Herbert was 11-for-15 for 145 yards and three touchdowns, plus he ran for 37 yards and one score including a ridiculous 12 yard Mariota-esque escape during Oregon’s game-winning drive. Speaking of running the ball, Oregon’s rushing attack was very good on Saturday, posting 251 yards on the ground vs. a defense that came in allowing just 130 yards per game.

And honestly, they get an A from me mostly because that last 16 minutes was FUN. It was nice to really enjoy watching the Ducks play football. Hasn’t been a lot of that this season.

@GoDucksTroll – Grade: B
Having three points at halftime was not ideal. But the Ducks were moving the ball, and Royce Freeman was looking like Royce Freeman. In the second half they started putting it together, and Herbs was able to capitalize on more than just screen passes. He’s got a great rapport with all the tight ends, and the combination of Evan Baylis and Johnny Mundt played great. Our OL also had their best game of the year, limiting the drive killing penalties and blitz pick-up issues that had been haunting them.

On the game winning drive I almost couldn’t watch, but I had faith in Herbert giving us a chance. That game winning catch by Carrington was a thing of beauty.

Player of the game: Offensive line. 250 yards rushing against one of the best defensive fronts the Ducks have seen this year, and after surrendering two sacks on the opening drive they managed to protect Herbert from a vicious pass rush. Herbert had better movement in the pocket to help them out, but they still deserve kudos.

DEFENSE

@WildKingdumb – Grade: A
I’m going to toot-my-own-horn here: TOLD YOU.  I have no idea who that’s pointed to.  But hey, it felt great to say.  I have kept saying “we don’t need a ‘Bama level defense to be successful, we can give up yards… we just need to get turnovers and play well in the redzone”.  This is what I call the ‘Aliotti Philosophy’.  I guess technically we were good from the redzone because two of the 3 offensive scores (plays of 24, 12, 30 yards) game from beyond the redzone.   

Ok let’s look at how truly amazing this win was in terms of big plays.  I took un-scientific notes of the game and this is what I saw in terms of plays Utah were getting on offense:
Plays of 10 yards or more: 21
Plays between 9-6 yards: 14
Plays between 5-2 yards: 11
Plays of 1-0 yards (including incomplete passes): 17
Negative yard plays: 5

In case you didn’t read that correctly, UTAH HAD 20 PLAYS OF 10 YARDS OR MORE AND ONLY SCORED 28 POINTS.  But shockingly the Duck defense had 22 plays of 1 yard or less which seems, well… great.  (Reminder: this Utah team ran 97 offensive plays against CAL, only scoring 23 points, and lost.)  Oregon held Utah to 5/12 on third down which is again, pretty great.  As a dude watching the game on my coach at home, it looks like the D is playing harder, they are shedding blocks and playing downhill, they are not over pursuing as much which shows they are trusting one another.  They have a long way to go, but man if this is the performance they get from 3rd sting D-linemen wait till guys are healed up. 

@JonathanAdams – Grade: A
Here’s something I didn’t think I’d write this season: Oregon’s defense kept the Ducks in the game until the offense got rolling. Again, grading on a curve here because giving up 6.7 yards per play is not ideal. But they forced a huge turnover late in the first half, and just kept bending but never breaking. Looking at the box score, I kind of don’t understand how they did it, but allowing just 21 points to a top 12 team on the road after being a hot, hot mess all season long is a stunning turnaround.

(And they didn’t give up any points on the final drive of the first half or the first drive of the second half. It’s a Thanksgiving miracle!)

@GoDucksTroll – Grade: A-
The best defensive performance of the year, despite more shaky tackling. They made clutch plays when it counted, and the following guys played great: Justin Hollins, Johnny Ragin III, Troy Dye, Jalen Jelks, Ugo Amadi. Big plays by all of those guys. There is going to be some nice returning talent for next year’s defense. 

Player of the game: Justin Hollins. The defensive line all deserve credit, from Mondeaux making plays to Wayne Tei-Kirby’s fumble recovery, but Hollins had his best game as a Duck and was a force off the edge. 

SPECIAL TEAMS

@WildKingdumb – Grade: D
Dillon Mitchell is new to returning punts so congrats on the big 45 yard return.  For the touched punt that became a touchdown… WHAT IS A PLAYER SUPPOSED TO DO THERE AFTER THE WHISTLES BLOWN?  If he dives to get the ball and hits a defender after the whistles blown it’s a personal foul… if you don’t get it and they do it’s a possible touchdown?  This is a flaw in the rule that makes NO sense especially if player safety is at the center of so many new rule changes.   To get back to Mitchell, I will guarantee that will not happen to him again so luckily the Ducks overcame that mistake as well as the missed field goal. 

@JonathanAdams – Grade: D
Missed a short FG and gave up a touchdown on a muffed punt return (bad call on the review, but still. Just let it go Dillon Mitchell!). Mitchell’s 45 yard punt return to set up Oregon’s first TD was the lone bright spot.

@GoDucksTroll – Grade: D-
Dillon Mitchell’s 45 yard punt return was great, his fair catch fail and subsequent Utah touchdown was painful as can be. But Mitchell is going to be a good one, that guy is a smooth athlete. 

Aidan Schneider’s miss was surprising, but he also did make a 47 yard field goal which still seems like a miracle to me after years of suffering. 
Ian Wheeler punted well for a chance, but did you see Utah’s tricky punting? I want to see some of that on the Ducks. 
Player of the game: Wheeler averaged 10 yards more per punt than usual, on a day of crappy special teams play that is the highlight. 

COACHING

@WildKingdumb – Grade: A+
These guys were ready to play.  And the word for me today when it comes to wrapping up this performance was the Ducks was: DISIPLINED.  Only five penalties for 37 yards.  The effort on defense is growing week to week.  The offensive drives to end the 1st half and the game showed truly inspired play.

The Oregon offensive coaches had a pretty straight forward game plan.  I liked the new ‘fake option’ with Herbert running with the RB and TE as lead blockers, Washington has been running this same play over the last couple weeks.  But other than that they were running the ball pretty traditionally up the middle with, and to the edges will pulling guard/center.   Passing game worked well today with good route combinations and again amazing work by the o-line.  The Ducks punted in traditional spots and didn’t do anything too risky.  This isn’t very sexy, but the Ducks were deadly efficient on Saturday and that is reason to have some hope for next week and next season. 

The effort of this team versus Utah flies in the face of the narrative that “the players have given up on the coaches”, I am not saying I agree with that or not, but you add that to that the interview by Pat Kikenny and you get the feeling that there is support for this staff inside the halls of Oregon by the Athletic Department.  When it’s all said and done I stand with Ty Burrell.

@JonathanAdams – Grade: A
The players never quit even when down double digits late in the 3rd quarter, and it’s pretty clear that the coaches haven’t lost the locker room. It’s a small thing, but taking a knee on the extra point after the game-winning TD was a really good call.

Now to the question of “did this win save Helfrich’s job?” I won’t go into whether I think the guy should or shouldn’t be fired, but I will say it would be extremely poor management by the various decision-makers if Helfrich can avoid being fired because Darren Carrington wears a size 10 cleat instead of a size 12. And the reverse is true — Helf shouldn’t be fired if the replay official decided there wasn’t enough evidence to overturn the call that DC was out-of-bounds. The big bosses need to look at the overall landscape, and not just focus on one or two games in November being decided, literally, by a few inches.

@GoDucksTroll – Grade: B
I’m surprised that Helf was able to wheedle this type of performance from a team that looked like it gave up. After complaining of vanilla play calling we got to see a trick play that resulted in a touchdown. The offensive play calling took advantage of Utah’s aggressiveness while the defense didn’t use the 15 yard cushions that have been exploited by every team we’ve played. 

We don’t know if this staff will be back next year, but if they are I’m confident that they will field a better squad next year. 



Week 12 Predictions: Oregon vs Utah

Oregon (3-7) vs Utah (8-2)
Saturday, November 19th // Salt Lake City, UT // 11:00am PST

HEAD-TO-HEAD STATS

Why we could BEAT Utah: 

@SwooshMcDuck
Utah’s normally stingy defense has, at times, been extremely porous against both the run and the pass this season, most notably against USC, Arizona, and UCLA. They are capable of giving up a lot of points, but of course, Oregon this season always seems to find a way to give up more. If Oregon can find a way to avoid 3 and outs, consistently putting up numbers on the scoreboard, they COULD have a chance at stealing this game in a shootout.


@GoDucksTroll
Because miracles happen. This isn’t an awful match-up for the Ducks, but if they’re able to keep Utah from putting up three touchdowns in the first quarter and can break some huge plays then there is a chance. It will require the offensive line’s best performance of the year and an explosive running game, it’s hard to imagine with how poorly our offensive line has been playing but it’s possible.

@WildKingdumb
The Ducks will need a season’s best performance from the offensive line to make that happen.   I have faith the Ducks will keep their 20+ point streak alive, but to win they will have to more than double that output.  And as always Oregon will need to win the turnover battle by +2 to get the win.

Why we could LOSE to Utah:

@SwooshMcDuck
One word: DEFENSE. Or, in Oregon’s case, the complete lack of it. Utah isn’t an offensive juggernaut by any standard, but guess who wasn’t either? Stanford. That’s right, the team that hadn’t scored more than 34 points in a game all season, rolled right into Autzen and put up an easy 52 on the scoreboard. This one has all the makings of a repeat of an ugly and embarrassing Stanford game.


@GoDucksTroll
The Utes defense had 22 tackles for loss and 11 sacks against Arizona State. That’s a whole season’s worth of sacks for Oregon. In one game. That translated to Arizona State getting 41 yards on 47 carries. If Utah’s defense plays like that again last year’s 62-20 drubbing will look like a pleasant memory. 

@WildKingdumb
Let’s assume Oregon can move the ball and score points on offense.  Let’s also assume the Ducks defense plays its best game of the year.  Even if those things happen Oregon still needs to cut out the ridiculous decision making that leads to a poor special team’s day and/or massive penalty yardage. 


Result/score prediction:

@SwooshMcDuck
Utah 53, Oregon 27. Grab a case of Busch Light, a fifth of tequila, and I’ll see you on Twitter at 11am Saturday morning as we count each touchdown as another nail in the coffin of the Helfrich era at Oregon. Go Ducks.


@GoDucksTroll
42-24, Utah wins. I didn’t think I could break the streak of picking the Ducks to win, but I also didn’t think I would see a lot of stuff that’s happened this year.

@WildKingdumb
Oregon loses.  45-24.