I think we all knew going into the game against Oregon that a loss was the most likely scenario. I know a 45-20 outcome was disheartening for at least me because I expected improvement over the last decade but there wasn’t much to be found. We didn’t move the ball well and Oregon gashed us for big yards – same as ever. There may be some hope though.
Even though we lost 45-20, this is better than last year’s 45-24 home loss. The previous two games in Autzen we lost 53-16 and 52-21 respectively so this year found a comparatively better final score.
Not convinced? Me either. The improvement versus the prior two Autzen games may well be attributable to Chip Kelly’s departure. Likewise this DOES seem like a weaker Oregon team this year than in the recent past. The defense was vulnerable in previous games and maybe they were just coming into their own against us, or maybe we just made them look good, but I certainly would have liked to have capitalized and closed the margin of defeat. Over the duckade we have lost by an average score of 43.6-20.2 so this year was right on par with what we’ve become sadly accustomed to.
So can we avoid our own personal 0-12 versus Oregon? We are now 0-11 over the past 11 meetings and have one year to improve enough to end the streak. What is wrong with us and can it be fixed? I would say we played adequately on special teams (which shouldn’t be undervalued) but on defense and offense I have identified critical shortcomings which may or may not be fixable by next year.
On defense we have some amazing star power. Shelton, Kikaha, Thompson, and Peters are all All-American, first round draft pick caliber guys and are vying for those types of accolades. Budda Baker is young but is showing flashes of a future difference-maker. How could they let 45 points through this year? The answer is it isn’t just them. Aside from the fact they our stars do make mistakes from time to time, it takes a full team to win. It takes all 11 guys on the field to stop an offense like Oregon’s and we simply don’t have that depth. CokeGreatherThanPepsi’s recent article was very timely for explaining why we’re facing this issue. The guys we have may be good enough players in the end, but without the superhuman powers of our current stars they need to learn the system better and get all the details right. Petersen has harped on the need to get the details right on this team and getting more depth and getting our current guys playing to their full capability is holding us back. I am not sure if we can fix the depth issue by next year but with another year in the system our current guys should really be utilizing their talent. There is reason to expect improvement on the defense next year… but maybe not enough to make Oregon’s offense look pedestrian.
Despite putting up 20 points, our offense looked really bad last week. The silver lining is I think we can legitimately improve on the offense for next year. Cyler has not been as good as I had expected this year and while he has had limited support I believe the offense starts and stops with the quarterback. Cyler bails out way too early in the pocket. He doesn’t run when he needs to and he doesn’t stay in the pocket when he needs to. Most plays (or at least what feels like most plays – I haven’t actually counted) he chooses to roll out immediately and if he hasn’t found a target by the time he reaches the sidelines he throws the ball away. Washington and Coleman play well at times but they lack the consistency of Polk and Sankey and they can’t carry the team on their own. They would be good enough if we had a poised quarterback who could make the throws we need but Cyler has lacked arm strength and accuracy thus far. Enter Troy Williams.
While I like saying Mad/Wild Swede I think we have to give Troy the nod over Lindquist as our backup. In fact if we can extrapolate on Troy’s limited performance we may need to give him the nod over Miles. It is important to remember that Lindquist looked good for his first several passes and Troy’s experience was in garbage time, not a tight game. That being said the Williams-Cooper combo in garbage time played better than the starters did in garbage time so I would give them the new guys the edge. They were confident, playing hard (easier to do when you’re not winded from playing all game for sure), and looked like they were playing to win. Cooper won’t be around next year but if Williams can emerge as a confident playmaker who leads the team then next year our offense may be able to make the leap and we might be able to end the Ducks streak before it becomes a duodecade of victory over the Huskies.