Now, I’m as big a Duck fan as there is and I hope I end up eating crow for writing this. While this is how I feel, I hope this can generate discussion of the Ducks chances on January 2nd.
1. Chip Kelly can’t win the big games
As much as we want to make excuses for each game, Kelly has been unable to win a big game against a non-Pac opponent. Sure he has led the Ducks to big in-conference wins over Stanford and USC, but an alarming trend has emerged. The Ducks have lost to Boise State, Ohio State, Auburn and LSU over the last 3 years. Of course, all of those teams were great teams with great quarterbacks and good to great defenses. But you cannot ignore 0-4 against highly ranked OOC opponents or the 0-2 in BCS bowl appearances. Maybe these losses can be explained away by the time the other team has to prepare, Kelly’s inexperience on a big stage in bowl games, poor play by the Ducks offense, etc. Until the Ducks win a big game though, doubts will remain.
This is not going to be a Bryan Bennett should be our quarterback discussion. DT is and should be our QB. But DT has looked poor at times this season, particularly in the beginning of games. Whether his struggles are injury related or mechanical, his inability to start games well gets us in trouble against quality opponents. How many times has he overthrown a wide open WR? How many times have his throws been behind a WR? Fortunately, he generally takes care of the ball and doesn’t turn it over to the other team.
3. The Dropsies
Our weakest point on offense this year is the receiving corp. Will Murphy. Justin Hoffman. Huh? One of the most infuriating things about this WR corp is that they are prone to dropping the ball. Our best WR is a freshman RB and he only has 571 yards receiving. That’s half of what Jeff Maehl had last year. Not only do our WRs drop balls, but they have trouble getting into space.
4. The O-Line
Our O-Line has played poorly in each one of those 4 losses. It is not a big O-line. And you never know what you’re going to get with them. Either they show up and play really well or they just don’t show up, get pushed back and LMJ/KB are making cuts 5 yards in the backfield.
After handing the ball to LSU so many times I lost count, Oregon didn’t put the ball on the ground much in the following 7 games. But lately, Oregon has been fumbling the ball at an alarming rate. The Ducks have fumbled the ball away 8 times in the last 5 games. Not good. We can’t afford to fumble the ball away and put our defense on its heels.
6. Time of Possession
I have been very pleased with our defense all year with the exception of the USC game. But even in the USC game, the offense did nothing to help the defense through the first three quarters. I am not a fan of TOP as an indicator of football success. Obviously, the Ducks have disproved this indicator over the last three years. But when you’re facing a Wisconsin team that has a power running game who eats up clock and keeps you’re defense on the field for a long time, it is imperative for the offense to either score or move the ball successfully. This year, the offense has been stymied on three and outs, turnovers and other “drives” that harm the field position and gives our defense little rest.
I personally think Wilson is overrated, but that doesn’t mean he’s not very good. Wilson is perfect for the Badger offense. He doesn’t have an ego and doesn’t mind handing the ball off as long as it is working. Not only can he make plays with his arms, he can keep plays alive with his legs ala Terrelle Pryor and we all remember the fits that Pryor gave our defense.