Gonna be honest with you.
I don’t feel great.
Hot. Cold. Dizzy. Phlegmy. Gross.
I just want to sleep all day tomorrow. Stay inside, drink orange juice, eat soup.
But I can’t. No one to cover my class at school. So, I’m going in.
It won’t be pretty. I’m gonna drag ass all day. I’ll feel like shit at the end of it. But as long as I take care of myself as best I can and don’t try and push things too hard, I’ll get better faster.
In other words, I am Oregon’s ailing offense.
Until Justin Herbert is back on the field at full strength, Oregon’s offense has the flu. Braxton Burmeister is out there trying his best, but watching one of the better QB recruits in the 2017 class struggle mightily like this should make us all appreciate when true freshmen quarterbacks can be impact players immediately. He’ll continue to improve, but to expect the kid to all of a sudden start slinging the ball around and putting a bunch of points on the board is a touch unrealistic at this point. As dissonant as it is for an Oregon football fan who has known nothing but dynamic offenses for the last decade, Oregon is going to pursue long-term development over short-term successes. Because I’ll remind you of something:
Willie Taggart does not really give a damn about how many games he wins in Year 1.
Oregon’s 4 wins this season has already doubled the win totals he had in his first years at Western Kentucky and South Florida. Yes, those were bigger rebuilds, but they were also smaller conferences with a shallower talent pool. Taggart has known all along that Year 1 sets the foundation, and we’ve already seen what that foundation looks like: a commitment to running the ball and controlling the tempo to set up deep shots, and an aggressive defense that puts DBs on an island. That’s what this team is working on. So who cares if it’s the fourth quarter and Oregon is down 27-14? This offense needs to work on running the ball to set up the pass, so that’s what it’s gonna do. In the minds of Oregon’s coaches, airing it out and running low-percentage plays is a waste of reps, even if it means abandoning the slim hope of winning the game. In 2019, the point differential of our losses in 2017 won’t matter one bit. But the reps our freshmen and sophomores got in our foundational offense will matter. Willie Taggart knows this. Braxton Burmeister’s going to continue to get the ball because Taylor Alie isn’t in the program’s future. Nick Pickett, Deommodore Lenoir, Darrian Felix, and Jacob Capra are a part of Oregon’s long-term plans, so the reps they’re getting this year - as unpolished as they are - are important.
So when you watch this Saturday’s game against Utah, should Oregon struggle - and they probably will - know that Oregon didn’t hire Willie Taggart to win 7-8 games every year and not build anything substantial. They could have had that; Steve Sarkisian was available. Oregon hired Taggart because they saw the plan for a total program rebuild: strip everything down to the foundation in Year 1, and then build from there. Western Kentucky went from also-ran to a perennial bowl team; South Florida is in contention for a New Year’s Six bowl this year with the program Taggart built. Oregon has a bigger name, a bigger conference footprint, and a lot more money. Think what Taggart can build here.
Give it time to get better.