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Know Thy Self: Oregon Ducks Midseason Review

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Oregon v California Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

How have the Ducks fared thus far into the season? What went right and what needs to be fixed? What’s next?

2018 Record: 4-1 (1-1)

Key Numbers + Info (2018 season)

OOC Opponents: Bowling Green, Portland State, San Jose State

Points per game: 45.6

Points allowed per game: 24.40

Avg. yards per rush: 4.7

Avg. yards per rush allowed: 3.0

Avg. rush yards per game: 216

Avg. rush yards per game allowed: 108.6

Rushing TDs: 14 for, 4 against

Avg. pass yards per game: 287.60

Avg. pass yards per game allowed: 238.20

Passing TDs: 15 for, 10 against

Collective Pass Completion Rate: 63%

Collective Pass Completion Rate Against: 55%

Leading Rusher: CJ Verdell (68 carries for 437 yards and 2 TDs)

Leading Receiver: Dillon Mitchell (27 receptions for 442 yards and 2 TDs)

Leading Tackler: Troy Dye (35 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 1 interception)

Leader in Sacks: Justin Hollins (4.0)

Analysis

  • The Ducks have been heavily reliant on the run thus far, attempting 229 rushes to a mere 146 passes. This could be due to game situations however. The split (375 snaps) between pass / run favors the run by a whopping 61% to 29%. Expect it to change as the youth of the RB room will give way to star QB Justin Herbert’s talent.
  • Oregon has outgained their opponents 2,518 to 1,734 and have outscored them 228-122.
  • 3 of the 5 games have featured a semblance of offensive balance but against SJSU and Stanford, the passing yards were near 3 to 1 against the run.
  • 31 is the lowest point total that the Ducks have put up while 38 is the most that they have given up on defense.

What went well for the Ducks?

  • Justin Herbert. He has played like QB1 and is receiving some major love from the media for it. Herbert has been consistently placed within the top five draft picks in most mock drafts this year. He has the talent and production to merit such high praise. Would be in the Heisman conversation had the Ducks had a stronger strength of schedule and been able to hang on in the Stanford loss. He has flashed elite tools to make it in the NFL. The top QB prospect in the 2019 class coming into the season and hasn’t done anything to damage that. Is completing 64% of his passes.
  • Run defense. If you take out the Cal’s seemingly infinite inside run plays, the run defense has been performing very well, averaging a paltry 75.5 yards per game allowed. I was really impressed by their effort against Stanford, limiting all world RB Bryce Love to just 93 yards on 19 attempts. Jordon Scott has showed up as the anchor of the line.
  • Rushing offense. A new star ball carrier was found in an unlikely place as CJ Verdell has taken over primary rushing duties from presumptive starter Tony Brooks-James. It’s so apparent that TBJ has been relegated to third string and special teams duties behind true freshman Travis Dye.
  • Offensive coaching. The early returns on the Marcus Arroyo era as offensive coordinator have been generally positive. He has his rookie play caller moments but has been at least willing to come up with a game plan to fit the players instead of the other way around (unlike the previous regime).
  • Discipline. Penalties have been drastically reduced this year under Mario Cristobal than the previous coaching staff. There are very few back breaking penalties and a handful of minor procedure stuff.
  • Health. The team largely has been healthy with few minor injuries that didn’t cost players much game time.

What went not so well for the Ducks?

  • Consistency. To be expected with a such a young team that has started over with a new staff. Oregon hasn’t put together a complete effort yet this season in FBS competition. It seems like one unit fails miserably a game while the others work perfectly. The coaching has been positive but also has been hit or miss at times. Growing pains. Sucks but there’s no way around it but to gain experience. The team has lived on the edge of putting teams away and letting them hang around way too much.
  • Pass Defense. Outside of a few moments, the pass coverage has been less than ideal. The cornerbacks have struggled and the safety play even worse. DC Jim Leavitt needs to use the bye week to cook up a new scheme to cover up these blemishes. Tackling seems to be an issue at times. Perhaps blitzing more would help.
  • Depth. Particularly for the receivers. Dillon Mitchell nearly has more catches by himself than the next three receivers combined. Herbert needs to find the balance of feeding the main guy and getting others involved so that defenses can’t key on one guy. There are star players on the roster but the depth chart needs to find some players to step up in their contributions. The new redshirt rule has helped a ton in this regard but just isn’t there quite yet. The next franchise passer has to be developed should Justin Herbert use his right to declare for the draft as a junior.

What’s next?

  • Oregon has a home date with hated rival washington next week. Outside of that game, October should be very favorable for the Ducks as they finish with Washington State and Arizona on the road before hosting friend Chip Kelly in November.

Note: All stats courtesy of goducks.com