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Know Thy Self: Oregon Ducks Second Half Review

NCAA Football: Oregon at Oregon State Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

If you missed the midseason review of the Ducks, you can find it here

Note: I’m using the point after Washington game as the line of demarcation as it was the sixth game. The bye was the week before this game. All stats courtesy of goducks.com

2018 Record (Pre-Bowl): 8-4 (5-4)

Midseason record: 5-1 (2-1)

Finished regular season: 3-3 (3-3)

Points per game (First half): 45.6

Points per game (Second half): 43

Points allowed per game (First half): 24.83

Points allowed per game (Second half): 29.16

Avg. yards per rush (First half): 4.58

Avg. yards per rush (Second half): 4.22

Avg. yards per rush allowed (First half): 3.09

Avg. yards per rush allowed (Second half): 4.03

Avg. rush yards per game (First half): 209.5

Avg. rush yards per game (Second half): 173

Avg. rush yards per game allowed (First half): 122.8

Avg. rush yards per game allowed (Second half): 163.3

Rushing TDs (First half): 16 for, 6 against

Rushing TDs (Second half): 12 for, 7 against

Avg. pass yards per game (First half): 273.3

Avg. pass yards per game (Second half): 236

Avg. pass yards per game allowed (First half): 239

Avg. pass yards per game allowed (Second half): 255.8

Passing TDs (First half): 17 for, 11 against

Passing TDs (Second half): 11 for, 13 against

Collective Pass Completion Rate (First half): 62%

Collective Pass Completion Rate (Second half): 57%

Collective Pass Completion Rate Against (First half): 56%

Collective Pass Completion Rate Against (Second half): 57%

Leading Rusher: CJ Verdell (188 carries for 975 yards and 10 TDs)

Leading Receiver: Dillon Mitchell (69 receptions for 1,114 yards and 9 TDs)

Leading Tackler: Troy Dye (107 tackles, 7.0 tackles for loss, 1 interception, 7 passes defensed, 1 sack)

Leader in Sacks: Justin Hollins (5.0)

Analysis

  • The numbers don’t lie as the Ducks struggled to a .500 record in the second half of the season. The offense suffered a little drop off in terms of points but the defense gave up major points in three games to inflate their average.
  • The offense did not maintain any kind of consistency whatsoever from the first half to the second half. Particularly, the pass game in which they decreased their yards per game by a whopping 37 yards. The run game didn’t work either after suffering through a decrease of 36 yards per game.
  • As a result of the offense not doing so well, the defense was left exposed and saw increases in both the pass and run.

What were the good things in the second half?

  • The Secondary. After being heavily criticized and perilously bad to start the year, the secondary tightened the screws and played well down the stretch. They even got in some key interceptions and coverage plays. The corners looked to be improved, particularly Thomas Graham.
  • Mental toughness / Discipline. The Ducks didn’t quit in most of their games and fought to the end unlike some of their previous teams. That’s a reflection on Coach Cristobal’s willingness to fight through adversity and demeanor. Sure they were outclassed and undermanned at times but there was no loafing.
  • Offensive resiliency. The offense did just enough at times to string together a couple of plays to help out the defense but overall, it was tough to watch. The Ducks weren’t really out of it minus two games.

What were some of the not so good things in the second half?

  • Health. The Ducks suffered through some serious injury issues at the most critically lacking areas such as the front seven and offensive line. This team was a wounded squad just trying to make it from series to series, much less entire games.
  • Offensive line. Outside of a few flashes, the OL play was poor to say the least. Jake Hanson got the snapping yips, the left tackle position was a rotating wheel of wonderment (thanks to injury), and they could not execute simple plays.
  • Offensive creativity. Astonishingly bland and super predictable. OC Marcus Arroyo isn’t the most creative out there but if fans can predict what’s coming, it’s a near lock that opposing defenses do too. He either needs to be relieved of his duties or take some vacation time to visit other programs like Ohio State or Oklahoma on how to run an offense and call plays. Yes, the OL play hamstrung his calls at times but a good coordinator knows how to scheme around it, Arroyo did not for the most part.
  • Front seven. The pass rush was simply nonexistent for vast stretches of games outside of a few plays here and there. Run defense wasn’t ideal, either. Too often we saw that defenders were out of place and look lost against the run. To put it succinctly, if anyone in the front seven that isn’t a senior is looking at declaring for the draft, it would be a ludicrous decision as none would be drafted higher than the sixth round at best.
  • Depth. The problem is, there was hardly any due to prior regimes not recruiting well or if at all. Particularly, the linebacker unit was hit hard with injuries and got exposed badly. Once true freshman Penei Sewell went down, that was it for anything resembling positive consistency from the OL. The Ducks were fortunate that Justin Herbert did not suffer a major season ending injury as the depth behind him is...shaky at best, turn the game off early because it’s automatic loss time at worst.
  • Justin Herbert. Dude just did not have it during the second half for some reason. Yes, the receiver play outside of Dillon Mitchell was inconsistent but it is the QB’s job to elevate them, not actively shy away from them any time something remotely negative happens. Physically, he looks the part of QB1 but mentally, he’s just not there for inexplicable reasons. By that I mean that he lacks the confidence and/or fortitude (ego) to truly take command of the offense and the team by in large as a result. I just don’t know if another season of Arroyo and the OL’s incompetence will help him or hurt him.