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Know Thy Self: Oregon Bye Week

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Who are these 2019 Ducks after four games?

NCAA Football: Nevada at Oregon Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

2019 record: 3-1 (1-0)

Key Numbers + Info (2019 season)

OOC Opponents: Auburn, Nevada, Montana

Points per game: 38.50

Points allowed per game: 10.50

Avg. yards per rush: 4.4

Avg. yards per rush allowed: 3.0

Avg. rush yards per game: 154.8

Avg. rush yards per game allowed: 102.8

Rushing TDs: 5 for, 1 against

Avg. pass yards per game: 304.00

Avg. pass yards per game allowed: 160.00

Avg per attempt: 8.75

Avg per attempt allowed: 4.81

Passing TDs: 16 for, 2 against

Collective Pass Completion Rate: 76%

Collective Pass Completion Rate Against: 52%

Leading Rusher: C.J. Verdell (54 attempts for 231 yards and two TDs)

Leading Receiver (yards): Jacob Breeland (18 receptions for 265 yards and five TDs)

Leading Receiver: (receptions): Johnny Johnson III (22 receptions for 264 yards and two TDs)

Leading Tackler: Troy Dye (25 tackles, 4.0 tackles for loss, 1.0 sack

Leading Sacks: Mase Funa (Nine tackles, 3.0 sacks, 5.0 tackles for loss)

Analytics

Before I begin, I’d like to thank to Cougcenter’s Zane Murfitt and Sports Source Analytics for providing the following data on a weekly basis. Here’s a glossary of the analytical terms

Offense

As you can see, the Ducks’ success rate on offense is dragged down by the anemic rush rate of 40.15%, which ranks in the bottom half of the entirety of FBS. The overall success rate is at a fairly average rate within the Power 5 but there’s clearly room for improvement. The passing game has been the straw that stirs the drink as expected.

Oregon ranks above the national average in yards per play, third down conversion rate, and yards per pass attempt but is right at the national average for yards per rush.

Marcus Arroyo’s unit ranks above the national average in explosive plays (thanks wheel routes to Breeland!), red zone touchdowns, stuff rate, and havoc rate. The stuff rate might be surprising to some folks, given that the run game isn’t exactly lighting the world on fire right now and CJ Verdell’s penchant to run towards the mass of humanity in the trenches.

Defense

The defensive analytics live up to what we’ve been seeing in real time. They rank well above the national average in explosive plays, red zone touchdowns allowed, and havoc rate (thanks front seven!).

The Ducks defense has allowed opposing offenses to convert a serviceable 31% of their third downs while the distance to go in order to convert is a little over 7.5 yards. These rank within the Top 40 of the FBS. Third down defense has been stellar.

It remains to be seen if the Ducks can keep up this level of play as the schedule gets stronger but the signs are trending positive. Given that the Ducks have played a true freshman QB and a QB that wasn’t healthy plus two other lower caliber quarterbacks, Andy Avalos’ work should rightfully lauded but taken with a grain of salt.

By the Numbers

  • The Ducks are at a 50/50 pass to run balance, while their opponents are at 51 to 49 run to pass ratio in nine fewer plays.
  • Oregon is dominating the total yardage battle in comparison to their opponents by a margin of 1,835 to 1,051. They have nearly doubled their opponents in the pass game (1,216 to 640). In the run game, the margin is tighter (619 to 411).
  • In FBS competition, they have allowed 4.47 yards per pass and 3.44 yards per rush while averaging 9.6 yards per pass and 3.47 yards per rush in three contests.

What went well for the Ducks?

  • Defense. The defense has lived up to the hype and then some. Andy Avalos is the real deal, folks. The secondary is loaded with veterans who have seen some things and the strong safety position hasn’t been much of a liability like some have feared. The pass rush has been downright fearsome with true freshman Mase Funa leading the way with three sacks already in his young career. Isaac Slade-Matautia has carried over his strong form from the spring and fall camp into the season. He has solidified the inside linebacker spot next to senior Troy Dye. Not to detract from Sampson Niu but he has really found a home as a backup to ISM. The defensive line hasn’t missed a beat yet despite the losses of key defenders from last season, generating constant pass rush from both the interior and outside in a variety of formations.
  • Youth movement. The young Ducklings have impressed in key spots where it was needed. In particular, cornerback Mykael Wright, who had to step in for an injured TG4 for a bit during the Montana game. Mase Funa has been a revelation as well. Kayvon Thibodeaux may be going on pure talent right now but once he gets some fundamentals, watch out. A majority of the redshirt freshmen and the 2019 class has contributed in big spots so nothing is too big for them yet. The receivers have stepped up as well, including Josh Delgado.
  • Explosive plays. It seems like there have been more explosive plays from the offense than last season. The pass game in particular to TE Jacob Breeland on that fake screen to wheel route play. The more explosive plays the better as defenses can’t key on the severely depleted Ducks’ skill players on long marches. Marcus Arroyo has been more creative in this department as of late. It helps to have a senior QB that’s highly touted as well.

What’s going not so well for the Ducks?

  • Offensive line. While not an outright disaster, it has been a relative disappointment compared to the hype that unit had been receiving. The run blocking has been a mystery. Shane Lemieux has been solid but has had a few misses so he hasn’t been his dominant self. The right side of the line sans Calvin Throckmorton is inconsistent to say the least (please come back soon, Jake Hanson.) Whoever “earns” the right guard spot will be the first. Dallas Warmack has been an issue so he has been rotated in and out on certain plays.
  • Marcus Arroyo. Speaking of mystery, some of the play calls have been particularly mystifying as to why he doesn’t exploit mismatches in the run game. He wants assignment based run football when the backside is there for exploitation on counters and misdirection plays. He’s been dialing up pretty good pass plays but the run game has been stupendously difficult to watch and decipher. Also, the biggest failing of his is not to use Justin Herbert as weapon in the rushing attack on read options.
  • Game management. The Ducks could be undefeated and staring at a top ten ranking had the 2018 Stanford Mario Cristobal not shown up against Auburn. If Stanford put up any sort of fight, they would have likely made it closer than it would appear. Until he realizes that early onset of conservatism will lose games, it will be his greatest shortcoming. I’m not saying he needs to be Chip Kelly aggressive, just be a little more aware of the situation. There’s a time and place for conservative playcalling, that wasn’t it in the season opener and against Stanford.
  • Health. In a brief word, not ideal. Multiple players have been injured and are currently working their way back to health so the team has had to deal with a ton of adversity. Several Ducks are out for the season, including TE Cam McCormick and LB Adrian Jackson, both of whom were expected to contribute. The receivers have taken the biggest hit with Mycah Pittman, Juwan Johnson, and Brendan Schooler all being out with various ailments.

What’s next for the Ducks?

A home date with the fighting Cal Evan Weavers on October 5 and a short week against Mel Tucker and the Colorado Buffaloes before the state of washington double.