clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The A-Bomb: Lupoi needs to show some muscle in 2023

Oregon’s defensive coordinator had some very frustrating performances in some of the biggest games last year

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 03 Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game - Oregon vs Georgia Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Welcome to the inaugural A-Bomb opinion piece. Anyone who has read my rants on ATQ over the years knows I like to speak my mind. Sometimes people heartily agree, sometimes they almost spitefully don’t. But it’s all good, because that’s what debate is about, and I want to hear from y’all!

So the first “Adam Bomb” I’ll drop is a take on Oregon defensive coordinator Tosh Lupoi. Read and enjoy fellow webfoots!

Economy And Business In Poland Photo by Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Throughout the Oregon surge of the 90s, 2000s, and 2010s, the Ducks’ head coaches brought new and innovative ideas to the offensive end. When Dan Lanning came aboard last year, it was a new look to have a defensive specialist as the head honcho.

Still, Lanning wanted to establish a defensive culture, and hopefully slow the coordinator carousel that has been spinning steadily since long-tenured DC Nick Aliotti departed the program in 2014.

Lanning nabbed defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi from the Jacksonville Jaguars, and relatively speaking, his defense was a solid unit in his first season in Eugene. Problem was, the worst performances occurred in probably the most meaningful games.

The first came opening week against defending champion Georgia, and though it was already likely that Oregon would lose, it wasn’t expected that they would lose by 46 points. The Bulldogs amassed 571 yards of offense and hung 49 points on the board. They could have gone for more, but luckily Kirby Smart had mercy.

Still, it was a brand new team that was just getting its feet wet, and Georgia turned in an even more dominant season than the year prior.

It wasn’t until Oregon got hot…like, red-hot…that Lupoi’s squad really had its letdowns.

Following the beatdown from Georgia, the Ducks went on a tear, winning eight straight and scoring 40+ in all of those contests. Washington came to Eugene in November, and it was well known that their attack was going to be through the air, as quarterback Michael Pennix had been an absolute gunslinger. Still, they knew what they were facing.

But that didn’t stop UW from doing exactly what they wanted, burning Oregon through the air for over 400 yards passing with an average completion distance of 16 yards.

The Huskies had spoiled Oregon’s shot at the CFP, but what happened two weeks later was absolutely disdainful.

Oregon v Oregon State Photo by Ali Gradischer/Getty Images

Oregon State has always played Oregon tough, particularly in Corvallis, but this time there was just no denying it; Oregon had one of the best quarterbacks in the country and Oregon State had, well, next to nothing at the position. Even though they were tough and gritty, it just seemed like there was no way the Beavs could match the Ducks firepower without a passing attack, especially considering Lupoi had been a defensive line coach.

So what happened? Well, the Beavers put up an anemic 60 yards through the air, but ran roughshod with 268 on the ground. They scored 21 points in the fourth, and though Oregon knew they would just keep running it, they seemed powerless to stop it. It was one of the more frustrating and embarrassing Civil War losses in recent memory, and it took Oregon out of even Rose Bowl contention.

I have to give credit when it’s due, however, and in between those two losses Oregon’s defense turned in a phenomenal performance against Utah and elite quarterback Cam Rising, allowing Bo Nix to lead Oregon to victory hopping around on one foot.

So, how about a little more of that this year, eh coach?

Washington is still going to attack Oregon the same way it did last year, given that Pennix is still around. Oregon State will also likely use the ground game more often than not, with an only slightly improved quarterback room. USC will come strutting into Autzen featuring last season’s Heisman winner Caleb Williams, and Rising and co. will be out for revenge in Salt Lake City.

The Ducks could easily be a 10 or 11 win team. But it also feels like they are just a few defensive lapses away from potentially going back to San Diego or El Paso come bowl season.

The talent is there, and Lanning has had a whole year to establish his culture. Lets reap some benefits from that, shall we?