Duck Stops Here is a fan blog devoted to opinions, commentary and analysis of Duck football. The opinions expressed are entirely mine. We welcome reader feedback, positive or critical. You can reach me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
@SonomaDuck Freeman plays this season. He's physically ready and too talented to sit. Gary Campbell has already hinted that he'll be in the rotation. Agree completely that keeping Mariota healthy is the absolute key to the season.
22 hours, 38 minutes ago on Conversation @ http://duckstopshere.com/uncategorized/a-hidden-weapon-for-the-oregon-defense.html
@stroupenator Ducks led the PAC-12 in rushing for the 8th straight year, 565 yards and 45.5 points a game.
22 hours, 40 minutes ago on Conversation @ http://duckstopshere.com/uncategorized/a-hidden-weapon-for-the-oregon-defense.html
@goducks58 Ducks have a lot more options on 3rd and 3 or 3rd and goal this year. Very interested to see the role Royce Freeman plays. Potentially he's a true power back.
1 day, 15 hours ago on Conversation @ http://duckstopshere.com/uncategorized/a-hidden-weapon-for-the-oregon-defense.html
@NormVanbrocklin Interesting game plan--Autzen is going to be rocking for that game.
@duckified Taj Griffin is a tremendous talent, but Ty has a lot of athletic ability as well, He's a former AAU champion in the javelin.
3 days, 13 hours ago on Conversation @ http://duckstopshere.com/uncategorized/ducks-need-a-leap-from-lowe-in-senior-season.html
@duckified Ducks need both Armstead and Buckner to take a leap ahead this season. Armstead has the physical tools to be an NFL player, but he has to improve his technique and get more tenacious.
3 days, 13 hours ago on Conversation @ http://duckstopshere.com/uncategorized/week-5-opponent-ucla-could-be-ducks-toughest-test.html
@dddupree DD, agree completely. I think the Washington State game at Pullman is potentially dangerous. Ducks have a mostly favorable schedule, but it's a balanced conference loaded with great quarterbacks, offensive stars and good coaches.
@Ducko30 UCLA has a new defensive coordinator also this year, and so does Stanford. Hundley averaged about 4.8 yards a carry--at the PAC-12 media days Mora said he wanted to be sure he didn't get pigeonholed. "He's a passer," Mora said. Ducks do have a much better running game, Bruins probably have a stronger defensive front seven, Oregon has more experience on the offensive line.
@duckified Ducks achieve the fullback look on occasion by motioning a tight end to lead block at the point of attack--you won't find any traditional fullbacks on the roster, although Colt Lyerla was close, and Evan Baylis comes closest now.
4 days, 10 hours ago on Conversation @ http://duckstopshere.com/uncategorized/how-to-turbo-charge-the-oregon-offense-in-2014.html
@SonomaDuck He's about the same size as Addison or Huff, bigger than Thomas. Ducks have a great tradition of smaller receivers, from Cristin McLemore to Keanon Howry to Damon Griffin to Lew Barnes.
Ty Griffin is a good athlete and should help somewhere. Very intelligent young man who had offers from Army and Navy out of high school. 4.5 40, 6-0 190. A good addition, a very athletic runner.
4 days, 10 hours ago on Conversation @ http://duckstopshere.com/uncategorized/ducks-need-a-leap-from-lowe-in-senior-season.html
@goducks58 It's really important for the Ducks, especially in those big games, to take advantage of their opportunities early. In most of their losses of the last several years the offense has trouble finding a rhythm and sqanders opportunities to score in the first 20 minutes.
5 days, 13 hours ago on Conversation @ http://duckstopshere.com/uncategorized/how-to-turbo-charge-the-oregon-offense-in-2014.html
@SonomaDuck Evan Baylis, Brown and Mundt give the Ducks depth at that position. Each had some good moments last year. Pharaoh has to become more consistent catching the football.
@SteveBusby Thank you, Steve. The creativity for this year's squad isn't in fancy play designs but in matchups.
@NormVanbrocklin Thank you NVB. Hope I think of something in my sleep tonight, because right now I got nothing.
@SteveBusby In the post below this one Rick Neuheisel has an in-depth interview with Mariota where they show examples of how he goes through his reads and progressions. He's sharp and aware and processes his options as well as anyone in the college game.
@hoboduck With a veteran offensive line and Hanitele Lousi to add depth, they should be able to make teams respect the running game.
@Ducko30 They don't have as much of a scheme advantage as they once did, and few coaches can match Kelly for his ability to have a counter to the counter, but what they do have is a matchup advantage--get the ball to the 220-lb. fast guy in the open field.
@SonomaDuck SD I messed up the link--follow it again for a much better segment--it's fixed.
6 days, 3 hours ago on Conversation @ http://duckstopshere.com/
@duckified Bruce Feldman @BruceFeldmanCFB 1h
@Ducko30 The focus and execution will be stronger in year two, I believe. Nick Aliotti was a great part of the program for many years but he and Coach Helfrich were pulling against each other last season, it seemed, a distraction that made the staff less effective. Among the players there was a similar rogue element at a critical point in the season.
In contrast this season you have three team leaders who made a very thoughtful and crucial decision to return even though they could have made millions in pro football. That's a big commitment that will influence and define everything they do this season. It was two roads converged in a yellow wood for Oregon football.
1 week, 1 day ago on Conversation @ http://duckstopshere.com/uncategorized/ducks-cooking-up-a-secret-sauce-for-2014.html
@hoboduck The conversation is the payoff. The guys are going to town over the post about Mark Helfrich from a few days ago. That fire is still burning.
@goducks58 PAC-12 Media Days are today. We'll get a glimpse, at least some hints, on how the conference lays out for 2014. Off the top of my head I'd expect Cal to continue to be awful, USC to improve, Arizona State and Stanford to fall back a little, Washington State to be pesky, and UCLA to be very tough.
@dddupree Thanks DD--now I have to come up with something for today.
@duckified I have to feel that Grasu, MM and Ifo returning for another year gives this team an uncommonly strong sense of resolve for this season. Those three didn't come back to be average or maintain the status quo.
@SonomaDuck Practice starts in less than two weeks. The season that seemed impossible far away is nearly here.
@Ducko30 His maturity and focus make him a perfect complement to Mariota and Tyner. He's versatile and dependable and will continue to be productive.
1 week, 2 days ago on Conversation @ http://duckstopshere.com/uncategorized/the-most-disrespected-1000-yard-rusher-in-college-football-history.html
@duckified He's the kind of athlete who will take it as motivation.
@SonomaDuck Interviewed at the spring game, Kenjon Barner predicted Marshall would break his records. Depth at running back is always a good thing, and it will keep these guys fresh and competing.
@rgyle @Dale Newton @dddupree Really interested to see the quarterback competition between Jeff Lockie and Morgan Mahalak for that #2 spot. One of them may be called upon to win a game for the Ducks this year.
1 week, 3 days ago on Conversation @ http://duckstopshere.com/uncategorized/does-the-helfrich-effect-doom-the-ducks.html
@dddupree @Dale Newton @zduckfan Saban has won three titles at Alabama, and recruited the country's #1 class six times, and they are the favorite this year in the SEC despite not winning it last year. In my mind he qualifies as a difference maker, and Helfrich isn't quite there yet. But he can continue to grow in the job and may succeed in becoming one.
@DryDuckin SB Great discussion here today. I want to commend everyone for some passionate and well thought out positions free of name-calling and invective. Great variety of perspectives. DD, SD, Z, Stroupenator, a great job by all.
@duckified I 'm very optimistic about this season as well. It's curious about recruiting though. Players want to go to a successful program, but their own success and opportunity play a bigger role in their decision, and every kid has his own priorities in choosing a school.
@SonomaDuck Really looking forward to seeing the focus, intensity, execution and plan the Ducks bring to the Michigan State game and how they build on it as the season unfolds. The target is squarely on their backs this year and they have to be ready for a new challenge every week.
When last year's team reached 8-0 with a decisive win over UCLA I felt very positive about the coaching transition, but November suggested there is work to do. I think Coach Pellum makes a better counterpart to Coach Helfrich and there will be more cohesion and efficiency on this staff, and Chinander, I believe, will bring some additional intensity and drive to that linebacker group, improving the run defense.
@Ducko30 D30, you make some very good points, a well-balanced perspective. I think they'll make progress in all those areas this year, and this could very well be the most memorable season in Oregon history, the culmination of all the effort, innovation and image-building everyone at Oregon has worked for in the last 20 years.
Beyond this season, their prospect depend largely on how much Coach Helfrich can grow in the job.
@dddupree The injury to Mariota was certainly significant, but last year's team had other flaws and problems. Kirk Herbstreit said Oregon had lost their focus, that commitment to the Win the Day mantra. The Arizona loss was alarming--Kelly's teams consistently beat the teams they were supposed to beat and rarely overlooked anybody. Some players went off script and expressed indifference about the Rose Bowl. The offense slumped in November, with problems in the red zone, with execution and penalties. Even after Mariota had made a full recovery, with a career day rushing the football in the Alamo Bowl, they managed only one offensive touchdown.
I truly believe that in year two Coach Helfrich will be better, and this team will have better leadership and focus. I also believe they would have had a better year last season if Kelly were still coaching here. It's early in the experiment.
As head coach, Mark Helfrich is ultimately responsible for Oregon's success or failure. That's why he makes two million dollars. He has a team this year that is the favorite for the conference title and among the favorites for the national championship. Expectations are high and they should be. We'll see how he does.
@zduckfan I believe there are a handful of exceptional coaches that elevate their programs, and then there is everyone else. Different styles can get it done. But there's a reason why Saban and Meyer have won everywhere they go, and why Kelly, Harbaugh and Carroll have been successful both in college and in the pros. It's a combination of leadership, talent evaluation, organization and motivation. Coaching absolutely matters, and it matters more in college football than in any other sport. Saban didn't make it in the pros because he didn't have the same level of control and influence over the operation that he does at Alabama, I believe.
@stroupenator An Oregon fan might answer you by saying Chip Kelly, Mike Bellotti and Rich Brooks were "unproven head coaches" before getting the Oregon job, and they all advanced the program significantly.
@Ducko30 @Dale Newton @SonomaDuck The 9-game schedule the PAC-12 plays just naturally means teams beat each other up, much more so than in the Big Ten or SEC. Have to feel Stanford takes a step back this year with Skov, Murphy, Gaffney and several of those big linemen gone. The Cardinal have built a very strong program, but they it appears to be a bit of a rebuilding year, more like 8-4/9-3.
1 week, 4 days ago on Conversation @ http://duckstopshere.com/uncategorized/week-three-opponent-wyoming-committed-to-becoming-cowboy-tough.html
@iliketurtles888 Schedules change dramatically as teams reshuffle for better deals and new alliances and opportunities open up. Bohn will have a disciplined and competitive team in 3 years, with the decided advantage of a unique environment at the high altitude. They will be a factor in the Mountain West within a year or two, and a dangerous nonconference opponent.
@Ducko30 Coach Bohn inherited a tough situation with Smith declaring early and a very challenging nonconference. Fortunately they have a bye to regroup after MSU.
1 week, 5 days ago on Conversation @ http://duckstopshere.com/uncategorized/week-three-opponent-wyoming-committed-to-becoming-cowboy-tough.html
@SonomaDuck Lockie/Mahalak should get significant playing time against South Dakota and Wyoming, but after that it gets serious with a road trip against WSU, a "revenge game" against Arizona, then at UCLA October 11th. I think the entire conference is tougher this year--it will be very hard for anyone to survive without a conference loss.
@atvinton @stroupenator Johnstone, at left tackle is critical to Oregon's success. His technique and athletic ability made him one of the best in the conference. He's been moving good in rehab, even participated in a team hike the Ducks did a few weeks ago, but it's definitely something to watch closely. When the season starts it will have been 9 months since his injury. Braced up, a lineman can come back from those things sooner than a back or receiver, but it's still a tough road.
1 week, 5 days ago on Conversation @ http://duckstopshere.com/2014-articles/spartans-come-bearing-their-shield-in-56-days.html
@stroupenator What Michigan State doesn't lose is Narduzzi, and he's one of the best in college football. Agree that the line seems weirdly inflated for an early game between two top teams. Michigan State fits the profile of the kind of team Oregon has had the most trouble with, good running game, physical defense, able to control tempo and the line of scrimmage.
@VegasNed @Dale Newton Great info, and a great point about the Michigan qbs. The good thing for Oregon fans is that Mariota is much better than any of those players, a faster runner and a more polished passer, and a better leader.
2 weeks, 1 day ago on Conversation @ http://duckstopshere.com/2014-articles/spartans-come-bearing-their-shield-in-56-days.html
@rgyle @Ducko30 @VegasNed Good starts are always huge in big games, and for the Ducks, controlling and establishing the tempo. Stanford has succeeded in taking the air out of the ball the last two years, and both times the Ducks squandered early opportunities to make it a much different game.
@VegasNed That is absolutely the key stat, along with the Ducks struggles defensively on third and fourth down last November. Mariota's injury cost them a lot of creativity and momentum. He understandably struggled and so did they. Championship seasons require both resilience and luck. Maybe this is the year the football gods pay Oregon back for 2007. The offensive line has talked about being stronger and more assertive against Stanford and other physical opponents. We'll see if they can back that up.
@goducks58 Agree completely, gd. How they handle this opponent early in the year, tough, physical, a team with the potential to challenge all their weaknesses and question marks, is absolutely telling for Duck fans. Can the Oregon offensive line open holes for Tyner and Marshall against a blitzing, aggressive front seven? Can Oregon's young and untested receivers get open against the No-Fly Zone? Can the Ducks front seven, which looked porous at times in November contain the run game and win third down?
@SonomaDuck @Ducko30 If they are this team could be everything we think it is.
@duckified A bold prediction, but not unreasonable. They'll be favored in every game but going undefeated is hard.
@rgyle The Michigan State fans are thinking along the lines of, we beat Stanford who beat the Ducks--our defense should stuff them.
2 weeks, 3 days ago on Conversation @ http://duckstopshere.com/2014-articles/spartans-come-bearing-their-shield-in-56-days.html