Rich Kolbell

Know Your Foe: Oregon Ducks

It's Oregon Week, which means we head south to get all the latest on what's going on with the Ducks. We asked the Owner of, Steve Summers, to fill us in on the main talking points surrounding Oregon Football as Washington tries to put an end to a 12-game series losing streak.

After three losses there appears to be some serious dissatisfaction with Mark Helfrich. Is he truly on the hot seat?


If one looks at eDuck’s message boards it’s pretty apparent that the fan dissatisfaction is extremely high. Given the collapse of the Duck offense in the Alamo Bowl last season, the disastrous loss to Utah and WSU earlier in the 2015 season, fans were uneasy about the direction of the program.

When Mark Helfrich replaced Don Pellum with Brady Hoke, there was a renewed optimism about the future of the Ducks and many perceived that Hoke would suddenly make all the things were going wrong with the Oregon defense to be fixed. However, obviously that isn’t the case.

While the Ducks are somewhat statistically better than last season, it’s pretty clear what the problem is – a porous defense featuring players who fundamentally can’t tackle. What is probably more concerning is that the Ducks recruitment over the last few years was pretty good but what we see is that players coming to Oregon haven’t seemed to develop.

Losing to Nebraska and Colorado hurt, but those were both games the Ducks had chances at winning. However Oregon was never in the WSU game and was blown out.

So is Mark Helfrich on the hot seat?




Brady Hoke was brought in to rejuvenate Oregon's defense. Assess what has gone right and wrong so far this early into Hoke's tenure.


Hoke said an interesting thing following the WSU loss.

“We’ve got to do a better job as coaches; I do, making sure you go with your gut instinct,” remarked Hoke about the defensive play calling.

What is interesting about this comment is that it seems to suggest that there had been too much indecision and second guessing about the defensive play calling.

So will Hoke go more with his initial gut feeling rather than over relying on the input of others? In watching the defenders perform there seemed to be a lot of confusion on the field as to what to do. Too often the players were out of position and the poor tackling resulted in trying to get into a position to make a tackle the defensive players are reaching out in a last effort to slow the play down.

The Ducks are playing hard, but are too often in the wrong spot at the wrong time.



Who gives Oregon a better chance to win against Washington - Dakota Prukop or Justin Herbert?


Had I been asked this on Monday, I would have said Dakota Prukop because that is what the coaches and even Justin Herbert said on Saturday night. However, apparently Herbert will get the starting nod.


I wrote a story this week detailing exactly what we’ve seen with our own eyes (and by we, I mean all media and fans) regarding Justin Herbert as a college quarterback. Keep in mind, media is not allowed into any practice sessions, so the first real look at him was in the first game when he handed the ball off on the last play of the game.


The next time we saw him was in the last three minutes of the WSU game. He led an 85-drive to a touchdown in two minutes in a drive consisting of nine plays. The big play of the drive was a result of Herbert finding backup tight end Jacob Breeland for a 63-yard pass catch and run. Ultimately Herbert scored the touchdown when he rolled out at the 4-yard line and ran the ball into the endzone.


That’s it. That’s the extent of what anyone other than the Oregon coaching staff really knows about Herbert’s play.


It was a good drive and a good start for a young man’s career. Is it enough give Oregon a better chance at winning? Probably not, because in my opinion, good tackling will give the Ducks a much better chance at winning.


Frankly, it almost seems that the Oregon coaching staff saw the reaction the fans had on the message boards and took this change in starting quarterback as a matter of public relations.


Don’t get me wrong, I hope Herbert goes out and has a great game. That would make a terrific story, but my reaction is more fueled by the fact that the Oregon Athletic Department has made every effort to make it as non-transparent as possible, so I’m a little skeptical about what’s going on.



If this is the year the Oregon win streak over Washington stretches to a baker's dozen, how do the Ducks do it?


Defensively, the Ducks have to play flawlessly; filing the right gaps at the right time. The pass defenders have to cover receivers without holding or causing pass interference. The linebackers have to do more than become spectators. In short, there has to be a defensive effort.


Offensively, the offensive line has to provide protection for Herbert so that he does have the time to make his check-downs. Herbert of course must make sound decisions and good passes.


The Oregon running game which has been bright spot needs to keep doing what they’ve been doing.


If this is the year Washington does end the streak, what should their game plan be for beating the Ducks at Autzen Stadium?

Run and pass the ball will probably suffice, but seriously the Huskies can’t take the game lightly which they might do if they watch too much of the WSU game.
Who knows, Autzen Stadium has been known to have some strange magic, even though in the case I think this year the streak ends. Top Stories