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Cristobal Film Review: 2021 Ohio State and Utah

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The Ducks ‘21 season was back to normal. Oregon lost to an unranked Stanford, but had a top win over Ohio State early on.

Oregon v Ohio State Photo by Gaelen Morse/Getty Images

Mario Cristobal finished his run as the Oregon Ducks head football coach with a record of 35-14, including finishing 23-9 in the Pac-12. Under Cristobal, the Ducks were 2-2 in bowl games, including the 2017 Las Vegas Bowl.

This series titled, “Cristobal Film Review...” will cover a major win and loss from each season Coach Cristobal was in charge of the Ducks from 2018-2021. We’re going to look at data, quality of play, and situational performances in each.


Oregon 35 - Ohio State 28

The 2021 season should’ve been a ‘bounce back’ for the Ducks. COVID restrictions had lessened, the Pac-12 was in a down season, and multiple Pac-12 North teams lost their head coach during the season. Oregon finished the 2021 season 28th overall per the SP+, and 25th on offense, 50th on defense, and 22nd in the kicking game.

The Ducks finished 10-4, losing games to unranked Stanford and to Utah twice including the Pac-12 Championship Game. With two interim head coaches in the Alamo Bowl, Oregon lost to Oklahoma 47-32.

The Doppler

Against the Buckeyes, Oregon finished 8-of-16 on 3rd down and 1-of-1 on 4th down. OSU finished 6-of-15 on third down and 2-of-5 on 4th down. Oregon committed four penalties compared to the Buckeyes eight on the afternoon. The Ducks won the turnover game, with OSU turning the ball over once and the Ducks finished without a turnover. OSU won the time of possession game by just under 30 seconds.

Ducks QB Anthony Brown threw two touchdowns and averaged 6.7 yards per pass attempt while adding 65 more yards on the ground. Brown didn’t look at his worst against OSU, but man he’s a bad quarterback all around. Hopefully Cristobal can continue where Manny Diaz left off when it comes to finding quarterbacks.

On the ground, CJ Verdell added 161 yards on 8.1 yards per rush and two TD’s of his own. Verdell was pounding on the OSU linebackers all afternoon, and even caught a touchdown from Brown. Travis Dye is a good back, but he just lacks the explosiveness of Verdell. Dye averaged 5.4 yards per carry with a TD of his own.

The Ducks had ten different receivers with double-digit yards per catch against OSU’s defense. You have to like a game plan that spreads the ball and gets explosive type plays from ten different players.

The Ducks defense logged two sacks, three tackles for loss, five pass breakups and a hurry against CJ Stroud.

OSU QB, Stroud, threw for 484 yards on nine yards per pass and three scores with one interception. The Buckeyes run game averaged 4.1 yards per carry with a touchdown. OSU probably had the best receiving corps in the nation, and they stunted against the Ducks. Jaxon Smith-Njigba caught seven balls for 145 yards and two scores. Smith-Njigba averaged 20.7 yards per catch, and the Buckeyes had seven double-digit yards per catch receivers.

The Buckeyes failed to sack Brown on the afternoon but did log five hurries. The OSU defense had just one TFL, but did record nine PBU’s.

Ducks offense

The Ducks went ground-and-pound on the Buckeyes and got Kerry Coombs designated for reassignment.

Above- The Ducks used a pass-run option with Brown against OSU. Swing-draw is a great concept that Mark Richt used while at Miami with Malik Rosier.

Above- A simple read, if the OSU linebacker to the back’s side runs with the swing, the QB keeps on the draw if the LB blitzes or sits, the Q will throw the swing.

Above- A little pin-pull away from the trips catches OSU short handed at the point of attack. The RPO threat drags the CB inside on what looks like a slant from the solo WR to the run side. The pulling guard doesn’t even have to work but man does Coach Mirabal get his OL out in space looking good.

Above- Having a great run game helps the play-action game, but really it just needs to be average and it works at the college level. Cristobal likes his run game, RPO’s and play-action passes. Picture Tyler Van Dyke on this but with a more accurate, and stronger arm.

Above- I hate calling plays that go backwards on 4th and 1 but aye when it works it works. The Ducks pull two linemen (again, great in space) and toss it around for a TD.

Above- Oregon uses that split zone slip to the H RPO path to pull a LB to the flat, and create a seam for the RB. A 75-yard TD to break this thing wide open.

Above- Again, when the run game is clicking you can get creative on the RPO’s and play-actions. OSU loses sight of the TE because of the run threat.

Ducks defense

Oregon wins the day but 400 yards of passing and over 100 yards of rushing is a tough out.

Above- I hope my Twitter detractor is okay with this. But Oregon is getting carved up by Stroud on this drive and it finishes with blown coverage and a wide open TD. Oregon and Miami have both had communication issues in their defensive backfields.

Above- Oregon loses contain, which is a common theme over the “Cristobal Film Review” series.

Above- Another theme though is the 4th and short or goal line stand. Oregon time and again stonewalls teams in big situations on short yardage situations. I just can’t remember Miami reaching down and making a big play like the Ducks do.

Above- The WR over the stack runs a post and Oregon loses him. The defender over #2 fails to jam and gets beat off the ball. This isn’t even the back WR, it’s the front guy in the stack.

Above- All levels of football have fallen off regarding tackling. Oregon needs to improve their technical skill with regards to grappling. I hope at Miami they seek out a grappling coach to work with the ‘Canes in the off-season.

Above- The cornerback gets turned around on the corner route. Let’s hope Feld is better at creating visual-cognitive response time down in Coral Gables.


Utah - Oregon (regular season)

At 9-1, the 3rd ranked Oregon Ducks were dominated by the 23rd ranked Utah Utes 38-7. Utah dominated Oregon again in the Pac-12 Championship Game, but the rumors about Cristobal to Miami were already a Category 5 storm headed straight from Eugene to Coral Gables.

The Doppler

The Ducks finished the game 6-of-14 on 3rd down offense and 0-for-2 on 4th down. The Utes were an astounding 11-of-14 on third down. Utah didn’t need a 4th down conversion to pound the Utes. Neither team turned the ball over, with Utah winning the TOP battle 35 to 24, while Oregon was flagged six times and Utah five.

Ducks QB Anthony Brown finished with 6.6 yard per pass attempt and a touchdown. Brown ran the ball or was sacked nine times for eight yards. Oregon rushed for only 2.7 yards per carry and without a score. Byron Cardwell ran for five yards per carry, while Travis Dye ran for 4.8. The Ducks receivers had three double-digit yards per catch receivers.

The Oregon defense finished with one sack, one TFL, no hurries and five PBU’s. The Ducks also missed two field goals in a total disaster of a game that took Oregon out of College Football Playoff contention.

On the flip side, Utah QB Cameron Rising didn’t throw a TD but averaged 9.9 yards per pass. Utah ran the ball 50 times for 208 yards and four TD’s on 4.2 yards per carry. Three Utes had double-digit yards per catch, including two over 20 per grab.

Utah logged three sacks, six TFL’s, four PBU’s but not a single hurry. The Utes made all six of their kicks including a field goal.

Oregon offense

Above- Another masterpiece of blocking in space from the Ducks O-Line. Oregon pulls two big men and the back has room to work. 3rd and 19 and he gets nearly all of it back on a pin-pull sweep. The way the Ducks block in space will be awesome for guys like Jaylan Knighton.

Above- Even with Brown at QB, I like how many nice, easy, open middle of the field throws Oregon created for him. Miami got too sideline focused at times, the middle of the field is there, a lot. Shallow Cross, Mesh, Stick, posts... use it or lose it.

Oregon defense

“Big boy football” is Mario Cristobal’s brand and the Ducks were out bullied by the Utes.

Above- Counter-trey from under center and Utah straight up bullies the Ducks defensive front. Oregon players doing the side step and dive after the back goes by. The safety completely fills the alley wrong and the CB wants no part.

Above- From the same play from above, good lord that’s a hole. The LB is frozen and the safety rotates down to the force outside, but a CB is already there as well as the engaged LB. That image should be sold as an NFT.

Above- Middle of field open issue will hopefully be fixed with a new DC.

Above- I know the culture of tackling is in the crapper, but this is embarrassing. You can’t say the Ducks don’t have the talent or physiology to make the play- they’re neck tight and loaded with four-stars. Leaves some concern for what’s being taught on the practice field.

Above- The broken tackle, the easy score, the guy getting to dance on your grave. Woof.

Kicking game

Above- A missed FG, a blocked FG, and now a punt return for a TD... Patke, is that you?


The Wrap

Per the SP+, Oregon took a backslide in 2021. The Ducks were 15th overall in ‘18, 17th overall in ‘20, but 28th in ‘21. The offense slid from 17th to 25th with Brown at QB, but the defense actually took the hardest fall from 8th in 2019 to 50th by ‘21.

A promising note is that per the SP+, the kicking game was vastly improved under Coach Cristobal. In 2017 under Coach Taggart, the Ducks were 92nd. After two bad kicking seasons under Cristobal, the Ducks improved to 22nd by 2021. However, against Utah, Oregon did have a field goal blocked.