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Cristobal Film Review: 2020 USC and Iowa State

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The Ducks win the Pac-12 Championship but lose the Fiesta Bowl in Mario’s third year as Oregon head coach.

Syndication: Arizona Republic Rob Schumacher/The Republic via Imagn Content Services, LLC

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.


Pac-12 Championship Game: Oregon 31 - USC 24

The entirety of the Pac-12 was a mess in 2020, including the Oregon Ducks. I chose to skip an early season game because of the situation in Eugene and the conference in ‘20. Instead, the 3-2 Ducks were facing the 5-0 and 13th ranked Trojans in the Pac-12 Championship Game, in spite of not even winning the division. Oregon was up 21-14 at the half and close out USC by a seven point margin.

The Doppler

Oregon finished the game 5-of-13 on 3rd down and 1-for-1 on 4th down. Those are solid conversion numbers for an offense that played two QB’s and didn’t really get the run game going. USC finished 5-of-15 on third and 3-of-4 on 4th down. Great job on third, terrible job on 4th down.

Much like against Wisconsin in the ‘20 Rose Bowl, Oregon won the turnover battle against USC. The Ducks came away with three interceptions while also winning the time of possession battle, although only slightly. Oregon committed five penalties to USC’s nine for 98 yards.

Tyler Shough and Anthony Brown split duty at QB. Shough averaged 6.1 yards per pass with two touchdowns and an interception. Brown threw two TD’s on 4.3 yards per pass. The Ducks rushed for 133 yards on the day for only 3.3 yards per carry.

Oregon finished with three double-digit yards per catch receivers and four TD’s spread out amongst four targets. The Oregon defense showed up huge. Three sacks and five tackles for loss are good numbers, but ten pass breakups and three interceptions.

USC quarterback Kedon Slovis averaged only 6.2 yards per pass on two TD’s and three INT’s. The Trojans were held to 1.4 yards per carry and a TD on the ground. Through the air, USC had four receivers with double-digit yards per catch numbers.

The Trojan defense logged two sacks, four TFL’s, and only two PBU’s compared to Oregon’s 10.

Ducks offense

I really just don’t understand the amount of PT that Brown gets, I would use him as a ‘package’ player to mix things up from Shough and let Shough do the majority of the work.

Above- Fakes and swings here for the TD. That ball is almost picked by the USC defender and bad angles and tackling (finish) by USC seals the play as a TD.

Above- Shough has some Van Dyke qualities to him and I really don’t ‘get’ the Brown obsession from Coach Cristobal. You have the OL, you have the backs, just let the pro style QB work. I hope the staff doesn’t step on Van Dyke’s strengths because of his ‘weaknesses’

Above- Run enough split zone and the H-back slip works to perfection. An offense doesn’t need to be that much more complicated than the ideals of Tecmo Super Bowl, have the play, have the counter, and have the play-action off it. Simple as that.

Above- I love a good screen, especially when the O-Line will block in space like this and the receiver knows how to get outside and turn up field in a hurry.

Ducks defense

The pass breakups and interceptions were awesome to see. For all the Ducks defensive backs bashing that’s easy to do, they really teed off on USC and made plays.

Above- The Ducks start beating up on Slovis early and often. I like seeing a defender go out and steal the ball versus just some interception lofted into their arms. Ball skills and tenacity

Above- I’m putting this on here because when you face pass-happy teams, broken coverages happen. Just like sacks are part of an Air Raid offense and you have to get used to them happening, so are big throws hitting when you face them.

Above- The technical and physiological parts of football can find focus when it comes to tackling. Do you produce the power to stop someone and change their path? What about the technical skill?

1- Defenders being driven back with weak hips and leg drive.

2- Defenders dropping to their knees on contact with no drive for five.

Above- The Oregon defenders had a lot of confidence vs. USC. This is a TD versus Miami the past two seasons but the Ducks fight the ball away from the receiver.

Ducks kicking

Above- Oregon opened the damn Pac-12 Championship Game with a kickoff going out of bounds. You can’t make these kicking game woes up for Cristobal’s Ducks.


Fiesta Bowl: Iowa State 34 - Oregon 17

The Oregon Ducks completely fell apart and were barnstormed by the Cyclones in the ‘21 Fiesta bowl. The 4-2 Ducks faced the 8-3 and 10th ranked ISU Cyclones and were dominated.

The Doppler

Oregon finished 0-for-6 on 3rd down and 0-for-1 on 4th down. A zero percent conversion rating is, well, abysmal. ISU on the other hand finished 11-of-19 on 3rd down and 2-of-3 on 4th, completely dominating the Ducks.

Both teams controlled their penalties, ISU committed only four, and Oregon only three. The Ducks blatantly lost the turnover game having turned the ball over four times with zero takeaways of their own. The Cyclones also dominated the TOP with 42 minutes compared to Oregon’s 17 minutes.

Brown and Shough split duty at QB with Brown averaging 7.7 yards per attempt and Shough 8.8 with an interception. Brown added 36 yards on the ground with two scores. As a team, Oregon ran for 4.8 yards per carry, but fumbled away the football three times.

The Ducks had six receivers hit the double-digit yards per catch mark, but turnovers killed those explosive plays from continuing drives. Oregon’s defense logged one sack, seven TFL’s and only one PBU with no hurries.

ISU’s passing game was weak with QB Brock Purdy averaging only 5.4 yards per pass with a TD. But, the Clones ran for 228 yards on 4.1 yards per rush and three scores. The ISU defense had only one sack, four TFL’s and a PBU with no hurries.

Ducks offense

The Oregon offense wasn’t futile, it just didn’t hit for points. Too many turnovers and the Ducks didn’t have the ball enough because of special teams blunders that took away two drives.

Above- Split zone chewing up the 3-2 defense of ISU. When teams go light in the box an offense has to be able to run against the defense.

Above- QB power with an RPO tagged on. If you have Shough and Brown on the same roster might as well use them both and their differing skillsets to your advantage.

Above- I will miss Rhett Lashlee’s trick plays that always seemed to work. This thing was broken. The H drew outside defenders to him because of split zone and the split zone slip PAP’s and RPO’s. So overhang guys were already out there and because of the ISU scheme are fast as hell.

Above- Front side read on an outside zone path. The OL blocks right, the run is going left unless the DE chases the RB or sits. It’s basically power read without the pulling guard, in a sense. Again, using the strengths of Brown.

Above- I love the way Oregon’s O-Line blocks for screens out in space. They move well, they find defenders to block, they engage and drive.

Ducks defense

The Oregon defense had a few mental mistakes in align and assign, but with the turnovers both on offense and in the kicking game- that makes it hard to play great defense. Watching it back you can see good things, the 4th down stand being one.

Above- Align, Assign, Finish. Oregon gets lined up here and every gap looks occupied. Then you watch the GIF and realize three defenders hit one gap and I have a flashback to the Manny Diaz defenses.

Above- The assignment is broken and/or the player’s tactical recognition is. The drive was really an efficient, slicing and dicing of Oregon’s defense.

Above- Oregon tried a fancy rotation and it backfired. The top of the bunch ran a corner and the Ducks failed to cover it.

Above- I felt like we saw ZERO of these type of ‘nut up or shut up’ 4th down stands under Manny Diaz (I know I know I’m sure there are a few). Love to see it!

Above- ISU continuing to roll over the Ducks inside the 5. One good stand vs. some bad looks. This time Purdy interrupts the defenders OODA Loop and keeps his cooking.

Kicking game

Above- It seems like Oregon has a kicking blunder in every game I breakdown. I promise that wasn’t on purpose. I just post ‘em how I see ‘em.

Above- Wait... another “Patkeing” by Cristobal’s Ducks in the kicking game? Woof. I hope his special teams coordinator is staying far away from Coral Gables, FL.


The wrap

It was a really strange year on the west coast, and especially in the Pac-12 for football in 2020. They were out, then back in, and the limited schedule and state laws in the area really made for an interesting COVID season. The Ducks had a slew of opt-outs and could’ve been a College Football Playoff contender if ‘20 was a normal year.

That said, everyone was going through the same thing and Oregon dropped games against unranked opponents again. This time to Oregon State and Cal, with the Oregon State loss coming at home! The Ducks two regular season losses, however, were by a combined total of seven points.

Next time: The 2021 win against Ohio State and regular season loss to Utah.