Whenever someone questions the Oregon Ducks about their decision to go for two-point conversions, the answer always comes back to mathematics. Charles Nelson, who is the player who quickly does the math at the line of scrimmage, talked to Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune about it after the Ducks' loss Saturday at Nebraska:
“We’re looking for numbers,” Nelson said. “If we don’t have numbers, we bring it in and kick the (extra point). We had numbers every single time; we just didn’t execute it right. The last two we didn’t get was just miscommunication.”
I get that. You count how many defenders are there against the number of offensive players. But my assumption is that everyone else who plays the Ducks knows it, too. I mean, seriously, do you think Mike Riley and his coaching staff at Nebraska didn't understand the personnel reads Oregon was making on those plays -- all but one of which the Cornhuskers foiled? It's not exactly calculus, for sure.
And isn't it about time to acknowledge that it's possible:
- Opponents are disguising what they are actually going to do against those plays prior to the snap?
- They are making it difficult for Nelson, or whomever is making the read, to actually see what's going on?
- Nelson isn't the right guy to be making these reads?
- The reads are getting too difficult for such a rapid and important decision to be made?
I just don't think it makes sense to continue to defend the decision to go for two based on "numbers" when it sure doesn't look that easy, does it? Certainly, it is hard to believe the Oregon coaching staff can be so convinced it is doing the right thing in the face of failures that may have cost them a game. Listen to head Coach Mark Helfrich in the same Portland Tribune account:
“We believe a lot in what we’re doing,” said Helfrich, whose Ducks are now 4 for 11 on 2-point attempts this season. “We’re in attack mode. It’s all based on the (defensive) look. The situation was exactly how we planned it. We just have to coach it better and execute it better.”
OK, but I would suggest that if you accept what he said, we will continue to see Oregon do its little swinging gate shift after every TD this season, sometimes kicking and sometimes going for two. And I would also suggest they better coach it and execute it A LOT BETTER if they are going to stay with it.
What they did Saturday was embarrassing and it portrayed a certain arrogance that the coaches think they have a football secret nobody else understands. I find it very difficult to believe other coaching staffs, with all the video being studied, don't completely understand the Ducks' number-crunching and are messing with it somehow.
And oh yes, what may work against UC-Davis or Virginia, whose personnel isn't up to par with Oregon's, may not work against the likes of Nebraska. Or Washington. Or Colorado. Or anyone else the Ducks will play this season.
At least, I wouldn't count on it.