Oregon's offense will have a similar feel to what fans have grown accustomed to seeing at Autzen Stadium the past 12 years, but the goal is to accomplish the same potency with a different level of size and toughness.
Ducks co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, Mario Cristobal came to Oregon after spending the past four seasons as the offensive line coach at Alabama. The Crimson tide offensive lines have been built to bulldoze opponents while the Ducks have used a bit more finesse while running their spread offense, whether coaches ever wanted to admit that, or not.
On Wednesday, when the Ducks began spring drills, Cristobal said he looked forward to infusing some of what he did in a pro-style offense at Alabama under coach Nick Saban with what Oregon's plans will be under new head coach Willie Taggart who employs a spread offense.
“It was an incredible four years [at Alabama],” Cristobal said. “You learn everything from regimen to structure, practice planning, how to look ahead and schedule out an entire year for the pitfalls that come with certain phases of football. I’m certainly bringing everything over here and applying it as it fits to coach Taggart’s plan. That’s the most important thing."
Cristobal takes over a line that helped the Ducks finish second in the Pac-12 in rushing offense with four redshirt freshmen offensive linemen leading the way. The Ducks return redshirt sophomores, Jake Hanson, Brady Aiello, Calvin Throckmorton and Shane Lemieux, along with senior Tyrell Crosby (injured most of last season) and redshirt senior guard Jake Pisarcik, who started at guard before and after Crosby went down.
That's quite a group, but it's one that Taggart said needs a lot of work in order to meet his standards for strength and attention to detail. Cristobal indicated about the same.
“This is a development game and the offensive line is probably the most significant development position in terms of, it takes a little bit longer,” Cristobal said.
His enthusiasm about molding this group was obvious.
“I don’t want to use clichés but I’m jumping out of my skin right now,” he said.
Cristobal said he came to Oregon for the opportunity to be a coordinator at a great program and to work with Taggart.
“I think coach Taggart has infused juice into the program," he said. "Players have bought in.”
Cristobal added that he likes Taggart's philosophies on building young men, maintaining great attention to detail and creating good people who can win.
“We’re in the people industry," Cristobal said. "In my opinion, this game is played from the inside out...We want to make sure we do the best by our players as student athletes, as players."
The overall goal, he said, is to get Oregon back to where it was before the coaching changes made after a 4-8 season a year ago.
“Oregon football has been outstanding for a long, long time," Cristobal said. "There’s been several great things accomplished here….Like I tell everywhere I’ve been; we’re borrowing these jerseys, we’re borrowing these coaching hats. It’s our responsibility, our obligation to raise the standard, to elevate the standard, to uphold the legacy. That’s our job.”