Last Saturday, the Oregon Ducks (3-2) walked off the field having lost back-to-back games for the first time since 2018.
The latest defeat, 21-17 at Cal, saw the offense fail to score a single point in the second half. Much of the blame has been rightfully pointed at redshirt sophomore quarterback Tyler Shough who missed a handful of throws to open receivers and fumbled the ball in the fourth quarter.
"[Cal] was covering guys well but honestly we were getting open for the most part," recognized Shough after the game. "We've got to learn from our mistakes."
So with the Pac-12 North on the line Saturday, December 12th against Washington (3-1) at Autzen Stadium, would Mario Cristobal elect to start graduate transfer senior Anthony Brown, who started 28 games for the Boston College Golden Eagles over the last three seasons?
“We assess everyone on a weekly basis, but [Shough is] our starting quarterback," Cristobal said when asked if the team considered starting Brown, not Shough, against the Huskies.
While some point out it was only Shough's fifth start and he has plenty of time to grow, that criticism isn't good enough for the Ducks signal-caller, who says he expects the best from himself no matter his age.
"It doesn't matter how many years I've played. The offense is designed so that we can be successful. I've put myself in position so I can be successful or at least I need to do a better job of that.
"I have the highest expectations of myself. I don't care how old I am, I have no doubt in my abilities, the coaches feel confident in all of our players' abilities so it's just got to come down to execution and getting better.
"I'm never going to doubt myself and I'm never going to doubt this team."
Oregon's offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead echoed his head coach's confidence in the Arizona native, who largely has played quite well in the first year in the new offensive system.
“He’s a young quarterback. I’m fairly certain he leads the league in yards, touchdowns, efficiency and total offense," Moorhead said. "He took a minor step back in the second half as a first-year starter in a new offense. That happens. We don’t like it. We acknowledge it. We take ownership. But, he’ll get better from it."
In five starts, Tyler Shough has completed 91-143 passes for 11 touchdowns and four interceptions, while adding 256 yards and two touchdowns on 52 rushes.
He'll be able to prove he's not only Oregon's present, but its future with a great performance Saturday to win the Pac-12 North. Kickoff between Oregon and Washington is set for 1:00 p.m. PT.