There's a new offensive coordinator in town and Ducks fans are hoping he can help take the Oregon offense to the next level.
But Joe Moorhead says he doesn't plan on overhauling the offense. Rather, he wants to build it up from the foundation that won the Pac-12 Championship and the Rose Bowl last season.
"Oregon had been successful offensively but what was it [we could do], Coach [Cristobal] uses the term 'elevate the standard,' you know what can we do offensively to keep this ship rolling and to improve upon it," Moorhead said in an interview on The Solid Verbal Podcast.
The Ducks ranked 16th in the country in points per game last season with 35.4 and 36th in yards per game with 435.5. Additionally, Oregon ran for 239 yards in the Pac-12 Championship Game against a Utah defense that led the nation in rushing defense heading into that game.
Last season, the Ducks offense was good. But it wasn't elite and some questionable play-calling including a reluctance to test defenses vertically from former-offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo may have left points on the table.
Under Moorhead, that'll change. While the offense won't look that different from what Oregon ran last season at first glance, how Moorhead attacks will be changed.
"The change won't be as visible to the casual fan as it was at Penn State which was more of a combination between a pro-style and a spread," said Moorhead. "I think it will look most similar in the run game to Oregon from 2019. I think the biggest difference you'll see is in the pass game with some of the RPO things but we have an incredibly experienced and talented staff with Coach Mirabal, Coach Willaims, Coach Mastro, bringing in Coach McClendon from South Carolina, and then Coach Cristobal's expertise is the offensive line.
"They ran the heck out of the ball last year. We [at Mississippi State] had the SEC's leading rusher and then we were second or third in SEC in rushing two years in a row... We want to be able to run the ball successfully but I think our willingness and ability to throw the ball downfield in the pass game, that will probably be the biggest difference in what people will see."
[Be sure to listen to the latest Talkin' Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and special guest former Oregon men's basketball head coach Ernie Kent].
The former Mississippi State head coach was fired after the Bulldogs' bowl game following just his second season replacing current Florida head coach Dan Mullens. His offense as Mississippi State head coach were also lackluster, 71st and 74th in total offense, but he excelled his last time as an assistant coach at Penn State.
In his first season as offensive coordinator for the Nittany Lions, Moorhead won the Big Ten and placed 21st in scoring offense (37.6 points) and 50th in total offense (435.6) nationally. They also shattered then-school records for total offense (6,056), passing yards (3,650) and points scored (526). Sports Illustrated and Yahoo both named Joe Moorhead the nation's No. 1 rising assistant coach in August 2017 ahead of his sophomore season in Happy Valley. In his second season, the Nittany Lions shot up to seventh in scoring offense (41.1 points) and 19th in total offense (460.3 yards), once again setting school records.
Given the weapons Oregon has on offense returning and joining the program, Moorhead should be able to do some damage.
So when Mississippi State decided to move on it's no wonder that Moorhead became a hot commodity.
"After I got let go it wasn't a very long amount of time before people at the college level and the NFL level were reaching out with opportunities and as a family, we felt that Oregon was just the best choice to move forward."
But why Oregon specifically? Many reasons but not least of all, the chance to win on the biggest stage: the College Football Playoff.
"I think it was a combination of things: location, Coach Cristobal and the culture and the mindset and the mentality he's brought out here, the talent on the roster - You know, I've been a part of four conference championships at the last five schools I've been at and I really felt that Oregon, once again with the talent and the culture, the conference - you're kind of on the precipice there of cracking into that final four and that's one thing I haven't had the opportunity in 22 years of coaching is play for the big one."
With a defense coached by Andy Avalos predicted to be the nation's second-best in 2020, an offensive line coached by Mario Cristobal that will impose its will each week, and the recruiting of elite skill position talent such as five-star wide receiver Troy Franklin, if Moorhead can deliver similar results to his time in Happy Valley it's only a matter of time before Oregon returns to the playoff.
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