The Ducks have all the pieces for an excellent offense: A top-tier quarterback in Justin Herbert, an experienced offensive line with insane depth, running backs that can dazzle down the field, tight ends that can stretch the field and proven wide receivers.
Will all that potential be realized under new offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo?
Arroyo and coach Mario Cristobal are polar opposites in their offensive backgrounds.
Cristobal’s smash mouth approach emphasizes winning the line of scrimmage. Not only have Oregon’s lineman gained in the weight room this offseason, the whole team has added strength, including running back Tony Brooks-James(15 lbs) and Herbert (20 lbs). Arroyo runs a quarterback-friendly spread offense that harps on attention to detail paired with tempo. Also, don’t forget that UO running backs coach Jim Mastro helped former Nevada coach Chris Ault pioneer the pistol offense, which has become the base of the Ducks’ playbook.
Adding all of those philosophies together could create a very unique offense, a blend of power and tempo, different than what Oregon fans have seen in the last decade. Oregon’s spread offense was once ground breaking. Now, it could be considered the norm, unsurprising and expected.
“When I first came into this league there weren't many spread offenses and we were the only team that had shiny helmets, and now everybody runs the spread offense and everybody has shiny helmets,” said Chip Kelly at Pac-12 media day.
So what will be different? An offense that relies on a balance of speed and muscle to keep opponents off balance.
“The most important thing we do, is have balance,” Cristobal said. “Make sure that people can’t zone in on what we are doing and know what we are going to do. Be less predictable.”
The offense relies heavily on Herbert’s advanced knowledge of protections and the running game, something that Cristobal is confident in. Cristobal has repeatedly called Herbert a “field general” who understands the run game like a coordinator does. Cristobal has prepped Herbert to able to quickly get the offense into the right play.
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“Our offense is built with answers. Our players are familiar with those answers,” Cristobal said. “If plan A isn’t working with a particular pressure, the answer is Play B. And we’ve worked that already.”
UO’s associate head coach/co-defensive coordinator Joe Salave’a lights up when talking about the strength in Oregon’s power-tempo blend offense. Salave’a highlighted how tremendous of a change he’s seen a short amount of time.
“Now we get to move with all the speed and with ‘the thump’”, Salave’a said. “A whole lot more thump. We are excited about that.”