Ducks

Tyler Shough isn't a bad quarterback, he's a frustrating quarterback

Ducks

For the last four years, Oregon Ducks fans have been spoiled with soon-to-be NFL Rookie of the Year Justin Herbert lining up behind center. 

Now with Herbert setting rookie NFL records on Sundays, Oregon has lost back-to-back games in the first season of the Tyler Shough era of Oregon football. 

Overall through five games, the results have been mixed for the redshirt sophomore. 

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In the second half of Oregon's 21-17 loss to a then-winless Cal team, the Ducks offense was held scoreless while turning the ball over twice on top of being stopped on fourth down.

Part of that was due to the passing game failing to get anything going, with multiple throws by Shough resulting in anyone watching questioning who the intended receiver was in the first place. Other times, Shough would under-throw receivers or just flat-out miss wide-open players downfield.

"[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." 

As for what happened after halftime, Shough said Cal failed to make his pre-snap reads harder and the lack of results came from Oregon making mistakes.

"I think it was just us shooting ourselves in the foot. We really handed that game away at the end and we just couldn't string together drives.

 

"We felt confident going into the second half. We felt confident throughout the whole game... Just got to be better at executing." 

Shough also fumbled the ball when fighting for extra yardage. Upon reflection, Shough said he should have just gone down once his legs were wrapped up. 

To begin the season, Shough had some hiccups, especially when being tricked by floating linebackers in zone coverage, but overall he appeared like a solid football player. He ran the read-option, RPO-filled offense Joe Moorhead had implemented quite well and delivered balls on time. 

Even in Oregon's 41-38 loss to Oregon State, Shough's side of the football still scored 38 points but the sophomore quarterback struggled as well. He threw an awful fourth-quarter interception to Beavers corner Nahshon Wright. The Beavers would score on the next drive when set up with excellent field position. 

In the end, Shough left Reser Stadium having completed 20-of-31 passes for 285 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions, but his most costly play came when he missed a wide-open Jaylon Redd on a game-clinching third down. Instead, Shough threw an incomplete pass to another receiver, the Ducks punted, and Oregon State scored a game-winning touchdown. 

After the loss to Oregon State, Shough said the offense should have gotten the first down and ended the game, rather than blame the defense for permitting 41 Beavers points. 

One week later, Shough took full responsibility for the loss to the Golden Bears and said he needs to play better. Despite this being his first season as the starter, he needs to play better and cannot make excuses.

"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 has plenty of talent up and down the roster to win any game on its schedule. To meet the high expectations fans and coaches set on the team, it comes down to execution. 

Shough this season has completed passes through some tight windows and dropped the ball into his receiver's breadbasket downfield. At other times, he's misread the opposing defense and left some points on the table.

He's clearly not bad. He has the skills, leadership, and physical tools you want in a quarterback. He just needs to sure up his decision-making. That can easily come with experience but in the meantime, the Tyler Shough experience can be a frustrating one to watch. 

As for the Ducks fans who have criticized Shough's play, especially against Cal, he said he doesn't pay attention to the noise but recognizes he needs to improve on Saturdays.  

 

"When you lose football games you should be winning that's going to happen. But we know it's a team sport. We're going to hold each individual accountable and I've got to do better myself. It's just about moving forward.

"We're all going to be faced with adversity, we're glad to have it because there's a lot of growth that's going to come from this." 

Shough will have an opportunity to show he's the quarterback of not just the present but the future of Oregon football with a win over Washington (3-1) next Saturday, December 12th at Autzen Stadium.