Oregon

Washington hired the OC that ruined Penn State, Oregon hired who saved Penn State

Washington hired the OC that ruined Penn State, Oregon hired who saved Penn State

Washington and Oregon have both filled their offensive coordinator positions with former Penn State coaches.

Huskies coach Jimmy Lake named John Donovan as his offensive coordinator Friday morning. Ducks head coach Mario Cristobal followed up that announcement naming Joe Moorhead as his offensive coordinator, who coincidentally replaced Donovan in Happy Valley.

Donovan coached under Penn State head coach James Franklin (2011-2013) at both Vanderbilt and Penn State (2014-2015). Following the 2015 season where the Nittany Lions ranked 105th in the country in total offense (348.4 yards) and 100th in points per game (23.2 points), Donovan was fired and replaced by Joe Moorhead. 

Moorhead in his first season as offensive coordinator for the Nittany Lions increased their offensive ranking in every category on their way to winning the Big Ten: 21st in scoring offense (37.6 points) and 50th in total offense (435.6). One season later the Nittany Lions shot up to sixth in scoring offense (37.6 points) and 19th in total offense (460.3 yards). Both seasons Moorhead's offense broke Penn State school records for scoring offense and total offense.

After Washington made the announcement, many Penn State fans sent their condolences to Husky fans.

It's never a good sign when the fanbase for a coach's prior stop has this reaction to him getting another coaching job. However, it seems warranted in this case.

In Donovan's last five seasons as an offensive coordinator at the college level (Vanderbilt and Penn State) his offenses ranked at best 82nd in the country in total offense: 98th, 82nd, 93rd, 114th, and 105th. Huskies coach Jimmy Lake even indirectly references his putrid offenses in his statement welcoming him to the program.

"Coach Donovan has a great deal of experience at both the college and NFL levels, learning from a lot of great offensive minds about coaching the kind of aggressive, pro-style offense we want to play here at Washington," Lake said. "From my own experience, I know how much a coach can learn and grow by spending significant time in the NFL. I'm excited for him to get to Seattle and get started."

Meanwhile, the Ducks hired an offensive coordinator who ran the seventh-ranked scoring offense the last time he was an offensive coordinator. Granted, his offenses as Mississippi State head coach were also lackluster, 71st and 74th in total offense his two seasons as Bulldogs head coach, before getting fired this month. But he was much more successful more recently than Donovan and may have lacked weapons at Mississippi State. A problem he won't have in Eugene given how great of a recruiter Cristobal has been.

It's always possible that Donovan kills it and Moorhead flops at Oregon making this whole article look silly, but given the information available today there's no way you can think Oregon didn't make the better hire. 

WATCH: Penei Sewell's emotional acceptance speech of the Outland Trophy

WATCH: Penei Sewell's emotional acceptance speech of the Outland Trophy

A month ago, Oregon offensive lineman Penei Sewell won the Outland Trophy which recognizes the nation's top interior lineman.

He became the first Oregon Duck and the first Polynesian football player to win the award.

In his emotional acceptance speech, he remembers talking to Coach Cristobal about winning the award and bringing it to Eugene.

I will never forget. It was right after fall camp, before the season started, [Cristobal] looked me in the eye and said 'Don't wait. Go get it this year.' Well coach, I'm here and I went and got it.

Sewell clearly adores his head coach: "The trust you have in me and the confidence you gave to me is the reason why I'm standing here. And I'm forever grateful for you. Forever thankful for the way you've treated me and my family. You are a man of your word."

But reading the quotes doesn't do his speech justice, watch it for yourself. 

 

College football playoff expansion? Mario Cristobal supports adding more teams

College football playoff expansion? Mario Cristobal supports adding more teams

The current College Football Playoff contract expires in 2026 and the desire for an expanded bracket is intensifying by many.

This year, NCAA coaches were polled to see if they were in favor of a larger playoff system. The results showed that 30 of the 62 head coaches that answered (LSU's Ed Orgeron, Alabama's Nick Saban and UCLA's Chip Kelly declined to vote) were in support of an eight-team bracket.

Both No. 6 Oregon and No. 8 Wisconsin likely would have been in an eight-team playoff, vying for the national title. Instead, the Pac-12 Champion Ducks (11-2) and the Badgers (10-3) are battling for the 106th Rose Bowl Title. The 'Granddaddy of Them All' is, of course, is a great bowl game with long standing tradition and an opportunity for both teams to end the decade with a substantial win.

While coaches do not have the power to change the current six-year-old format, here is where Oregon Coach Mario Cristobal and Wisconson Coach Paul Chryst, stood on a new format:

I think there's a lot of teams worthy of playing it out… I think anytime you could include more, right, in that particular – in that party, I think it's a good thing. –Mario Cristobal

You'd love to have obviously a six-year cohort and get all the data and see how it worked out and how it really played out. –Mario Cristobal

I wouldn't trade this experience for anything. So I want to make sure that part is clear. –Mario Cristobal

I think there's a lot that goes into it, and we're fortunate there's a ton of people that care about it. And so I'm going to let them figure it out. And like Mario said, this experience that our players get to be a part of, I think if you asked every one of the players, this is very unique, and I know both teams were grateful for it. –Paul Chryst

But just tell us what the rules are, and we'll work and try to do all we can to be the best team we can be. And if we earn the right for whatever it is, you're grateful for that. –Paul Chryst

In the current 12-year, $7.2 billion contract between ESPN and the CFP, nine of the 12 semifinals have been lopsided games. Most recently, No. 1 LSU steamrolled No. 4 Oklahoma, 63-28 in the Peach Bowl semifinal. Maybe two-loss, Pac-12 champion Oregon would have given the Tigers a better game. Maybe not.

So, whether adding more teams is a good decision based on the eye of the beholder, it appears that Coach Cristobal is in favor of the eight-team expansion.

Three keys for the Oregon Ducks to win the Pac-12 Championship

Three keys for the Oregon Ducks to win the Pac-12 Championship

Friday’s battle between No. 13 Oregon (10-2, 8-1 Pac-12) and No. 5 Utah (11-1, 8-1 Pac-12) for the Pac-12 Conference crown is bound to be intense with major post-season implications. 

The Ducks still have a chance at playing in the Rose Bowl as Pac-12 Conference champions (among another option). Standing in their way? The Utes, packed with experienced offensive weapons, one of the toughest defenses in the nation and imminent College Football Playoff dreams.

AN OREGON WIN WOULD…

·      Tie Oregon with Stanford for most Pac-12 Championship Game victories (3).

·      Clinch the program's eighth appearance in the Rose Bowl.

·      Give Oregon seven seasons with 11 or more wins (first time since 2014).


A UTAH WIN WOULD…

·      Be Utah’s first conference championship.

·      Extend its winning streak to nine games, their longest winning streak since 2008 when Utah went undefeated (13-0).

·      Keep its college football playoff hopes alive.

THREE KEYS TO AN OREGON VICTORY

Oregon can hang with anyone when they put it all together but how can they defeat a Utes team looking for a statement win to display to the College Football Playoff rankings committee?

1. Shake up Utah quarterback Tyler Huntley

Dual-threat quarterback Tyler Huntley is dangerous and experienced. The senior is crazy efficient (has completed 75.5% of his passes, which is second behind LSU’s Joe Burrow) averaging 11.1 passing yards per completion, a Pac-12 best and third in the FBS. 

Huntley and Burrow are the only two quarterbacks who have thrown under 70 percent in two or less games. They are also the only quarterbacks that have thrown for 80 percent or higher in four games this season.

The Heisman-Trophy candidate also has 74 carries for 255 yards and five rushing touchdowns.

“Huntley runs that offense like he’s been there for four years because he has been. We’re looking forward to playing against them,” senior linebacker Troy Dye said.
Oregon must disrupt Huntley and the ball-controlling Utes. The Duck defense has been mostly dependable this season, allowing 10 points or fewer in seven of 10 games. The Ducks have recorded a conference-best 35 sacks and will need to continue to play to that strength.

Look for starting defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux to have a major impact. The freshman has heated up in the last four games, totaling eight tackles for loss and four sacks. Coming off a two tackles for loss, one sack performance, Thibodeaux matched a program freshman record with 6.5 sacks on the season, tying Troy Dye’s 2016 total. Entering this season, Thibodeaux’s goal was 10 sacks: an accomplishment still in reach.

2. Win the turnover battle

The rainy, windy conditions in a clash between the most physical teams in the conference could lead to some mistakes and sloppy play. Oregon must be on the winning end of the turnover battle to contend against Utah. The Ducks practiced with a wet ball this week and aren’t overly concerned with “mother nature”. Some numbers to consider:

  • Keep Utah’s defense out of the end zone- The Utes defense has five touchdowns this season, ranking second in the FBS.
  • Oregon ranks first (17) and Utah (13) ranks second in interceptions.
  • Utah is 10th in FBS in turnover margin (0.83).
  • Oregon has scored 113 points off turnovers compared to opponents' 27 points off turnovers.
  • This season against Pac-12 teams, Oregon is undefeated when winning the turnover battle (4-0).

3. Passing game success

Utah is known for its defense, which is giving up a conference-best 11.3 points (third in the nation) and 56.3 yards rushing (first in the nation) on average. Opponents haven’t found an answer to the Utes rushing defense that is allowing an average of 2.26 yards per carry. The Utes have held 11 of their 12 opponents to under 100 yards rushing.

So likely, the Ducks will have to get it done through the passing game.

This is considerable reason for concern regarding Oregon’s offense, which has struggled in the last two games. After quarterback Jusin Herbert threw two interceptions against Arizona State, the Ducks totaled their lowest yardage of the season against Oregon State. Oregon’s receivers have lacked separation and Herbert has had some errant throws.

[READ: Justin Herbert's heart is Oregon's X-factor to win Pac-12 Title]

The Ducks will need junior wide receiver Johnny Johnson III to maintain his dependability in his strong season finish. In the last three games, he has 18 catches for 335 yards and four touchdowns. 34 of the junior’s 49 receptions have gone for first downs and he has three-straight games with a touchdown catch.

How and where to watch

Time: Friday, Dec. 6, 5:14 p.m. (PT)

Where: Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, California

TV: ABC

Radio: KUGN-AM (590), KUJZ-FM (95.3), KZEL-FM (96.1)

Where Oregon's Bowl path currently stands: Rose Bowl to Alamo Bowl

Where Oregon's Bowl path currently stands: Rose Bowl to Alamo Bowl

The College Football Playoff picture is clearing and with two losses, Oregon is no longer a contender.

With one week remaining in the 2019 season, the Ducks are No. 13 in the CFP rankings with a date against No. 5 Utah in the Pac-12 Championship game. Oregon is looking for its first win over a top 5 team since the 2015 Rose Bowl against No. 2 Florida State.

Since the Ducks are out of the final four…

How can the Ducks fly to the Rose Bowl (for the eighth time)?

OPTION ONE

The Pac-12 North Division champion Ducks still have a chance at playing in the Rose Bowl by winning the Pac-12 Title game on December 6 in Santa Clara, California. Oregon will face Pac-12 South Division champions Utah in the Pac-12 Championship.

OPTION TWO

Another route to roses… If the Ducks lose the Pac-12 title game and the No. 5 Utes get into the playoff, Oregon could still go to the Rose Bowl as the conference’s next best team.

Oregon’s drop out of the top-10 hurt Utah’s resume as contenders, but Alabama’s second loss boosted Utah’s chances. The fourth playoff spot opens if No. 2 LSU beats No. 4 Georgia in the SEC championship. Even if Utah beats Oregon, there's still a path for No. 6 Oklahoma to sneak in over the Utes. An impressive second defeat over No. 7 Baylor would make a strong case for the Sooners.

The Rose Bowl is played vs. a Big Ten opponent in Pasadena, California at 2 p.m. (PT) on January 1, 2020. Possible Big Ten opponents: Penn State, Minnesota, Wisconsin.

CAVEAT

If an Oregon loss to Utah causes the Ducks to dramatically drop in the final rankings, there is a caveat that would be relevant to Oregon’s chances to get to the Rose Bowl.

The Rose Bowl traditionally selects the next-highest CFP-ranked team from that conference, but if there is one or more teams closely ranked, the selection becomes up to the discretion of and “will result in the best possible matchup for the Rose Bowl Game,” according to the Rose Bowl Management Committee.

USC is currently No. 22, so the Trojans could threaten the Ducks. In 2016, No. 9 USC was selected instead of Pac-12 South Champion, No. 10 Colorado. 

What is the next bowl game best-case scenario?

If Oregon loses the Pac-12 Title game and Utah is left out of the playoff and goes to the Rose Bowl, the Ducks are looking at the Pac-12’s No. 2 bowl tie-in, the Alamo Bowl.

(By the way, two Alamo Bowl representatives were in the press box on Saturday)

The Alamo Bowl is played vs. the Big 12’s No. 2 team in San Antonio, Texas at 4:30 p.m. (PT) on December 31, 2019. Likely Big 12 opponent: Baylor.

What about an at-large bid?

Auburn’s win over Alabama moves the Tigers ahead of the Ducks for an at-large bid for the Cotton Bowl. The Cotton Bowl is played in Arlington, Texas at 10 a.m. (PT) on December 28, 2019.

Oregon earned its first 10-win season since 2014 and has the opportunity to be crowed Pac-12 Champions. Now that the national title is out of the picture, senior quarterback Justin Herbert said, “It means everything” to learn from the Arizona State loss and refocus on finishing the season strong.