Photo by Andrew Giesemann
Oregon Football

Offense improved, Defense regressed?

February 16, 2019

If you read the title only, you thought, okay, Jhop is drunk. Which is not out of the realm of reality at 9 AM on a Saturday morning.

Ok, yeah, that’s even a little early for me. Plus you can tell with how well I’m spelling I’m rolling 100-percent strong.

So back to the topic at hand. 

Jim Leavitt was let go by Oregon for a number of reasons. One of which was not related to on-field production. Or was it?

The rift between Cristobal and Leavitt was a season long affair. And perhaps some of that spilled onto the field this season. While the Oregon defense had some big stops and big games including the Redbox bowl win over Michigan State, overall it was down from a season ago.

Again, we are only comparing 2018 to 2017. We are not comparing it to 2016, prior to Leavitt’s arrival. We are also only using Pac-12 conference games. Not any of the out-of-conference games in either season. As much an apples to apples comparison as it can be. 

And for any argument yes there is a ‘well there’s this, or there’s that’ this is as apples to apples as it can be.

Oregon’s defense was down in almost every major category this season. Some of which they were down substantially from 2017.

Disclaimer: These are not my stats from my research. They were obtained from a company that supplies stats to a number of programs, including Oregon. These are very much something Mario Cristobal looks at very closely. So I don’t want anyone to think I went and cherry-picked stats to make up an argument against Jim Leavitt. Leavitt is gone, so it makes no difference what I publish now.

For argument’s sake, here goes.

Scoring Defense: Slightly Down

Opponent Red Zone Opport: Way Down

Rushing Defense: Way Down

Opponent 3rd Down Conversions: Way Down

Pass Defense: Slightly Down

Points Allowed in RZ: Slightly Down

Opponent First Downs: Down

Total Defense: Down

Take from that what you will. But those are a lot of key stats. Was it influenced by how the offense played? Sure. Was it influenced by different personnel? Sure. Was it possibly influenced with the distractions in the locker room? Possibly.

There is no perfect answer here. These are merely the hard numbers presented in its purest form. You take from it what you will and process it.

Now let’s look at the offense. Again, the side of the ball that garnered the most scrutiny. I will present a number of stats the Ducks used for review of the season. Again only using conference games, not the powder puffs.

And again, before I get the ‘well Taggart didn’t have Herbert for 3.5 games’ and all the other arguments your mind is already formulating, this is as close to being equal as you can. Did Taggart have to deal with 52 (Charted) dropped passes in a season? 52!!!!!!!!! That’s enough for about 4 full seasons. 

Again, there’s an argument to be had for whatever side your on. And I’m not here to change your mind, just give you the numbers.

Only one major category saw a decline from 2017 to 2018. (I know many of you don’t believe me but here goes anyways.)

Scoring Offense: Up

Red Zone Opport: Way Up

Points Scored in RZ: WAY Up

3rd Down Conversions: WAY Up

First Downs: Way Up

Pass Offense: WAY UP (Most improved YOY)

Total Offense: Up

Rushing Offense: Down

The 52 dropped passes led the country according to one analytics company. That same company charts it was an average of 16 yards per drop. If Oregon receivers catch half those balls, you’re looking at a top 20 offense nationally. It would also push Oregon into the top ten of yards per attempt, nationally. 

If there were no drops on the season, which isn’t realistic, but just hang with me, Herbert’s completion percent would be at 73. ON THE SEASON. 

Again, I’m not here to change your mind on what your eyes are seeing. But some of the best analysts in this region, hythloday, QB11 and others continue to urge fans to see the real issue isn’t the offensive play-calling, a big factor is the overall execution and dropped passes. Now perhaps there’s a few things that can be done to help with those areas, perhaps just being in the second year of the same offense will be enough.

I don’t really know. And of course any stat can be subjective. But this is really the only apples to apples way we have to compare the two years.

I anxiously await all of the “Jhop is crazy comments” that are oncoming.




Tags: Football, Oregon
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