1. Oregon's had a bunch of success over the last few seasons. What's different about this year? Did Roboduck steal y'alls souls? Did it finally start raining at Autzen?
Matt: Last season was the canary in the mineshaft for the program in many ways. The 2014 team had a ton of flaws that were covered up by Marcus Mariota being a Heisman Trophy winner. After Mariota moved on, the defense—secretly bad in 2014—no longer had the offense to keep it off the field and keep the pressure low, especially when Vernon Adams got hurt. So this feels like the cratering of a decline that's been coming.
That being said, Oregon is some shoddy two-point conversion plays against Nebraska and a terrible fourth-quarter fade pass against Colorado away from being 4–2. Weird, right?
2. Since Marcus Mariota, Oregon appears to have gone with more of a plug-and-play model at quarterback. Is this transfer pattern something to expect for the foreseeable future?
Matt: No, it's not. I think the stop-gap transfers have been solutions to a problem caused by Mariota's sustained success making Oregon less desirable a recruiting destination for top QBs wanting to play right away, a couple big recruiting misses (Kyler Murray being the most notable), and the players here not developing as expected (Jake Rodrigues struggled with injuries before transferring, Jeff Lockie and Morgan Mahalak just struggled).
The latest QB move to hand the keys to true freshman Justin Herbert really signals that Oregon is playing for the future. The bet is that either Herbert, redshirt frosh Travis Jonsen, or true freshman Terry Wilson is the next sustained starter for Oregon. And the Ducks don't need a Heisman winner to be successful; we went to a National Championship game with Darron Thomas and a Rose Bowl with Jeremiah Masoli.
3. Is Mark Helfrich on the hot seat? What do you expect from him and the team the rest of the year? Rumour has it Chip Kelly is looking to jump back into college coaching; how much would Oregon realistic spend to lure him back?
Matt: His seat's hot as hell right now. I think he'll get one more year after this one to try and turn this thing around, as long as his players are behind him. If he loses the locker room, he's done.
There is a 0% chance Chip Kelly ever returns to Oregon. Zero. Point. Zero. "Have success as Oregon's head coach" is something he's crossed off his to-do list in life; he left for the NFL because it was a new challenge to try. He's not the kind of guy to retreat back to what was safe. He's more likely to be the next head coach at Cal than he is the next head coach at Oregon.
4. If Oregon wins, what do you expect to have happened (e.g., did Royce Freeman shred our defense? Did your defense pick off Davis Webb five times?)
Matt: If Oregon wins, it means the offense had a good day: Justin Herbert found a passing rhythm, avoided turnovers, and there wasn't a quarter where the Ducks went three and out on a few consecutive possessions—something that ultimately doomed them against Nebraska and Colorado. The defense gets even worse if the offense can't put a sustained drive together, so this team goes as the offense goes at this point.
5. If Oregon loses, what do you expect to have happened?
Matt: Offensive stagnation means a bad defense becomes a bad and tired defense—and that'll be that.
6. Who do you want to punch in the face?
Matt: An alien, after he shot down my best friend Harry Connick, Jr. and then chased me into the Nevada desert, where I deployed my emergency chute into his windshield and caused him to crash. I'd probably say something cool, like "Welcome to Erff," afterwards and then meet Jeff Goldblum and the President.