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Q&A: Addicted to Quack Edition

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A questionnaire to start conference play!

NCAA Football: California at Oregon Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

We asked our friends over at Addicted to Quack to answer some question on Oregon Football for us and here is what they sent back! Enjoy!

Which player on offense should Cal fans know about?

QB Justin Herbert. Wish I could come up with someone less obvious for this, but we’re young & unproven at all other skill positions.

Personally I’ve felt the hype around Herbert has eclipsed his actual resume thus far - he’s never played a full season and at this point has no true marquee wins - but the Stanford game showed what he can do. He’s smart, big, mobile, with the proverbial cannon for an arm. As last year indicated, we’re more or less screwed if he’s not in the game (thanks guys).

Which player on defense should Cal fans know about?

Let’s go with sophomore DT Jordon Scott (#34), who was recruited out of Florida by former coach Willie Taggart and to the mild surprise of many decided to stay up here in the far-flung Pacific NW after Taggart bailed.

A lot more agile than his 6’1” and 330lbs would indicate, good run-stopper, highly disruptive for the OL overall. DTs don’t put up gaudy stats of course, but watching him game-to-game it’s pretty obvious how much he contributes to our defense. When Cal gets a play stuffed, give a glance at what #34 is doing – he won’t usually get credited for the tackle but he’ll often be the one who blew the play up.

Who’s one under-the-radar or X-factor player who could swing this game for Oregon?

Junior WR Dillon Mitchell (#13). We returned very little proven WR production and for us to have a good season a couple players will have to develop quickly. Mitchell (originally a 4* recruit out of Tennessee) is probably the most likely step up as a true go-to receiver this year – after an underwhelming nonconference start, he served notice vs Stanford with 239 yards on 14 receptions.

What does Oregon need to do to win the game?

Not let Stanford beat us twice, and sustain the level of play we saw against them. How will Oregon respond after a brutal loss, especially for an away game against a probably improved opponent? How well does Cristobal re-focus the team? Was that near-flawless Herbert a sign of things to come, or just one of those nights where everything clicked? Couple interesting early-season referendums at work here.

What does Cal need to do to win the game?

Pressure Justin Herbert. He hasn’t shown an ability to deal with the blitz well, this has been an ongoing issue since his freshman year. Even when opponents showed pressure pre-snap he rarely seemed to recognize and adjust protections, and last season both ASU and Boise State flustered him pretty bad. It’s possible this was more a coaching issue, so remains to be seen if Cristobal & OC Arroyo can get it ironed out. If you guys don’t get pressure on him it’ll be a long night, but Cal just might have the players to do it.

How do you see the game going?

IMO the two most likely outcomes are either a 50-50 defensive struggle or an easy Oregon win, unless Cal shows an offensive gear they haven’t had yet.

Four games in, what are your first impressions of the Mario Cristobal era at Oregon?

Cautiously optimistic. Our recent coaching experiences have been a piece of soggy toast with pointy nipples (Mark Helfrich) and a smarmy con-artist (Taggart), so I think there will be some ingrained skepticism going for a while.

Cristobal has said all the right things, assembled and/or held together what looks like a pretty decent staff (retaining DC Leavitt was key), and has recruited really well so far. Beyond that it’s hard to glean much from his prior coaching stint at FIU and our weak nonconference schedule. Ultimately we’ll just have to see where we’re at in December.

Justin Herbert is one of the best QBs in the nation, but his accuracy is all over the place. At one point late in the fourth quarter last week, he had completed over 90% of his passes. Yet he has two games with sub-50% completions. Why is this?

Few different reasons. The aforementioned young WRs, who had a shit-ton of drops on well-thrown passes the first 3 games and then corrected that issue vs Stanford. But Herbert bears some responsibility. He’s got a strong arm but needs to work on his touch, sometimes he’ll set a receiver up with a tough-to-catch dart when a little more loft & finesse would have made it easy. Probably related, he also loves lower-percentage throws downfield at the expense of short & intermediate routes. Aside from the pressure issues this is probably his biggest room for improvement.

What do you make of last week’s second-half (and OT) performance? Was this an aberration or did this reveal some serious flaws in this Oregon team?

The only surprise with those flaws was that they manifested in such dramatically painful fashion. We knew our short-ish DBs would have trouble with Stanford’s giant WRs. We knew both our players & coaching staff are relatively inexperienced and thus learning on the job (i.e. fighting for extra yards & fumbling instead of just going the hell down, or conservative with playcalling in the 3rd). We knew Herbert was prone to going for homerun plays, as he did in overtime instead of looking underneath.

Preseason I predicted this as an 8-4 team – which IMO is pretty good for your 3rd coach in 3 years – and that still seems about right to me. If we can make improvement on the aforementioned flaws as the season goes on I’ll be happy.

What are your thoughts on Chip Kelly’s struggles at UCLA? Are you looking forward to his visit to Eugene in November?

As an Oregon fan I’ll forever love Chip for what he brought to the program. But as a Philadelphia Eagles fan I remember how very very bad he was there, way more painful to watch & follow than the record indicates. Good god he sucked! Now everyone wonders, did he just catch lightning in a bottle at Oregon or can he still be an effective CFB coach at least?

UCLA’s roster is not good, but I’m honestly a little surprised his start has been this rocky - preseason I predicted the Bruins upsetting us at Autzen but probably would revise that 4 games in. Overall I’d be glad to give him an ovation upon his return, but at least hope we don’t boo him? We’ll probably boo him.

Whom do you most want to punch in the face?

Normally I’d say Willie Taggart, but he’s doing that just fine himself. So let’s go with Urban Meyer.

Poll

How do you see Cal–Oregoin going?

This poll is closed

  • 7%
    Big Cal win
    (25 votes)
  • 57%
    Close Cal win
    (194 votes)
  • 15%
    Close Oregon win
    (54 votes)
  • 19%
    Big Oregon win
    (66 votes)
339 votes total Vote Now