I have decided to do a weekly report of my beloved Oregon Ducks and San Francisco 49ers. Just because it is fun. Feel free to comment on my posts with your opinions as well.
Last Game: Ducks 53 – UC Davis 28 (1-0)
Next Game: vs. Virginia Cavaliers
Going into this season there have been a lot of question marks. Vernon Adams left a hole at the quarterback position when he graduated. Brady Hoke came in with a new defensive scheme. The offensive line was coming in very young. The defensive front was also coming in young.
I think we got a couple of these questions answered week 1. Dakota Prukop took the quarterback helm and I think had a solid game. He didn’t turn the ball over. He ran the offensive fairly well once the nerves subsided and he got in a rhythm.
There were a couple of times that he over thought the plays. He missed one obvious touchdown in the back of the end zone in the 2nd quarter because he held onto the ball too long. To his credit, he didn’t make a mistake with it either which is what most quarterbacks would try to do after they panic realizing they missed the opportunity. This is probably a nod to the fact he is older and a transfer.
There were a couple more times that I noticed he almost got delay of games while trying to audible at the line of scrimmage but reading should get better for him and faster the longer he is in the offense.
Royce Freeman struggled to get the huge chunks of yards we are used to seeing from him, mainly due to the young offensive line not giving him a lot of space to run up front. As they gel more, he will see more space. Royce is the type of running back that if you give him space he will kill you. If there is no space though, he will still fall forward and get some yardage.
Kani Benoit came in with his speed and was able to hit the holes faster for a change of pace. With the combination of Freeman’s strength and size, and the speed of Benoit, Taj Griffin, and Tony Brooks James, the running game should be solid this year.
I can’t tell you how great it was to see Pharaoh Brown return. Pharaoh Brown destroyed his knee a couple of years ago in an injury that was actually a couple levels worse than mine. He ran strong at tight end and seemed healthy. He should be a great outlet for Dakota. I expect him and Darren Carrington to be the main targets.
The key to this offense will be how quickly the offensive line can gel.
The defense got an upgrade when Brady Hoke brought his defensive system. One of my biggest frustrations with the defense the last 2 years has been how passive it has been, especially in the first halves of ball games. It seemed like no adjustments were made until late the game and that they let the offenses dictate to them.
Hoke’s defense is much more aggressive to the happiness of my middle linebacker heart. I saw a lot more pressure and blitzing. I really loved what they did with my favorite new player, Troy Dye. They brought him down from outside linebacker and would blitz him off the edge, either from outside the end or from his coverage spot on a slot receiver. His speed was crazy and he created havoc.
I had no clue who Dye was before this game. He is a true freshman. 10 minutes into the game I was texting my friends and saying watch #35. He is my new favorite player. Having played for over 10 years I love aggressive players who have a nose for the ball because that’s how I play. If you see a player who no matter where the ball ends up, they are around the play to either make it or are in position to make it if needed, that is automatically my favorite player on that team.
The downside of an aggressive defense is that you have to make sure your coverage on the back end is sure to prevent mistakes. There were a couple of times that pressure got into the backfield but the coverage broke down to leave open big plays. They will have to shore that up going forward but that is more about learning the scheme than anything.
Overall, it was a solid first win to the season. There are things to work on but usually teams make the biggest jump from week 1 to week 2. You can only learn so much by practicing against your own teammates for several months. You learn a lot more when you finally go against another team. I expect several adjustments going into week 2 against Virginia.
Virginia got embarrassed by Richmond last week. I expect the size at Virginia to be a better test for the Ducks but the talent and depth should still lead to a blow out.
At least the unis for this week look sweet:
Next Game: vs. Los Angeles Rams
When I heard that Chip Kelly was going to be the new head coach of the 49ers, my first thought was, is the front office going to allow him to do his job? Having watched what Chip did at Oregon, I know he is a builder of structure and identity. In order to do that, he likes to have as much control as possible. How is that going to coincide with a front office that likes to mettle and muck things up?
The Chip experiment might not have worked out so well in Philly but I believe he has learned that it is much easier to get 19 year olds to buy into your system than 30 year olds who get paid several more millions than you. Chip will likely be slightly more subdued this time around as he knows this might be his last shot in the NFL.
When I heard he was coming, many people thought that would mean the return of Kaep to greatness because he is an athletic quarterback. I thought it meant Kaep’s doom because what people don’t understand about the offense is that being athletic is not the most important. The most important factor in running the offense well is decision making.
If you are quick and accurate in your decisions, you will run this offense well. That’s why Marcus Mariota was so great at it. When he was in rhythm, it was like watching a surgeon in action. The offense is not complicated but it demands decisiveness.
If you watch him operate below, you will notice that his decisions are fast. He does not hesitate.
Kaep on the other hand, has lost his rhythm and his decision making last year was awful. There is a reason he was benched. There is no question in my mind that Blaine Gabbert is the right decision at quarterback. Blaine is no Tom Brady or even Mariota but of what we have, he is the best option.
The person I think who will most benefit from this offense? Carlos Hyde. He is the perfect prototype for this offense. He is strong but quick. He also makes strong decisions which is what the offense is all about.
Here are clips of LaMichael James who was one of the work horses for Chip at Oregon:
Now watch Carlos Hyde from last year:
It’s all about downhill attacking. Hyde has more size and power than LaMichael but he hits the hole downhill. It’s one move and go. That is why I think Carlos is going to have a huge year. Especially with Blaine at quarterback and not a lot of depth in the receiver corp.
Defensively, the jury is still out. The addition of another Duck, DeForest Buckner, is going to add to already nasty defensive front. They should be able to get pressure off the edges. The defense from a couple of years ago that dominated the league, along side the Seahawks defense, lost a lot of key pieces. It seems that the Niners are slowly rebuilding it.It will be interesting to see how they gel this year. I would like to see them get back to the swagger they had. If we could clone 11 Eric Reid‘s in different sizes, the field might collapse from the sear weight of the swagger.
The Niners open up the season against the Los Angeles Rams. I expect that if Hyde is healthy, as he is coming off a concussion, that it will be the Todd Gurley-Carlos Hyde show on Monday.