Oregon lost to Utah in the Pac-12 Championship, and now there are questions that need to be answered for this program moving forward, from a fundamental perspective, a skill perspective, and most of all a coaching perspective. Here are five takeaways from both the game and thoughts on the future of Oregon football.
1. Ty Thompson needs to start the bowl game
Anthony Brown played an extremely poor game vs. the Utes today, in which almost nothing went right. He misread many plays, missed wide-open receivers, and threw two incredibly poor interceptions for 10 Utah points.
If you're Oregon, you have to see what you have out of your young quarterback before you begin the next season, which by the way begins in Atlanta, Ga against the No. 1 team in the nation this year in Georgia. For Ty to get some experience against a good team in a good bowl game is vital for the future of the program.
2. Utah is clearly the best and most physical team in the Pac-12
For four seasons, Mario Cristobal has preached physicality and winning the battle at the line of scrimmage. Twice in three weeks, the Ducks were dominated at the line on both sides of the football by Utah.
This has been an incredibly disappointing development and if Cristobal remains the Oregon head coach, it will have to be reinforced and changed after a loss of this magnitude on the national stage. As Kirk Herbstreit said on the telecast tonight, this was an embarrassment for Oregon.
3. Oregon's energy was low the entire game
Oregon never really seemed to have energy tonight in Las Vegas. This was something I observed from the very moment the Ducks entered the field from the locker room. This was a very pro-Utah crowd at Allegiant, probably 80% Utes fans.
But that doesn’t change the fact that there was a large contingent of Duck fans here tonight. Oregon wasn’t celebrating much of anything on the bench, and besides Noah Sewell there was never much juice on the sidelines at all throughout the game. Another thing that we are not accustomed to see from a Mario Cristobal team.
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4. The offensive line's two worst games of the season both came against Utah
While Brown was extremely poor in this game, the pass protection from the Oregon offensive line was bad as well. There were multiple low snaps from center Alex Forsyth and Brown was running for his life at many points throughout this game. Oregon also never really established a run game for the second straight game against the Utes (74 rushing yards). As we've seen this season, when Oregon can't run, it can't do much else and was unable to move the ball down the field consistently enough to keep it close with Utah.
5. What's next for Mario Cristobal? We don't know
The potentially $100 million question is coming up: what is going to happen with Mario Cristobal? This was looming throughout the week and really picked up steam through rumors just ahead of the Pac-12 Championship game.
Miami is Mario Cristobal’s home and where he went to school, but lately, Miami has not been very smart with how they go about their business, as at this point they still have no Athletic Director and have not fired their current coach Manny Diaz. We will see what unfolds in the coming days, but this is potentially a brutal end to the Mario Cristobal era if he gets hired by Miami.
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