Oregon Head Coach Mario Cristobal, Duck Coordinators Talk Ohio State Week

Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal met with reporters today to provide some updates on his football team and look ahead to Saturday’s matchup with the Ohio State Buckeyes. Also joining the session were offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead and defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter. The highlights of everything that was said can be found below.

Mario Cristobal

+ Players are enthused about the season and there are areas to work on. Linebacker Dru Mathis will be out for this weekend for sure. Everybody else is day-to-day. Defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux is improving and day-to-day. He’ll have more of an update on him Tuesday or Wednesday.

+ Thibodeaux has an ankle sprain and they’re going through with treatment to get it ready.

+ They will leave on Thursday for Columbus. They’ll land at 7p or 8p, get settled in. Then they’ll have a Friday preparation day. It’s typical of west coast teams traveling east.

+ Ohio State possesses a lot of weapons offensively. They have big plays in the run game and pass game. The ability to protect the quarterback is huge for OSU. Great team with elite talent.

+ Freshman receiver Troy Franklin was originally going to start last week but got dinged up last week. He’s had a great camp and will play this week.

+ They rotate offensive linemen and don’t worry about not jelling.

+ Defensive lineman Brandon Dorius can play inside or outside. He can rush the passer and he’s smart. “It allows for his versatility to be a reality.” Expect him to play a lot of snaps this week.

+ If a guy can’t practice, it’s not in the guy’s best interest or team’s best interest to have him play in the game. Bradyn Swinson played in place of Kayvon Thibodeaux last week and he played well and played fast. “His role will continue to increase.”

+ Linebacker Justin Flowe is a game changer. Had almost 15 tackles all over the field. “Really aggressive.” He doesn’t get tired. “He just goes.”

+ Against an offense like Ohio State the entire defense will need to be on point. You can’t have busts. They attack you. They’re aggressive. They are well coached. “They’re creative.” Any time you go on the road against a great football team, nothing but your best is going to be good enough. The team understands that.

+ They tried to take a couple of deep shots last week. “It’s always in the game plan. You want to stretch a defensive vertically and horizontally.”

+ “If you’re a real competitor you always want to test yourself against the very best.” Ohio State is elite. You come to Oregon to have opportunities like this. It’s a tremendous challenge.

+ They recruited CJ Stroud. They really wanted him. He has poise, accuracy, command of his feet. He can make every throw. He is really smart. He understands protection. A difference maker in high school.

+ Quarterback Anthony Brown was solid. Made good decisions throughout. He kept his eyes down the field on scrambles.

+ The perception of the Oregon program doesn’t change game to game. The perception won’t change after the Ohio State game. “I don’t have any slogans.” They are hunkered down on working. You don’t get many of these opportunities in your lifetime. They aren’t focused on the noise about the game. It’s game week. You acknowledge the big stage, but it’s still about preparation and focus and execution under pressure.

+ Running back CJ Verdell is critically important. You want to establish an identity. You want to be physical and balanced. Verdell is a huge part of that.

+ He liked the fourth quarter from his offensive line. They played on edge and got downhill in the run game. Overall, he’d like the OL to keep the pocket cleaner. They played hard but had some technique issues individually.

Offensive Coordinator Joe Moorhead

+ Moorhead has coached in games at Ohio Stadium. “It will be very challenging.” It’s in the top 3 of places he’s coached. “The stands seem like they go straight up in the air forever. It’s a very, very tough environment to play.”

+ He was the OC at Penn State, so he may have some familiarity through recruiting, but OSU’s defense is a bit different than he’s accustomed to seeing.

+ Quarterback Anthony Brown had a solid performance but has room for improvement.

+ Why was the running game so effective in the fourth quarter? They just finished strong. They also went to a split zone instead of a regular inside zone or counter. The line was playing with good pad level.

+ It’s challenging to prepare for a defense that plays so many guys. The linebackers for Ohio State are all relatively new and there were some new DBs. You’ve just never seen the entire combination of them playing together much, so that’s a challenge.

+ Why so few deep shots last week? They called some, but it’s also dictated by protection, separation, and completing the pass. They do want to take more shots, but the defense wasn’t allowing it with how they were defending it.

+ The offensive line needs to maintain the depth and width of the pocket. They need to finish blocks.

Tim DeRuyter

+ Defensive end Bradyn Swinson competed well. It was the most snaps he’s had so far. He was physical and played with confidence, which they needed with Kayvon Thibodeaux going down.

+ They played a bunch of outside linebackers and got some guys good experience.

+ Linebacker Justin Flowe showed on Saturday who he is. He’s an explosive player who plays with passion. He can chase people down and when he gets there, balls get knocked loose.

+ The pass defense last week against Fresno State wasn’t great. They allowed the quarterback to get out of the pocket. They had some busted coverages. They didn’t line up against tempo as well as they should have.

+ Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave are really good. “I don’t know that I’ve had to face two first round picks.” When you have two guys like that, it’s really, really difficult. But the offense does great with play-action. You’ve got to stop the run and add guys to do it, then they have explosive plays behind it.

+ Outside backer Mase Funa had a good game. He understands the defense better and is playing faster. They are continuing to develop his pass rush. The guys got a little tired in the second quarter and so their speed went down. Part of that is just getting guys in game shape.

+ Defensive backs DJ James and Jamal Hill have been practicing and they are now competing for jobs.

+ Coverage and eye discipline out of the secondary needs to be better than last week.

+ The challenge comes with matchups. They will have to do multiple things on defense in order to make things cloudy for the quarterback.

+ The inside linebackers Noah Newell and Justin Flowe got lost a bit in pass defense. Give Fresno State credit. They have a veteran offense and a veteran quarterback. “It’s something that we’ve got to work on.”