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Let’s Bring Back Football Innovation

October 15th, 2021 by dk

Most years around this time, I write a column about football. The response is unusually positive. Many readers are positive I shouldn’t be writing about sports. Fair enough, but the success of Ducks athletics has undeniably changed this place we call home.

I wrote in favor of garish uniform colors, if they attract more stellar high school athletes. I wrote against Robo-Duck because you don’t want your mascot looking better than your athletes. I supported Chip Kelly’s obsession with two-point conversions, suggesting we market the team’s aggressive strategy as “two-buck Ducks.”

I suggested the University of Oregon solve the Portland controversy they created when they wanted to change the iconic sign atop the White Stag Sugar Co. building by simply changing our team name from Ducks to White Stags.

And do you want to know why the Duck helmets were redesigned with the “O” in the center on the back? Maybe because I pointed out that chin straps were invading the trademark “O” on the sides, making it look like a “Q.” (You’re welcome.)

Local football fans are wondering whether an SEC lineman who became the best recruiter in the country can ever coach quarterbacks to their full potential. Watching home-grown Justin Herbert on Sundays makes us wonder how much of that talent went untapped under Head Coach Mario Cristobal.

We know we have three stellar freshman recruits waiting for their chance to succeed sixth-year senior quarterback Anthony Brown. And we know that one thing Brown hasn’t done much of this season is succeed. Brown’s penchant for running the ball won one game and probably lost one.

His legs have been a bigger threat than his arm. Defenses are learning to dare him to hit his speedy and talented receivers running deep patterns, because he can’t. Cristobal wants a run-first offense, not a run-only offense. (Short-route receivers gain most of their yards after their catches.) And now, Travis Dye has lost his (literal) running mate to injury.

It’s time for some innovative thinking that will confound opposing coaches. Play with two quarterbacks, veteran Brown and the best of the three young guns. Alternating quarterbacks is not a new idea, but I’m suggesting two quarterbacks take the field simultaneously — a continuous wildcat formation.

Hiking the ball directly to a runner — wildcat — reduces the defense’s reaction time by approximately 1.5 seconds with no handoff required. Which quarterback will receive the snap? Brown will get the ball in running situations. Ty Thompson or one of his sharpshooting cohorts when vertical passing is needed. Either can  handle short passes or option plays.

This new wrinkle will be on-brand for the Oregon Ducks. Chip Kelly introduced the fast break offense to football here, disrupting the sacrosanct rhythm between plays. Eliminating a second or two after the ball is hiked is more of the same. Only the offense will know which quarterback is receiving the hike.

This instant misdirection will make the Ducks look more like mythical White Stags. Wouldn’t the next Justin Herbert want to play for a team like that?


Don Kahle ( writes a column each Friday for The Register-Guard and archives past columns at

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