Nota bene: Oregon has played about 300 offensive snaps and about 240 defensive snaps outside of garbage time in its six games so far. Unless specifically noted, all figures in this article include both the opener against Georgia and the FCS game against Eastern Washington.

The foundation of Oregon’s offensive performance has been its rushing attack, which has so far graded out even better than the excellent 2021 numbers.

The three figures I track, using the same charting and grading system for all teams, are:

  • per-play success rate – sufficient yardage given the down & distance to stay ahead of the chains
  • adjusted yards per play – capping all gains at 40 yards
  • explosiveness – frequency of 15+ yard passes and 10+ yard rushes

In my experience over a decade of charting, the average for a Power-5 team is 50% efficiency, 5.0 adjusted YPC, and 15% explosiveness, while championship-caliber teams get 60%, 6.5, and 20%. By that reckoning, Oregon has exceeded a championship-level performance in the rushing offense so far:

The Ducks’ 2022 offensive numbers don’t change much regardless of which games are excluded. The numbers for the two outlier games against UGA and EWU of course have notable differences, as well as very different performances on turnovers, time of possession, and finishing drives, but they were close enough to the norm established by Oregon’s other four FBS games that those effects have been almost entirely diluted out of the sample.

In 2021, Oregon gained an adjusted 8.2 YPA in the passing game, with an explosive passing rate of 18.5%. Those were above average numbers but not championship ones (7.5 and 15% are average, 9.0 and 20% are championship, in my experience). However, the Ducks’ passing efficiency was barely above average at just 52% last year, and in my opinion that was the major limiting factor in their total offensive output. When breaking down my charts of failed passing plays, the two main factors both came down to the quarterback: inaccurate passing and completed passes that were unproductively short (pass protection grades were about the same as Oregon’s 2019 Rose bowl season, and receiver grades were up a couple points).

Both of those factors have seen significant improvement with #10 QB Nix in 2022 so far. On my tally sheet, both the QB accuracy grade and air yards per downfield target (whether completed or not) are up significantly compared to 2021. Yardage and explosiveness are both up above the championship threshold, but most significantly the passing efficiency rate has improved by about eleven percentage points, which is simply astonishing:

Oregon 2022 midseason passing offense

Cat.ALLw/o EWUw/o UGAw/o Both
Cat.ALLw/o EWUw/o UGAw/o Both

Oregon returned five of the six offensive linemen in the primary rotation from 2021, who each graded out very well last year. My charting system for the o-line is pretty simple, I simply keep track of any play in which a lineman missed an assignment, was defeated on his block for physical or technique reasons, or caused a teammate to fail his blocking assignment; I then add those up and divide by the total number of reps they were in for and call that catch-all the “error rate”. In my experience, an error rate below 7% is elite, 8-10% is good, 11-14% is underperformance, and anything above 15% creates significant structural vulnerabilities. Here’s how I graded the seven linemen who’ve gotten over 75 snaps:

Oregon 2022 midseason offensive line grades

NameALL errorRush errorPass error
NameALL errorRush errorPass error
#56 LT Bass4.1%5.7%2.4%
#55 LG Harper10.7%12.8%7.5%
#78 C Forsyth4.1%4.3%4.0%
#53 OG Walk3.7%7.1%1.2%
#71 RT Aumavae-Laulu8.2%12.9%4.0%
#58 RG Powers-Johnson9.5%10.6%7.9%
#74 RG S. Jones15.9%18.5%15.6%

Bass, Forsyth, and Aumavae-Laulu have played every meaningful snap. Jones, one of the returning starters from last year, played the first two games but we haven’t seen him since. Harper came in for Walk at left guard during the second half of the opener and replaced him entirely in week 2 while Walk was nursing a minor health issue. Also during week 2, Powers-Johnson started rotating with Jones at right guard. From week 3 onward, Walk has been rotating both at left guard with Harper and right guard with Powers-Johnson. #70 LT Jaramillo played half of a long possession in week 3 during meaningful play, and #76 LT Conerly has come in as the sixth lineman for several jumbo I-formation sets. I don’t have enough data yet on those two or the backups who’ve played during garbage time for a useful evaluation.

Harper didn’t play last year, and I don’t know what’s going on with Jones. Everybody else has played substantially better than they did last year. Bass, Forsyth, and Walk have grown to an elite level, though of those three Walk’s run blocking still has a little room for improvement. Aumavae-Laulu has taken a big jump in pass-blocking effectiveness to an elite level, though he’s grading out at the same range as the new kids in run blocking. Harper and Powers-Johnson are playing well considering how new they are to the starting rotation, and I expect them both to improve a couple points by the end of the season given their trajectories to date. This is by far the best offensive line in the conference.

Evaluating skill players in blocking is a lot trickier than o-linemen. For one thing, broadcast camera angles don’t consistently show them on every play, and for another it’s tough to tell serious engagement if they’re away from the play, because both blockers and defenders often reserve their energy and are just looking out in case the play reverses. For those reasons I only hand out grades on what I call “key blocks”, that is, when winning the block is essential to the play succeeding or failing. Here’s how I’ve graded Oregon’s skill players so far when I’ve got enough such reps to evaluate:

Oregon 2022 midseason skill player blocking

NameKey block grade (min. 10)
NameKey block grade (min. 10)
#0 RB Irving60.0%
#11 WR Franklin52.4%
#23 WR Cota59.1%
#3 TE Ferguson84.0%
#8 TE Matavao62.1%
#84 TE McCormick69.6%
#88 TE Herbert75.0%

I only have ten meaningful pass protection blocks for Irving (the line isn’t letting him do much) and even fewer for Whittington or the other backs, so there’s not very good data for the backs in blitz pickup yet. The tight ends are blocking well, as expected, with Matavao getting the toughest assignments but still performing above 60% which is the threshold I look for. The WR blocking grades could use some improvement, they had a couple hit-and-miss games early in the season in their screen blocks but have looked much better the last two games.

Oregon has employed some fairly diverse formations, everything from the I-formation to two-back Pro sets to empty sets. At this point I only have enough data on their two main personnel groups to analyze, however, which is 11- and 12-personnel (that is, one back plus one or two TEs).

The run:pass ratios out of both are pretty even and statistical regression doesn’t show any significant correlations that give away the playcall in terms of formation vs field position, particular players, score, or quarter. As is typical, they throw a little more out of 11-pers (44% run, 56% pass) and run a little more out of 12-pers (59% run, 41% pass), but in my experience defenses don’t make playcall guesses until it hits about 65% one way or the other, which Oregon has avoided. The Ducks’ success rate in all four of these aspects – run vs pass, 11- vs 12-pers – is above 60%, with the best being runs out of 11-pers at 72.5%.

I break down & distance into eight main situations: 1st & 10, 2nd / 3rd & short/medium/long (1-3, 4-6, and 7+ yards to go, respectively), and 4th down. I then split those into run and pass frequency and effectiveness.

In several situational categories I don’t have enough data to evaluate, including 2nd & short passing and most 3rd down situations. That’s because the Ducks have been so efficient on 1st down (over 70% both rushing and passing) and short-yardage rushing (85% conversions with 3 yards or fewer to go) that I just don’t have much data on how they do in other situations. I also don’t have enough data to say if Oregon’s perfect record on 4th downs during meaningful play, six for six, is sustainable.

The one area with adequate data that stands out as something that could be improved is 3rd & long – they throw the ball 78% of the time in that situation and so are somewhat predictable to defenses, but succeed on only 44.5% of such passes. That’s the only intersection of offensive categories in which the Ducks are underwater, though in my experience that’s still a better number on 3rd & long than most offenses.

Oregon’s defensive performance has improved compared to 2021 in all six figures I track, largely a product of the scheme change and getting healthier at inside linebacker. How much they’ve improved is contingent on one major factor: whether the data from the opener against Georgia is included or excluded.

There are several theories about why the Ducks were so thoroughly crushed by the Bulldogs’ offense in that game, ranging from a talent imbalance, the opponent’s familiarity with Oregon’s new defensive scheme, being psychologically unprepared for such a big game as the opener, and execution problems that needed live game reps to be identified for work in practice. In my opinion, none of those possible explanations obtain with the other 11 teams on Oregon’s schedule, and so I think it’s reasonable to look at how the stats change when the opener is removed from the dataset:

Oregon 2022 midseason rushing defense

Cat.ALLw/o EWUw/o UGAw/o Both
Cat.ALLw/o EWUw/o UGAw/o Both

Oregon 2022 midseason passing defense

Cat.ALLw/o EWUw/o UGAw/o Both
Cat.ALLw/o EWUw/o UGAw/o Both

There’s about a six percentage point improvement in defensive success rate against both the run and the pass from excluding the Georgia data, as it’s by far the biggest outlier on either side of the ball. Rush defense yards per carry and explosiveness are both championship caliber across all six games, and pass defense yards per attempt and explosiveness improve from above-average to excellent when the Georgia data is removed.

The five primary defensive linemen who have been rotating through Oregon’s 3-down front all grade out excellently, and I think this is the best and deepest collection in the Pac-12. The OLBs have a more mixed record – they had terrible grades at both outside run containment and defending perimeter throws in the opener, but have rebounded very well in the following five games. However, the Ducks are really only playing two guys at the position, and neither have been able to rush the passer at an elite level.

Oregon 2022 midseason DL & OLB grades

NameGrade (min. 20)
NameGrade (min. 20)
#3 DL Dorlus83.3%
#91 DL Riley94.4%
#98 DL Rogers96.3%
#55 DL Taimani86.4%
#95 DL Ware-Hudson90.9%
#18 OLB Funa70.8%
#2 OLB Johnson80.0%

Inside linebacker grades are looking much better and deeper than in 2021. The data is more limited on #10 ILB Flowe and #21 ILB Brown than the others, the former having missed some time and the latter playing later in the rotation. #1 ILB Sewell still has work to do in over-running plays, which is the primary factor keeping his grade below 60%, and #33 ILB Bassa has very hot-and-cold area grades with speed letting him make certain plays no one else could but size limitations getting him bounced on others. #42 ILB LaDuke is proving to be a very reliable option at everything though no one area grades out as elite for him.

Oregon 2022 midseason ILB grades

NameGrade (min. 10)
NameGrade (min. 10)
#33 ILB Bassa58.1%
#21 ILB Brown80.0%
#10 ILB Flowe61.1%
#42 ILB LaDuke68.4%
#1 ILB Sewell57.5%

In the secondary, #0 CB Gonzalez and #4 DB B. Williams are performing at excellent levels, and #7 DB Stephens has improved a lot since last year. I’m still seeing tackling problems out of dime safety #13 DB Addison, and footspeed issues in coverage from nickel #19 DB Hill. The most criticism comes in for #11 CB Bridges, and some of it is deserved as he’s giving up at least one big play every game. But he continues to be a reliable tackler and his numbers were always going to take a hit playing opposite Gonzalez since quarterbacks are more likely to throw against him. The recent performances by #6 CB Florence and #8 CB Manning were intriguing and I suspect the time is coming when one of them will become the new starter, but I don’t have enough good data yet for a statistical evaluation.

Oregon 2022 midseason secondary grades

NameGrade (min. 10)
NameGrade (min. 10)
#11 CB Bridges48.4%
#0 CB Gonzalez75.0%
#13 DB Addison50.0%
#19 DB Hill54.6%
#7 DB Stephens66.7%
#4 DB B. Williams77.1%

Formationally, Oregon’s defense is pretty straightforward: they match offensive blocking personnel by swapping in an extra OLB at the expense of the nickel when the opponent brings in extra tight ends, and they play dime with 2-down linemen in obvious passing situations. There’s nothing statistically notable about formation-based performance.

The most salient down & distance stat for Oregon’s defense is that they are defending 1st-down runs at 75% effectiveness, which severely limits opposing offenses’ options. Teams are throwing on 1st down at about a 2:1 ratio, and since the Ducks defend 1st-down passing at a 60% effectiveness and thus racking up a lot of incompletions, that means 78% of the 2nd downs Oregon defends are 2nd & long situations. Those 2nd & longs become another 2:1 passing ratio, and again the Ducks defend those at about 60%. That means more than half of all 3rd downs Oregon defends are 3rd & longs. All of these are excellent defensive situational numbers to face, in my experience.

While the Ducks are perfect against 3rd & long rushing, they are experiencing some breakdowns against 3rd & long passing, which is the only real area for defensive improvement. Oregon succeeds on about 58% of those, which is better than average (55%, in my experience) by a bit but far from the elite threshold at 65%.

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