Nota bene: Oregon has played about 620 offensive and 525 defensive snaps in FBS games outside of garbage time in 2022. Unless specifically noted, all figures in this article include the opener against Georgia and exclude the FCS game against Eastern Washington. Longtime readers will be familiar with the terminology from my charting system in this article; for specific definitions, typical performance ranges for Power-5 teams, and comparisons to Oregon’s 2019 and 2021 seasons, see the midseason statistical review.


Oregon had a championship caliber offense in all figures that I track in 2022, led by an incredibly efficient rushing offense. Their numbers fell off a couple points in the second half of the season compared to the first as they faced stiffer competition and an injury to #10 QB Nix, but remained one of the best offenses in the country. Offensive performance on a per-play basis against Georgia in the opener was similar enough to the rest of the season that excluding that game has a negligible impact on any of the numbers.

Oregon 2022 final offensive performance

Cat.ALL
Cat.ALL
Rush Wins223
Rush Fails88
Rush Win Rate71.7%
YPC5.67
10+18.0%
Pass Wins186
Pass Fails123
Pass Win Rate60.2%
YPA9.22
15+22.3%

The Ducks’ offense was almost perfectly run-pass balanced, with a nearly equal number of runs as passes across all snaps, including 1st & 10 and 2nd & mediums. With an average 1st down success rate of about 70%, Oregon generally avoided long yardage situations and got to use the entire playbook on most snaps. They skewed towards rushing in short-yardage situations at about 65% run, with over an 85% success rate. The Ducks were much more comfortable and successful running the ball in 2nd & long than most teams I’ve studied over the years with about a 45% rush rate and a 65% success rate.

The only situation that they switched heavily to passing was 3rd & long, which is typical for most teams, and their success rate was a middling 46% on such plays, the only area in which they were underwater. There’s no consistent cause for failures on those downs on my tally sheet, there’s a typical mix of drops, great defensive plays (in particular sniffed-out screens), a few bad throws in the final two games with Nix’s injury, and some catches that are just short of the sticks.

Oregon went for 4th down conversions at a higher rate than most teams in 2022, and up until the final game were operating at an incredible 73% success rate. I think this affected 3rd down playcalling and partly explains the 3rd & long success rates – it was clear that several such plays were setting up 4th & short conversions. However, in the Ducks’ final game they failed on every 4th down attempt, dragging the total 4th down rate to 58%.

Formationally, Oregon stuck to shotgun 11-personnel on about two-thirds of snaps, with shotgun 12-personnel making up another quarter and some I-formation and under-center QB sneaks making up the rest. Excluding that last category as obvious runs and empty sets (about 17% of plays) as obvious passes, Oregon didn’t give away the playcall when they were in their normal offense, remaining run-pass balanced regardless. With an offset back and one tight end they passed 54% of the time, and two tight ends they passed 41% of the time, a modest skew but far from a giveaway that defenses could key on (in my experience that doesn’t kick in until about 65% one way or the other).

The Ducks enjoyed excellent offensive line play throughout the season despite dealing with some injuries and rotation at the interior positions.

Oregon 2022 final offensive line grades

NameALL errorRush errorPass error
NameALL errorRush errorPass error
#56 LT Bass4.7%6.5%3.2%
#55 LG Harper11.2%15.3%7.5%
#78 C Forsyth3.8%4.5%2.6%
#53 OG Walk4.9%8.2%1.8%
#71 RT Aumavae-Laulu8.2%11.3%5.1%
#58 RG Powers-Johnson7.0%7.8%5.1%
#74 RG S. Jones15.7%21.4%12.5%

Bass and Aumavae-Laulu played virtually every snap at the tackle positions and showed superb pass protection, though the former was better than the latter at run-blocking. Forsyth also had a great season, though he missed some time with an injury. Walk played all three interior positions at times, rotating between left and right guard most of the season and playing center when Forsyth was out, and his grades at all three spots are excellent. The most improved player by the end of the season was Powers-Johnson as a true sophomore, who really rounded out into one of the best guards in the Pac-12 in the second half of the season until his injury late in the year.

Jones played at both the beginning and end of the year, missing most of the season with an injury. His grades are the poorest on my tally sheet but to be fair those were the two best defenses they faced and he was put in a tough spot coming back from missing so much time. Harper played his first year as a starter and of that group had the lowest grades (with several frustrating procedural penalties as well), though overall he graded out as an average Pac-12 lineman which is ahead of schedule for his youth, and he’s set up to improve to the excellent grades Oregon usually gets out of its line in the future.

Every one of the dozen skill players that Oregon primarily used performed excellently on their carries and pass targets. The following chart shows the rate at which the play succeeded (that is, gained enough yards to stay ahead of the chains given the down & distance) on each player’s touches or targets:

Oregon 2022 final skill player grades

NamePlay success rate on targets/touches
NamePlay success rate on targets/touches
#0 RB Irving68.8%
#22 RB Whittington73.1%
#20 RB James55.6%
#5 RB Dollars66.7%
#3 TE Ferguson60.6%
#8 TE Matavao76.9%
#84 TE McCormick72.7%
#88 TE Herbert66.7%
#11 WR Franklin67.8%
#1 WR Hutson61.4%
#23 WR Cota71.8%
#2 WR Thornton75.0%

With the exception of three players, all of them graded out at over 65% when the ball went to them. James was primarily used as a short-yardage back in obvious run situations in the I-formation and those are far more about the blocking so his relatively modest rate (though still majority successful) I don’t think reflects on him much as a true freshman. The primary thing keeping Ferguson and Hutson off of the 65% mark were a few jags of frustrating drops rather than poor route-running or failure to get yards after catch.

The biggest area of concern for the skill players is perimeter blocking, which was shaky at the beginning of the year and descended into very poor success rates in the second half of the season, which was particularly problematic given the increased use of screen passes with Nix’s injury. While they’re all above 50% on the season, over the final three games only Thornton graded out above 50% in outside blocking success rate with every other receiver and tight end underwater in that stretch.


Overall, Oregon fielded a slightly above average defense for a Power-5 team in 2022:

Oregon 2022 final defensive performance

Cat.ALL
Cat.ALL
Rush Wins113
Rush Fails104
Rush Win Rate52.1%
YPC4.82
10+13.4%
Pass Wins169
Pass Fails141
Pass Win Rate54.5%
YPA7.23
15+12.6%

None of these figures are standouts but they are each slightly better than average, in my experience, and better than all but two Pac-12 teams I’ve charted over the season (Utah and Oregon State, and even then Oregon’s per-play rush defense success rate is better).

The stats make very clear that defensive breakdowns were responsible for Oregon’s three regular season losses, because while excluding those games’ data from the offensive numbers don’t move the needle, doing so reveals huge discrepancies for the defense. The rush and pass defense each had two games in which they performed terribly; for the former it was Georgia and Oregon State, for the latter it was Georgia and Washington. Here’s what the defensive splits look like with the nine good FBS games (the eight wins plus rush defense against UW and pass defense against OSU) vs the two apiece bad FBS games (OSU rush defense, UW pass defense, Georgia for both):

Oregon 2022 final defensive win/loss splits

Cat.Good GamesBad GamesDifference
Cat.Good GamesBad GamesDifference
Rush Wins9815
Rush Fails6836
Rush Win Rate59.0%29.4%-29.6%
YPC4.226.75-2.53
10+9.6%25.5%-15.9%
Pass Wins14920
Pass Fails9843
Pass Win Rate60.3%31.80%-28.5%
YPA6.0511.12-5.07
15+8.5%28.60%-20.1%

These differences are astonishing. Against nine FBS opponents, Oregon operated a championship-caliber defense across the board, albeit just barely meeting that threshold. But their performances against Georgia’s entire offense, UW’s passing offense, and OSU’s rushing offense, the defense played at a level in line with Power-5 vs FCS matchups. For virtually every team I’ve ever studied in more than a decade of full-season charting, the differences in success rates between wins and losses is something like 6-10%; with Oregon it’s close to 30%, and I can’t overstate either how vast or how unusual that is.

The breakdown for Oregon’s situational defenses is mostly typical for a Power-5 team. They won over half the time on 1st downs, and when they did so they performed pretty well the rest of the series, with 60% pass defense success rates on 2nd & medium or long. They then have about a 55% success rate against the pass on 3rd & medium or long, which is better than average in a vacuum, but worse than their 2nd down rates would predict (they should be closer to 60% wins on 3rd & medium and 65% wins on 3rd & long with those numbers).

Short-yardage defense is quite an anomaly, though possibly an illuminating one. They’re at about 48% success against the run and 50% against the pass on 3rd & short, which are both pretty good. However, on 2nd & short the defensive efficiency was terrible against both the run and the pass – 28% and 35%, respectively. Those numbers are below Power-5 averages for those situations and far below what their 1st and 3rd down defenses would have predicted. What’s interesting is that Oregon only surrendered an average of 4.6 yards per play on 2nd & short – enough to consistently convert a 1st down, but not much more. That probably reflects a defensive choice to back out the safeties and guard against offenses taking deep shots on 2nd & short which a lot of offensive coordinators like to do, and that strategy worked – they only gave up one deep pass on 2nd & short all year (a post route to one of Georgia’s TEs).

If that does constitute a choice to allow a conversion and then start over with pretty even 1st down defense it would fit with a philosophy of forcing the offense to march the field. Oregon’s defense performed at a 56% rate in the redzone, better than how they did outside the redzone in 2022 and much better than their 2021 redzone performance (which was actually worse than their non-redzone defense that year). Using the above “good game / bad game” distinction, Oregon’s redzone defensive success rates are 69% in the former and 42% in the latter … that indicates a high degree of confidence in stopping an offense once they crossed the 20 which likely was part of gameplanning throughout the season, and it worked very well in the wins and poorly (though still better than non-redzone defense) in the losses.

What the down & distance and field position analyses reveal is a fairly smart approach to game management with no obvious particular weaknesses, just a generalized underperformance of the talent level. In other words, the Ducks need to raise the baseline level of performance in all situations rather than fix one thing, and avoid games in which one aspect of the defense takes the week off.

Individual player grades didn’t change much on my tally sheet with six more games’ of data, and I don’t have much more in the way of commentary on them.

Oregon 2022 final defender grades

NameGrade (min. 40)
NameGrade (min. 40)
#3 DL Dorlus85.4%
#91 DL Riley88.5%
#98 DL Rogers85.1%
#55 DL Taimani90.0%
#95 DL Ware-Hudson96.4%
#18 OLB Funa70.9%
#2 OLB Johnson82.6%
#33 ILB Bassa50.0%
#1 ILB Sewell68.8%
#10 ILB Flowe58.1%
#42 ILB LaDuke70.0%
#21 ILB Brown86.7%
#0 CB Gonzalez77.8%
#11 CB Bridges51.9%
#8 CB Manning58.3%
#4 DB B. Williams75.0%
#7 DB Stephens61.3%
#19 DB Hill62.5%
#13 DB Addison68.8%

Oregon had one very good cornerback in Gonzalez and some pretty good safety play in terms of tackling and preventing explosives but graded out fairly poorly in coverage otherwise. The defensive line played very well through almost the entirety of the season, and the OLBs improved significantly in setting the edge in run defense, but they never generated a pass rush and the ILBs having to rely on an undersized starter with a very modest tackling grade in Bassa hurt them up the middle.



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