It’s tough to evaluate whether or not a new hire could be a good fit for any team right away. Teams display different styles of defense and offense, in addition to most coaches bringing varying philosophies to the field. The Oregon Ducks saw the means of their success result in their previous Offensive Coordinator go to another program. Oregon made quick work of finding their next Offensive Coordinator by hiring Joe Moorhead, previous head coach at Mississippi State, but is he the right guy for the job?
Giving Joe a chance
While leading the Bulldogs for two seasons, Moorhead finished with a 14-12 record before getting fired. The Bulldogs just narrowly were bowl eligible in 2019 with six wins. They failed to win in two bowl appearances playing in the Outback and Music City bowls.
It doesn’t seem like he’d bring a whole lot to the table right? Well, the Ducks are hoping he can find some more success in an “easier” PAC-12. Oregon might take a step back regardless next season, purely due to not having Justin Herbert. I’m not saying that Tyler Shough is bad, but he’s no Herbert. Shough played in four games, accumulating three touchdowns and no picks on 12-15 passing. Oregon redshirted him in 2019, so he’s going to have plenty of time to develop for them.
One thing Moorhead has to be excited about is using the returning talent the Ducks possess. That includes guys like Johnny Johnson, Jaylon Redd, and Mycah Pittman. Johnson had another star-worthy season for the Ducks while he and Redd had seven touchdowns each. Oregon may not need to rely as much on the passing game either, as they have a tandem of juniors to carry the rock including CJ Verdell and Travis Dye.
Moorhead worked with another stud quarterback in 2018 when Nick Fitzgerald wrapped up his college career. The Bulldogs finished that year 8-5 and were ranked much of the season. Fitzgerald put up career-best numbers that season, but once he was gone, Miss. State struggled again. Not the greatest foreshadowing in terms of trying to work with a young, raw quarterback in Shough for the Ducks.
Will he find success?
Looking back at the Rose Bowl, Oregon’s offense sputtered early. A lot of fans claimed good riddance to then-OC Marcus Arroyo for such a lackluster performance. Some claimed it was because his future wasn’t in doubt, as Arroyo had been named the new head coach for UNLV. Oregon let him finish out on one of the biggest stages, and luckily he managed to deliver late.
Now that a successful Arroyo is gone, the Ducks are turning to a coach who’s had his struggles. Moorhead has found success himself at times in his coaching career but was also fired from Miss. State. Frankly, I’m going to wait and see how this plays out, even though Oregon has quality talent returning this year. Mario Cristobal has made a name for himself quickly in Eugene, helping get the Ducks back among the best. So, if Cristobal believes Moorhead is the man to help Oregon take that next step, who am I to disagree? I know one thing for sure, I’ll keep my expectations a little lower and be pleasantly surprised if it all works out.