Chip Kelly, Oregon Coaches Blew Two Key Decisions in Auburn Loss

It’s easy to be a “Monday Morning Quarterback” and question a decision after it doesn’t work, but I actually thought Oregon was making the wrong moves while the National Championship Game was going on. Sure, they were getting blown off the ball consistently by Auburn, but the Tigers were not overwhelmingly the better team. Auburn was clearly more powerful than Oregon, but I wouldn’t say they were much better. Honestly, I think you can point to two bad decisions towards the end of the game that cost Oregon a better chance at winning it.

The first bad decision by the Ducks came late in the third quarter when they had a 4th and goal at the one and they lined up in the shotgun. My initial reaction was to take the field goal to get five down instead of eight. They had a whole quarter left to go and easily could have come back to take the lead. While I would have taken the field goal, I didn’t think going for the touchdown was a horrible idea. The problem is from that distance, my favorite play is the quarterback sneak. If they ran the sneak, I would have agreed with the call, but instead they lined up from the shotgun and had their play stuffed. Had they taken the field goal, the game likely would have ended up in overtime.

The next bad decision is one we’ve talked about before on the site, and it has to do with strategy. When time is ticking down and it appears as if your opponent will have a field goal attempt to win the game, it makes more sense to let them score and allow yourself plenty of time to match them. It’s a strategy Lane Kiffin said he employs, and one with which we agree. As it turned out, Auburn was able to set up for a 19-yard field goal as time expired. Once Michael Dyer broke the 37-yard run to the 23, Oregon should have just let Auburn score so they could get the ball back with 1:30 left and the field to go.

By employing that strategy, Oregon could have taken its powerless feeling away and put matters back into their hands. There aren’t many feelings worse than feeling powerless at the end of a game, and that’s exactly what happened with the Ducks. Oregon’s coaches made some great calls during the game, but those two decisions hurt them.

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  • http://twitter.com/IntheOT Chad Margulius

    In theory I agree with you LB but when you have only allowed 19 points all game long and scored 19 you have to believe in your D. Furthermore, there is no guarantee there offense would score if given the chance, something they struggled with all game long. It was a defensive game so rely on that to stop them and sent it to OT.

    I 100% agree with your break down on them going for the TD on 4th and 1, it wasnt imperative at the time to score a TD in the game, because in order to win they would need another score anyways. So if you need to 2 scores one way or another you take the points when they are there.

    As for the entire game I put a huge play on Auburn biggest of the year. The game could have easily gone either way. But the biggest differnece was the SEC size on the line of scrimmaige that eventually wore down Oregon in the trenches.

    Oregon’s trick plays worked against far worse defenses and teams in the Pac 10 and there softer schedule. With an entire month to prepare Auburn was ready for it. They didnt allow them to operate in the middle of the field like Oregon does so well. The Tigers forced them to the outside all game long eliminating the big play. With the exception of that Thomas TD out of his endzone I dont think they had any other 40+ yard plays.

    The full month off completely benefited Auburn because they didnt have to get caught up in their week to week schedule where it wouldnt allow the same time to prepare for an offense as explosive as Oregon. There D was underrated going into the game, I saw it coming on strong down the stretch as they were huge against Bama in the 2nd half and pretty much shutting out Lattimore and SC in the SEC championship game.

    War Eagle. Auburn was the best team without a question this year.

  • http://larrybrownsports.com Larry Brown

    What i’m saying is that after the Dyer run had them at the 22 or 23, the chances were very strong that Auburn was going to gain a few more yards, run time off the clock, and have an easy 35 yard fg to win it. Chances were probably was 85% that that would have happened. Their only real chance was a blocked or missed fg.

    Now if they had let auburn score, they would have had about 1:30 left and a few timeouts needing a TD to tie. I think they probably had about a 33% chance to score a TD in that situation. To me it would have given them their best chance at OT.

  • Anonymous

    If Oregon had chosen to “let them score a td” whose to say Auburn doesn’t run the ball to the 1, and put a knee down and run out the clock for a last second FG anyway. And if Oregon had kicked the FG on 4th down, then Auburn very well scores a TD on the last drive. The Ducks were 12-0 BECAUSE of Chip Kelly and his propensity to go on 4th down. It did not cost Oregon the game- Auburn making plays won them the game. (and a fortuitous wrist tackle non call on the final drive)

  • http://twitter.com/wredmond238 Will Redmond

    you clearly have not watched mu

  • http://twitter.com/wredmond238 Will Redmond

    you clearly have not watched much Oregon football before. They always line up in shotgun and it got them over 300 yards rushing per game on the season. They only have 3 plays from under center in there playbook and they used 2 of them during the game which was a “fly sweep” for minus 5 and a “HB Dive” that got them a safety not to mention that the 3rd play is a “QB kneel”. I was upset when I saw them go under center because it makes them far more predictable. The call you are speaking of didn’t work, and to be honest Thomas should have pulled the ball and taken it himself. But it was not a “bad” call. Oregon had plenty of goal line touchdowns this year lining up in shotgun and lining under center would not have helped. They just got outplayed on all 4 of those goal line snaps, but it wasn’t a “scheme” issue.

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    the shotgun and had their play stuffed. Had they taken the field goal, the game likely would have ended up in overtime.

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    Oregon had plenty of goal line touchdowns this year lining up in shotgun and lining under center would not have helped. They just got outplayed on all 4 of those goal line snaps, but it wasn’t a “scheme” issue.

  • http://larrybrownsports.com Larry Brown

    If Auburn’s players were smart enough to fall at the one (which only a few players are smart enough to do), then that’s what kills this strategy. I know it’s a possibility, but I don’t think most players have the smarts and discipline to do it. Not everyone is a Brian Westbrook or Maurice Jones Drew.

  • http://larrybrownsports.com Larry Brown

    I’ve watch all of Oregon’s games this year and know how their offense operates. My question to you is this: can you name another opponent that overmatched them at the line of scrimmage the way Auburn did? That’s why they needed to change things up

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_E4GDACBBNWV4BAWELVJLDNF74U Robert

    Cal did. And Oregon won that game. I hate to say it, but Thomas’ read was a major misstep in this game and although it was one play, it could easily have tilted this game toward Oregon’s favor.

    Also of note is that even though there were some key decisions that Kelly struck out on (although you really can’t fault him for taking chances), the discrepancy in SEC coaching and Pac-10 coaching was obvious: Oregon’s two-star and three-star players mostly matched Auburn’s four-star and five-star players. It’s a shame that the SEC took advantage of TV timeouts and extended breathing sessions, because if this was any regular season game, without time to prepare, it would be pretty easy for Oregon to wax Auburn. They were that much better coached than Auburn.

    Anyway, you’ve got to give credit where credit is due, and the Pac-10 easily had better coaching than the SEC if you match talent and results with that talent. Hopefully the Pac-10 continues to pursue TV contracts so they can take their rightful place atop the college football world as a conference.