Devising a game plan on offense is a collaborative effort for Oregon.
The final call is made by offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo with consultation from coach Mario Cristobal. During the week leading up to a game, Oregon’s assistants are involved in the schemes along with analysts and graduate assistants.
“There are a lot of professionals in the building,” Arroyo said. “One thing we do well and see eye to eye on is communication and adjustments. I think that is only going to improve.”
The starting quarterback is also given an opportunity for input.
“They ask me questions from time to time, but I leave it up to them to make the final decisions,” Justin Herbert said. “They are far better than that than me, so I let them do it and I just listen.”
When Cristobal and Arroyo were co-coordinators last year, head coach Willie Taggart was the play-caller. When Cristobal was promoted, he retained Arroyo to design the offense.
“Marcus is a tremendous professional,” Cristobal said. “Often times overlooked is the job he did last year, especially in the passing aspect of Justin Herbert’s development and our offense in general. There were a lot of concepts and ideas brought to the table that really showed up on third down and in the red zone when we started playing really good football before Justin was injured. Last year, I was the run-game coordinator and had a major role in determining what we do in the run game and had some play-calling opportunities as the run-game coordinator.”
Arroyo said little has changed this season in his working relationship with Cristobal.
“Our communication, our design, our game planning, the way we communicate, that is one of the reasons why I think we are both together still is the ability to communicate,” he said. “Obviously, as head coach, he has his ear in about three different earphones. Special teams, offense, defense and everything else going on in the game. He always has suggestions and we are locked in and communicating on runs and passes and screens and situations.”
After punting on its first two possessions during Saturday’s 58-24 win over Bowling Green, Oregon scored a touchdown on its final five drives of the first half. Seven of 15 drives reached the end zone as the Ducks totaled 504 yards of offense.
“Marcus called the game and I felt his calls were really good,” Cristobal said. “We didn’t convert on some things and didn’t execute on others, but overall I thought from a game-plan standpoint, the things we felt were going to be open or where we were going to have an advantage in the run game were there and we called them. I got involved in calling maybe a handful of runs. I always throw in some input, but I didn’t feel the need to override anything. I really trust him with the plan and he did a good job.”
Trailing 10-0 late in the first quarter, Oregon faced fourth-and-14 at the Bowling Green 33-yard line. Quarterback Justin Herbert found Jaylon Redd in the end zone for a touchdown.
“That was all part of the game plan for what their coverage was,” Arroyo said. “It developed into the right scheme against the right look and he played it perfect.”
Cristobal decided early that he would not send out backup kicker Zach Emerson for a 50-yard field-goal attempt or ask punter Blake Maimone to angle the ball out of bounds to avoid a touchback.
“Before third down, I let (Arroyo) know that was two-down territory,” he said. “A couple things. There was a strong wind and Adam Stack had been hurt. Even more so, we felt that we were calling good plays, getting guys open and just not connecting. They were giving us exactly what we thought they would give us. The coverage dictated what we ran with Jaylon when he splits the seam and tries to get behind the linebacker. We had the mismatch and felt like we’d get it again on fourth down, so it was almost irrelevant the down and distance. You want to take a shot at that play because of what we were getting, so we did and it worked out well.”
Redd dropped a pass on the first drive of the game.
“We run that play about four or five times every day,” Herbert said. “Jaylon is a guy that has run it real well in the past few months. A guy that I trust and fortunately he got in an open spot and somehow the ball went in there. I appreciate the trust coach Cristobal has in us and we were able to execute.”