SAN ANTONIO, Texas Continuing their tradition of promoting from within, the Oregon Ducks have tabbed Matt Lubick as their new offensive coordinator.
At this point, who would bet against Lubick being successful with one of college footballs best offenses?
Hes a smart guy whos done a very good job with the UO receivers, coaching the likes of Josh Huff, Keanon Lowe, Dwayne Stanford, Devon Allen, Byron Marshall, Bralon Addison and Darren Carrington.
Hes a child of football, the son of former Colorado State coach Sonny Lubick.
Hes paid his dues, having played defensive back at Western Montana College, graduated from Colorado State in exercise and sports science, broken into coaching with the Rams under his father, and also coached at Cal State-Northridge, San Jose State, Oregon State, Arizona State and Duke.
Promoting a known commodity on staff also accomplishes a goal of not creating a sideshow, a subject coach Mark Helfrich addressed Friday, one day before the Alamo Bowl game with TCU. Helfrich said Lubick deserved the job outright.
A job audition against Gary Patterson is not your best one to be judged against, Helfrich said, referring to the TCU coach, somewhat jokingly. So, we want to try to keep that off the table. Lubes done a great job, as well as the rest of our offensive staff, trying to plan an attack against TCU.
I think Matt is an outstanding football coach. Hes extremely detail-oriented. Hes a very good recruiter. The players really take to him. (Hes) just tireless. Hes been on both sides of the ball. He can approach it from the secondary perspective, a total defensive perspective, as well as quarterback or receiver or running back or front.
I think just as a group our continuity as an offensive staff is a big strength. He was kind of the outsider that came in and added a bunch to it, at the same time meshed into a great group.
It remains to be determined how the Ducks will fill their vacant offensive coaching spot. Scott Frost left as offensive coordinator to be coach at Central Florida. Offensive line coach Steve Greatwood serves as running game coordinator. Nate Costa, a graduate assistant and former player, has been coaching quarterbacks in bowl practices.
Who will coach quarterbacks going forward?
Hes very versatile, Helfrich said, of Lubick. The people were talking to on the outside are very versatile. After the game, well address that.
The Ducks have some uncertain times ahead at QB, after the greatness of Marcus Mariota and one-year wonder Vernon Adams. Dakota Prukop, a transfer from Montana State, will compete to be the starter, pushed by holdovers Jeff Lockie and (probably) Morgan Mahalak and Travis Jonsen and some freshmen.
Lubick, 43, addressed his changing role this week, before it became permanent.
My mindset is, ever since Ive been employed here, I wake up every day and try to do the best job I can do to help Oregon football win, he says. I did that when Scott was here and am doing it now that hes left.
Every time you have a coach leave, you have to have somebody step up. A lot of coaches have stepped up, and our players have stepped up. Ive been very proud with the guys beside me, their leadership, how the team has bought into it, how were preparing for this football game.
As passing game coordinator, he has been involved in game-planning before. As far as play-calling, Lubick added:
It doesnt differ a lot. When you prepare, you study your opponent, you figure out different things you do well, how you can attack your opponent. Whether its Stanford or TCU, both are a little bit different in their defensive schemes. But once the game starts, your plans in place. Youve already went through all the various situations. Its just a matter of getting it out, making adjustments. When the game starts on Saturday night, it comes down to one play at a time. ... It really comes down to preparation.
Lubicks comments this week werent unlike comments he made in early December, after Frost left and Lubick took over the coordinating duties.
I cant emphasize enough, Im just happy to be here, he said then. Im in a great place with a great bunch of people. I look forward to going to work every day.
Im in a great system, where its not that hard. The players kind of know what youre thinking, and its not a big difference from when Coach Frost was here. Coach Frost did a great job, but were still running the same plays.
I dont think people realize that the game is called before the game and its a team effort. We all put ideas together about how were going to attack the opponent what we do best and go to the game and its a matter of getting it out. ... At the end of the day, (Frost) was the final guy who organized all the ideas.
Lubick follows in the footsteps of some pretty good coordinators Frost, Helfrich and Chip Kelly of late.
As Kelly, Helfrich and Frost knew, the Ducks have a lot of tools in the toolbox, and this year is no exception a scrambling and pinpoint deep-throwing QB in Adams, a bruising and athletic running back in Royce Freeman, an array of receivers led by Addison and Carrington and many other skill players, and a veteran presence on the offensive line, led by Tyler Johnstone.
The Ducks are averaging 43.2 points and 548.2 yards, again leading the Pac-12.
Helfrich had a funny line when talking about making the Lubick hire permanent, rather than leaving the scenario as an audition in the Alamo Bowl.
I didnt want every third-and-inches having a split (TV) screen on Gary Patterson and Matt Lubick, and (commentators) going, This is his job on the line, Helfrich said. Its not that. Its our players against their players.
On the other side of the ball, Helfrich seemingly has another issue: The Ducks are ranked 11th in the Pac-12 in scoring defense and total defense, rising to 11th only after pushing Oregon State to No. 12 with a 52-42 Civil War win. Helfrich was asked about whether Don Pellum would be the defensive coordinator moving forward. He didnt say yes.
Everybody has to get better, Helfrich says. We all have to improve, every single one of us. ... Do we need to play better on defense? Absolutely.
But Friday was more about Lubick, who seemed genuinely grateful, saying in early December:
I learned this from my parents: Be thankful for what you have and do the best you can. Then things happen.