Eugene, Ore. -- After the University of Oregon football team lost their first game of the year, a rivalry matchup against Oregon State which was the Ducks first rivalry loss since 2016, the offensive line had a plan in motion before they even returned to Eugene that Friday night.
"I think the best thing that I saw was almost immediately after the game on the bus ride, the o-line texted each other and said 'hey let's just watch the film tomorrow, let's just get in here, watch the film, evaluate it and then so Sunday we can be ready to just focusing on Cal and getting ready for this game,'" said Oregon starting guard Alex Forsyth. "The only way to move on is to do it and take action about it."
The message out of the game from head coach Mario Cristobal was to use the loss as fuel and process the game in a healthy way that can lead to success down the road. Forsyth, as well as many other players, took that lesson to heart over the weekend and into the start of this game week, where the Ducks will face Cal.
"I think we've really moved on from that game. You can't let the game beat you twice."
But some of the questions about this Oregon team are still yet to be answered. The regression from the defense has sparked comments from Coach Cristobal on technique and fundamentals, and how a lack of true fall camp and preseason could have played a part in such a youth-laden team struggling with the speed of the college game.
As much success as the program has had in the last few years, much of the veteran leadership from the 2019 Rose Bowl and Pac-12 Championship team either headed to the NFL and graduated. Some other returning stars opted out of participating in the 2020 season, which led to something of a vacuum in continuity. That isn't necessarily a permanent problem, as players such as Jaylon Redd were key contributors last year and know what it takes to not only get a team to that level, but to stay there.
"It's really we're not that far off," Redd explained after Tuesday's practice. "The gap is not talent-wise, the more difference from what I see from last year to this year is a mindset thing. It's just a demeanor thing. Everyone's gotta wanna come on and dominate their opponent. Just every day. We work hard, practice the gameplan's perfect. Just gotta execute."
That demeanor and swagger, some might call it, is noticeably different when examining Oregon's 2019 defensive unit which was one of the best in the country. As much as the fall camp changed the approach to things like technique and fundamentals, it also altered the mental run up to the season. Which means that there's no time like the presence for the upperclassmen of Oregon to set the course right.
"It's more about us emphasizing the demeanor part of it," said Redd. "The way we look at our opponent is something we've got to emphasize. We didn't get as much time in fall camp to really install that in people's minds. So we gotta emphasize that so that everybody remember that we really gotta the ability to be the best. We just gotta push ahead."
Oregon will face California in Berkeley on Saturday, December 5th. The game will be at 4:00 p.m. PST and televised on ESPN.