[Ed Dickson, by the way, was voted NATIONAL offensive player of the week for his 11 receptions and three TD's. His 11 receptions ties a Duck record for receptions by a tight end.
TRIVIA QUESTION: Who was the previous Duck tight end holding that record, and against what team?
(Hint: The name of the player was in the papers. But what was the game? )
Next up is Washington State at Autzen. Scheduled at 6:15 pm, it will be televised by the Oregon Sports Network? What does that mean? I'm guessing it means the fascist empire controlled by Darth Comcast will be showing it. More as I hear it.
Good news though: I just saw the Oct. 10th game at UCLA will be televised on ABC.] --kb
“Was the crowd a factor?,” Tedford mused. “Absolutely. It always is here. This is the toughest place to play in our conference for sure, one of the toughest in the nation.”
UO defense knows Best
By Adam Jude
Appeared in print: Sunday, Sep 27, 2009
The beginning could not have been any worse for the Oregon defense.
A fumble by Walter Thurmond III on the game’s opening kickoff not only gave California great field position, but Thurmond, the Ducks’ defensive leader, was lost for the remainder of the game — and probably much longer — with a knee injury.
“That was a big ‘uh-oh’ moment,” UO defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti said. [Or as the Oregonian quoted it,]
"Absolutely," Aliotti said. "Abso-friggin-lutely. It was a big uh-oh moment."
[And that's our Mad Duck Secret Word of the week. Write the word "Abso-friggin-lutely" onto a postcard and send it to Mad Duck. We'll enter it in our drawing for a chance to win a turkey buffet for two at Spirit Mountain Casino on Thanksgiving Day.]
Yet the response by Oregon in its 42-3 victory over the sixth-ranked Bears — so shocking to the rest of college football — apparently wasn’t so unexpected by the Ducks.
The UO defensive line, considered perhaps the team’s weakest link entering fall camp, “manhandled” the Cal offensive line and shut down Jahvid Best, holding the Heisman candidate to 55 yards rushing.
“Our defense knew we were going to do this,” defensive tackle Brandon Bair said. “Everybody kept asking, ‘What are you going to do about Best? What are you going to do about Best?’ I said, ‘If he can’t get past the line of scrimmage, we’ve got nothing to worry about.’ ["And once I said that, people would just stare at me for a minute and then say, 'What are you going to do about Best? What are you going to do about Best?' "]
“That’s just our mentality. We’re just going to come in and hit him with all we got, because we know we have the talent and the speed and the ability to stop anybody.”
[It was amazing to watch them do it play after play. While the big boys like Bair clogged the middle, Oregon's D-linemen on the edges would penetrate Cal's O-line and then collapse into the middle on Best or whoever else was struggling to punch through.]
It was the fewest points Oregon has allowed since shutting out Stanford, 35-0, at Autzen Stadium in 2003.
“The kids were fantastic,” Aliotti said. “My staff did a great job all week; we practiced hard, we run hard, we have great chemistry, we have great attitude. My momma said there’d be days like this, but this is a special one.” [Momma said, Momma said.]
Cal had just 207 yards of offense, well below its season average of 488.7. The Ducks had five sacks — two each by Kenny Rowe and Terrell Turner — and 11 tackles for a loss, putting steady pressure on Cal quarterback Kevin Riley. Aliotti said the Ducks “zone-blitzed a bunch” and held the Beaverton native to 12-of-31 passing for 123 yards.
“We had one series that was so much fun (when) each defensive lineman had a shot at the quarterback,” [6' 7"] Bair said. “It was so much fun. It was three plays and we’re out, and (Riley) was down every time. It was awesome.” [You know, I am not going to lose any sleep worrying about the possibility of Brandon Bair ever getting punched in the face. He's a giant of a boy who really enjoys making other people sad.
That was just half of the above story. Click the R-G's link to read the rest if you'd like. But I just thought you might want to read about this green tornado from the victims' point of view. Below, Jeff Tedford gives his accounting while standing on the bare spot where his #6-ranked trailer once stood.]
Bears’ offense doesn’t look so golden
Oregon dominates Cal’s line, leading to Jahvid Best’s worst day of the year
By Ron Bellamy
Appeared in print: Sunday, Sep 27, 2009
The Bears couldn’t run the football, couldn’t pass it, and ultimately couldn’t stop Oregon from doing either thing Saturday afternoon at Autzen Stadium.
It all added up to a 42-3 victory for the Ducks, the worst loss for Cal under coach Jeff Tedford — the previous worst was a 35-10 loss to Southern California in 2005 — and worst overall since 2001.
“Everybody’s disappointed,” Tedford said. “When you don’t play well like that, and you invested so much time and energy in what’s going on, you don’t feel good.”
The Bears will plummet from their lofty ranking of No. 6 in the nation, and the loss was a blow to the Heisman Trophy candidacy of running back Jahvid Best, held to 55 yards on 16 carries after rushing for at least 100 yards in seven straight games.
“We didn’t execute in any phase of offense, running the football, protecting the passer, passing game, nothing,” Tedford said.
The Bears were held to 207 yards total offense, were just 3-of-15 on third-down conversions and netted just 2.4 yards per rush and 3.6 yards per pass attempt. Quarterback Kevin Riley was 12-of-31 for 123 yards and was sacked four times.
“We got a little frustrated not being able to do anything,” Riley said. “Missed throw, missed block, not hitting the hole. It was everybody on the offense taking turns messing up.”
Oregon’s defensive pressure was evident from Cal’s first play from scrimmage, when defensive end Kenny Rowe sacked Riley for a loss of eight yards.
“Kevin was really rushed all day long,” Tedford said. “We didn’t do a good job of protecting the passer, and you’ve got to do that to get the passing game going. …
“They were just beating us at the point of attack. We weren’t getting any movement up front. Really impressed with their defensive front. They did a great job in the run game, they did a great job in rushing the passer.”
Said offensive tackle Mike Tepper: “We knew they were going to line eight or nine in the box and bring guys from all over the place. As an elder on the team, I want to put a lot of it on myself and the offensive line. We couldn’t open the holes up for Jahvid or Shane (Vereen) or any of the backs, and we couldn’t protect Riley.”
Tepper said the crowd noise sometimes made it impossible to hear Riley’s signals and “affected me a little bit.” [Translation: "a lot"]
“Was the crowd a factor?,” Tedford mused. “Absolutely. It always is here. This is the toughest place to play in our conference for sure, one of the toughest in the nation.”
[In an earlier story, Jahvid Best had said that Autzen is the only place where the noise gets to him.
Advice to Tedford, Best, Cal and everyone else: Don't say that stuff publicly. It only encourages us.]
Meanwhile, Cal couldn’t slow the UO offense after the first quarter.
Defensive coordinator Bob Gregory said Oregon showed “a few wrinkles” in the running game for which the Bears hadn’t prepared.
“They can move the ball against anybody,” he said. “Certainly we didn’t think they’d move the ball that well against us. But that’s what that offense can do. … They did a great job, I didn’t do a great job and we’ve got to get back at it next week.”
Danny O'Neal? The throwback uniforms threw me back into old habits. Once when a run up the middle went for nothing, I caught myself wanting to yell "AHHH C'MON BROOKS!"
[Oregon jumped to #16 in the AP. That's a relief. The win was good enough to pass Washington in the polls. I'll leave you with a quote from Coach Chip Kelly before the game as quoted in the Oregonian:] --kb
Before the game, Kelly was asked how his team, a touchdown underdog, could knock off a Cal team that many predicted would win the conference after USC's loss last week.
"They've got to knock us off," he said with a bravado that seemed out of place -- but only for a few minutes.
Oregon in 1990's throwback uni's against Cal.
I wanted to be the first to show these too easy headlines:
Oregon Throws Back Cal's Best
Oregon Throwbacks, Masoli Throws Well, Cal Throws Up
Oregon is Best. Best is Bust.
Oregon Comes to Life. Death of Riley.
Masoli Throws. Cal Blows.
Cal Fans Want Their Money Back.
I could go on forever; but I'll stop now. Was I right? Pressure Riley. Shut Best off from sides. Cal is forced to win only with Best running up middle. Not a chance. Oregon crushes Cal 42 - 3. And they did it wearing old throwback uni's.
Masoli, meanwhile, was out of his mind. His offensive line was perfect to allow him to complete 21 out of 25 for 253 yards, 3 TD's, no intercepts and zero sacks. And his favorite target was none other than tight end Ed Dickson who caught 3 TD passes!
Kevin Riley was shut down. 12 out of 31 for 123 yards. No intercepts. No TD's, Four or five sacks depending on who you talk to. And coutless hurries and TBAT's (Turf Bites After Throws).
Best was a Bust. 16 carries for 55 yards. His longest run was 11.
Little Train James had 21 rushes for 121 yards. He broke one for 36 against a Cal defense that was supposed to eat running backs.
And Remene Alston is back in the lineup! He picked up 43 yards on 6 carries.
More later. Links on the left will take you to the professionals write-ups.
Riley's clutch passing gives Cal balance
By JON KRAWCZYNSKI,
AP Sports Writer
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Try as he might, California's sensational running back Jahvid Best can't do everything.
Despite rushing for 114 yards and three touchdowns in the first half against Minnesota on Saturday, he wasn't of much use to the Golden Bears when they faced a third-and-16 at their own 22 in the fourth quarter of a tie game.
So when Best needed a little help, quarterback Kevin Riley [formerly of Beaverton High] was right on the money. Riley threw a strike between two Gophers defenders for a 35-yard completion to Jeremy Ross, moving the chains and jump-starting the game-clinching drive in a 35-21 victory.
"After that, I think everybody on this team knew we were going to win the game," said Riley, whose Bears climbed two spots to No. 6 in The Associated Press Top 25 on Sunday.
It was the first time this season that Cal (3-0) needed the passing game to come through. The Bears outscored their first two opponents 111-20 and were never really tested until Minnesota tied the game at 21 heading into the fourth quarter at TCF Bank Stadium.
After Best scored on runs of 33, 27 and 2 yards in the first half, the Cal offense didn't get a first down until Riley's big throw to Ross. And that was only the beginning.
The junior quarterback was 3 for 4 for 77 of his 252 yards on that drive, hooking up with Ross again on a 31-yarder three plays later to set up Best's 2-yard TD dash that gave Cal a 28-21 lead.
"I thought it was great for Kevin and the Bears that the passing game got a chance to be the catalyst," offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig said. "We've run the ball very well and thrown the ball when we wanted to. But here, there were a couple situations where we felt like we had to throw the ball." [By the way, does Andy Ludwig sound familiar? He was the OC for Oregon for awhile when Oregon's records were mediocre. Then he went to Utah and helped deliver them an undefeated season, but Utes still didn't like him for some reason. So he went to Kansas State, only to bolt to California before the season started. And so far the fine folks at Berkeley love him.]
With all eyes on Best, who averaged 8.1 yards per carry last season, the big question coming into this year was whether or not Riley and his receivers could give the offense the balance it needed.
Riley split time with Nate Longshore last season, going 7-2 as a starter but losing that job twice during the season. He also played as a freshman when the Bears rose as high as No. 2 in the nation before losing five of six games to fall out of contention.
Now the position is his and his alone.
He looked shaky in the early going against the Gophers (2-1), who surprised him by mixing in a 3-4 formation on occasion to go with their traditional 4-3 set. Riley was nearly intercepted twice and fumbled once in the first three quarters, but he also connected with Verran Tucker on a 59-yard completion to set up Cal's second touchdown of the game.
"He feels good about what he's doing," coach Jeff Tedford said. "He's very poised and very confident. He never panics. I think he's playing really solid."
Never moreso than in the fourth quarter. He was 5 of 8 for 105 yards in the period to help the Bears snap a four-game road losing streak.
"Last year, people know we struggled with our passing game sometimes," Riley said. "In games like these where we would run the ball well and, when we got in passing situations, we wouldn't be able to make plays with it. I think we've gotten a lot better at, and it makes our team that much better."
The performance should make opposing defenses think twice about crowding the line of scrimmage to stop Best, who set a modern school record with five touchdowns and finished with 131 yards rushing.
"It's about belief," Best said. "I feel like this team is really a family. So when times get hard and times get rough, I feel like [blahdy, blahdy, sappy Hallmark crap, yak yak." Thank you for that tear jerker moment, Mr. Best. Now get a band-aid. You cut your leg shaving.
OK. So did you see it? Did you see how Oregon is going to beat Cal? It was right there! I guess it helps if you watched the Cal-Minnesota game. It was actually right there, in Minnesota.
The Gophers had the right defensive plan against Cal. Take another look at this line . . .]
He [Riley] looked shaky in the early going against the Gophers (2-1), who surprised him by mixing in a 3-4 formation on occasion to go with their traditional 4-3 set. Riley was nearly intercepted twice and fumbled once in the first three quarters . . .
[Minnesota's strategy was to pressure and confuse Riley, then force Best to beat them. It was working for awhile. But ultimately, the Goph's didn't have the horses to get the job done. It wasn't just those passes by Riley that ultimately did them in. It was also Best's speed running to the sides. Minnesota didn't have the personnel to beat Best to the sidelines, nor did they have very good D-backs.
Oregon does. Oregon also has the ability to disguise their defenses like Minnesota. Utah can attest to that. And Alliotti also knows when to bring the heat and blitz Riley.
Simply put, Minnesota's defense had the right idea. Oregon now has film on Minnesota's game plan, and a better defense to execute it.
What does Oregon have to do to win? They have to score more points than Cal. Duh. But how? The Ducks' D will have to lead the way. Pressure Riley. Force him into mistakes. To say that he's poised and never panics is to suggest that he hasn't been shown enough pressure yet.
Hold Best below his average. Oregon has successfully done that to all other starting running backs this season.
This will give Oregon's offense the chance it needs to get it's mojo back. Week by week, the Big O is getting hotter. The word is at practice this week, Masoli threw lots and lots, and he and his receivers practiced really really hard on passing. I, for one, am glad to hear it.
Saturday will be their perfect chance to pass Cal. ] --kb
By George Schroeder
Appeared in print: Tuesday, Sep 22, 2009
One disgusted Oregon fan asked Chip Kelly for a refund after the Boise State debacle — and got it.
Tony Seminary, an Oregon alumnus who lives in the Portland area, told the Web site EveryDayShouldBeSaturday.com that after he sent Kelly an e-mail with an attached invoice — Seminary’s expenses for his trip to Boise — the new head coach responded with a question:
“What is your address?”
A few days later, a check for $439 arrived, apparently signed by Kelly.
Seminary told the Web site he was “speechless,” and added: “What he did is simply amazing, and blew me away.”
Kelly wouldn’t talk about it on Monday.
“No comment,” he said, bustling down a hall in the Casanova Center and into his office. “I’ve got a game to prepare for.”
But his actions had already spoken loudly. Oregon athletic director Mike Bellotti said that during his coaching career, he often received e-mails and letters from fans demanding a refund — “but never an invoice.”
“Sometimes they want-ed their money back,” he said, “and I responded to them. But I didn’t send any money back.”
Bellotti said the Ducks’ 19-8 loss to Boise State, and LeGarrette Blount’s postgame punches, left everyone associated with the Oregon football program “disappointed.”
“I’ve never heard of a coach sending money,” he said. “Chip (doing that) is one for the ages. He earns my respect.”
And apparently, the fan’s, as well. Seminary didn’t return phone messages or e-mails Monday. But he told the Web site he didn’t cash the check, instead sending it back to Kelly along with a thank-you note.
“I think of Coach Kelly as a totally different person now,” Seminary told the Web site. “I have a different bond with him now. … Let’s just say he lost every game as an Oregon coach. You would never hear me calling for his head. It just wouldn’t happen. The guy showed an incredible amount of class.”
[ I didn't go to the game. But "Classy Coach Kelly" can still expect an invoice from me. I demand full payment for the following:
one (1) six pack of beer,
one (1) bag of cheese curls, and
one (1) bottle of Windex I used to clean off the beer and cheese curls I threw at the TV screen.] --kb
Oregon’s Autzen Stadium, which is aptly dubbed "The House of Loud" for its raucous environment, is one of the toughest places in the country to play. . . . .
The first comment:
Please don't ever use the phrase "house of loud" again. It is atrocious , and an embarrassment. Some fan tried to market that on T-shirts and was vilified for it, and that was quickly retired alongside Roboduck, ####-yellow/grellow helmets, and the edge defense. Ducks hate that, we never say it.
On the same token, please refrain from ever also saying "the Autzen Zoo" and "Duck Nation," as both idiotic phrases make us cringe.
It's just Autzen.
Simple. Poignant. Impressive.
And we're happy with the one word moniker.
Autzen. Simple enough, just stick with that.
"House of Loud"? Give me a break. What doofus told you to call Autzen that? Autzen is loud, very loud, but that is a name some goofballs started calling Autzen in an attempt to brand it that and probably make a profit off the name. Any real nickname needs to come from fans and through genuine inspiration -- not out of lust for $$$. Just my 2 cents for what it is worth.
Bravo. Thank you for setting straight Mr. Graham Watson, writer for ESPN (Eastern Snobby People's Network), who obviously doesn't know much about Autzen, Eugene, Oregon or Ducks.
I particularly like the line, "It's just Autzen. Simple. Poignant. Impressive."
In fact I think Autzen is a word we should add to our glossary. In the same way that 'Blount' can refer to an immediate punch to the face in response to a stupid statement or action, 'Autzen' as a metaphore can refer to that which is unbearably loud. A Loud, deliberate noise intended to distract or disrupt.
"My wife was upset when I drove home with a brand new motorcycle. She ran out of the house yelling at me about how I don't have a job and we're a month behind on bills. But I just autzened her out by revving the engine. That's when she blounted me."]
All day long, Utah ball carriers always had at least one Duck attached to them. Javes Lewis makes tackle.
Added linebacker Stevenson Sylvester: “It feels unnatural. I hate this feeling.” ["I feel bloated, irritable, and not fresh."]
“I can’t pinpoint it,” Masoli said. “I’ll look at the film and let you guys know.”
Masoli attempted just three passes in the second half; two fell incomplete and the other was intercepted in the end zone.
Oregon’s 95 passing yards were the fewest since Masoli threw for 84 yards in a loss at California last season. Like Saturday’s win over the Utes, that game was also played in a heavy rain, though the Ducks weren’t using that as an excuse.
“I don’t know if we were just trying to make too much happen … I don’t know,” UO offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich said. “We had a couple of things that were Day 1-type of mistakes. … It certainly could’ve been a much more comfortable win.”
Through three games, Masoli has yet to throw a TD pass.
“It’s a combination of things,” Masoli said. “Myself and the receivers definitely need to work a little extra to get on the same page.”
Helfrich said there were obvious fixes that the Ducks need to make this week, but added that “It’s not like we need to reinvent the wheel.”
He was especially perturbed by the turnover in the end zone.
“Red zone turnovers, I can’t tell you how many times we’ve worked on that,” Helfrich said. “That gets you beat, and that can’t happen. Those kinds of things are fundamental to our success and failure.
“But (overall) it’s really not a big, abstract thing. Some of the (mistakes) are very apparent.”
By John Hunt, The Oregonian
September 20, 2009, 5:15PMThomas Boyd / The OregonianJeremiah Masoli finished 4 of 16 for 95 yards and an interception. Oregon coach Chip Kelly said Sunday the status of quarterback Jeremiah Masoli has not changed.Masoli struggled in Saturday's 31-24 win over Utah, going the entire second half without a completion. He finished 4 of 16 for 95 yards and an interception. He completed one pass to Jeff Maehl for 58 yards, another to Jamere Holland for 27 and gained a total of 10 yards on his other 14 throws.He was an effective runner, though. Masoli, who entered the game as Oregon's leading rusher (98 yards in two games) had a 22-yard touchdown run, set up by his own 12-yard run."It's inconsistent,'' Kelly said of his quarterback play. "It's back to work (Monday) morning and get back at it.''Asked if there would be quarterback competition in practice this week, Kelly replied, "We have a quarterback competition every week.''Asked if Nate Costa has a shot at working up to the No. 1 team this week, he said, "Nate has a shot to work up to No. 1 every week.''Costa was the starting quarterback in fall camp last season before suffering his third major knee injury."The reason I stayed with Jeremiah in that game is because he's our quarterback, and he gives us the best chance to win,'' Kelly said.
Strengths: Passing, rushing, blocking, tackling, kicking, scoring, coming from behind, staying ahead, winning.
Weaknesses: They can't buy beer on Sundays.
Actually, it's not all that bad. Last week they let a much weaker San Jose State hang around before they settled for a 24-14 win. They had 11 penalties in that game, over half of those pass interference, and gave up 269 passing yards to SJS.
In the past two games the Utes have lost four fumbles and missed a bunch of field goals. Their quarterback Terrance Cain is a new starter who has been somewhat erratic and inconsistent in his first two games. Autzen should calm him right down.
Also, like Oregon, Utah could be without their starting running back Matt Asiata with a hurt shoulder. If it heals, he could play since hitting opponents with your shoulder is apparently legal. The following is from the Utes' website.]
Utah Team Report
Updated: September 16, 2009, 3:20 AM EDT Inside Slant
Consider Utah's first two games against Western Athletic Conference also-rans as pass-fail practice exams. The Utes passed ... but weren't exactly world-beaters in either game.
That makes Saturday's game at Pac-10 power Oregon a huge test for the Utes, who have the nation's longest winning streak at 16 games.
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham isn't happy with the five turnovers his team has committed in its first two games; he says red-zone offense is a concern; he didn't like his pass defense in the 24-14 win over San Jose State last week.
"For Oregon, we have to elevate our level of play to have a chance to win," Whittingham said. "We have our work cut out for us. We have to work on what we're not doing so well, and our guys will be ready to go."
The Utes, however, could go into Eugene, Ore., short-handed. Running back Matt Asiata, who leads the nation in carries, injured his shoulder in the fourth quarter against the Spartans and is questionable for the Ducks. Right guard Caleb Schlauderaff also is questionable with a knee sprain.
"A proven guy like that, if he's ready, it's probably a game-time decision," Whittingham told the Deseret Morning News about Asiata's availability. "We'll know more as the week progresses. Same with Caleb."
If Asiata doesn't play, quarterback Terrance Cain will bear the brunt of the pressure to move the offense against the Ducks. His play was inconsistent against the Spartans last week.
The Utes, however, may not require Cain to be Superman -- he just can't turn over the ball. If he can manage the game, Utah would like to put the game in the hands of its defense that -- despite giving up a few more big plays than Whittingham would like -- faces an Oregon offense struggling to find an identity without running back LeGarrette Blount, who was suspended for the season after punching a Boise State player after the season-opener.
And for good measure, the Utes also have reopened the competition at kicker between struggling Ben Vroman and walk-on Joe Phillips, who could be used for short field-goal attempts, at least.
Notes and Quotes
--Coach Kyle Whittingham is 3-2 all-time vs. the Pac-10, including a 31-28 victory over Oregon State last season that vaulted the Utes into elite status. The Beavers had just upset top-ranked Southern California, and Utah pulled off one of its Houdini escapes with a come-from-behind win.
--DT Latu Heimuli, a 300-pound true freshman, has a broken foot and will redshirt this season.
SERIES HISTORY: Oregon leads Utah, 17-8 (last meeting, 2003, 17-13 Utah).
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: The Utes could face a tougher challenge if RB Matt Asiata cannot play because of a shoulder sprain. So much of this year's offense goes through him, and a big part of Utah's red-zone package goes through him lining up under center as well. Asiata's absence would put a lot of pressure on QB Terrance Cain. Sending reserve running backs Eddie Wide and Sausan Shakerin at the Ducks may not have the same impact as sending Asiata.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: The Ducks now have a game under their belts without the services of suspended RB LeGarrette Blount. The Ducks are relying on young backs, and have asked quarterback Jeremiah Masoli to do more. Utah must find a way to get pressure on him early, make him give up the football and then chase down the other ball-carriers. Coach Kyle Whittingham says he hasn't been happy with the unit's allowance of big plays this season.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We're not making impact plays (on defense). Impact plays to us are sacks and takeaways, and we're not getting that done. We gave up seven first downs due to penalties, which is entirely too many. And the pass defense was not good on Saturday night. Oregon's quarterback is very athletic and is a guy that is very dangerous when he runs the ball. That's got to be our first order of business, to try to slow him down." -- Utah coach Kyle Whittingham.
Strategy and Personnel
THIS WEEK'S GAME: Utah at Oregon, Sept. 19 -- The Utes will try for their 17th consecutive victory and, as a secondary matter, will try to show the rest of the country that the MWC is for real. The MWC already has wins over Oklahoma, Virginia and Colorado -- and none were home games.
KEYS TO THE GAME: Even if Matt Asiata can't play, the Utes want to establish their dominance with the rushing attack. Asiata's replacements -- Eddie Wide and Sausan Shakerin have to be ready to pick up the slack again. The Utes also have to put pressure on Oregon QB Jeremiah Masoli and force other positions to make plays.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
QB Terrance Cain -- He has to manage the game against a hostile crowd on the road. As inconsistent as he has been so far, he is 2-0 as a starter and has led the Utes to a 267-yard average through the air. Cain and the offense must clean up penchant for turnovers to have a chance.
WR Jereme Brooks -- He becomes a key element on the offense if Asiata can't play. He has to step up and create another threat opposite David Reed to help the Utah offense get rolling against a Pac-10 defense. The Utes have had success moving the ball against Western Athletic Conference teams. Saturday's foe should be different.
DE Koa Misi -- The senior made strides with his health as he returned from a back injury last week. As the most athletic linemen on the Utah unit, Misi has to be able to corral Oregon QB Jeremiah Masoli and not let him make plays with his feet.
--RB Matt Asiata is questionable for Saturday's game with a shoulder injury he suffered in the fourth quarter against San Jose State. Eddie Wide would start in Asiata's place if he can't go.
--OG Caleb Schlauderaff is questionable because of a knee injury. If Schlauderaff doesn't play, Walter Watts would move from right guard to left guard, and Tevita Stevens would start at right guard.
[Utah wants to establish the run even without their starting RB. But Oregon has been pretty strong against the run. Yet the Utes' other choice is to let their young quarterback carry the load against a loud Autzen crowd.
If Oregon can jump on a lead early and force them to pass more, good things could happen. But conversely, the Ducks need to get their own running game established. Utah is counting on Oregon's continued struggles in that area.
So my years of experience leads me to the analysis that if Oregon wants to win this game, they'll need to stop struggling.] --kb
So why is Oregon favored?
Let's go back 10 to 15 years, between the Rose Bowl in 95 and Joey Harrington's final season in 2001. In those years, had you bet the spread on every game Oregon played, you would have come out way ahead in the money. Win or lose, Oregon was outperforming the oddsmakers' expectations more often than not. I know because I was studying it.
Now couple that with what has happened since. A bowl berth almost every year. Stadium expansion and a loud reputation to go with it. Improved facilities. Almost embarrassingly heavy Nike style marketing. And then came a nationally televised trip to the Big House in Michigan. The Wolverines were favored, of course, even though they had a devastating defeat to Appalachian State the week prior. But if you're a bookie, that's what you do for a Michigan. When a team comes to Ann Arbor, and it's not Ohio State, give the nod to the maze and blue.
Oregon won with stunning ease, and bookies all across the Nevada desert must have said, "We can never underestimate Oregon again. They've cost us too much money."
This year, Oregon was favored against Boise State and they lost. They were favored against Purdue by 12; they squeaked out a two point win in the last minute. Now undefeated Utah is coming to town. The Utes got the momentum, right?
"No no no," say the oddsmakers, "were not going to get fooled by Oregon again."
What does this all mean? Just this:
The days of complaining that Oregon doesn't get any respect are over. They've arrived! They ARE respected -- even for games where they probably shouldn't be. It means the players can no longer say things like what Masoli said after the Purdue game:
"It's a relief just because we knew we could do it, and there were a lot of doubters and a lot of people who didn't believe in us,'' Masoli said. "Positive things from here on out."
Message to Oregon players: The only doubters you need to be concerned with are the ones INSIDE the locker room. Your stadium is full. Your game is nationally televised. You're favored.
Even Ken Goe, the Oregonian's Pac-10 writer, who has unfairly earned a reputation as a 'Duck Hater', had this to say about the Ducks this week . . . .]
Considering where Oregon was 12 days ago, it's been an impressive performance.
We're still in September, and there is a long way to go. A college football season is not static. The best teams survive injuries, bad breaks and disappointment. They adjust. They never stop improving.
In 1994, I saw an Oregon team start 1-2, with ugly, one-sided losses to Hawaii and Utah, that went on to win the Pac-10 title and play Penn State in the Rose Bowl.
In 2003, I saw an Oregon team start 4-0, then lose four of the next five.
This Oregon team began the season with a spectacular face plant. But against Purdue, Kelly and his players showed a resilience and a clear refusal to let the Boise State disaster define them.
I like what that says about Kelly as a coach, and I wouldn't write off the Ducks yet.
[Pretty high praise from a Duck hater. By the way, in the left column I added links to Goe's stories along with several other sources for Oregon and Pac-10 football.
So now, instead of putting that chip on their shoulder year-in and year-out and playing the "No respect" card, the Ducks will have to find a new way to motivate themselves. They need to come out and say, "We've got to win this because we're expected to win. We're Oregon. And winning is what we do" . . . . . Something like that.
I can hear some of you laughing. You're hearing me say Oregon needs to start acting like an Ohio State or Oklahoma or USC, even though reality says we're nowhere near their league.
Well I'm telling you that there are a bunch of guys in Las Vegas crushing their cigarettes into the bottoms of their scotch and sodas who have been doing this for decades. And they say Oregon is one of the favored.
So it's up to our players and us fans to start feeling it. Start acting like it. Believe in it. Wear the suit. Walk the walk. Talk the talk. Punch the punch . . . . OK skip that last one.] --kb
And once again, credit the defense for doing everything -- and I mean EVERYTHING -- in their power to give their team a chance to win. All of you "Fire Alliotti" screamers out there need to sit down and cool it.
Oregon's Javes Lewis recovered a fumble for a touchdown to tie the score at 24-24 in the second half on Saturday. -RG Photo
Here's the R-G story.]
Ducks pull no punches Oregon stops a two-point conversion after Purdue’s final touchdown to give Chip Kelly his first win as head coach
By Rob Moseley
Appeared in print: Sunday, Sep 13, 2009
A victory that a month ago seemed inevitable instead brought welcome relief to the Oregon football team, as a season and a coaching career that got off to a tumultuous start took a positive turn Saturday.
The Ducks survived a heart-stopping touchdown drive by Purdue late in the fourth quarter to beat the Boilermakers 38-36 before 57,772 in Autzen Stadium. The victory was the first in the head coaching career of Oregon’s Chip Kelly, and provided salve for the still-fresh wounds suffered by the Ducks during and directly after their opener at Boise State.
“This win was huge for our team,” said tailback Kenjon Barner, who helped replace suspended senior LeGarrette Blount and had a decisive fourth-quarter touchdown run. “Just to get us back where we need to be, and get our intensity back up. It will definitely do that.”
The Ducks (1-1) needed a lift, after falling flat against the Broncos nine days earlier and then watching Blount flatten a Bronco postgame, earning his suspension. Though Saturday’s effort was far from perfect for Oregon, it was light years better than the opener.
In the preseason, Oregon figured to be a heavy favorite over Purdue, but those expectations took a dramatic turn after the events in Boise. On Saturday, the Ducks had to survive a touchdown drive by the Boilermakers in the final two minutes and stop a two-point conversation. To Oregon, however, it must have felt like a championship effort in comparison to the opener.
“They’re not even comparable, really,” said UO quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, who directed his unit to 356 yards of offense, more than double their effort against Boise State. “Last week we were all kind of depressed, especially after what happened (with Blount). I’m just glad we regrouped and refocused and got this W.”
The offense still only rarely resembled the powerful machine it was late last season; the Ducks held off the Boilermakers (1-1) thanks to an opportunistic defense. Missed tackles plagued that group, but Oregon scored two defensive touchdowns in a game for the first time since the 2007 Sun Bowl, and made the final, dramatic stop on the two-point conversion.
Kenjon Barner -- RG Photo
The Ducks led 38-30 with 6:42 to play thanks to Barner’s brilliant 21-yard touchdown on an inside zone play, which came with the Ducks facing third-and-19. Purdue responded by driving 70 yards in 14 plays, converting a third down and two fourth downs to get within two on a gadget pass from receiver Keith Smith to Aaron Valentin.
On the two-point attempt, Boilermakers quarterback Joey Elliott saw tight end Kyle Adams in the back of the end zone. Adams caught the pass out of bounds — UO redshirt freshman safety John Boyett, making his first career start
in place of injured senior T.J. Ward, was there to put a hit on Adams and ensure he didn’t sneak a foot inside the backline.
“I saw him there, and the quarterback was scrambling,” Boyett said. “So I went to him, and they threw the ball there and I was able to knock him out of bounds.”
After failing to achieve a first down at Boise State until the third quarter, the Ducks got that out of the way in the first period Saturday. Andre Crenshaw started in Blount’s place, and his scoring run made it 10-7 for Oregon after one quarter.
But the offense stalled in the middle two quarters, with both Crenshaw and LaMichael James losing fumbles, something Blount never did in his abbreviated career. The Ducks were able to find their explosive offensive tempo intermittently but not with much consistency.
“I tell our guys it’s like pushing a rock,” Kelly said. “Once you get the rock going, we’re rolling and we keep pushing at it. After we get that first first down, really the only people that can stop us are ourselves.”
It was Oregon’s good fortune, then, to get two touchdowns on the other side of the ball. Walter Thurmond III returned an interception 18 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter — the Ducks are undefeated (4-0) in games when Thurmond scores, Kelly is fond of pointing out — and Javes Lewis returned a fumble 28 yards in the third quarter.
“We got a lot of turnovers in practice (this week), and it really just translated to the game,” Thurmond said. “Guys were in the right position at the right time.”
Thurmond was also Oregon’s primary kickoff and punt returner Saturday, and he has developed into the Ducks’ most vocal leader, as well.
“He’s just a special, special player,” Kelly said. “Really, I think he’s setting the tone for the rest of this football team right now.”
There are immense challenges looming on the horizon for Oregon in the next two weeks, as first Utah and then California will visit Autzen Stadium. But Oregon’s recovery from the dramatic events of the opener had to start somewhere, a process that began Saturday.
“We have a lot of teachable moments that happened in the football game today Kelly said. “But it’s a lot easier to teach from a winning perspective.”
[That's a nice way to put it. All of you parents out there: Your kids are not giving you problems, messes, disasters, or noisy chaos. They're providing you with teachable moments. "Oh goody, another teachable moment has presented itself, and then I'll clean these poop smears off the bathroom wall."
As for our three-headed running back, I love LaMichael (Little Train) James' game. He has excellent vision and can turn on a dime. Kenjon (Barn Burner) Barner also showed real promise. But although Andre (Uhhh . . . I got nothin') Crenshaw scored a TD, I wasn't convinced that he can make his own plays without the offensive line rolling out a wrinkle-free red carpet for him. No doubt at least one of those three, and probably all three, will have to have career days next week against Utah.
All of the Ducks will have to play better. Below is a splash of cold water reality from John Canzano of the Oregonian.]
Ducks get their first win, but can they get five more?
by John Canzano, The Oregonian
Saturday September 12, 2009, 11:31 PM
EUGENE -- This was better.
Sooooooooooooo much better than last week for the University of Oregon. But so, too, would have been a locust storm in the tailgate lot. Or a paper cut on your left eyeball.
So what we have here is a new day and an engaging perspective.
It was Oregon 38, Purdue 36. Also, it was whew. The season began again. The Ducks made some big plays, gave up some, too, and in the end we're faced with the reality that this season is going to be a grind for Oregon. Also, that the Ducks might not go anywhere meaningful.
Good college football bowl teams block well. And they tackle. And they don't struggle with inefficiency, and penalties and turnovers.
Also, bowl-bound teams blow out marginal opponents at home.
Which is only to say the 2009 Ducks do not look like a bowl team.
What we have here is a Ducks' roster filled with highly recruited talent. And we have a coaching staff that believes it's doing a good job. But if the Ducks fail to win six games this season -- 6-6 makes them bowl eligible -- they end up wasting what should have been a special season.
Oregon drove the ball when it needed to on Saturday. And it stopped the Boilermakers when the situation dictated it.
But the Ducks drop too many passes and miss field goals. They're awful on third down. They take plays off on both sides of the ball. And save for a defense that accounted for 20 points we'd be talking a one-way trip to Palookaville today.
Yeah, the defense won the game. Nobody could miss two defensive touchdowns, one blocked PAT, one critical denied two-point conversion and that interception that set-up an early field goal. Still, eek.
Consider that there will be 68 teams that play in bowl games this season. And bowl invitations will not be granted on the basis of cool uniforms, flashy marketing or TV appearances, but by the bottom line.
Forget the Heisman talk. Forget the Bowl Championship Series pipe dreams. Forget whether the Ducks can stay with USC.
Focus instead on this season's magic number --six. [Did anyone think we would find ourselves back in the Rich Brooks era wringing our hands for six wins? Maybe the Ducks will improve to pre-season expectations and we will have forgotten all about Boise State. But right now, its looking like we picked a bad time not to schedule Portland State, Idaho, or Eastern Washington like (uh-hum) some other teams did. Purdue was our patsy opponent for the season.]
As in, who else can the Ducks beat this season? Can they get to six victories with Utah, Cal, Washington State, UCLA, Washington, USC, Stanford, Arizona State, Arizona and Oregon State on the schedule? Can you circle five victories in that last sentence? Because after two weeks, even with a 1-1 record, there has to be reasonable doubt every week.
Before the Purdue game, the Ducks assistants piled onto the elevator at Autzen, heading up to the coaching box. After last week, they had circles around their eyes. But hope in their hearts. And you can only get along for so long wishing and troubleshooting, and right now the Ducks season feels light on substance.
Sure, the Ducks won. Yes, they did it during a week in which they absolutely had to come away with a victory. Uh-huh, it felt better than the disaster a week ago in Boise.
Again, this is a game that ended with Purdue scoring on a halfback pass and attempting a two-point conversion with everyone thinking, "Overtime?"
It ended with Purdue's Kyle Adams catching the two-point attempt, but with his foot coming down a few inches out of bounds.
It's the degree of difficulty that concerns me today. And it should concern you, too. Because Purdue isn't a top half of the Big 10 team, and past Ducks' teams (the good ones) would have put up 50 and blown the Boilermakers out of Autzen.
Chip Kelly's team feels more blue collar than previous Oregon teams. And maybe that mettle will manifest itself in the coming weeks. But also, there will have to be an improvement in efficiency and in the basic tenets of football.
Block. Tackle. Pass. Run.
Oregon isn't doing any of those things right now in a way that resembles a team headed to a bowl game.
Maybe not at all. [Well thank you for peeing on the candles of our "Feel Good" cake, Mr. Canzano. I'd be upset except that I think he's partly to mostly right. We'll just have to wait and see one game at a time. That's how the Ducks plan to approach the rest of this season.]
[We may have lost a running back. But through it all, we might have gained a new word in our language.]
Blount blownt n. an act or occasion of punching a person in the face in immediate response of a stupid comment made at a terribly inappropriate time by that person.
Blount v.t. to punch in the face for the specific purpose of immediately responding to an objectionable, inappropriate or otherwise generally turd-headed comment.
Example 1: "She blounted him after he said, 'Yes, those pants do make you look fat.' "
Purdue went 4-8 overall last year and 2-6 in the Big Ten.
Storylines: A rematch of last year’s game, won by Oregon, 32-26 in overtime. Danny Hope, a coach-in-waiting last season, makes his debut as the Purdue coach today, replacing Joe Tiller, who retired. The Boilermakers will have a new QB, with senior Joey Elliott replacing three-year starter Curtis Painter, and they’re new at running back, sort of, with Jaycen Taylor back after missing 2008 with an injury to replace departed senior Kory Sheets, who rushed for 180 yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries vs. the Ducks.
The national leader
After one game, a 52-31 home win over Toledo, the Boilermakers have the nation’s leading rusher, running back Ralph Bolden, a 5-foot-9, 194-pound sophomore who ran for 234 yards — the third-highest single-game total in Purdue history — and two touchdowns on 21 carries. He ran 78 yards for a touchdown on Purdue’s third play from scrimmage; his first career start earned him Big Ten co-offensive player of the week honors.
“I think Ralph’s a complete player,” Hope said, citing his pass-catching skills and blocking ability. “He can be as good as there is if he stays healthy and we keep good players in front of him. The advancement of our passing game is going to help Ralph a lot. … We’re going to be in the shotgun and throw the football; that’s what Purdue does. As we improve in the passing game, that will really open more doors for Ralph.”
Bolden played as a true freshman in 2008 and had 16 rushes for 28 yards in eight games, but he wasn’t fully recovered from a severe knee injury he suffered toward the end of his high school career.
[Although Purdue ran roughshod over Toledo, they allowed Toledo 423 passing yards. Now would be the perfect time to pass more and take pressure off of our new runners.]
A long trip
The Boilermakers will have late evening practices today and/or Thursday — 6 p.m. EDT — to get somewhat accustomed to at 7:15 p.m. PDT kickoff, or 10:15 their time.
Hope made it clear that he’d prefer nonleague games closer to home — so the Boilermakers could get more fans to the venue — but otherwise downplayed the rigors of travel, which won’t get Purdue home until 7 a.m. EDT on Sunday, or thereabouts.
“I don’t see it being different from any other game or any other trip,” Hope said. “We have to get ready to play a game. We’re going to be on an airplane. We don’t have to walk all the way out there, thank goodness. I think we can manage that.”
It all looked … blue
Purdue quarterback Joey Elliott said he watched the Oregon-Boise State game Thursday night, and of course has been studying film of it.
“I thought it was a very hard-fought game,” he said. “Going to Boise to play is a tough atmosphere. I mean, watching them on film now, I can barely tell who’s who with that blue turf and blue jerseys, so I know Oregon had to have a world of trouble with that.
“Boise moved the ball well on them … and I think Boise’s defense did a great job of game-planning against Oregon.”
[So the blue jerseys on blue turf messed up the Ducks. Too bad we don't have blue turf. All we got is dumb ol' green turf . . . . . . Hey! That's it! You know what the Ducks can do?. . . . . . . . . . . Naaaa, forget it. I was thinking maybe they could punch some Boilermakers in the face. But we tried that already. Didn't work.]
Purdue football coach Danny Hope said the LeGarrette Blount episode will either serve as a distraction for the Oregon football team, or bond the Ducks even closer. In his Tuesday teleconference with reporters, Hope made it clear that he’s not counting on the former when the Boilermakers visit the Ducks at 7:15 p.m. Saturday in Autzen Stadium. “I think they’ll be waiting for us,” Hope said. “They’re going to be ready to go. Again, one of two things will happen out of that incident. It will be a distraction in some ways, or it will cause them to bond even closer.
[Oregon is favored by 12. But let's not be greedy. I'll be happy if they get one or two more first downs than Purdue.
With a new head coach, new assistant coaches, Blount gone, and a terrible performance last week, there's no point talking strategy, matchups, or any of that right now. They just need to go out and play some football. Execute. Make good plays. Have some fun. And then we'll look at the scoreboard and see if it was enough.] --kb
[So will you be able to watch the game live or not?]
Oregon-Purdue: TV information
Posted by Jeff Smith, The Oregonian September 09, 2009 18:57PM
Here's some information on Saturday's Oregon-Purdue television coverage. As seems to be the case with local sports programming over the past couple years, Comcast subscribers receive better options.
The official release from the UO:
EUGENE - Due to Fox Sports Net Northwest's commitment to televise Saturday's baseball game between the Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers at 5 p.m., the University of Oregon understands there is a strong possibility that the Ducks' football game vs. Purdue will not air on FSN Northwest until after the conclusion of the baseball game.
Kickoff for Oregon's intersectional football game is scheduled for a 7:23 start, with the game to be joined in progress by FSN Northwest should the Mariners' baseball game run past the start of the football game.
As a result, several providers have worked hard to find a solution to the unfortunate FSN Northwest scheduling conflict that interferes with the timely telecast of Oregon's game vs. Purdue in the state of Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. To accommodate this scheduling issue, Oregon's partners at Comcast have graciously agreed to provide fans a "free preview" of Fox College Sports, enabling anyone with Comcast digital service to be able to see the Oregon game in its entirety on channel 415. In addition, the Oregon-Purdue game can be seen in its entirety on the following channels:
- Comcast Digital Cable - FCS Pacific Channel. 415. (Eugene, Portland, Seattle, Salem, Vancouver)
- DirecTV - Channel 688 [SD channel], Channel 688-1 [HD channel] (everywhere)
- Dish Network - Channel 444 [SD channel], Channel 9514 [HD channel] (everywhere)
- FSN on other cable providers - Joined in progress after the Seattle Mariners game.
The FSN selection of Oregon's game against Purdue is under the Pacific-10 Conference television agreement, and therefore the University of Oregon does not have a choice on what time the game starts or the liberty to provide the telecast by other means not approved by FSN Northwest or the Pac-10 Conference. As in the past, Oregon will comply with Pac-10 rules and has asked for clarification from the conference on how this scheduling conflict for FSN Northwest programming occurred, and what other options they, and FSN Northwest propose to implement to allow the game distributed in its entirety to fans throughout all of the Northwest.
Viewers without Comcast service are encouraged to call their local cable providers to inquire about carrying Fox College Sports, or another alternate channel so they can view the Oregon vs. Purdue game in its entirety. For those that are not able to view the Oregon-Purdue football game in its entirety because of this scheduling conflict, the game will be joined in progress on all FSN Northwest outlets at the conclusion of the Mariners baseball game.
[This is yet one more example of why we need Universal Health Care.]
[From Chip Kelly:]. . . . .his actions last night were unacceptable, and that we will not put up with that. That is not the University of Oregon football, that is not the University of Oregon.
Kelly said that when he reviewed film of the incident for the first time Friday morning, “my reaction was that’s not what we’re all about. That’s not what we coach, that’s not what we stand for, and it’s unacceptable.”
On Friday, the UO released a statement from President Richard Lariviere, calling Blount’s conduct “reprehensible.”
[Lariviere adds,] “We do not and will not tolerate the actions that were taken by our player,” the statement said. “Oregon’s loyal fans expect and deserve better. … UO players, coaches and fans are known for their passion and enthusiasm for athletic competition. At the University of Oregon, we are committed to demonstrating that passion in positive ways.”
“It makes the clearest possible statement about the values of the university, and the conference has a zero-tolerance policy to the type of conduct we saw (Thursday),” [Pac-10 Commissioner Larry ]Scott said.
[So I'm reading all of these and I'm thinking "Well that's a bummer . . . . .
What am I supposed to do with this?"
You remember this. A few years back the Duck beat the crap out of the Houston Cougar. Duck, by the way, was suspended for only one game -- probably because punching a pillow face with pillow hands can't be taken too seriously.
But I LOL everytime I pull this one up. And if you've read me much, you know I'll take any opportunity to show it. Yet now we have this new "no tolerance" attitude on punching people in the face. Great. Thanks a lot Blount.
I suppose it's right. This is the Obama era afterall. We can't waterboard. No more shooting people in the face. Could punching people in the face have been far behind?
So what should I do? Archive it? Delete it, never to see the light of pixels again?
I need help on this one. I'll make it our question of the week (See upper left column.). What do you think? Do you want to continue seeing this pic of the Oregon Duck punching the Houston Cougar in the face whenever possible?]
Oregon-Purdue: Ducks offensive linemen know they must improve if team is to succeed
Posted by Jeff Smith, The Oregonian September 09, 2009 17:21PM
EUGENE -- When the votes were tallied last month, one of the four Oregon players named season captain was genuinely shocked.
After being known most by outsiders as that other guy on the Sports Illustrated cover, junior center Jordan Holmes was humbled to receive such a prominent responsibility on his team.
"It was a great honor to be elected by my teammates," Holmes said, "and one that I really can't even put into words. No way did I expect this."
Nor could Holmes -- or anybody, for that matter -- have expected the Ducks' woeful offensive performance in their 19-8 loss at Boise State last Thursday.
Front and center for the ineptitude was an inexperienced offensive line, which entered the game as the offensive unit's biggest question mark and failed to do much on the field to change that perception.
Purdue at Oregon
When: 7:15 p.m. Sept. 12Where: EugeneTV: FSNNow that senior running back LeGarrette Blount has been suspended for the season for his postgame punch, even more responsibility falls on the offensive line to help Oregon's new backfield find success.
So much for Holmes getting a chance to ease into his new leadership role.
"We definitely have to focus on keeping the team morale up," said Holmes, referring to fellow captains Jeremiah Masoli, Walter Thurmond and Will Tukuafu. "We've been talking to the guys, making sure that we're avoiding distractions. Last week we didn't get the job done, but we know we're capable. We just have to stay poised and composed."
Easier said than done for an offensive line group that is without six seniors from last year's team and Hamani Stevens (church mission). Oregon's five starters on the line entered the season with a combined 20 starts -- 31 fewer than last year's center, Max Unger, had in his Ducks' career.
In that respect, getting off to a slow start in the first game was understandable. But getting zero first downs and 14 total yards of offense and surrendering a safety in the first half?
"The lack of plays executed in the first half limited our ability to adjust to what they were doing," sophomore right guard Mark Asper said. "We went off last year's Boise State footage and they didn't run any packages like they did last year. It was hard to get adjusted. That whole first half, we were kind of running blind. It felt like you were fighting an uphill battle." [Ya it looked like it too, if by uphill you mean trying to climb out of the open grave you were digging for yourselves.]
Oregon offensive line coach Steve Greatwood took the brunt of the responsibility for his unit's inconsistent performance. Greatwood, voted last season as the nation's top offensive line coach, called the first half one of the strangest he's been a part of in his 25 years of coaching at Oregon.
"I've got to take some accountability for not putting my guys in the best situation schematically or changing things up to give us better success," Greatwood said. "It was a tough place for their first game together. It was loud. We had several guys late off the ball and that allowed some penetration so I've got to look at myself first for that.
"But having said that, it wasn't as dominating when you look at the film as the statistics showed."
In particular, Greatwood was encouraged with the play in the second half, when Oregon's seven first downs allowed the offensive line to get into more of a rhythm.
"It's never as bad as it seems or as good as it seems and we're somewhere right in the middle," Greatwood said. "I was pleased to see them compete and not quit out there. We can build on that."
Injuries haven't helped the offensive line's maturation process over the past five months.
Junior right tackle C.E. Kaiser missed spring workouts with an ankle injury and junior left tackle Bo Thran also missed spring and some of fall camp with a knee injury.
But with Thran getting closer to full strength and redshirt freshman left guard Carson York surviving his first start, the offensive linemen are excited to see their improvement Saturday against Purdue.
"We're not expecting to come out and do that again that's for sure," Thran said. "It was just a first game with a fresh unit. We're still frustrated with how it turned out, but we're looking forward to getting better." [We all are.]
In Oregon's 32-26 double-overtime victory over Purdue last year, the Ducks rushed for 306 yards, led by Blount's 131 yards.
Even though Blount will be watching from the sideline Saturday, the Ducks still plan on following the lead of their young offensive linemen and establishing the ground game.
As the leader of the unit, Holmes can't wait to help open holes for running backs LaMichael James, Kenjon Barner and Andre Crenshaw.
"Our offense is built to cater to all sorts of backs," [Don't overwhelm yourself. Start with just catering to one back. ] Holmes said. "As soon as we get into a groove with them, we'll be fine. Last week was frustrating for everybody, but we're definitely going to move the football this week."
Oregon, which averaged a Pacific-10 Conference-best 277.8 rushing yards per game last season, finished with 31 yards rushing against Boise State.
"We never got going," Asper said. "We're ready to put the run back in our run-and-gun offense." [And put the 'fun' back into blocking fundamentals.]