Saturday, December 25, 2010

Ducks Spread Good Will

Here's a great story printed in Christmas Day's Register Guard. It's good to see Kelly coaching this kind of "spread" in life lessons.

With typical efficiency, Chip Kelly, Ducks spread lasting cheer

By George Schroeder
The Register-Guard
Published: Saturday, Dec 25, 2010 05:02AM

They are Duck fans. Let’s start there. And although they have deep connections to Eugene, there means Stockton, Calif.

So when the gift arrived from Oregon, they were surprised. Then they opened it.

A T-shirt. Some scrawled signatures. “We were flabbergasted,” Jill Perrapato says.

“It was awesome,” says her 13-year-old son Joey.

What did it mean?

First, back up.

It’s Christmas. We’re gathering with loved ones, giving and receiving. Around here, Duck gear figures to be among the hottest presents. Maybe, if you’ve been really good, Santa brought tickets to the biggest game in Oregon’s history.

But today, let’s focus on small gestures that, when unwrapped, blossom into huge gifts. Let’s note how Oregon football is lifting spirits with more than touchdowns and wins.

Let’s highlight deliberate acts of kindness like the visit Walter Thurmond III and Patrick Chung made to Newberg two years ago to visit a dying teenager. They spent almost an hour with Andrew Meinert. Held his hand. Told him to keep fighting against the aggressive brain cancer.

Andrew lost that fight not long afterward. But a grateful family cannot forget how two Ducks brightened a very dark situation.

“They touched us so much,” says Matt Meinert, Andrew’s big brother. “It meant a lot to the family. It really helped us get through that time when there wasn’t a whole lot we were looking forward to.”

Last month, Chip Kelly and a few players and coaches visited Charles Cummings and other disabled residents of the Independent Environments group home. Charles showed off his Duck room, complete with photos taken earlier of him with the coach.

It was an hour of elation. No, more like ecstasy. And if you dropped by today?

“Charles is still riding high,” says Fred Renter, the group home’s executive director. “The Ducks really generated some lasting joy.”

A week ago, 21 kids from two local elementary schools gathered at Target on the west side of town. After pizza and soda, they were handed $100 bills and told to buy gifts for their families, and helped on the shopping sprees by Oregon football players.

Kelly, by the way, wrote a check to cover the costs. A year ago, the Ducks sponsored 10 kids. Next year, the goal is 118 — a kid for every player.

To capture the moment, you needed only to watch one little boy running around the store, wildly waving that Benjamin Franklin. And to see two giant football players in Santa hats following him everywhere.

To understand the impact, you needed to hear one mother, when the school called to tell her of the opportunity, who began crying and explained she’d just spent the family’s Christmas money on an emergency.

“Pretty amazing,” says Denisa Taylor, the principal at Cesar Chavez Elementary. “It was good for the Ducks and good for the kids.”

Yeah, good for the Ducks. When they see how their presence, and their presents, can generate lasting joy — “It’s almost like having a superpower,” says James Harris.

Harris is the assistant athletic director who, among other things, coordinates “O Heroes.” (While we’re on the subject, if you’re looking for an O hero, start with Harris.)

Harris says the program is teaching Oregon’s athletes how, with a small investment of time or energy, they can “change people’s lives” — or at the very least, positively affect them.

Sometimes, all it takes is a few seconds. A signature and a stamp.

Which brings us back to a 13-year-old fan from California’s Central Valley. Joey Perrapato has always been a Duck fan in a family of them.

David and Jill, his parents, are from Eugene. They have family here, and they’ve visited often through the years.

An uncle played for Oregon, back in the 1960s. Joey has loved the Ducks since before he knew what they were. There’s an “O” in their front yard, and Joey has a running battle with Mr. Brunn, his history teacher, who’s an Ohio State fan.

But except for Saturday afternoons watching football, it has been a rough fall.

Joey’s father, David, has been out of work. A pressman for the San Francisco Chronicle, he lost his job when the printing plant was sold to another company.

And a few months back, bothered by persistent pain in his left leg, Joey went to the doctor. He expected a pulled muscle. His mom thought he might miss a week of P.E.

They discovered a tumor in Joey’s thighbone. He underwent surgery and missed most of the fall semester. He’s only just now off crutches.

And even as he healed, the family waited anxiously for lab results. Was the tumor a rare bone cancer? Or was the second diagnosis correct, that it was benign?

Into this situation, Dewitt Stuckey sent a T-shirt.

Oregon’s reserve linebacker is from Stockton, but the Perrapatos have never met him. He knew only that “there’s a kid in Stockton,” Jill says, “with a tumor in his leg.”

One of Jill’s friends from work knew the Perrapatos were Ducks. And that Joey was headed for surgery. And also, the friend knew Stuckey.

A few days before Joey’s surgery, the friend dropped a bag on Jill’s desk. For Joey, from the Ducks.

He opened it a day after surgery. The T-shirt was signed by, well, they think it might have been every Duck.

And it is hard to describe what those autographs meant.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Joey says. “They don’t even know me!”

Understand, players regularly sign items at Harris’ request. Recently, as a result of a project started by LaMichael James, they shipped a half-dozen autographed footballs to Medford, where they were given to kids fighting cancer.

Photographs came back, cute little bald kids beaming as they held their new prize.

“It was an awesome deal,” Harris says.

Which, you’ll remember, is exactly what Joey thought about all those signatures on a piece of green cloth.

Do the Ducks know how they encouraged a kid in Stockton with a tumor in his leg? Joey’s mom wants to make sure they do, and to thank them for lifting the spirits of a family facing all sorts of fear.

"It really is spectacular,” Jill says. “Just that they could — in this season, of all seasons, when they’ve got so much going on — that they could take a minute to do that.

“They might see it as a small thing. But it was a tremendous thing for our family.”

As was the news Thursday afternoon, when the lab results finally came back:

All clear.

“We’ve got a healthy son!” Jill says, and she wants to share the good news with everyone.

They’re grateful for the very good news. And even a month later, they’re glowing over a small gift that meant so much.

Joey cannot wait to return to school. He’ll wear the T-shirt to history class, because “this is gonna kill Mr. Brunn.” Is there any doubt what it did for Joey?

“If it’s possible,” he says, “I now love the Ducks even more.”

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That's really awesome. Hope all of you are enjoying the holidays.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

"O, Star of wonder. Star of might."
Hey, who can say it DIDN'T look like that?!?!?

Practice Makes Perfect: Part 2

From Auburn Athletics official website:
Cam Newton put down
his stiff arm trophy and
stopped smiling for the
cameras long enough to
get in a little practice.
AUBURN - The Auburn football team returned to the practice fields for the first time since winning the SEC Championship Game Dec. 4, as the Tigers practiced for an hour and a half in shoulder pads and shorts late Saturday afternoon. Due to construction of the new indoor practice facility behind the Athletics Complex, the Tigers held their workout at the Auburn Soccer Complex and Hutsell-Rosen Track.

   The practice was the first chance for the Tigers to being preparing for Oregon, Auburn's opponent in the 2011 BCS National Championship Game on Jan. 10. It was the first of four workouts that the team will hold before breaking for Christmas, with five more scheduled in Auburn after the break before the team departs for Arizona.
  The Tigers opened the practice with special teams drills before moving to individual and position drills. After more special teams work, the Tigers practiced against the scout teams for much of the rest of the workout.
  Following practice, head coach Gene Chizik said that the two-week layoff showed, but that he was pleased with the enthusiasm shown by the squad during practice.
  "It was a good opening practice today," said Chizik. "We were a little rusty. You could tell that we've been off for a little while, but it's nothing we didn't expect. The energy was good. The effort was great. We just have to get back into the flow of football things, and get focused on our game plan, and we'll do that. But today we were looking for effort and energy and that was definitely there."

The above is from December 18th. As Auburn was getting into their first bowl practice in shirts and shorts to shake off the rust, Oregon was embarking on their fifth day of practice -- their second in full pads.
   In fact Oregon came out the day prior in full pads -- half the team dressed in blue and orange to resemble Auburn -- and they engaged in full 11-on-11 drills.

Oregon started workouts on the 11th, continued on the 12th; and on the 13th, while Cam Newton was appearing on David Letterman and smiling at every camera pointed his way, LaMichael James was already back in Eugene doing what he preferred, practicing with his team.  Then they took three days off and started a five day stretch on the 17th.

On Sunday the 19th after Auburn's first day of practice, they took the day off while Oregon practiced.

On Monday the 20th, both teams were at it in full pads -- Auburn for the first time and Oregon for their third.  At the end of the day, the respective coaches had the following to say.

From Rob Mosely of the R-G, Coach Chip Kelly, Oregon:
Chip Kelly called today's full-pads practice in the Moshofsky Center "as good as we've had."
"They were outstanding," Kelly said.
   With a break for the holidays looming after practice Tuesday morning, Kelly said he was concerned about players possibly losing focus. But that wasn't the case, apparently, and he hopes it continues.
   "I told them that -- they set the standard for how they were supposed to practice today," Kelly said. "Can they come back and do it again tomorrow?"

From Auburn Official Football site, excerpts from Auburn Coach Gene Chizik's press conference:
"We're really getting a good look at Oregon more and more as the days go by. They're an extremely well-coached, very talented football team in every aspect. . . . . We have our work cut out for us. Today we're going to go out and have a good practice and be much sharper than we were on Saturday. We had great meetings and walk-throughs and focus-ups and we expect to kind of get back closer to where we were in the (SEC) Championship game. We have a lot of practice to do. We're excited about it. We'll be in full pads today, and we'll get after it today and get back to the physical nature of the game and continue our preparation." . . . . Again, they're just a great football team.

[Talking about Oregon's option schemes combined with their tempo. . . ]I don't know that I can compare them exactly to anybody that does that day-in and day-out that we've played against."

[Referring to Cal, the team that came closest to upsetting Oregon. . . ]
There are some things that you can take from that, and within what you try to do, you can implement some of that stuff. At the end of the day, you have to stick to what you feel comfortable with and what you do.

With that said, I hope Coach Chizik is comfortable with the fact that to this point, Oregon has out-practiced his Tigers eight days to four.
   What's more, Friday the 17th, a day before Auburn got together for their first practice, and three days before Coach Chizik commented how they're still "getting a look at Oregon more and more", "have our work cut out for us", and "have a lot of practice to do" . . .
Oregon linebacker Casey Matthews tweeted the following:
Back at this morning . . . Finally the Auburn game plan is in place.

Oregon had it's plan of attack on Auburn ready the day before the Tigers even started their first practice.

What is the drive behind these two teams? My theory is this. Almost exactly one year ago, Auburn won the Outback Bowl while Oregon lost the Rose Bowl. Since then, both teams have won every game.
  Auburn is approaching this game as a team that has won 14 consecutive games including their last bowl game over Northwestern.
   Oregon is approaching this as the team that lost the Rose Bowl, as noted in this excerpt from a recent article from the Oregonian.
Avoiding distractions. 
   It's something Oregon coach Chip Kelly has preached all season, and it's at the heart of his "Win The Day'' motto..
   And it's something the Ducks admittedly didn't do a great job of a year ago in the days leading up to the Rose Bowl.
   "We were a little distracted last year,'' center Jordan Holmes said. "There was a lot of stuff going on, and we didn't handle it very well. We're going to treat it like a business trip, just like we've done every game this year.''

   Oregon isn't talking about what they've accomplished. They're focusing on correcting what they failed to accomplish last January. They would have been preparing this way if it were the Rose Bowl or even the Humanitarian Bowl.  It just so happens to be the National Championship.

   Keep smiling for the cameras, Auburn. Stick with "what you feel comfortable with". Practice like you've already won the game. That's what the oddsmakers are telling you after all.
   But for Oregon, that day is still weeks away. They're just focusing on winning the present day. Like Saturday the 11th, Sunday the 12th, Monday the 13th, Friday the 17th -- days you weren't even on the field. 
  January 10th?  We'll see who's comfortable then.

Wishing you all the happiest of holidays. Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Practice Makes Perfect, Part 1

Two things make Chip Kelly very proud; and they're not wins, records, or awards (BTW, Kelly just picked up his third, nope . . . . make that fourth Coach of the Year award.)

Kelly has said two things to the media. 1) He strives to make Oregon the fastest team in the nation. And 2): Nobody practices harder than Oregon.

Today, we can look back and agree with what he's been trying to tell us all along -- that those two goals he CAN control translate into the wins, records, and awards that he otherwise could not control.

I am currently working on a story of the glaringly different approaches between Auburn and Oregon toward practices for the big game.

But first, I'm giving you some homework. The following is a MUST READ if you are to better understand Chip Kelly's philosophy behind his team's approach to success. On December 2nd, Michael Sokolove wrote in The New York Times Magazine about his peek inside the practice routine of Chip Kelly's Oregon Ducks.

It's too long to paste here, but let me give you a couple of excerpts to whet your appetite. Then you'll see the link.

In the city of the distance-running legend Steve Prefontaine — Eugene is known as Tracktown, U.S.A., and is also where the sporting-goods company Nike was started — Kelly has transformed football into an aerobic sport. This style is particularly of the moment because it is apparent that football, at least in the short term, will become less violent. Kelly’s teams have found a new way to intimidate, one that does not involve high-speed collisions and head injuries. “Some people call it a no-huddle offense, but I call it a no-breathing offense,” Mark Asper, an Oregon offensive lineman, told me. “It’s still football. We hit people. But after a while, the guys on the other side of the line are so gassed that you don’t have to hit them very hard to make them fall over.”

Asper, who is 25 and served a two-year Mormon mission before starting college, is among several Oregon players who told me that opponents sometimes beg them to slow down. “A guy from Tennessee said to me, ‘If you keep running plays that fast, I’m going to throw up.’ I just said, ‘Sorry, but Coach will get mad at us if we slow down.’ I mean, what else are you going to say? But I admit that I’ve messed with guys’ heads. One defensive lineman started complaining to me in the first half, and I said: ‘This ain’t nothing yet. Wait till you see how fast we go in the second half.’ ”

Oregon does no discrete conditioning during practice, no “gassers” — the sideline-to-sideline sprints that are staples in many programs — and no “110s” — sprints from the goal line to the back of the opposite end zone. The practice itself serves as conditioning. Just as they do during games, Oregon’s players run play after play — offensive sets; punt and kickoff returns and coverages; field goals; late-game two-minute drills — but at a pace that exceeds what they can achieve on Saturdays. Nick Aliotti, Oregon’s defensive coordinator, explained that the team can go even faster in practice because the “referees” — student managers sprinting around in striped shirts — spot the ball faster than any real game official would.

The way he [Kelly] trains his players is drawn, in part, from documentaries he has watched of military training. “You see how they train the Navy Seals. They squirt them with water, play loud music and do all these other things when they have to perform a task. That’s how we practice. We want to bombard our kids.”
Here is the link to the whole article: Speed-Freak Football
After reading this, I'd love to hear your comments.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Uniform Commitment


Oh no. Look who's a War Eagletarian:

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs will take some time off in early January in order to see his beloved Auburn Tigers play in the BCS national title game against Oregon. "I've told my friends the only request I have is a nice Chinese restaurant for the night before the game," Gibbs said, "so that we can have some duck."
Ya? Well it hurts me to say this Gibbs, but I've got your duck right here ready to give you the left wing AND the right, you Obama Care loving, bank regulating, birth certificate hiding, rich taxing, polar bear hugging, OK-to-ask-and-tell-ing pinko socialist, fascist, communist, monarchist, elitist, populist, pluralist, atheist, pacifist, alarmist, never been kissed, make me pissed (gasp, pant, pant, pant, gasp, pant, pant) . . . . . . . . .
Here are excerpts from the story:
White House press secretary Gibbs ready for Auburn's shot at BCS title
By Erik Brady and David Jackson, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — Robert Gibbs lovingly placed a small statue of Aubie, Auburn University's tiger mascot, on the front of his desk at the White House Wednesday.

"You know that God is an Auburn fan," Gibbs said, smiling sunnily, "because the sun is orange and the sky is blue."
[Maybe the sun is orange in your smoggy world. But where I come from it's BRIGHT YELLOW, you pinko commie, Obama loving . . . . . OK, I'll give it a rest. ]
Gibbs grew up in Auburn, where his parents worked for the university library, and he and his brother sat in the faculty section at games. His esteem for Auburn football is so deep he'd even root for the Tigers against North Carolina State, his alma mater.

Gibbs plans to place a friendly wager with Oregon grad Sean Smith, assistant secretary for public affairs in the Department of Homeland Security. "I have as many combinations of hats, sweatshirts and jackets as our team does uniforms," Smith said.

Auburn fans hang toilet paper from old-growth oak trees at Toomer's Corner after big wins. Gibbs and his son Ethan, 7, did the same, "albeit with less toilet paper," in the tree in their front yard after games against Alabama and South Carolina. Ethan "thinks it's the greatest thing we've ever done."

Would Gibbs consider TP-ing trees at the White House if Auburn wins the national title?

"I will have to talk to the Secret Service beforehand so they know that it's simply a tradition," Gibbs said, "but that's not a bad idea."
[If he's allowed to hang toilet paper on the trees around the White House, the terrorists win!]

Look at what he hangs his orange hat on in this related article:
Gibbs will go the national championship game in Arizona with two old high school friends. "I think we win the game," he said, "because I think we have an underestimated defense."
"Underestimated defense"?!?!?  After playing an entire season, how are they being underestimated? One blogger pointed out:
Auburn's defense is allowing 24.5 points per game. Clemson, Kentucky, Arkansas, Georgia and Alabama have shown it is possible to score plenty on the Tigers. Keep in mind: In the past six seasons, national champions haven't allowed over 19.9 points per game. [Oregon allowed 18.4 this season.]

In this Bleacher Report excerpt, blogger Bryan Dietzler is by no means a Duck homer; nor does he appear to follow the Ducks too much. But he seems to know football as he is a huge Chicago Bears fan.  He can apparently look at these two teams and estimate Auburn's defense just fine. He has Oregon winning:

When the Ducks have the Ball

 The Ducks are averaging a whopping 537 yards per game on offense with an average of 303 yards on the ground and 233 yards through the air. Their offense has been very tough to stop.

The Tigers are allowing teams to gain a total of 362 yards per game to opposing offenses. They are allowing opponents to gain 111 yards on the ground and 250 yards through the air. Their defense has had a solid season holding teams back and will face a very tough test against the Oregon Ducks.

So how does Oregon get past the Auburn defense? They have to do what they do best and start off fast. They have some great weapons in quarterback Darron Thomas and running back Lamichael James and those two need to crank it up against the Tigers defense. [What he doesn't realize is Oregon didn't always start off fast. Tennessee, Stanford, Washington, WSU, Cal . . . those were all either slow starts or otherwise mediocre first halves. If I may correct him, I'd say with all seriousness and sincerity that Oregon needs to do what they do best and simply finish with a lot more points than the opponent.]

The problems is, the Tigers can concentrate on shutting down James and that would take away a good part of the Ducks offense. Since that will probably be the case, the Ducks need to get the ball to some of their other play makers. Kenjon Barner can run the ball well and could be used often in this game (of the Tigers take out James).

Oregon could also get the ball to their wide receivers. Jeff Mahel has been spot on with his catches this season and is Thomas’ favorite target. If the Ducks can get the ball down the field to their receivers this will take less pressure off of James that would allow the Tigers to forget about him and be focused somewhere else.

As soon as they lose focus on James, he can then take advantage and come up with a big play. This would work well for the Ducks and should be something that they look into doing. [Yes this would work well. And it should be something the Ducks look into doing.

Wait a minute  . . . . . . THIS IS WHAT THEY DO!!!!  So I'm left scratching my head.
If Gibbs thinks everyone is underestimating his Tiger defense NOW, what is he going to think after they face the most prolific offense in the nation?]

By the way, looks like we can add Lavasier Tuinei to Oregon's options. Here's a link to the latest on him:
Oregon Ducks rundown: Receiver Lavasier Tuinei appears to be on track to return for the title game

As for Gibbs adding celebrity, if not political, star power to Auburn's side
(BREAKING NEWS: This just in.  FOX News has reported that Glen Beck and Bill O'Reilly will host a rally for "God, America, and the Oregon Ducks" at Autzen Stadium in Eugene next week.), not to worry. Oregon has picked up a few celebs of their own. .
 . .
Who is that jogging in a Ducks cap a few weeks ago?
It's none other than the lovely Reese Witherspoon.


Ty Burrell from the hit comedy "Modern Family" grew up in Astoria
and is a HUGE Duck fan.

And here, showing off the Ducks' new uni's
for the Natty, are Portland native (and former Nebraska Cornhusker)
 Ndamukong Suh and former Oregon State star Stephen Jackson.
Both are apparently, I don't know . . . . . living out a dream?
Righting a wrong, working out a regret by modeling Duck gear?
Thanks but sorry guys. We'll take Witherspoon.

About those unis. . . Have you seen them yet?
Are you sitting down?

This was the look on reporters faces at the unveiling of Oregon's
National Championship uniforms this week in Texas.
(I'm guessing she's more of a traditionalist.)
Well, the gloves are nice.
Looks great Mr. Knight. We've included all
the elements you asked for. I don't think we
forgot anything . . . . uhhh . . . .
Hey, I like day-glo neon green/yellow as much as the next guy, if the next guy happens to be an eighth grader in charge of the poster decoration committee for the Jr. High Spring Dance!

"But honey, these are the shoes and socks the Ducks
are wearing in the Natty. So why won't you let me
wear them out of the house?!?!?!"

Published: Tuesday, December 14, 2010, 8:03 PM Updated: Wednesday, December 15, 2010, 8:45 AM
By Allan Brettman, The Oregonian

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Fast, meet flash.

That was the result Tuesday as Nike unveiled the new football uniforms that the Oregon Ducks will wear next month when they play in the Bowl Championship Series national championship game.

Coach Chip Kelly, whose team's pace of play is among the most aggressive in the nation, now has uniforms designed to match.

"He wants to be known as the fastest team in the nation," said Todd Van Horne, global creative director for Nike football. He oversaw the team's latest uniform project, launched after the Civil War just 10 days ago.

What does fast look like in a football uniform?

"Speed looks like a blur," Van Horne said. "It's sleek, it's fast, it's minimal."

What's anything but minimal is the buzz surrounding the latest outfit -- a predominately white combination accented by neon yellow on the socks and shoes intended to look like a blinding streak as the nation's highest scoring team plays in the biggest game in state history. At least that must be the hope of fans, including Nike co-founder Phil Knight, when the Ducks take the field Jan. 10 against Auburn in Glendale, Ariz.

Tuesday's announcement will only add to hype around the Ducks. The event was held before a throng of reporters, with the modeling help of five NFL players (including Portland native Ndamukong Suh and former Oregon State star Stephen Jackson), with the backdrop of enormous Cowboys Stadium and the blaring of a high school marching band.

The uniform offers several bits of aesthetic flash and, for football aficionados, functional advancement. And while it will likely appear similar to the all-white road uniform the Ducks wore at USC this season -- a combination Knight has proclaimed his favorite, a victory after which he booked hotel rooms for Glendale -- Nike designers explained the latest product innovations. The bottom line: Lighter garments that are more responsive to movement and more efficient at keeping players dry.

Beyond building the hype for the on-field showdown, Tuesday's event served as a prelude to another surrounding this game. Although none of the officials from Nike, most of whom traveled to the event from the company headquarters near Beaverton, wanted to say so, one of their competitive business targets is undoubtedly Under Armour of Baltimore.

Under Armour is Auburn's equipment supplier. [Click the link in the title to see the entire article. It's kind of interesting.]

Viva la difference. And Oregon is certainly different. If any Auburn fan gives you crap about these uniforms, you can point out that what's worse than Oregon in these uni's is Oregon in these uni's while kicking Auburn's butt!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Day, and Season, is Won.

That's just great stop action photog right there. Obviously a fast shutter.
You can tell by the clenching of his jaw muscles that Kelly is already
starting to feel it.
Is it OK now, Coach?  Will you really let us come out and say it?
The Ducks have won. Pac-10 Champs--Back-to-Back. They are going to the Natty (National Championship).   I needed a couple of days after the Civil War to let it sink in.

Radio announcer Jerry Allen could've used a couple of days as well. In the following video of the closing seconds, he gets very sentimental and emotional, but fortunately it cuts off as he begins to go over the top to the point of being Glen Beckish:

   I remember my very first Civil War. I was a sophomore when they played at Autzen. It was 1983.  Final score: 0 to 0.  The Toilet Bowl.
   A short 27 years later, Oregon and Oregon State are battling in a CW for the third consecutive time where the Rose Bowl is a factor.  In 2008, it was the Beavers who had the shot. 2009, it was both teams. This year, a loss by the Ducks would've given them the Rose Bowl as a consolation prize. That Toilet Bowl is most definitely a game from the previous century.

Yet this year, while the Beavers were wearing their throw-up (sorry) throw-back uniforms to connect to a team that had a pretty good (sorry again) very good year back in 1967 (*Beavs, see my advice for you at the bottom.), today's Ducks are a team that is completely unrecognizable and incomparable, not only in the history of the school, but, as more people are saying, in the history of college football.

We've got five weeks until the National Championship matchup against Auburn. And in that time we have lots to talk about. As holidays and all that stuff allow, I hope to discuss several things.

1)  The perspective and relevance of the 2010 Oregon Ducks. This isn't just another football team. We might be witnessing history and change to the way the game is played forever.

2) Auburn and the SEC. What do they think about Oregon? What do they think of themselves.  I hope to join in on some of their comment boards and blogs and share the fun with you.

3) But for today, the Civil War.  People (Duck people, anyway) are calling this the biggest CW ever. My mantra is that every CW is the biggest ever until the next one. One thing is for sure. In terms of competition and drama, this CW did not disappoint.
   Below is a link and/or text to a couple of good stories on the game. Beneath that I put together a photographic commentary with pics from the Oregonian.

Oregonian columnist John Canzano wrote a most excellent perspective of Oregon here.

R-G columnist George Schroeder also wrote a good one below:

George Schroeder: Irreverent, swaggering Ducks do it their way
By George Schroeder
Register-Guard columnist
Published: Sunday, Dec 5, 2010 11:43AM

CORVALLIS — He’d just batted away the football, turned a sure touchdown into a field goal, and when he got to the sideline, Brandon Bair made his way directly to the head coach.
   “If you’d thrown the ball more to me during special-teams drills,” the defensive tackle told Chip Kelly, “I’d have caught that.”
   Right there in the heat of battle, everything on the line, coach and player hugged and shared a laugh. And if you’re looking for a reason Oregon will play for a national championship, start with that carefree moment.
   “We were just joking around with each other,” Bair said. “It was a great stop.”
   It was great stuff.
   Just like Oregon 37, Oregon State 20.
   The Ducks completed a perfect regular season. They’re headed to Arizona, matched against Auburn in the BCS title game. And they’re more than good enough to win it all.
   Start, because we have to, with Oregon’s flashy offense. It is “tremendous, explosive, outstanding, great, unbelievable,” according to defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti.
   “But we’ve played good defense,” he added.
   He’s right, and it’s past time we recognized it. Put it all together, and this team is deep, fast and talented.
   And also irreverent.
   That’s what I like most about these Ducks. Their attitude. The confidence — swagger, really — that underlies everything they do, and breeds a casual disregard for convention.
   They’ll do this their own way, and who cares what anyone else thinks?
   A fake punt from their own 28, with the game in doubt. Who does that? [Oregon does, obviously.  And I have more to say about that amongst the pics below.]
   Irreverence is the trait that immunizes the Ducks from pressure. No matter the moment, they never seem to feel it.
    None of them. Ever.
   “Pressure,” said Bair, parroting something he’s heard from Kelly, “is what you feel when you don’t know what you’re doing. [Wow. He just summed up my whole life.]
   “We know what we’re doing.”
    And where they’re going. After the game, you figured Kelly would finally drop the shield and let loose. Hey coach, where does this rank on your list of accomplishments?
   “It’s right up there,” Kelly said, without expression. “It’s as big as the Arizona win.”
   See? Irreverent.
   It’s the biggest win in the history of the program, given what it sets up. But that’s also why, as the celebration swirled around him, Kelly stayed relentlessly on-message.
   Mostly, so did his team, and more on that in a bit. But first, back to the moment with Bair.
   Because afterward, as Kelly deflected questions like it was Week Six, rather than the completion of a historic regular season, I kept thinking about Bair’s deflecting Ryan Katz’s third-down pass for a wide-open Quizz Rodgers.
   About Bair needling the head coach. And then both of them yukking it up on the sidelines during a tense situation.
   “He has just as much fun as we do,” said Bair of Kelly.
   It’s OK to admit it. There were moments Saturday when you were a tad worried, because never mind the final score, this was not a dominant performance. Oregon struggled against a very motivated rival.
   In the third quarter, the Beavers seized momentum with two consecutive drives deep into Oregon territory. But after forcing field goals, the Ducks weren’t concerned. Or relieved.
   No, they were bouncing over to the head coach, dropping one-liners.
   So what if Kelly barely cracked a smile with reporters afterward, if he wouldn’t let go and admit it was a big deal, winning Saturday. Not everybody was quite as restrained.
   Afterward, occasionally sipping light beer from a bottle, Aliotti was “happy as a dog in space.” [Could someone please explain what that means? It's obviously way too deep for me. I'm trying to picture my teacup Yorkie in space. And I'm telling you, he ain't at all happy.]
   “We’re the University of Oregon. We’re 12-0,” he said. “We’re back-to-back Pac-10 champs — and we’re going to The Natty.”
   Again, irreverent. And fantastic.
And give him the moment, Aliotti deserves to revel. Don’t worry, the Ducks are still on-message.
   Afterward, Kelly (and several players) made the point that their next task is final exams, and then they’ll start practicing. And Auburn? Yeah, they’ve heard a rumor that’s the opponent.
   “I think we’re all pretty excited,” Bair said. “It just feels like we’re where we’re supposed to be. It’s not, ‘Holy cow, look where we ended up.’
   “We expected this.”
   They expect more, too. You have to like the attitude — and because of it, their chances, 36 days from now, of being ready for the moment.
   And winning that day.

First play of the game, after Casey Matthews came in to
personally wish Beaver QB Ryan Katz good luck, . . . . .

. . . Katz lay on the ground for several minutes without even the strength
to click his ruby red heels together, say "There's no place like home.",
and teleport himself back to Kansas.

Meanwhile, the Ducks uni's -- shown off here by LaMJ as he
scores a TD -- are unusually NOT green OR yellow.
I maintain the combination of colors (or lack thereof) was meant
to represent the look of Waterford Crystal.
Who says the Ducks weren't looking ahead?

Terrill Turner rises above crowd to give Katz his first of four picks.
Linebacker Michael Clay, a running back in High School,
 rumbles a fake punt easily for 68 yards.
This fake punt is the play that separates the Ducks from the Beavs. It best illustrates why the Ducks are the "big brother"; why they're going to the National Championship and the Beavers are going nowhere.
It's no secret that Chip Kelly hates wasting a perfectly good 4th down on a punt. He expects to seize the momentum in the second half.  What's more, Oregon was depending on its young backup punter as Rice was ill.
Put this all together, and the surprise of this play was actually that Oregon State fell so hard for it. They absolutley were not expecting it. Completely fooled.
Said Riley afterward, "It was well done by them, but I'm really kicking myself for that."
Added OSU cornerback James Dockery, "That's just their personality, they're trying to kill you."
Well "Duh". You were expecting a niiiiiiice Civil War?

Thomas. 14 - 24, 145 yards, 2 TD's, No Int's.
He's just a stud. That's all there is to it.

Oh, it's an "O"!  That's the gang signal these kids have been flashing.
I just saw online these Nike gloves can be a great stocking stuffer for just $45.

Let the celebration begin . . .

. . . and continue . . .

. . . and anyone in the Pac-10 knows you can't have a rivalry
post-game celebration without trombone players.

Sorry Bubba. Guess you'll have to throw your toy duckie
back in the drawer for another year and re-tie the rope
around your pickup's passenger door so the wife don't
fall out whenever you turn left.

Oh cheer up, Beavers. As if you really thought you would win.
Look at the bright side. You knocked the Ducks out of the Rose Bowl!
Put that on a T-shirt and wear it proud.

Now take a look at these next three pictures. The above pic was taken last Saturday . . .

These two pics are from the Civil War in Corvallis, 2008. Striking similarities, to say the least.
You've heard of the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem where Orthodox Jews pray?  I give you the "Failing Wall" in Reser Stadium where prostrate Beavers cry out to the football gods.

* Hey Beavs, can I give you some advice?
Do yourselves a big favor. Shoot a text or email to OSU's AD and tell him to bury the Giant Killers 1967 team once and for all and let them rest in peace.  Ask him to never bring them up ever, ever again.
   Ask yourselves this question: How many 18-20 year olds do you inspire when you drone on about a game played so far back in the previous century, it's closer in time to World War II than present day?  It was before most households had color TV or automatic dishwashers. 
   And what do kids today know of O.J. Simpson?  How many recruits are going to sign on Oregon State's dotted line when they get an overload of orange pantsed old farts waxing poetic about their victory over that great kidnapper, armed robber and wife murderer by a stupid score of 3-0? 
"Well ya," you might say, "but they also beat a #1 Purdue team led by the great Bob Griese and . . . "

   TEENAGERS DON'T CARE.  I was a huge Dolphin fan back in Griese's day and I don't even find that the least bit interesting!

   Year after year, Oregon State used to break out the Giant Killers' Legendary Tales  because for the longest time, that's all they had. They were so terrible, a 3-0 win over OJ Simpson's USC team was all they had to talk about.

   I'm a long time Duck fan, so I know. I remember those days. We were down there in the cellar with you. Who was that sydnicated sports columnist who wrote "The Bottom Ten" every week, talking about the worst teams in the nation? Remember that? It seemed like the Ducks and Beavers were ALWAYS there.

   But what has happened to the Beavs since then? How many times have you beaten USC since then? More times than you can count! How many bowls since then? A respectable number.
  The Beavs were in the Rose Bowl hunt until their final game in 2008 and 2009 -- two years in a row. How many coaches in the Pac-10 or Big-10 would kill to be able to walk into a recuit's home and say that?

   So I ask you, why on earth did Oregon State drag up that dusty old cobwebbed Vietnam-era team again this year?  Sure, there was a time when Giant Killers 1967 were a big deal. But why now?  
   It's up to today's Beavers to say, "Give it a rest. Stop talking about it.  It's not a big deal anymore. We've done more since then, and expect to do much more in the future."

   You don't like being called the "little brother"?  Well do yourself a favor and stop acting like one. Worse than that, stop acting like an 80-year old little brother with your walker and your soaked Depends, yelling "Giant Killers!" in the cafeteria line at the senior center. That's what you looked like the other night. And don't even let me get started on your ruby red slippers.
  As a Duck, I am the bigger brother. And, you might have noticed, we Ducks have bigger and better things to do than stop and give advice to YOU.  But I feel I have to because . . . well, . . . you're kind of embarrassing us. 


   So here's my advice: Get up. Stand up straight. Wipe those artificial turf rubber granules off your face. Head up, chin out.  Burn those stupid throw-backs and put on something modern. You hate Oregon's style?  FINE!  But just get some anyway -- modern style, I mean.
   Talk only about the future. Interrupt anyone who brings up the past. Be rude if you have to and tell them you don't care.
   Giant Killers are dead. Grow to hate them, because everytime someone brings them up, it means they would rather think about them than what's happening now. Work to create teams worthy of new and better nicknames. Set goals that go way beyond whatever happened in '67. Make everyone forget about them.

   Now blow the blood out of your noses and stop your sniveling. Stupid little brothers. What would we do without you? Come here. You look like you could use a good wedgie. . . . . .Hey, where are you going? GET BACK HERE!


Friday, December 3, 2010

Final Civil Thoughts

Double click on this. Print it, cut it out, put two-sided tape on it and kindly pat it on the back of your favorite Beaver today.

Think computers are tough on Oregon? 
See what they say about the Beavs.
I think the last time I felt this calm going into a Civil War game was when Rich Brooks was coach. Obviously I'm being a naive idiot. But it's not just me. I had a hard time finding anyone who said OSU would pull off the upset.

Might pull it off? Could? Maybe? Sure. But no one wanted to actually put their name next to such a wild prediction.

Even computer simulation games especially liked Oregon. KVAL-TV in Eugene had the following story:

Computer model predicts Oregon Civil War: 'The math is simple' 

EUGENE, Ore. - The computer loves Oregon.

   After simulating the Oregon Civil War game over 10,000 times, The AccuScore computer model predicts the Ducks would beat the Beavers at least 8,300 times.
   But it only takes once to send the Ducks to the Bowl Championship Series game for the first time ever - or crown this year's Beavers as the biggest spoilers in Oregon football history.
   AccuScore's model, which attempts to forecast sporting events like weather computers forecast the weather, gives the Beavs a glimmer of hope - hey, in 1,300 of those 10,000 simulations, Oregon State pulls off an upset.
   But Zach Rosenfield, college football analyst with AccuScore, doesn't see that happening.
"Oregon State’s 2010 season has been a complete disaster and it shows when you look at the numbers," Rosenfield said. "Nobody thought the transition from Canfield to Katz would have caused such a drop off, but the numbers are staggering.
   "This season, when an Oregon State quarterback drops back to pass, 12 percent of those plays end up in either a sack or interception. That number is up 4.5 percent against last year when Canfield was the quarterback," Rosenfield said. "The fallout from the negative plays have really hurt the Beavers to have manageable situations and run the ball effectively. Jacquizz Rodgers is averaging a full 10 yards less a game in 2010 vs. 2009 and the passing game had not made up the difference with 1,000 yards less production this season vs. last.
   "The fallout from the decreased productivity means that opposing teams are getting extra possessions. Oregon State only punted 51 times in last year’s 13-game season, but have already punted 57 times in 11 games in 2010.
   "The punting number really stand out and is a key catalyst to why AccuScore has Oregon winning 84 percent of simulations by an average margin of 20 points. The Ducks have have either scored a touchdown or attempted a field in goal in an astounding 56 percent of their possessions this season when they are not trying to run out the clock.
   "The math is simple: more possessions means Oregon will either score or flip the field, which is trouble for an Oregon State team that is having trouble moving the ball and putting up points."

That's as good as any analysis I've heard. Yet, it just doesn't seem right to get ready for the Civil War without having SOMETHING to worry about. And the Oregonian's Aaron Fentress finds it.

OSU's best weapon is NOT Quizz Rogers. Oh sure, he's going to gain his 99.7 yards per game. But OSU wins and loses by QB Ryan Katz's arm. If he's connecting long down the middle, the Beavs are having a good day.
   Following are some excerpts from Fentress' article:

That objective could depend on the right arm of quarterback Ryan Katz and his ability to go down field, something the Ducks (11-0, 8-0) are mindful of.

    “That's a huge concern,” Oregon coach Chip Kelly said. “We know [wide receiver] Jordan Bishop can run and Ryan Katz has an outstanding arm. That's something, especially off the play-action stuff with [running back] Quizz [Rodgers], because everybody is really trying to shut down Quizz, that is a huge concern.”
    Given last week’s performance by Oregon’s pass defense, the Ducks should be concerned.
    Oregon handled the Wildcats 48-29 at Autzen Stadium but repeatedly lost track of Arizona wide receivers to the tune of 448 yards passing and three touchdowns for quarterback Nick Foles.

That's what makes it particularly troublesome. Oregon's pass defense was pretty awful last week. Cliff Harris had probably his worst day this season. Thanks to some miscommunication with the safety, his man escaped for not one but two long easy receptions for TD's.
    In addition, he fumbled one punt return and tried to reverse field and lost yardage on another.  It looked like he was trying too hard. Let's hope he had a good practice and got all of that out of his system so he can give Katz the bad day on Saturday.

Fentress finishes this way:
    To be fair, it’s not as if Oregon has provided haven for opposing receivers to run free. The Ducks rank second in the conference interceptions (16) and tied for first in fewest touchdown passes allowed (11).

    Still, Oregon knows that Katz will be looking to exploit potential weaknesses exposed by Arizona.
   “He throws a good deep ball,” Boyett said of Katz. “They like to take a lot of shots down field. They’ve shown signs of trying to attack the secondary in previous games. They want to throw a lot of deep combination routes. But at the same time they throw a lot in the short passing game to try and get their offense going.”

The Salem Statesman Journal is less kind in this assessment of Katz:

First-year starter Ryan Katz has a strong arm and provides another dimension with his running ability. The tools are there, but Katz remains a work in progress.
   Much like the Beavers inconsistent season, Katz has been up and down. He had his worst game of the campaign in last week's 38-0 drubbing at Stanford, with three interceptions and a lost fumble.
   Katz has produced better numbers than recent first-year starters for the Beavers, a distinguished group that includes Sean Canfield, Lyle Moevao, Matt Moore and Derek Anderson. He has completed 60.3 percent of his passes for 2,177 yards and 16 touchdowns with eight interceptions, and ranks sixth in the conference in passing efficiency. Katz has run for 224 yards and two scores, but counting sacks he has a net 17 yards on the ground.

The problem with Oregon State's dependence on its passing game is their offensive line. With one freshman and a first year walk-on as starters (And the freshman may be too hurt to play this Saturday.), they're just not as experienced this year. The result is the Beavers are ranked ninth in the Pac-10 in sacks allowed at 32. Look for the Ducks to build on that number substantially.

Bottom line: If Katz doesn't have a Nick Foles kind of day against the Ducks, Oregon will win handily.

To the victor goes the spoils. And if you lead your team to the Rose Bowl your first year and hopefully the National Championship the second, you should be pretty spoiled upon, right?  Coach Chip Kelly's pay incentives are already kicking in according to this article from the Portland Examiner.

Chip Kelly stands to get giant payday if Oregon beats Oregon State
Things are starting to get crazy in Oregon as people begin to wake up from their dream, pinch themselves, and realize that it's a reality: the Ducks are one - one - win away from the first national championship berth in the history of the football program. And although he's surely put it in the back of his mind, the win would come with an extra bonus for head coach Chip Kelly.
   According to USA Today, Kelly will secure approximately $4.3 million if Oregon beats the rival Beavers to make it to BCS National Championship game in Glendale, Arizona in January.
   A win would also give Kelly the opportunity to make an additional $250,000 to be paid if the Ducks win the national championship.
   Wrote USA Today's Steve Berkowitz: "Kelly's possible payday is illustrative of the lengths schools go to reward and retain coaches, even amid difficult budgetary times."
   Kelly is in his second year as the head coach of the Oregon Ducks, and he's currently 21-3 in that position - the best start any Oregon football coach has had in the program's 117-year history.
    Kelly signed a 6-year extension back in September, worth about $20.5 million, after making $1.5 million last season.
   He's currently making $2.4 million this year, but has already secured an additional $175,000 in bonuses.
   The $4.3 million would be a part of a built-in one-year extension that kicks in only if the Ducks win 12 games in a single season and get into a BCS bowl game. In other words, if Oregon beats OSU on Saturday, an extra year worth $4.3 million is added onto the end of Kelly's current contract.

Worth every penny.

In fact this entire season has been worth every cent and moment, obviously.  Did you ever think that the Ducks would be in a position where a loss tomorrow would mean they would have to settle -- SETTLE I said -- for the Rose Bowl?

Do yourself a favor, Duck fan.  Don't hold your breath until tomorrow when there are reasons to celebrate today.  As the Beavers wear there throw-up uniforms to hearken back to a team in 1967 that only dead people remember, let us celebrate this season today with a video from 1974.


Civil War Gametime 12:30 Pacific on ABC.
Also don't forget ESPN's College Gameday will be in Corvallis tomorrow at 7a.m. 
Tune in to see if more Ducks than Beavers show up.