Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A True Reward

Team WTD
Oregon beat OSU as scheduled. The Beavers played really hard, but Oregon just had the better blah blah blah . . . OK whatever.
Here's a video and some pictures if you want to see it again. But then we gotta move on . . . .

Photos from Oregonian.
DAT's a TD.
Tight end of the future, Colt Lyerla makes the snag.
Beavers could not stop Barner around the edges.
"Oh ya? Well you lost to Louisiana State. So there!"

. . . . So much has happened since then. You probably heard -- Rick Neuheisel got fired!  And as punishment for his coaching crappiness, UCLA is sending him to Eugene and forcing him to watch the Ducks further humiliate him and his team. Here are some juicy quotes from Neuheisel before his firing as he defended his job in The Orange County Register's story, "Neheisel Says He Deserves to Return".

"We've won five conference games as opposed to three last year," Neuheisel said. [Ya. That's better than Arizona,  ASU or WSU; and you don't see they're coaches getting -- Wait . . . what's that? . . . . Oh, never mind.]  "We have won the right to represent the South in the conference championship. ["Won the right"? At 6-6 and with USC on probation, there's a HUGE asterisk next to that statement.]
"I was told that we needed to move the needle," Neuheisel, 50, said during a news conference. "And if the needle moved then we would be fine and I'd get to continue along my five years of my five-year contract. [Through that 50-0 drubbing by USC, you can say he moved the needle as he prompted UCLA fans to stab it into their eyes, blinding them from the horror. ]

For the second time in two weeks, he gets to watch his team get stomped. And it won't be by just anybody, but by the one team who hates him most (not counting the schools where he has coached). The Ducks get to say goodbye to their old nemesis in the most excellent way.

If fact this is shaping up to be a really good year. Oregon gave OSU an ol' fashioned thrashing just like the old days.

The Ducks beat Washington for the eighth consecutive time -- a reality so painful for the Dawgs that they tore down their stadium in despair.

Oregon was also successful in playing a part with the conference-wide intervention to FINALLY convince Arizona that their coach was an embarrassment.

And although they don't get to go back to the Natty, they are given a wonderful, WONDERFUL consolation prize complete with a challenge: 
Beat the crap out of the one coach you despise most in the world, and we'll send you to the Rose Bowl!

It's like giving the whole Jedi Council 10 minutes in a locked room with Darth Vader tied to a post.

People are calling this matchup a disappointment. Sure, USC or Stanford would have been a far more interesting game. But Oregon fans will clearly see the upside to this.  I just hope for two things:
1) Will someone please make a fitting sign that says it all:
"SCOREBOARD BABY.  Bu'bye Rick."
and 2) I want Neuhoser to personally hand the Pac-12 trophy to the Ducks with a sincere smile on his face. 

George Schroeder of the R-G talked more of the absurdity of this matchup in his story, "UCLA makes Pac-12 title a Friday night blight"

I was just getting a little sentimental over the exit of our departing friend.
So I picked up and started flipping through the old photo album when I pulled out this gem.
"Neuhoser kicking a baby sea lion. Reason #105 of why he's a terrible person."
Gonna miss you, Rick. We never loathed anyone quite like you.

More later,

Friday, November 25, 2011

No Beaver Trap this time.

Bucky Justin Beaver
(Would love to take credit for this,
but I stole from Facebook.)

Obviously after the letdown last week, we're worried about a letdown trend. What if the team didn't learn from last week? What if they allow OSU to put them in a big hole again? The following article suggests otherwise.

From the Washington Post . . .
By Associated Press, Published: November 22

For the ninth-ranked Oregon Ducks, there is no use looking back at what might have been.

Oregon (9-2, 7-1) lost last Saturday to USC, eliminating any chance of a repeat bid for a national title. But the Ducks still have the inagural Pac-12 championship game to look forward to, and perhaps even the Rose Bowl, if they can get past rival Oregon State in the annual Civil War game.

“We’re not really used to handling losses but you just think it over for about a day and when Monday comes around you just have to focus on the next week,” Ducks tight end David Paulson said. “It’s the same as a win. You get to enjoy it for a day, then you have to come back and focus on the next week.”

While the Civil War doesn’t seem like much of a challenge — the Beavers have won just three games this season — the Ducks are wary. They were supposed to beat the Trojans, too, but instead lost their first game at Autzen Stadium since September 2008.

The Ducks trailed USC 38-14 in the third quarter but pulled within 38-35. On Oregon’s final drive, Alejandro Maldonado missed a 37-yard field goal that would have sent the game into overtime.

Oregon also lost its season opener to top-ranked LSU, but had climbed back into the national championship picture after a 53-30 victory at No. 4 Stanford.

“When you lose a game you can’t wait to play the next one,” Ducks running back LaMichael James told reporters on Tuesday. “Practice has been going really well. We’re really fired up. It’s gonna be a different game than it was last week. Everybody’s really motivated to put that loss behind them.” [No more "second-half team" crap. They need to be the team that beat Stanford wire to wire.]

The Beavers (3-8, 3-5) are coming off a 38-21 win over Washington last Saturday. A victory over Oregon would further ease the disappointment of a second straight season with no bowl berth.

“They’re going to bring everything they’ve got,” Paulson said.

Even their scented candles and Snuggies?!?!?


Oregon State coach Mike Riley grew up in Corvallis and his dad was an assistant for the Beavers under celebrated coach Dee Andros, so he’s seen more than his share of Civil Wars.

“It’s especially tough this year with a great Oregon team,” he said on Tuesday. “Every phase of the game we’re going to have to play at a tremendously high level to compete. But, I’ll tell you this: I think our team will compete hard and prepare well. I know they’re looking forward to a great opportunity.”

Saturday’s game is the 115th Civil War. Oregon has won the last three, sending the Ducks off to the Rose Bowl in 2009 and the national championship game against Auburn last season

With a victory over the Beavers, Oregon will win the North Division and host the first Pac-12 title game on Dec. 2. The championship game was added this season after Colorado and Utah joined the league.

Should the Ducks lose, Stanford (10-1, 8-1) will host the game. The Cardinal play Notre Dame in a non-conference finale on Saturday.

The South Division’s representative for the game is also undecided. UCLA can clinch with a victory over USC in their rivalry game, but Arizona State and Utah could still claim the South under certain circumstances.

The league champion will earn a trip to the Rose Bowl on Jan. 2, to play the winner of the Big Ten title.

While Oregon has long espoused Chip Kelly’s “every game is our Super Bowl” philosophy, the Ducks still headed to practice this week with a little extra enthusiasm.

“For us, it’s the same every week. Practice is Groundhog’s Day here,” offensive lineman Mark Asper said. “But I do enjoy the energy around town and on campus and stuff when we’re playing a traditional rival. I get excited for that. The community energy fuels the fire a little bit.”

Beaver Fail
Gametime 12:30 Pacific on ABC.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Everyone loses . . .

Ducks make statement . . .

Beavers reply . . . 

True . . . . True.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Oh Well. I didn't really want the Ducks to play LSU again anyway.

This was the worst part for me. After the game, the Trojan Band playing on and on at Autzen.
Barkley up there directing them. It's like watching Fidel Castro take a dump
on the lap of the Lincoln Monument. It's like watching Russians catapult
pumpkins at the faces of Mount Rushmore. It's an insult and a crime
against all that is good.
First of all, let me say that I was completely wrong about Matthew Barkley. He backed up what he said about exposing the Ducks' weaknesses. He passed with perfect precision. He came with a game plan and executed it almost flawlessly. He is a fine young man with a heart of a champion. He and his Trojans won deservedly.

"OK Matt, now can you let go of my arm and get your knee off my head?"

I thought Montana played for Washington. But
Barkley and his two main receivers did a re-enactment
of Joe, Jerry Rice, and Dwight Clark all night.
Perhaps we Duck fans and maybe a few players all fell into the "trap" of thinking, after beating Stanford at Palo Alto, that handling USC in Eugene would be a sure thing. Could you ever imagine in all your years that USC would prove to be a trap game for the Ducks?

Meanwhile, down in L.A., the Trojans were stewing about the last two humiliating losses to Oregon; and no one more than Matt Barkley. It's one thing to circle a game on a calendar and get all worked up about it. It's so much more to set a good plan, prepare, and execute it effectively.

Lots of teams have gotten all fired up for playing the Ducks. A few came out with good game plans, only to run out of gas in the end. USC did it exactly right. They stunned the Ducks and built a big lead. Then they hung on for the ferocious comeback that Oregon was sure to serve.

Oregon's motto is WTD -- "Win The Day". Another fitting motto might be ANQ -- "Absolutely No Quit". Sure, the Ducks lost. But those in witness saw them working their tails off to erase the deficit. They almost did it. But as Vince Lombardi once said, "We didn't lose. We just ran out of time."

Talking to other Duck fans, we agreed that had that field goal kick gone through, Oregon had the momentum to carry them through overtime and win. 
Photos from Oregonian.
Absolutely No Quit in Kenjon Barner, Darron Thomas, David Paulson, or the rest of the Ducks Saturday night.
But that's all moot under the bridge today. All we can do now is face the realities, which aren't so bad.

Oregon isn't ready to go back to the Natty. USC showed that. But that's OK because the Ducks need to take care of other business first. They need to go back to the Rose Bowl and win that thing. That possibility is still very much alive.

Beat Oregon State and they host the first Pac-12 Championship. Win that and the Ducks are likely back in the Rose Bowl as long as the big giant heads of the BCS don't suddenly decide to get creative with the placements.

At the end of the USC game, I was smirking to myself, "Congratulations, Trojans. Have fun sitting at home watching the Ducks play in the post season."

But ironically, their probation turns out to be a bit of a shame. They lead the Pac-12 South right now. How cool would it have been to say, "Nice game Trojans. Now come back in two weeks and try it again. Only this one will be for all the marbles."?

 How we would've loved to see our Ducks run into the locker room right after Saturday night's game, seething, and saying "Rematch, baby. Let's beat OSU and get USC back up here."

Oh well. The bottom line is still the same as it always was. Take care of business for the coming Saturday. It's Civil War week. Had Oregon beaten USC as expected, they might've shown mercy on the Beavers and beaten them nicely, humanely, and without a lot of bloodshed. 

But that's not gonna happen now. The Beavs will be walking into a cranky Autzen. And they can bet the Ducks will be certain not to underestimate their opponent again. 

Have a Cookie
When you were young and you had a bad day, did your mom ever try to cheer you up with a cookie, or brownie, or bowl of pudding? Did she give you some treat to help take the sting away? Well Duck fans, wipe away your tears and bite into this treat. . .
Thomas Tyner, five-star prospect from Aloha, verbally commits to Oregon Ducks
Published: Saturday, November 19, 2011, 9:30 PM
By Jason Quick, The Oregonian 
The fastest athlete in Oregon high school history has come to a quick decision about where he will attend college: Thomas Tyner is verbally committing to the University of Oregon to play football and run track.

A junior from Aloha, Tyner is the state record holder in the 100 meters and the reigning Class 6A offensive player of the year in football. He gave Oregon football coach Chip Kelly a verbal commitment Saturday after the Ducks lost to USC 38-35 at Autzen Stadium.

Tyner is regarded as a five-star recruit, and figures to be near the top of the nation's recruiting lists. His decision is not binding, but he said "I'm pretty sold on Oregon.""Being a big recruit, and all that goes with that, I think making this decision early will take a lot of the stress off," Tyner said Saturday. "I've been going to nearly every Oregon game this year and I got the feeling that's where I belong."

Tyner said assistant Steve Greatwood and Kelly did the majority of his recruiting, but the school and the football team sold themselves. Tyner also wants run track and study broadcasting. Oregon has a storied track and field history and a well-regarded journalism program

He was being recruited by every power conference in the nation, including several Southeastern Conference schools.

"Football wise, I think I fit pretty well into Oregon's offense," Tyner said. "I think with a lot of those SEC schools, they run a Pro-I, grinding type offense that would take a toll on my body. In Oregon's spread offense, I can get out in the open and use my speed. I think I can rack up some yards. Plus, Oregon has shown they do a good job recruiting offensive linemen.

"And school wise, I want to go into broadcasting and I looked into their program, and I think it will be great for me."

Tyner (6-foot, 208 pounds) missed six games this season with a variety of injuries, the last a hairline fracture in his right tibia that caused him to miss Aloha's final two games. He will be in a walking cast for two more weeks. He still finished with 1,136 yards (8.9 yards per carry) and 12 touchdowns, plus one kickoff return for a touchdown.

Last season, he rushed for 1,821 yards and 19 touchdowns in leading Aloha to the Class 6A state title. He also won the state title in the 100 meters, and set the state record of 10.35 (wind-aided), which was the fifth fastest prep time in the nation last year. He said he will run track for the Ducks as well.

At one point it was believed that Oregon State had the inside track to Tyner, and he admitted the Beavers held a special place with him entering the school year because they were the first team that recruited him and the first team to offer him a scholarship.

"For any athlete, the first school that offers you, you automatically like that school; it's going to put a big smile on your face," Tyner said. "So I gave Oregon State a lot of attention, and I really loved it in Corvallis, and the coaches are amazing, they made me feel like family. Then I went down to the Sacramento State game ... and that wasn't too pretty. I ended up leaving at halftime. It seems like their sports are going down, and Oregon, I don't know, I just like it down there. It's awesome." 

Oooo. Ouchy, Beavers. That loss to Sac. State came back to bite you again, didn't it. That's unfortunate.

Let me hammer home what you just read. This guy is five star. Nationally recruited by the major schools. The fastest sprinter in the state, he's not a 5'8", 175 pound squirt. He is 6', 208 pounds -- and only a junior in high school. Thomas Tyner has been compared to Oklahoma's Adrian Peterson.

I saw a video of him where he looked like a runaway downhill freight train.  When he gets in the secondary on a head of steam, smaller cornerbacks just wave at him as he runs by. They ain't no fools.

When I heard this, I immediately started dreaming. Think along with me. In 2013, QB Brian Bennett and RB De'Anthony Thomas will be juniors. Tyner would be a freshman. That's two years of talent and leadership in key positions. Add a good supporting cast around them . . . . . savor those cookies for a moment.

Here's one video for a little taste. Tyner is #4.

Ya think Coach Kelly will talk to him about getting back to the huddle a little quicker?


Friday, November 18, 2011

We'll see who's not as good as before.

Michael Clay and Avery Patterson stop by to wish Andrew Luck
all the best with the whole Heisman thing.
[Two stories from L.A. take differing views of Oregon's defense. The following is from the L.A. Times.]
Oregon isn't all about offense

Ducks' defense, while not posting flashy numbers, gets the job done. Like the offense, they are deep and troublesome.
By David Wharton

November 17, 2011, 4:30 p.m.

Reporting from Eugene, Ore. — Just to be clear, Michael Clay does not want to sound like a complainer.

The linebacker understood when he signed with Oregon he was joining a program known for its rapid-fire offense. For outracing opponents, not stopping them cold.

Defense is something of an afterthought.

"Can't deny that," Clay said. "We kind of fly under the radar."

But this fall, with the fourth-ranked Ducks sneaking back into the national championship hunt, scoring almost seven touchdowns a game, Clay and his defensive teammates are starting to get noticed.

They frustrated Heisman Trophy favorite Andrew Luck in a lopsided win over Stanford last week. Now comes another test against Matt Barkley, who leads No. 18 USC into Autzen Stadium for a Pac-12 Conference showdown Saturday.

"Their defense is really good," USC Coach Lane Kiffin said. "Probably the best it's ever been there."

At first glance, the statistics make that sound like normal pregame talk from a coach. Giving up an average of 384 yards a game, the Ducks rank around the middle of the conference.

But look closer.

Their offense, which can score as quickly as some teams go three-and-out, has left the defense on the field a wearying 797 plays. That's 122 more than USC — almost two games' worth.

"I'm not going to sit here and [lie to] you," defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti said. "Sometimes it can be difficult."

Where Aliotti's squad shows its worth is in per-snap statistics, giving up only 4.8 yards, which would put the Ducks among the top 20 or so defenses in the nation.

"They cause you a lot of problems," Kiffin said. "They're all over the place."

Much like the offense, the defense tries to confuse opponents with an array of looks from a variable scheme that can switch from 4-3 to 3-4 in an instant. But deception goes only so far.

The Ducks have to reach deep into their roster to keep fresh legs on the field for so many minutes. It's not unusual for them to rotate seven or eight linemen, a handful of linebackers and seven or eight defensive backs.

"You're not going to find anybody in the nation that rotates that many people and gets the results we do," defensive end Terrell Turner said.

It also helps that they work against that offense for parts of each day's practice, hustling through Coach Chip Kelly's distinctively frenetic drills. In one regular segment, the ball is placed for a new snap even as the previous play is coming to an end.

"That's full-tilt, hyper-speed," Aliotti said. "You'd have to see it to really understand."

The deep rotation necessitates playing some underclassmen and suffering through growing pains. Oregon has also missed All-American cornerback Cliff Harris, suspended multiple times for traffic tickets.

Harris sat out a 40-27 season-opening loss to Louisiana State, a game in which three turnovers left the Ducks continually scrambling to defend a short field.

Since then, they have matured enough to hold the likes of California and Washington to 17 points or fewer and would have shut out Colorado if not for a safety on Harris' fumbled punt return.

A big part of the Ducks' success comes from pressuring the quarterback, collecting a conference-best 32 sacks. Luck credited the front seven for pestering him into a subpar game that included a fumble and two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown.

"They did a good job with stunts and blitzes," he said.

Still, most of the talk this week has centered on USC needing to keep pace with Darron Thomas, LaMichael James and the rest of an Oregon offense that averages almost two touchdowns more than the Trojans.

Hardly anyone has talked about the Ducks who play on the other side of the ball.

Which is fine with them. If anything, the defense can see an advantage to being overlooked.

"We like being the underdog," Clay said. "We can surprise people."
[It's true that Oregon's defense has been playing much better the past three weeks. But one person still has his doubts. . . .

Barkley: Oregon's defense still vulnerable

November, 15, 2011
by Pedro Moura, ESPN LA

USC quarterback Matt Barkley said after Saturday's 40-17 win over Washington that the Oregon Ducks, the Trojans' next opponent, have been better in the past than they are in 2011.

But his head coach, Lane Kiffin, said the next day that Barkley would realize he should retract his statements once he started watching film of the Ducks, and Barkley did just that after Tuesday's practice.

“They’re a great team,” Barkley said. “They’re well-deserving of their ranking. That (assessment) was just based off of scores I had seen -- I had never really watched them. [He would do well in the Republican debates.]

"After watching tape of them, they’re probably one of the top defenses we’ll be facing this year."

But, even so, he maintained that there are options on offense for USC. There are ways to beat the Ducks, he said.

“They show a lot of different fronts, a lot of different coverages and blitzes," Barkley said. "They try to confuse you. But there are weaknesses and holes that we’ll have to exploit."

“They get after it when they do that, and they’ll catch you off guard. That’s when we have to be smart enough to, especially me, recognize those and get our offense in the right checks. But they are vulnerable in some aspects.”
[Well good luck with that, Matt. Oh by the way, your #1 receiver probably won't be playing Saturday, or at best he'll be playing hurt. Also, your running game sucks (166 yards/game). But good luck with that. ]

After Barkley's initial comments, Oregon safety Eddie Pleasant told Eugene-area reporters that the Ducks "don't even care" what any of the Trojans have to say about the matchup.

“Ever since I’ve been here (USC players) always have something to say before we play them,” Pleasant said, according to The Oregonian. “We just can’t do nothing about that. We just have to go out there and play."
[It's easy to quantify Barkley's statements. Last year against the Ducks, he was sacked twice and intercepted twice. If he's asking the Ducks to prove that they're better this year, I'm sure they'll be up to the challenge. After all, they lead the league in dishing out sacks.

To be fair, USC currently leads the league in giving up the fewest sacks. Stanford did hold that lead, but then Oregon added three more to their total last week.

Oregon ranks third in the league with 12 interceptions (USC is ninth with 8). But stats mean nothing once the game starts. So Barkley, if you see holes in Oregon's D., make it your calling to exploit them.

Level with us, Barkley. Things haven't turned out for you quite like you hoped, haven't they? Three years ago, you were the Man. The PHENOM! The Boy Wonder.

Now all you hear is LUCK, LUCK, LUCK. You must be sick of Luck. Why if you weren't a good Christian boy, you'd think of a bad word that rhymes with Luck and scream it into your pillow!

But that's not all. There's a new Phenom. A new boy wonder in Keith Price of Washinton. He currently leads you in passing efficiency. 

And that's still not all. Nick Foles of Arizona is still around, out-passing you. And so is Brock Osweiller at ASU. When people talk about the great QB's of the league, they may rattle off the names of up to four or five guys before they think of you.

This wasn't how you had planned it. MATT BARKLEY was supposed to be on the Heisman watch. MATT BARKLEY was supposed to be the talk of the league. MATT BARKLEY was supposed to be leading his team to the Natty.

But it didn't work out that way. Even if you had won all of your games, you wouldn't be going anywhere because USC is on probation.

Oh well, Matt. Don't worry about it. Just focus on those weakness and holes in Oregon's D that you're sure about. You do that and I'm sure you'll beat Oregon.

Hey, at least you'll be the best quarterback on the field. . . . . . Oops. . . . . Darron Thomas has a better pass efficiency rating than you too.

Sorry about that, Matt.

Gametime 5pm Pacific on ABC.

The following features footage of the last time Barkley and Co. visited Eugene.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Nation take notice. Oregon is back.

It wasn't just that Oregon beat Stanford, it was how they beat them. The Ducks never trailed, dominated start to finish. Playing at Stanford wasn't a factor. The long wet grass wasn't a factor. Andrew Luck wasn't enough of a factor. As exciting as it was, it was almost anticlimatic. Their best performance of the season by far, Oregon made all of the build up and hype seem a little silly. They never let Stanford make a competitive game of it.

Photos from Oregonian
Bad Luck fumble.
The Stanford Daily, your smarter than average college newspaper, wrote a nice wrap up of the game complete with honest assessments by Stanford players including Luck about Oregon.

Below is an article from Ted Miller of ESPN.

Oregon just won't go away

By Ted Miller, ESPN

When Oregon trudged off the Cowboys Stadium field after a 40-27 loss to LSU on Sept. 3, just about everyone counted them out. That was made real when they were poleaxed by pollsters, dropping from No. 3 to No. 13 and No. 14 in the AP and coaches' polls, respectively.

That will teach Oregon -- and anyone else -- to agree to a marquee nonconference matchup against an elite team that everyone wants to see!

Most turned away from the team with loud uniforms. Andrew Luck and Stanford were now the interesting team in the Pac-12, and Oklahoma, Alabama, Wisconsin, Oklahoma State, Boise State, Florida State, Texas A&M and those LSU Tigers were the real contenders.
But teams, as they are wont to do in college football, started falling by the wayside, and the Ducks kept coming. It was quiet at first. Nevada bludgeoned a week after LSU; a pounding of Arizona on the road; California and Arizona State dispatched with prejudice.
DAT: Can't catch him.

And when Oregon gamboled off the field after a 53-30 victory over Stanford, just about everyone started counting them back in.

It made me recall that cool sequence at the beginning of Rocky III when Clubber Lang is, one by one, clubbering a sequence of foes on a bigger and bigger stage, and his dominance is attracting the worried attention of Rocky's manager Mickey.

And just as Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger" ends, Clubber barks at Mickey, "I want Balboa! I want Balboa! You hear that, Old Man?"

Said Ducks running back De'Anthony Thomas after the game, "I feel like if we get another shot at [LSU] again, I feel like it will be a better game."

Not exactly the same sort of bravado, but LSU is more Ivan Drago than Rocky.

[Loved that movie. "He's gonna KILL ya, Rock. He's gonna MURDER ya."]

Oregon would like to play LSU again with an offensive line and defensive front seven that have jelled. It would like to play LSU again with a healthy LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner. It would like to play LSU without four turnovers, including two fumbles from Thomas.

It is a longshot to happen. And to be absolutely fair to how things went down in game one -- it sure as heck was as much about LSU's size and speed as turnovers -- and how good LSU has looked since then, my guess is few, including our friends who look at things without emotion in Las Vegas, would pick the Ducks to win a rematch.

It would, however, be interesting. Let's recall that the last offensive-minded evil genius to get a rematch in a national championship game against a defensive power -- Florida and Steve Spurrier in 1996 with Florida State -- won and won big.
Huff: Can't catch him.
If Oregon wins out impressively, and some dominoes fall here and there, maybe it will happen. It just won't happen today, this week or next. So let's bracket off the national title stuff.

And, as we look big picture, let's bracket off the potential endgame with L'Affair de Willie Lyles. I've talked to smart people who think Oregon may get hammered, and I've talked to smart people that think they won't. You never know with the NCAA, an institution where logic and fairness aren't always part of the process.

[A lot of time has past. Much has happened lately. Unless Oregon paid Lyles to shower with Lache Seastrunk, the NCAA needs to move on and get its priorities straight.]

The big picture is this: Oregon is on the cusp of a third consecutive conference title. It's won 19 consecutive conference game, all but three by double-digits. If I were projecting coach Chip Kelly's record after his third season ends this January, I'd guess 34-5 (.875). Yes, I'm projecting a BCS bowl victory.

And Oregon will be a preseason top-five team in 2012 and will be the overwhelming favorites to win a fourth consecutive conference title, even if running back LaMichael James doesn't come back.

2013 looks like it will set up nicely, too.

Get the point? Oregon, barring a bomb from the NCAA, is set up for the long haul. It's on the cusp of becoming one of "those" programs. You know, where nine wins is viewed as a rebuilding year.
Look at the size of that hole for LaMJ!
BTW, in case anyone is still keeping score of that other
best running back in the league, Washington's Chris Polk
finished the day against USC with 36 yards.
LaMJ: 146 yards.

Of course, all the Ducks haters are barking about the lack of a Rose Bowl victory much less a national title. [Underline the word barking. Until the Ducks win the big games, they'll just have to keep beating those barkers down -- for another eight years if necessary.] True. Snarky, but fair. That's why some of this hangs on the Ducks taking care of business in whatever January bowl they end up playing in.

Said Thomas, "I wouldn't want to play us."

Oh, there are lots of fans of lots of teams across the country that would have smart alec replies to that. That's the trash talking, message board, comments section face of college football.

But also know that plenty of measured, football-smart fans -- even LSU and Alabama fans -- watched the tour de force display against Stanford and thought to themselves, "I don't want to play them."

Would it be a better game? Ya, probably. Can Oregon beat LSU in the Natty? I just can't help but think that the laws of physics would come into play again. Oregon is fast. But LSU is BIG and fast. Kelly would have to come up with the game plan of his life to pull that off.

Kenjon Barner showed no mercy any time
LaMJ stood on the sidelines.

Speaking of Kelly, they call him WHAT?!?!?!
Bruce Jenkins of the SF Chronicle wrote a nice story about Chip Kelly following Oregon's defeat of Stanford. He tells of Kelly's style, particularly his gutsy calls on fourth down or for a two-point conversion. But something stopped me cold like a phonograph needle scraping across a record album. Jenkins seems to know of a nickname that "they" around campus have given Kelly. Here's the excerpt:

Leading 15-9 with three minutes left in the second quarter, Oregon faced a 4th-and-7 at the Stanford 41. I'm not sure another coach in the country would have taken that gamble, especially with an offense that gained a total of minus-1 yard in the first quarter. Come up short, and you've given Andrew Luck some pretty nice field position to orchestrate his hurry-up offense and take the lead at halftime.

Then again, this is a coach they call "Big Balls Kelly" around the Oregon campus, and he didn't have a first down in mind. A wide-open De'Anthony Thomas turned a screen pass into a 41-yard touchdown, a 22-9 lead, and a sense among the sellout crowd - everyone aside from that lively pocket of Oregon partisanship in the northeast corner - that things might not end well.

Really now?!?! That's what people call him? Is it only players or staff, or do all the students call him this too?

"Hey look who just walked in, it's Big Balls Kelly. 'HEY, GREAT GAME LAST NIGHT, BIG BALLS!' "

"Welcome to Track Town Pizza, Mr. Big Balls. Can I interest you in a Large Meat Combo? It's sure to fill your testiculars."

I have never heard of this. Can somebody out there confirm it? Can somebody say to me, "Yes, we call Coach Kelly 'Big Balls' ."? 

Is there a certain Oregonian reporter out there who can go up to Coach Kelly and ask him to confirm or deny Jenkins' claim? Better yet, just ask him, "So do you have an injury report for us this week, Big Balls?"

It just stuns me. For one thing, someone would have to have some pretty big balls to call Coach Kelly "Big Balls".  Furthermore, there are lots of other things you can call him. Better names.

Iron Guts Kelly, Cold Kelly, Crazy Kelly, Fearless Kelly, Genghis Kelly, Kelly the Merciless, Rock Chip . . . . . . .

But Big Balls? When I read that, all I could think of was the movie "The Jerk" when Steve Martin broke his foot kicking Iron Balls McGinty in the groin.

But then if you earn yourself a nickname, I suppose Big Balls Kelly is better than Keep Quiet Paterno, Gropefather's Cain, Overstay Our Welcome Occupiers, or "I'd make a great president as long as I don't talk" Perry.


Friday, November 11, 2011

Duck D's Success will Decide Winner, as Luck Would Have It.

Last year at Autzen, Stanford led 21-3 in the first quarter.
Oregon roared back to win 52-31.
Stanford or Oregon. Oregon or Stanford. We may not have known it at the time, but these two teams have been preparing for this game since the final buzzer of their match last year. Who will win? Odds makers have Stanford by 3-1/2. But that's little more than a home field spread. It's like picking the horse who has run more on grass.

What does Stanford have going for it?
1) Lotsa' Luck. Andrew, that is. Clearly the best Stanford QB since John Elway. Probably the best Pac-10/12 QB since . . . . well, John Elway. He's won because he's big, talented, smart, and he hates to lose.

2) The talent around Luck. I thought Luck was crazy for coming back his senior year. I didn't think he had a decent supporting cast. Turns out he does, starting with his offensive line. Two All Americans anchor his line, allowing him time to check off his options and engineer drives to perfection.

3) Home field @ The Farm vs. Autzen. Night and day.

What does Stanford have going against it?
1) Injuries. An alarming number of those talented players supporting Luck won't be playing tomorrow evening. Wide receiver Chris Owusu is out with three concussions. Tight end Zach Ertz is doubtful with a knee injury. Offensive tackle Cameron Fleming is questionable.

2) Not well tested. While Oregon was growing up against LSU, Stanford was feeling invincible as they clobbered San Jose State. Their win against USC could just as easily have been a loss as they allowed the Trojans to score 48 points through three overtimes. In their win over Oregon State, I saw a very beatable Cardinal. If the Beavs had just a few more play makers and thrown a little more pressure at Luck, things might have been different.

Enter Oregon
Oregon's defense took over last year against Stanford.
Oregon's defense is peaking right now. Holding an improved Washington team to 17 points in Seattle, their defensive line punished RB Chris Polk and forced QB Keith Price into throwing errors when they weren't sacking him six times.

Another key stat for the Duck defense?  ZERO. That is the number of points Oregon allowed Andrew Luck and company to score in the second half last year. ESPN's story, "Oregon Not Awed by Andrew Luck" pits Nick Allioti directly against Luck. This story suggests that either Oregon will bring enough pressure to mess up Luck, or he truly is the best QB since Elway and Stanford is the Pac-12 champ.

Scout Inc. noted the same thing when they wrote:
The amount of pressure Oregon is able to apply to Luck will be crucial to the outcome of this game. The Ducks have notched 29 sacks on the year, with DEs Dion Jordan and Terrell Turner flashing first-step quickness and athleticism off the edge, and defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti being creative and aggressive bringing pressures from various launch points on the second and third levels. Stanford LT Jonathan Martin and RG David DeCastro are first-round prospects, but the offensive line as a whole has allowed some leakage in protection and has issues communicating against the blitz. Stanford has given up only four sacks on the season, but much of that is thanks to Luck's elite pocket presence and mobility. Oregon must apply pressure but must do so under control and maintain gap integrity because Luck has the ability to extend plays and to make accurate throws downfield -- or use his feet to pick up big chunks of yardage.

When Oregon has the ball, it'll be all about the Ducks' specialty: Making the defense believe one thing and then doing another. Again from Scout Inc.:
Discipline and awareness also will be key for the Cardinal's last line of defense. The fast-paced offense of Oregon coach Chip Kelly will provide little time for the Stanford defense to align and make any pre-snap calls or adjustments. The secondary can ill afford to become flustered and overzealous filling in run support, or try to get an early break on quick-hitting perimeter passes. The Ducks do a great job of frustrating defenses, creating confusion and then capitalizing on play-action downfield. Thomas is much-improved as a thrower this season, and TE David Paulson and WR Lavasier Tuinei have the size and long strides to exploit vertical seams. Stopping the Ducks' ground attack is a big challenge on its own, and giving up big plays in the passing game, as well, would mean a very long day for the Stanford defense.

Stanford will need all the Luck it can get
to keep up with Oregon's running backs.

I will be excited to see what Chip Kelly has cooked up for the offense. He mostly used LaMichael James last week. Nothing wrong with that. But throw in Kenjon Barner and line up DeAnthony Thomas in the backfield OR as a receiver, that creates the potential for mistakes Stanford is worried about.

And if Stanford starts off by successfully staying on top of it, good for them. Now get ready for the second half.

I like Oregon's chances. I don't think Stanford belongs in the BCS top five and Oregon is just the team to show them. I'll say this, though. Although this isn't the official Pac-12 Championship, everyone knows it's the "Nudge Nudge, Wink Wink Pac-12 Championship". The Championship of football, I mean, not of nudging and winking. I only meant nudge nudge wink wink because these are the two best teams. You see, it's a metaphore. We know something that isn't official. Not that it's OFFICIALLY the "Nudge Nudge Wink Wink . . . . " (sigh)

Anyway, Ducks are gonna win.

Oregon at Stanford game time 5pm Pacific on ABC.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Ducks Defense Takes Wrecking Bar to Husky Stadium

Before we dicuss the latest football games, here is BREAKING NEWS from the NCAA Investigations unit regarding the recent developments at Penn State University. Penn State's Athletic Dirctor and Vice President both stepped down Sunday. Yesterday they were both arraigned for failing to report suspected child abuse.

All of this stems from an investigation into whether former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky sexually abused eight boys over a 15 year period. Here is the following statement from the NCAA Investigators:

We at the NCAA take the allegations at Penn State University very seriously. And it is our intention to fully investigate these alleged child molestation accusations just as soon as we finish with our investigation at Oregon.

Currently all of our investigators are tied up with the crime spree at Oregon, and we believe it is important to handle these issues in the order of priority. We would be doing a disservice to justice if we did not fully complete our work on Oregon's heinous crimes. . . . . .If only we could remember what those crimes were.

Did Oregon pay players? No.  Help players cheat on test scores? No.  Entice recruits with parties, alcohol and sex? No. New cars? No.  New house for players' parents? No.  Hide players' sales of team memorabilia? No.  

But we will not rest until Oregon is thoroughly investigated and punished. Then we will look into the Penn State matter and the alleged . . . .uhhh. . . . what did they do again?


More than the previous seven games, I think Washington wanted to win this one the most. Their team appeared stronger and better than they had in years. This was the last game in their ugly old stadium. Now would've been the perfect time to break the Ducks stranglehold on them. The crowd was loud and proud and ready.

It didn't take long to pop their balloon. On Washington's opening drive, Eddie Pleasant picked Nick Price's overthrow out of the air and returned it into Husky territory to set up Oregon's first score, and a lead they would never give up.

Mugging and theft of Husky reception.
The Ducks defense shut Washington down with three turnovers -- including one honest, unapologetic purse snatch of a clean reception -- and six sacks. The sixth sack sent Price to the sidelines for three plays. Andrew Luck, take notice.

LaMichael James was back. He re-established himself as the nation's premier rusher at 151.5 yards per game. He outran his friend Chris Polk 156 yards to 80.

Darron Thomas is the man again. Despite that crazy moment when the spirit of some long past Husky knocked the ball out of his hand as he threw it, he controlled the team and completed all the important passes. Take four drops by his receivers out of his throwing stats and he did excellent.

Did anyone else notice the major change in the Ducks offensive plays in the second half? In the first half as well as all the games prior, if Oregon's running back lines up on the QB's left side, he's probably going to run right if not straight, and vice versa.
Who's the best running back?

In the second half, Thomas just tossed the ball to James like they were a part of a brick laying line, and he ran on that side. They did that for nearly two scoring drives before Washington realized they were being punked. Now when Stanford looks at films, what do they prepare for?

In fact Oregon showed a lot for Stanford to look at. But for as much as they showed, they hid so much more with LaMJ being the solo back for most of the game.

The Register Guard's George Schroeder wrote a good story about showing Oregon's defense some more love.

Emotionally, I wanted this win more than any other. But, by Chip Kelly's watch, it's over and time to move on. The second game of the century in two weeks is coming. Only this one is sure to have some touchdowns. Sportscenter will be there.

More later,

Friday, November 4, 2011

They want us to BOW DOWN.

With lyrics . . .

 Has kind of a Third Reich ring to it, don't you think?

The longest winning streak Washington had over Oregon was six games, done more than once. Oregon eclipsed that streak last year by beating the Dawgs for the seventh consecutive time.

An eighth victory tomorrow would just be gravy, right? I wish I could believe that, but the thought of the Huskies winning even one game is harrowing.

This year we all wanted the Ducks to beat LSU, and we're really hoping they beat Stanford next week. Of course we want to beat the Beavers, and we really want the Ducks to win their bowl game, wherever it may be.

But I must say, I cannot breathe until we notch another win on the Dawgs. I have more anxiety for this game than any other this season. It's not because I'm afraid Oregon will lose. I'm afraid of what will happen if Washington wins.

The Oregonian asked it's readers, "Why do you hate the Huskies so much?". Below are a few of the comments:

Most fans in the NW talk about how "arrogant" the ducks are, and I agree to an extent. This used to be the Huskies, and still is for that matter. I once saw a shirt in the late '90's that said " UW Huskies, we aren't arrogant, we are just better than you."
I hate the huskies and their fans with every ounce of my being. I don't care that the ducks have won 7 in a row, I want to win by 50. Go Ducks!
All the NW schools hate the huskies. It's because they beat the living crap out of the other NW schools for 50 years.

I never hated the huskies... until they danced on the "O" after a victory. That was, of course, an indication of their classless coach, but that act made me hate the Huskies more than any other team. It is forever emblazoned in my mind and will never dissipate regardless of how many times we thump them... I don't care if we win 100-0 for the next 30 years, that image will ALWAYS get me riled up...
uw and their fans have arrogance built right in. They've set it in stone with their pompous fight song: "Bow Down to Washington". Other schools fight songs urge their teams on to victory or reflect on past glories. At uw, it's "Bow down to us. We're better than you." The height of arrogance.
Under-30 Duck here ... I grew up a UCLA fan on the mean streets of Orange County and always saw UW as the USC of the North. The Huskies competed for Rose Bowl berths and national title year in and year out through the late 80s and early 90s and were still just as prominent in my eyes during their probative years in the mid- to late-90s. I was impressed by them. I even enjoyed watching UW during the Marques Tuiasosopo (spelling?) years. But once I received my acceptance letter from UO, all that admiration turned to loathing, albeit respectful loathing.
First day of college, a friend of mine on the same door floor – he's a Duck lifer – taught me two things: Never leave a game early and hate Washington.
Huskies beat us in a driving rain by 40 that year in Autzen. We stayed until the end.
For us much older - we can remember the insults of the past - the Washington vote that put the duck out of the rose bowl - right up to the Huskies (team) dancing on the center field after beating the ducks in Autzen. We have a long history of hatred, and for those of you that are too young to remember all that - you will certainly learn that this game means more than just a W in the win column.
If you really want to know why we hate the huskies - wear Oregon colors to a game up in Seattle and you'll come away understanding why...... very simple - the fans and the players up there are idiots.

For me it was 1983 at Autzen. The Huskies brought their band, which was much bigger, louder, more organized than ours. Before the game, legend has it that Husky DL Steve Emtman tore the paper towel dispensers off the wall in the visiting locker room to get his team fired up. On the field the Dawgs pounded the Ducks in the first half.
Then at halftime their band came onto the field, and in the middle of whatever they were playing, they suddenly broke into the Oregon fight song in a waltz. The whole stadium booed. Then the teams came back out and Washington pounded the Ducks some more for a final score of 32-3. The band leader later said they only meant to "honor" the Ducks. All the while any Husky fans in the stands (and there were a lot of them) would not sit down, would not shut up. They kept turning around pointing to us, laughing.
"OK. It's official," I thought, "I hate Washington." And I hope a nuclear submarine in Bremerton blows up and destroys the entire Puget Sound.

Here is the point that the above posts keep making. If you don't have a reason for hating the Huskies, you have never been an Oregon fan at a Husky game. Duck fans are not born to hate the Huskies, they learn it through horrible experiences with Husky fans, Husky players, Husky coaches, the Husky band, Husky cheerleaders, Husky flag team, even Husky bus drivers.

An eighth consecutive win over Washington means two full generations of four-year Duck students having never experienced how a victorious Husky acts. We alums can try to warn them what it's like, but they won't really know until they experience it themselves. Because even after seven consecutive losses, one Husky win and it's like giving purple gremlins water after midnight.

We cannot allow the Huskies to win their final game at their ugly crumbling stadium. It would be so poetic if Oregon swings the first blows to destroy that wasteland.

I hope the Ducks make history by being the answer to the trivia question, "Who scored the final points in old Husky Stadium before they tore it down?"  Darron Thomas? LaMJ? I'll even settle for a field goal.

Seven consecutive wins? It's not enough. Eight is not enough. Talk to me again at 80.

Wanna see the Huskies at their Huskiest? Roll the ugliness . . .

Finally, let me cleanse your pallet with this. From AllDuckedOut:

Gametime 7:30 Pacific on Root/FSN.

BTW I was just kidding about the whole nuclear sub, Puget Sound thing. Sorry. It's just these Huskies . . . . They bring it out of me . . . Well, you understand, don't you?